Military History | How To Make War | Wars Around the World Rules of Use How to Behave on an Internet Forum
Saudi Arabia Discussion Board
   Return to Topic Page
Subject: The Royal Saudi Air Force - A Paper Tiger, Minus the Tiger
ex-expat    2/9/2003 6:56:15 PM
The Royal Saudi Air Force couldn't fight (or fly) it's way out of a wet paper bag. They spent a whole lot of money on 72 new F-15S's, but have a pilot corps that are "fair-weather" flyers (both figuratively and literally). But even if they had pilots that would fly under all conditions (particularly combat conditions), too bad - they don't have any maintenance capability. All of that are done by American ex-pats (for F-15's) and British (for Tornado's). A side note here: There may be only 4-500 Americans servicing the F-15s, but nearly 3000 Brits to service half that many Tornado's. The joke at Dhahran AB is that the static display of a Tornado on a pedestal at the main gate is the only Tornado that they can keep in the air. You also have to understand how the money flows to get an even better idea of RSAF readiness (or total lack thereof). All Base commanders usually are members of the Royal family (or married into it) - and it is a money cow. The greatest number of personnel on an RSAF base is TCN's (third-country-nationals), thousands and thousands of Bangladesh, Indian, Philippine workers. Contracts are written up that provide millions in kick-backs - some of course goes to the base commander. But that doesn't even touch the billions of dollars into the purchase of all those aircraft - it's for the kickbacks, not national defense (what do you think the U.S. Air Force is there for?). Now American defense contractors make a killing, why should they care either? For example. first Boeing and then Raytheon made billions on putting in a highly sophisticated air command and control system called "Peace Shield", but it was and remains flawed. One example: The system is suppose to identify friendly vs. hostile aircraft so the Royal Saudi Air Defense Command (that's right a service totally separate from the RSAF)can fire. The RSAF has a control command which is suppose to tell the Air defense people to "hold fire". But what really happens is that when the RSAF pushes the button to command "hold fire" the Air Defense consoles light-up with the command to "fire". As if this minor technical flaw wasn't enough, billions in billing were added to give all these command centers filtered air systems for protection against NBC. Great on paper to make the billing statement, but non-existant in reality. I could go on-and-on about lack of training as well. One example has Saudi maintenence personnel towing a "hot" (just landed) F-15 into a hangar. Plane catches fire, burns up with the hangar. What happened? Well no discipline on the Saudi dumb-asses, but their training records were pulled and numerous ex-pats sent home because they had signed off on training them. Since the training obviously did not stick, it was obviously an ex-pat trainer who was to blame. Not the dumb-asses, not there Saudi NCO or Officer chain-of-command, but ex-pats. The only time a saudi maintenence troop is allowed anywhere near an aircraft with any tool in his hand is when Saudi VIPs are on a tour - it would be funny if these senior RSAF officers knew enough to ask their troops what they maintennce was being done - but they don't. Don't even get into the sub-levels of tribal allegiences that totally disrupts any concept of chain-of-command or military discipline. If you are from the right tribe you get the works, guick promotions (get the answers to your SKT and promotion tests),and other perks - even out-of-Kingdom training (like in the U.S.), even if you just burnt down a hangar on top of a $50M F-15 (oh yes folks the Saudi payment for each aircraft is about double for all those kick-backs to Prince Sultan, Minister of Defense and Aviation (he owns/oversees Saudi Arabian Airlines as well). But if you are one of the few motivated, intelligent members of the RSAF and happen to be from the wrong tribe - well if you were ever a first yearman at VMI/Citadel you sorta get my drift. To wrap this up, the RSAF is the most efficient branch of the Saudi military (with the exception of it's internal intelligence network) - so you can imagine the horror stories from ex-pats working with the Saudi Land Forces, Naval Forces, or Saudi National Guard. So that leaves us with the question of who protects all those vast oil fields - that's right, our good old Uncle Sam. Who protects to Royal House of Saud? Well besides keeping their protection money, I mean insurance premiums, paid in full to Osama Bin Laden (who I have every confidence is hiding in one of his families "farms" - oh that is another story for another day about how the Bin Laden Group had the contract to build all the new barracks at Prince Sultan Air Base after the Khobar bombing, sort of a nice/profitable coincidence huh?). Well the Royal family has our military protect their entire country, but they have a fine cadre of ex-CIA, ex-FBI, ex-Navy Seals getting paid very well to be their own private security arm (not unlike Saddam's Republican Guard).
 
Quote    Reply

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
Final Historian    RE:The Royal Saudi Air Force - A Paper Tiger, Minus the Tiger   2/9/2003 9:05:05 PM
Oh my, I knew that the Saudis were bad, but not THIS bad. Even the dregs of an army that Iraq has today would have little trouble blowing over this popsicle stand. The sooner we get out of there, the better.
 
Quote    Reply

giblets    RE:The Royal Saudi Air Force - A Paper Tiger, Minus the Tiger   2/10/2003 4:53:55 AM
Apparently in the one air to air kill of an IRaqi jet int he Gulf, the Iraqi plane was also surrounded by a load of USAF pilots all of whom could have taken a shot, the conversation went something like this..."up a bit, left a bit..down a bit.." But a damn good bit of PR
 
Quote    Reply

ex-expat    RE:The Royal Saudi Air Force - A Paper Tiger, Minus the Tiger   2/10/2003 11:08:59 AM
Did I mention that no military service in Saudi Arabia has a viable NCO corps? And their ?Imams? (we have chaplains) almost reminds one of the political officers in the old Soviet military. RSAF Intelligence is more concerned about keeping tabs on RSAF personnel than any effective application of intelligence processes to produce any threat assessments to be applied to any actual war planning (remember, the House of Saud has the U.S. umbrella). For example, once an RSAF member gets a training slot ? say to the U.S. ? he has to attend a briefing on the evils of western culture, and on his return a de-briefing to se if he has not been too contaminated with western thoughts. That brings up another interesting point: Any RSAF (and I assume other Saudi military as well) member who find that they may be going to the U.S. for extended training (6 months or longer) have one priority ? get their wife/wives pregnant. Besides better medical care, guess what? Little Abu or Fatima are born as American citizens. There are literally thousands of young (some I dare say are Osama fans) who carry American passports today. But ask any Saudi [with such a son] will he register for the draft on his 18th birthday and you get a very shocked reaction. I for one have asked the State Department this very same question. But they are too busy, well maybe the new Homeland Defense Dept (but I wouldn?t hold my breath). Seems to me that it would be a simple fix, so that the registration data base for Selective Service could be crossed referenced with passport holders. As the debate in Congress to re-institute the draft (being pushed by Rep. Rangle and Sen. Hollings) begin, this could become interesting. Back to RSAF readiness: The RSAF does actually use their C-130 fleet regularly, here are some examples: ? Whenever a prince wants to have a party in the remote part of the country tents, portable kitchens, etc are flown in.. ? Movement of royal baggage including automobiles from one part of the country to another (i.e. Dhahran ? Jeddah) ? Anyone who has a relative in the RSAF can petition to hitch a ride, these favors are dispensed like candy. On occasion there have been up to 150 people boarded on a single flight (wonder what the capacity load is?). ? International flights entail much more planning ? like where they are allowed to land (a number of airports refuse landing privileges because fuel bills go unpaid by the Saudi Government). Finally, let?s not forget the fact that no viable military operation can happen without Expats. Even the RSAF HQ in Riyadh has Expat advisors in every functional area. While this may not be the way to run a national military, it does pay well for companies such as BDM (an old Carlysle Group* acquisition ? than BDM bought Vinnell** ? both were bought by TRW ? contract now resides with DynCorp), Raytheon (remember Peace Shield), Boeing (besides the ancient AWACS/Refuelers, Boeing also services all those F-15?s), Booz-Allen-Hamilton. Heavy hitters all. *Carlysle Group (can?t get anymore powerful than this in D.C.) ** Still very profitable business in Turkey and Egypt ? believe that still provide security guards for Eskan Village in Riyadh (where U.S. Military personnel live and work).
 
Quote    Reply

Topolino    Aramco too.   2/10/2003 12:40:02 PM
There was a very good article on Stratgypage last fall about "Why Arabs Lose Wars" that explores the same issues in a broader context. http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/20020909.asp By the way, things are no better in Aramco, the Saudi national oil company. The name comes from "Arabian American Company", reflecting the fact that Aramco was formed by nationalizing the assets of the major American oil companies. While there are thousands of Saudis with jobs at Aramco, anything remotely resembling work is done by Americans or low-level foreign workers. American companies with contracts to buy Saudi crude oil are obligated to supply key engineers, computer technicians, etc. The main activities of the Saudi employees (during their two hour ?work? days) seem to be criticizing everyone else, getting their relatives hired and looking for kickback opportunities. If the American staff ever gets pulled out, I estimate 48 hours before the ability to export crude oil disappears because none of the Saudis know how the valves and pumps work.
 
Quote    Reply

Phoenix Rising    RE:The Royal Saudi Air Force - A Paper Tiger, Minus the Tiger   2/10/2003 2:30:17 PM
I guess that puts a new spin on the fact that CDI lists SA's military expenditures as now higher than those of France; I was wondering why we never heard more about the Saudi military ($27bn, compare with Israel's ~$10bn). If most of it is going in the form of kickbacks and other costs that do little to enhance performance, the cost doesn't tell the whole story. --Phoenix Rising
 
Quote    Reply

ex-expat    RE:The Royal Saudi Air Force - A Paper Tiger, Minus the Tiger   2/10/2003 3:10:36 PM
Another tell-tale sign would be to look at the profits of American defense contractors. BDM, for example, had at one time over 7,000 employees, most of them working on various contracts in the U.S. - with only about 250 employees working on a single "Peace Sun" contract with the RSAF (and the honest broker was none other than the U.S. Air Force). It was that one contract that produced over 51% of the gross revenue for this one company. And it goes on and on - with big names like Carlucci, Weinburger, Baker, and Bush raking in the lions share of profit. That much cash carries a lot of weight with our policy makers in D.C.. If Saddam is a threat, you have to believe that besides Tel Aviv it is Riyadh that is threatened the most. Too bad Kimchee don't burn like oil. Seoul and Tokyo may yet have to pay for our policy of being overly protective of Saudi oil.
 
Quote    Reply

ex-expat    RE:The Royal Saudi Air Force - Denied extra security to Americans   5/15/2003 11:50:01 AM
Seems that it was a one-star general in the oyal Saudi Air Force who completely ignored repeated requests for additional security around the Jadawel Compound which housed all the Americans working on contracts in support of the RSAF. Go to: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/World/saudi_warnings030514.html
 
Quote    Reply

AFA2007       2/29/2012 3:12:58 PM
Came across this a few years ago, doubt much has changed - even if Saudis ar elooking to acquire newest version of F-15 Strike Eagle.
 
Quote    Reply

AFA2007       9/4/2014 12:55:01 PM
Have not seen any credible rebuttal to these observations regarding capability of the RSAF.  One has to still assume - even with the more than $70B spent in recent years by the Saudis on military hardware - that much hasn't changed in regards to the actual capability of RSAF personnel.  Maybe their pilots have overcome their fear of flying through clouds, but until the Royal House Of Saud has changed their fear of weapon loaded aircraft with enough fuel to reach Riyadh I doubt little has changed.  Of particular note...for anyone with current knowledge...has the RSAF turned over all maintenance of there fighters to RSAF maintenance personnel?  I still see that Boeing still recruits for aircraft maintenance personnel to RSAF bases.  If all their maintenance is still performed by U.S./British contractors, well that pretty much confirms that little has changed since this post was created.  Still a great read, if you Google "RSAF" this post is near the very top right under the official RSAF site.
 
Recently some "know-it-all" academic (Karen House of Wall Street Journal) wrote a book about Saudi Arabia and is all over the news talk shows challenging the Saudi's to pick up the slack fighting ISIS.  She obviously don't know that the reality of the Saudi military is that it truly is a "Paper Tiger - Minus the Tiger". 
@import url(http://www.strategypage.com/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Load.ashx?type=style&file=SyntaxHighlighter.css);
 
Quote    Reply

AFA2007       9/4/2014 12:59:22 PM
Have not seen any credible rebuttal to these observations regarding capability of the RSAF.  One has to still assume - even with the more than $70B spent in recent years by the Saudis on military hardware - that much hasn't changed in regards to the actual capability of RSAF personnel.  Maybe their pilots have overcome their fear of flying through clouds, but until the Royal House Of Saud has changed their fear of weapon loaded aircraft with enough fuel to reach Riyadh I doubt little has changed.  Of particular note...for anyone with current knowledge...has the RSAF turned over all maintenance of there fighters to RSAF maintenance personnel?  I still see that Boeing still recruits for aircraft maintenance personnel to RSAF bases.  If all their maintenance is still performed by U.S./British contractors, well that pretty much confirms that little has changed since this post was created.  Still a great read, if you Google "RSAF" this post is near the very top right under the official RSAF site.
 
Recently some "know-it-all" academic (Karen House of Wall Street Journal) wrote a book about Saudi Arabia and is all over the news talk shows challenging the Saudi's to pick up the slack fighting ISIS.  She obviously don't know that the reality of the Saudi military is that it truly is a "Paper Tiger - Minus the Tiger". 
@import url(http://www.strategypage.com/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Load.ashx?type=style&file=SyntaxHighlighter.css);
 
Quote    Reply



 Latest
 News
 
 Most
 Read
 
 Most
 Commented
 Hot
 Topics