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Saudi Arabia increases air training

December 9, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Saudi Arabia has increased efforts to train its air force pilots. The Saudi effort now includes training on the F-16s. The kingdom does not possess an F-16 fleet but is considering purchasing the multi-role jet.

The United States is supporting the Saudi training effort. The Bush administration has approved the sale of a training system for the Saudi air force's Arabian Kadena Interim Training System Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation Program.

The Pentagon has awarded a $19.1 million contract to Cubic Defense Systems Corp., based in San Diego, Calif. The contract is expected to be concluded in May 2005.

Saudi officials said Riyad is considering the F-16 as well as the British Tornado jet to replace the air force's fleet of aging F-5 fighter-jets. Officials said they don't expect an imminent procurement decision.