TWO SAAB 2000 Erieye airborne early warning and control aircraft have quietly entered service with the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) recently. It is unclear when operations began with the aircraft, as neither Saab nor the Saudis will discuss the acquisition of these aircraft. However, one of them was revealed in public for the first time on December 16, when it acted as a backdrop for a graduation parade at the Air Force Academy at Riyadh-King Khaled Air Base.
Although this was the first confirmation that the type had entered RSAF service, both of the two aircraft on order are believed to have been handed over around the middle of last year. Their Swedish test registrations were cancelled on June 5, 2014, following transfer to Saudi ownership, but it is unclear when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, as they may have been initially retained in Sweden to train RSAF crews.
The aircraft are believed to be operated by the RSAF’s 60 Squadron, although the base from which they operate has not yet been confirmed. Both aircraft were converted to Erieye configuration from second-hand commercial variants, previously operated by Carpatair in Romania. They will be used by the RSAF for border surveillance. Alan Warnes