• Some sensor systems in the package are used only by the US and 21 international air forces
  • System upgrades to provide Saudi Air Force with unmatched performance for years to come

The US’ Lockheed Martin has signed a $263m contract with the US Air Force for the upgrade of Saudi Arabia’s F-15 fighter jets.

The contract calls for Lockheed Martin to work with Riyadh-based Advanced Electronics Company to refresh the Saudi Air Force’s F-15 Sniper advanced targeting pods (ATP) and upgrade its LANTIRN extended range (ER) pods. The contract also covers sustainment for the infrared search and tracks (IRST) systems, which will be executed by Lockheed Martin from its depot in Orlando, Florida.

“By leveraging in-kingdom capabilities, the Royal Saudi Air Force will have its sensors… upgraded to provide unmatched performance for years to come,” Paul Lemmo, a vice president at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control division, said in a statement issued during the second day of the Dubai Airshow. Lockheed Martin has been providing the kingdom with advanced sensor systems since 1996.

Sniper ATP is a precision targeting system chosen by the US Air Force and 21 international air forces while IRST is a passive sensor system used by international F-15 customers.

The GCC states have been ramping up security spending due to the increasingly volatile security situation in the region particularly in Iraq, Yemen and Syria, as well as due to external and domestic terror threats. Saudi Arabia is leading a military coalition that is fighting the Irani-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Lockheed Martin opened a new centre at the Dubai South, formerly Dubai World Central, on 9 November. The new office, says its chairman, chief executive and president Marillyn Hewson, caters to their growing operations in the region.