Saudi Arabia unveils nextgeneration F15 warplane

Saudi Arabia unveiled its next-generation fighter-bomber Wednesday, nearly two years after beginning a controversial air war in Yemen.

At a ceremony and air show in the Saudi capital, a hangar opened to reveal one of the F-15SA Eagle aircraft made by U.S. manufacturer Boeing.

A missile was attached to the belly of the plane displayed against the backdrop of a giant Saudi flag.

Watched by King Salman and his son, Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the unveiling at the King Faisal Air Academy was part of a ceremony to mark the school's 50th anniversary and the graduation of its latest class.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, whose country is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen, also attended.

Saudi Arabia is to add 84 F-15SA warplanes to its air force under a nearly $30 billion deal signed in 2011 that also included Black Hawk and Apache helicopters.

According to IHS Jane's Defense Weekly, the first of the F-15SAs -- the most advanced version of the Eagle built so far -- arrived in December.

Saudi Arabia also has Eurofighter Typhoons and Tornados, which joined several F-15s -- including the newest version -- in the air show held over the skies of Riyadh.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported in April that Saudi Arabia was the world's third-largest defence spender.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Saudi Arabia had an air force of 20,000 personnel and 313 combat-capable aircraft. Most are versions of the F-15.

Source: National News Agency