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Green Shield  BA133 Nancy-Ochey,   14 April 2014

In early April, no less than six F-15s from Tabuk – King Faisal Air Base arrived at Base Aérienne 133 Nancy-Ochey for exercise ‘Green Shield 4’. The 2nd Squadron, belonging to the 7th Wing of the Royal Saudi Air Force brought four single seat C-models, and two two-seat D-models to Nancy AB. These six fighters were supported by 200 man personnel, four C-130 Hercules’ and two of their new Airbus A-330 MRTT tanker/transport aircraft. The French participations in this years exercise consist of Rafales from BA113 Saint-Dizier, Mirage 2000-5Fs from BA116 Luxeuil-Saint Sauveur and of course the local Mirage 2000Ds.

 

Exercise ‘Green Shield’ in the past

This year saw the fourth edition of exercise ‘Green Shield’. The first exercise was held in 2007 when Rafales from BA113 Saint-Dizier were deployed to Taif – King Fahd Air Base in Saudi Arabia. Exercise ‘Green Shield 2’ was held at BA102 Dijon-Longvic in October 2009. For this exercise six F-15 Eagles from 5th Squadron based at Taif- King Fahd Air Base were deployed to France to train with the local Mirage 2000-5Fs and Alpha Jets. 

 

The third exercise was held in Saudi Arabia again, when in early 2012 three Rafales and three Mirage 2000Ds were send to Tabuk – King Faisal Air Base. Although there was an incident in which a local F-15C and a French Mirage 2000D were lost in a mid-air collision a fourth edition of exercise ‘Green Shield’ was organized in 2014. The main goal of exercise ‘Green Shield’ is to share experience, train together and to reinforce the cooperation between French and Saudi air crews in combined air operations. Every exercise begins with small 1v1 scenarios which will be expanded to large scale air combat missions. This year also saw Combat Search and Rescue missions, which were supported by two French EC.725 Caracal helicopters.

 

 

Today’s mission

On Monday April 14th, a special spotter/media day was organized in the afternoon. During the exercise two missions were flown each day. We already arrived at BA133 Nancy-Ochey in the early morning to see the first wave of the day from outside the fence among many other spotters. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very hopeful in the morning as the airbase was covered under a cloud layer. These weather conditions are very rare in Saudi Arabia, but this didn’t withhold the Eagle-pilots from participating in the morning mission.

 

In the early afternoon we entered the base and were given the opportunity to take photos on the flightline used for exercise ‘Green Shield’. Six F-15C/D Eagles, four Mirage 2000-5Fs, three Rafales and two Mirage 2000Ds parked in a row. We were able to take pictures of the aircraft from various positions in beautiful sunny conditions. When the crews were about to step into their aircraft it was time for us to reposition to a spot close to the runway to take shots of the aircraft taking off. For this afternoon a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) mission was scheduled, so the first to take off were two EC.725R2 Caracal helicopters specialized in CSAR operations. These were followed by some local Mirage 2000Ds and two Saudi F-15C Eagles. The second flight of two Saudi Eagles followed together with Mirage 2000-5Fs and Rafales. One of the Rafales had to abort the mission with an in-flight emergency and was brought back to Nancy AB by its colleague.

 

For the landings we were positioned on a hill closer to the beginning of the runway, which gave us a nice opportunity to take some shots of the jets touching the asphalt. When around four o’clock in the afternoon all fighters were safely back on the ground one of the EC.725 Caracal helicopters gave a brief CSAR demonstration. This marked the end of a fantastic day at BA133 Nancy-Ochey for us. Thanks goes out to the French Air Force and Sirpa Air.  (Click here for a full log)

 

 

F-15 Eagles of the Royal Saudi Air Force

The Al Quwwat al Jawwiya as Saudiya (Royal Saudi Air Force) initially ordered a total of 62 Eagles (47 C-models and 15 D-models) to replace their aging BAC Lightnings. The first RSAF Eagles were used at Luke AFB to train Saudi pilots and ground crews. In August 1981 the first Saudi Eagles entered operational service with the RSAF. Soon three squadrons (5 Sqn at Taif – King Fahd AB, 6 Sqn at Khamis Mashayt – King Khalid AB and 13 Sqn at Dhahran – King Abdullah Aziz AB) were fully equipped with the F-15C/D Eagle.

 

In 1989 Saudi Arabia placed an order to purchase another twelve F-15C/Ds, but the US Congress didn’t give their approval. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 changed their opinion and soon a total of 24 F-15C/D Eagles (20 C-models and 4 D-models) were delivered to the newly formed 42 Sqn based at Dhahran – King Abdullah Aziz AB. Twelve of these came from the inventory of the 32 TFW based at Soesterberg AB, Netherlands. The other twelve came from the 36 TFW based at Bitburg AFB, Germany. In 1991 the RSAF eventually received their in 1989 ordered F-15C/Ds (9 C-models and 3 D-models) bringing their total to 98 F-15C/D Eagles.

 

The government of Saudi Arabia was also interested in the F-15E Strike Eagle, but this was denied by the US Congress as the aircraft was too sensitive for export. Eventually in 1993 the US Congress gave permission to export a total of 72 downgraded versions of the F-15E Strike Eagle, designated as F-15S. The first F-15S took to the sky on June 19th 1995, and the last S-model was delivered to the RSAF in 1999. Three squadrons (92 Sqn at Dhahran – King Abdullah Aziz AB and both 6 Sqn and 55 Sqn based at Khamis Mushayt – King Khalid AB) are currently flying the F-15S. In December 2011 a 30 billion USD deal was signed to purchase a total of 84 new F-15SAs (Saudi Advanced) and to upgrade 68 S-models to the SA-standards. The newly build SA-models are expected to be delivered between 2015 and 2019.

 

 

 This page is dedicated to Jan Lefers, who past away on the day I visited Nancy-Ochey. You will be missed, but not forgotten!

 

 

 

 

   

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