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Tinker maintainers aid Saudi air force with E-3 repair

by Brandice Armstrong
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/31/2008 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFPN) -- Representatives from the Royal Saudi air force arrived to collect their newly repaired E-3 March 24 from Tinker Air Force Base officials.

After members of the 566th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's E-3 Maintenance Flight here replaced a bearing between the rotodome and aircraft, an aircrew from the Royal Saudi air force's 6th Flying Wing will perform aerial tests before returning the aircraft back to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The 6th Flying Wing crew brought the E-3 in need of repairs to Tinker AFB Feb. 28.

Base officials don't expect this E-3 to be the last aircraft to come for repairs, said Lt. Col. Gerry Kolaski of the U.S. Military Training Mission, the organization that advises the RSAF from Eskan Village in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"We continue to support the Saudis to maintain mutual trust and understanding as allies," the colonel said. "It's in both of our interests to maintain a close working relationship like this repair effort."

Tinker AFB members sustain the Royal Saudi air force Peace Sentinel fleet -- E-3A and KE-3A aircraft -- through a letter of offer and acceptance and the 557th Aircraft Sustainment Squadron's Mideast support.

This includes engineering support, technical support, management of technical data and by providing program management, said Dana Hall, the chief of Mideast support.

Saudi Arabian aircraft purchased from the United States are managed through the Department of Defense's Foreign Military Sales program, which aids the purchase of defense equipment, services and military training to foreign governments.

"Saudi Arabia is the strongest ally in the Middle East," Mr. Hall said. "The sale of (E-3s) to Saudi Arabia enhances our vital security interest by contributing directly to the stability and security from the Persian Gulf through the Middle East to North Africa."

The U.S.-Saudi Arabian military relationship began as early as 1945 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King Abdul Aziz aboard the USS Quincy on the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, Egypt, to discuss U.S.-Saudi military cooperation. The U.S. Military Training Mission has been in the kingdom since 1953. The Royal Saudi air force has been flying the U.S.-built E-3 since 1986, Colonel Kolaski said.

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