Joint Saudi-Sudanese Air Exercise

Saudi Arabia and Sudan have for the first time held a joint air exercise, which took place in Sudan between March 29 and April 9. Exercise Blue Shield I was staged at Meroe Air Base north of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, and involved two dozen aircraft from the Sudanese Air Force (MiG-29s, Su-24s, Su-25s and Mi-17s) and 18 aircraft from the Royal Saudi Air Force, including four F-15Cs and four Typhoons from King Fahad Air Force Base. In addition, Sudan contributed 450 personnel and Saudi Arabia 250 to the exercise. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al- Bashir and Commander of the Saudi Air Force Mohammed Bin Saleh Al- Otaibi visited the exercise on April 9, which saw a display by seven Hawks from the Saudi Hawks display team. Sudan and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed close ties since Sudan shifted from Iran and joined the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen in 2015. In February 2016, Sudan participated in exercise North Thunder in Saudi Arabia followed by naval exercise Falak II also in the Kingdom in January this year.