Aug 26, 2011

Future of the Royal Saudi Navy

Counter the Iranian threat, at all costs...

Of the entire Saudi Arabia Land, 0,7% were of water
Coastlines: 2640 km; a EEZ of 228,633 km2 (with 34,023 km2 In the Gulf and 185,882 km2 In the Red Sea).

Personnal Strenght
+/- 15 000 (including 3000 marines)

Up to 2 destroyers ?
With the growing threat of Iranian ballistic missiles, rumors indicate the possible sale of "up to two US Arleigh Burke AAW (BMD capable) destroyers (second-hands or newly built ?) usual...wait & see.

This "possible purchase" could threaten the "Sawari III program" (it is very doubtful than the Saudis can buy up to 2 US large destroyers, 8 to 12 US LCS and 3 or 4 large French FREMM the same time).

+/- 7 Frigates
Up to 3 or 4 newer Frigates ? (Sawari III program)
This contract (expected [hoped] by the French), would be 3 or 4 French FREMM frigates, expected to replace, around 2015/2020, the four ageing Al Medinah FFG' usual...wait & see...

3 Al Riyadh
(Al Riyadh, Makkah, Al Damman). 4500+ tons, 133 meters (Improved French Lafayette FFG design). Commissioned by 2002/2004, with probably +/- 30 year of service expected, to be retired around mid 2030's.

4 Al Medinah
(Al Madinah, Hofouf, Abha, Taif). 2500+ tons, 115 meters (derived from the French Georges Leygues FFG). Commissioned by 1985/1986, with probably +/- 30 year of service, to be retired by late 2010's.

+/- 13 Corvettes (to be replaced by 8 to 12 ? LCS)
4 Badr
(Badr, Al Yarmook, Hiteen, Tabuk). 900+ tons, 74+ meters (US 1970's corvette design). Commissioned by 1980/1983, with probably +/- 30 year of service, to be retired during 2010's.

9 Al Sadiq
(Al Sadiq, Al Faroung, Abdul Aziz, Faisal, Khalid, Amr, Tariq, Oqbah, Abu Obaidah). 450+ tons, 58+ meters (US 1970's small corvette design). Commissioned by 1980/1982, with probably +/- 30 year of service, to be retired during 2010's.

3 Mine-Hunters
3 Sandown
(Al Jawf, Shaqra, Al Kharj). 480 tons, 52+ meters (British Sandown MCM design). Commissioned by 1991/1994, with probably +/- 30 year of service, to be replaced around early 2020's.

Small Amphibious
4 Al Qiaq (LCU)
(Al Qiaq, As Sulayel, Al Ula, Afif). (US LCU 1646 design), built by 1975/1976.

4 to 9 Dheba (LCM)
(Al Leeth, Al Quonfetha, Haqil, Dheba, Umlus, 212, 214, 216, 218). (US LCM 6 design). Transferred by 1977, some maybe unserviceable ?

2 Auxilary Ships
2 Boraida (AO)
(Boraida, Yunbou). 10 000+ tons, 135 meters (modifief French Durance AO design). Commissioned by 1984/1985, with probably +/- 30 year of service, to be retired by late 2010's/early 2020's.

2 Royal Yacht
1 Abdul Aziz
(Abdul Aziz). 5200 tons, 147 meters, built by 1983.

1 Al Yamana
(Al Yamana), 1600 tons, 87 meters, built by 1988.

Many Smaller Crafts (Mid Shore/In Shore Patrols Vessels), uncertain data
Some SRN 6 Overcrafts
Maybe some "Rapier" Crafts
Maybe some "Scorpion" Crafts
Up to 2 Explorer CGV-26 IPV
Some "Halter" Crafts
Some "Simoneau 51"
Some others crafts.

Royal Saudi Marins +/- 3000 troops
Armored Vehicles: 140 BMP-600P

Saudi Naval Aviation
- 12 AS 532/AS 332 Cougar Mk II/Super Puma (with AM 39 anti ships missiles)
- 12 to 24 AS 365 Dauphin (with AS15TT light anti ships missiles).
- 13 Bell 406 CS Combat Scout (status uncertain ?)
- Up to 64 ? NH 90 ? expected to replace nearly all ageing helico (1980's/1990's built).

Next Fleet Review : Future of the Indonesian Navy

As usual, It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistakes ?, especially for the auxiliary and smaller ships), then SAID IT ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !


  1. The second of the Riyadh class frigates, the Makkah (814), while traveling at almost full speed, was run aground on to a coral reef in December of 2004. Her keel was broken and the engine room was completely flooded, so at first she looked like a complete write off. Taking into account the importance of the damages, it would have been considered, at one moment, to build a replacement frigate, but Riyadh preferred to choose a repair of Makkah.

    Here's an article about the salvage operation:

    And the repair situation in Jan 2006:

    Does anyone have any further news on the situation with Makkah?

  2. The Kingdom runs a boutique-army, based on vast amounts of cash and a combination of large Sunni-Arab egos and at the same time doubtful competence in operations. Saudi MBTs spend large amounts of their time in air-conditioned shelters, with crews unable to actually operate or properly maintain them without continuous foreign assistance.

    In that context the Makkah-incident is hardly surprising, but even more insightful is probably the fact that SA lacks any capability/facilities to actually repair the ship (apparently they had to get a floating dock from the US).

    If push comes to shove, unless they can hire a few thousand PMC-contractors to operate all their equipment, I cannot really see, how Saudi-Arabia can credibly deter Iran, even with the latter having much inferior equipment on paper.

  3. @ Para: I agree

    @ P.N:
    After a very long 3 year "docking period" (at Djeddah) by early 2005/early 2008, the Makkah frigate was "re-floatted" by january 2008.

    Current status unclear (maybe not really serviceable ?)