The U.S. Department of State approved the possible $259 million sale of four Beechcraft King Air 350ER Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance to Kuwait, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a press release.
“The proposed sale will enable Kuwait to gather its own airborne ISR data. This capability will improve Kuwait’s situational awareness, armed forces posture, and armed forces capability to respond to threats,” the Wednesday, February 21 release said.
“The King Air 350ER ISR is part of the Kuwaiti Air Force’s rapid expansion and modernization efforts, and is a priority for Kuwait and the United States.”
Kuwait requested the possible sale of four King Air 350ER ISR aircraft with PT6A-67A engines, four AN/AAQ-35 WESCAM MX-15HDi Electro-Optical & Infrared Imaging Sensor Turrets, four Selex Seaspray 7500E Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars (AESA); AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, and AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Systems.
One of the aircraft will be modified to accomodate VIP or senior leadership transport and medical evacuation or command and control.
The government also requested secure communications, cryptographic and precision navigation equipment, Identification Friend or Foe Systems, aircraft modification and integration, facility design and construction, ground data support, test and training support, and U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support, and other logistical and program support.
The principal contractor is Sierra Nevada Corporation. The sale will include contractor field representatives relocating to Kuwait for day-to-day logistics support and maintenance, DSCA said.
Sierra Nevada previously modified two King Air 350ER aircraft for Saudi Arabia with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance/synthetic aperture radar capability.
Kuwait air force modernization
Kuwait has signed a number of procurement deals in the last few years, including major deals with France. In 2015 Kuwait signed $2.8 billion (€2.5 million) worth of purchase agreements to acquire a fleet of up to 24 Airbus H225M Caracal helicopters and air-to-ground and air-to-sea missiles. The deal was upgraded in 2016 to exercise an option for six additional Caracals.
Also in 2015, Kuwait signed a memorandum of understanding worth €8 billion for 28 Eurofighter Typhoons, with additional training, weapons and support options.
A $5 billion purchase of up to 40 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter jets was finalized with the U.S. in late 2016.