Saudi Arabia has unveiled a new bomber manufactured by the United States despite international criticism about the kingdom’s devastating war on neighboring Yemen.
During a ceremony and air show in the capital, Riyadh, on Wednesday, King Salman and his son Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman watched the unveiling of one of the F-15SA Eagle aircraft made by US manufacturer Boeing.
The warplane, one of the most sophisticated in the world, was displayed against the backdrop of a giant Saudi flag with a missile attached to its belly.
Saudi Arabia is the third biggest military spender in the world with reports saying that the kingdom has splashed billions on weapons and ammunition over the past years.
The deadly Saudi campaign against Yemen, which lacks any international mandate, has faced growing criticism from governments and rights groups as most sorties conducted by the Saudi air force have targeted residential areas.
The Saudi air force has announced plans for strengthening its fleet through adding some 84 F-15SA warplanes under an agreement signed with the United States in 2011. The nearly $30-billion deal also includes Black Hawk and Apache helicopters.
Washington has ignored international calls for a halt in the procurement of weapons and aircraft to Riyadh.
A recent report published in IHS Jane's Defense Weekly revealed that the first of the F-15SAs arrived in December. The kingdom currently has 313 combat-capable aircraft.
During the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday, countries that have benefited from Saudi Arabia's financial support to contribute to its war on Yemen were also represented, a sign that Saudi Arabia may use the bombers in its so-called coalition attacks against Yemen. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir was the top foreign figure watching the ceremony in Riyadh.