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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Saudi Arabia concludes first air exercises with Tunisia

The four-day programme aimed to increase Saudi pilots' experience in foreign environments 

Saudi and Tunisian air force jets take part in the countries' first joint exercises. Saudi Press Agency
Saudi and Tunisian air force jets take part in the countries' first joint exercises. Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Arabia and Tunisia have completed their first ever joint air drills as part of a bilateral training programme, Saudi state news agency announced.

The Tunisian defence ministry said the exercises were held “to increase the combat readiness of pilots and exchange experiences in the fields of logistics and technical support".

Last week, the Saudi army commander Mohamed bin Saeed Al Shahrani said the drills, the first of their kind with Tunisia, would last for two weeks, but the SPA report on Thursday suggested they had concluded after beginning on Monday.

It said Lt Gen Prince Turki bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Commander of the Saudi Royal Air Force, arrived in Tunisia on Wednesday to attend the conclusion of the joint exercises at Sidi Ahmed Air Base in Bizerte.

“The closing ceremony of the exercise included joint air-to-air combat aircraft from both sides, which carried out a number of air-military formations,” SPA said.

Tunisia joined a military alliance launched by Saudi Arabia in late 2015, but it is not active in the Riyadh-led coalition fighting in Yemen since March the same year.

Saudi air forces arrived in Tunisia last Friday with the intention of “training their personnel and creating room for joint exercises and knowledge exchange between the two forces,” SPA said.

Last week, Commander Al Shahrani said the manoeuvres were aimed at enhancing tactical and operational co-operation between the Saudi air force and its Tunisian counterpart.

The manoeuvres were also aimed at increasing Saudi pilots' experience by conducting operations in a foreign environment.

Saudi Arabia announced further co-operation with Tunisia in other fields this week, with the cabinet authorising the minister of environment, water and agriculture to discuss ways to increase environmental co-operation with Tunisian officials.

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