It's usually part of the deal, Saudis pay to send its guys over to America to do the same course as the yank pilots. When i did my phase 2 we had a couple of courses along side ours of Saudi and UAE groundcrew after the MOD sales of Tornado and Typhoon. I cant imagine that the Saudis will be happy if the pilots and groundcrew turn up clueless after 2 years paid and paid for in America.
I doubt its about bribes, they have everything we can offer them now, it wouldnt surprise me if they buy up some F-35's when America opens them up more to the markets. Saudi wants to be the dominant force, and they have the money and arms deals with us, America and russia to easily achieve that.
Perhaps because the Saudis didn't have the strike version F15E, only Air superiority.
Under the Al Yamamah contract, the Saudis bought a huge package of both types of Tornadoes, Hawks, spares, support etc. They quickly found that Tornados were pretty useless interceptors (and worse at air superiority-Definately not designed for dogfighting, just for cruising up to Soviet bomber fleets and blatting them far out over the North Sea.), but pretty good strike aircraft. The Saudis reversed out of the option to buy more Tornado ADV in exchange for Typhoon.
Horses for courses. F15s for dogfighting. Tornado IDS for dropping metal. Tornado ADV, the funny shaped thing at the bottom of the bag that you throw away. On the scale of that contract, one duff bit of kit isn't surprising.
They went for the ADV because - at the time - the US wouldn't permit them to have more than 60 (I think it was) F-15s in country; the attrition reserve was kept in the US at Luke AFB. There were various other bits of subtle downgrading (although the jibe that putting a Saudi in the cockpit usually downgraded the aircraft instantly had some truth to it...). The Saudis, not un-naturally, felt that pursuing more US aircraft was pointless since they'd face similar conditions imposed by the pro-Israeli lobby, which is why they turned to the Tornado.
Since they felt that they needed interceptors, the ADV was a reasonable choice in the circumstances. The only alternatives were Soviet (a non-starter) or French. Sadly for them, the French behaved in the same way that they have in the UAE - in essence, their sales pitch was:
'listen in, camel jockeys. Give us squillions of dollars, converted to francs at a rate that is more favourable than the markets will give us, and we'll turn the Mirage 4000 into the uber-fighter you want to smite the Persians and the Jews (dependent upon whether you put business before pleasure or not). We'll chuck in some cursory training as well, and will be very grateful that your input allows us to sell the French Air Force the same aircraft at a more affordable price, since you'll be bearing the risk. C'est bien, oui?"
The Saudis may well have been subjected to other, brown-envelope supported marketeering by BAe, but the Tornado buy was driven by an operational requirement on the RSAF's part (that might be better put as an 'aspiration' if some of the horror stories about pilot quality are true...). If they weren't going to go with the US option, they only really had two choices and the French offended some (but not all) key players in the decision-making process.
Desert Storm changed all of this, and although there are concerns over the way in which the Americans might impose conditions, getting hold of 84 F-15s for a spot of potential Persian smiting serves both Riyadh and Washington very well...
Unfair to single out BAE Systems for providing hospitality to their valued clients. For an example of the
Mt Everest of bribery scandals, look no further than worldwide sales of the F-104 and P-3. Britain had the
sense to avoid all that. It is inconceivable the MoD would repeat today, the mistakes made by its NATO
partners yesterday, and sign contracts to procure single engine, air superiority fighters from Lockheed.
I believe it was blocked by the Pro Israeli lobby in Congress-The Red Sea Pedestrians had a monopoly on the 15E. It was too capable, and back in the late 80's would have been a destabilising factor. For much the same reason the Pakistanis have been waiting for a batch of F16s they paid for but which have been sitting in the US for years.