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Saudi National Guard inaugurates Dirab Air Base

A still from a video released by the Saudi Arabian National Guard shows an aerial view of Dirab Air Base. (Saudi Arabian National Guard)

The Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) inaugurated its new training base for its aviation wing at Dirab on the southwest outskirts of Riyadh on 19 January even though the facility needs remedial work.

The SANG announced that the base was opened by Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, the minister of national defence, and released photographs and a video showing AH-64R Apache, AH-6i, and UH-60M helicopters had been deployed there for the occasion, in addition to the MD 350F helicopters the SANG uses for training. Prince Abdullah was given a tour of the facilities that included several flight simulators.

The problems with the base were detailed in a series of notices released on the US government's System for Award Management website looking for a contractor to fix them, most recently on 7 January.

Most relate to the air traffic control tower, which needs its windows modified so they do not obscure aircraft movements or produce reflections. The concrete parapet around the tower's external walkway also needs to be cut down and a guard rail fitted.

Markings and signs on the base's runway, three helicopter landing lanes, helipads, and taxiways need to be removed and repainted, and the contractor will have to check the magnetic runway headings to ensure the current ones are correct.

Satellite imagery indicates Dirab was completed in 2019, but the SANG appeared to continue to use a smaller facility just north of its main aviation base at Kashm al-An on the eastern side of Riyadh for helicopter training.

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