SAFB to Train Four Thousand Saudi Airmen in Next Seven Years

    During the next seven years, Sheppard Air Force Base will see an influx of about four thousand airmen from Saudi Arabia.
    Katie Crosbie has more on this boost to the local economy.
    Gwyn, it's part of the largest foreign military sales deal in America's history ... a 29 point four *billion* dollar agreement.
    The Royal Saudi Air Force will purchase about 84 F-15 jets from the United States, and will send airmen to U.S. training bases to learn jet maintenance.
     General Darryl Burke, who is commander of the 82nd Training Wing, says at any given time, there will be between 200 and 400 Saudi students on base.
    He says it's an exciting partnership -- and points out that the Air Force has been training Saudis on the F-15 for about 25 years.
    Right now, about 18 Saudi students are in training, and six recently graduated ...
    The big numbers are expected to start arriving early this summer.
    Tom Whaylen, who is president of the Sheppard Military Affairs Committee, shares General Burke's excitement.

Brig. Gen. Darryl Burke
82nd Training Wing Commander
"It's a great opportunity for a cultural experience, I think, with the community. You can't get any better than that -- they're gonna get to see some great North Texas hospitality.  I think they will grow very warm to that quickly, & we will be able to benefit, I think, from some cultural exchange from the Middle East."

Tom Whaylen
Sheppard Military Affairs Committee
"Sheppard provides absolutely top-shelf training out there. So, Royal Saudi airmen coming here over the next few years to get training -- it can do nothing but enhance the relations between our two countries."

Sheppard has received some money from the Saudis to upgrade its facilities ... and to hire about 15 additional maintenance instructors.
    General Burke says this is just another way to create those long- lasting partnerships between nations that Sheppard has fostered for decades.

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