Strategy Page has an insightful and detailed description of Saudi military culture.

While the thousands of aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles and other high-tech systems Saudi Arabia has bought in the last decade look impressive, the actual impact of all this lethal hardware depends a lot on the skill of those using it. In this department, the Saudis have some serious problems. And it is generally very difficult to get Saudis to even discuss the situation.

Examples are widely available, and seen daily by the thousands of Western technicians, specialists and trainers hired by Saudi Arabia to keep their high-tech gear operational. For example, Saudis, and Arabs in general, don't care for the Western custom of establishing minimum standards for, say, fighter pilots. It's long been known that it is very difficult to wash out a Saudi pilot who is well connected (especially a member of the huge royal family). There are some very good Saudi pilots, but they are a minority. The rest get by. As long as they can take off and land, they can stay in a squadron. During combat exercises, especially with American squadrons, it's understood that the low overall performance of Saudi pilots is not to be discussed with the Saudis, or anyone else. Junior American officers get irked by this, but it's career suicide to disobey orders on this point. The Saudis do spend a lot of money on training and letting the pilots fly. For this reason, they are considered marginally better than other Arab air forces. But against the Iranians, who more enthusiastically accepted Western training methods, they would have problems. Iranian aircraft are older and less well equipped, but pilot quality would make up for a lot of that.

SP is always a great read.

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