Everything You Need to Know About Operation Magic Carpet and the British Mercenaries Who Flew Fighters for Saudi Arabia

Dario Leone
By Clemens Vasters from Viersen, Germany, Germany - English Electric P.1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49800396

Dario Leone

History, Middle East

A great story.

Everything You Need to Know About Operation Magic Carpet and the British Mercenaries Who Flew Fighters for Saudi Arabia

Although a Saudi lieutenant was nominally made CO of No. 6 Squadron, RSAF, in November 1967, British pilots still had the ‘final say’ – even more so once the unit was officially declared operational, a month later.

British mercenary pilots flew Saudi Lightnings.

Following lengthy negotiation in January 1966 Saudi Arabia signed a contract worth US$154 million with the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) and Airwork Services Ltd (UK), for a purchase of six BAC Lightning interceptors (including four single-seaters and two two-seaters), and a battery with eight launchers for British-made Thunderbird Mk I surface to-air missiles (SAMs). Another contract — stipulating deliveries of 22 additional Lightning F.Mk 53s and a similar number of BAC Strikemaster training jets and light strikers — was signed several months later. The resulting enterprise, including deliveries and working up of RSAF units that operated this equipment, became known under the codename ‘Magic Carpet’.

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