Sudan said on Sunday that it will begin military air operations with Saudi Arabia this week, the first exercises of its kind since the breakdown in 2015 of the links between Khartoum and Tehran.
The maneuvers will take place from 29 March to 12 April in Meroe, north of Khartoum, and will involve hundreds of air force personnel from both countries.
The Islamist regime in Khartoum had maintained close ties with Iran for years, but its growing rivalry with Saudi Arabia, notably on the Syrian conflict, has changed the situation.
In 2015, Sudan announced its participation in an Arab coalition led by Riyadh, which is conducting strikes in Yemen against Iranian-backed Shiite rebels Houthis.
According to a Sudanese air force official, the exercises will aim at improving the capabilities of both aviations and their techniques during operations.
The idea of these maneuvers “was proposed by our brothers in Saudi Arabia,” said Salaheddin Abdul Khalid, acting commander of Sudan’s air force.
“We have planned this for almost a year,” he added.
Sudan will participate with more than two dozen combat aircraft, including the MiG-29 and the Sukhoi, the official said.
Saudi Arabia will deploy its F-15 and Eurofighter Typhoon.
It is also expected that Saudi pilots will make a parade in the sky of Khartoum.
Relations between Riyadh and Khartoum were strengthened after the Sudanese army joined the Arab coalition.
According to analysts, this warming serves the interests of both countries: it helps Sudan to mitigate its international isolation and offers Saudi Arabia a new market for its investments as the kingdom tries to reduce its dependence on oil.