Saudi Prince Joins ISIS Bombing Run
Should there be any doubts about the commitment of Saudi Arabia in the current U.S.-led attacks on ISIS, these photographs are clearly designed to lay them to rest.
They show Prince Khaled bin Salman, a very senior Saudi prince (he is the son of the heir to the Saudi Arabian throne) in a Top Gun pose, having apparently just arrived back from taking part in a U.S.-led bombing run on the strongholds of ISIS militants in Iraq.
Robert Lacey, author of The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Sa'ud, told the Daily Beast: "Quite a number of the brighter and more hard-working Saudi princes are fighter pilots - trained in Britain or America and happy to get up at dawn to go out on patrol. They see it as being in the tradition of their grandfather, Abdul Aziz, the great warrior of the desert who created the Kingdom. He built it with camels. They defend it with Typhoons and F-15s."
The prince’s involvement is designed to telegraph a very clear message, and help refute claims that senior elements in the kingdom sympathizes with the radical group.
The prince - whose father is defense minister - was pictured in the cockpit of his Tornado jet, reportedly after piloting it in strikes against ISIS, in photos which were released by the Saudi government.
The Crown Prince in waiting, Muqrin, is also a former fighter pilot and trained at RAF Cranwell.
The prince was said to have piloted one of four Saudi planes as, for a second night, jets from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates joined American aircraft on bombing runs over Syria.
He was joined in the skies by the United Arab Emirate's first female air force pilot, Major Mariam Al Mansouri, 35, whose F-16 fighter was one of several from a group of Arab nations that are blitzing ISIS, according to The Times.