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Saudis get maritime types of AWACS craft from US

The United States will replace its four AWACS radar planes in Saudi Arabia with maritime versions able to spot ships in the Persian Gulf and slow, low-flying aircraft, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Spokesman Michael Burch said the first of the substitute AWACS (airborne warning and control system) planes arrived in Saudi Arabia last night and the other three already there would be replaced ''relatively soon.'' He gave no date.

Mr. Burch said the basic AWACS could track only objects moving faster than 80 knots and were designed to give the Saudis a modern air defense pending delivery in the next couple of years of the five maritime AWACS they are buying from the United States.

He said that Saudi needs had changed with the recent attacks on commercial shipping in the Gulf and that the replacement AWACS would be able to locate ship movements in the Gulf as well as enemy planes.

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