SAUDI ARABIA has made a preliminary agreement to purchase an addition 48 Eurofighter Typhoons. The memorandum of intent, signed yesterday, March 9, at the end of an official three-day visit to the UK by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, confirms plans to finalise discussions on a deal that has been under discussion for many years. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has previously taken delivery of 72 Typhoons, the last two of which left BAE Systems’ plant in Warton, Lancashire, to begin their delivery flight on June 6, 2017.
As part of the original 72-aircraft deal, it had been planned to set up a production line in Saudi Arabia to produce some of the aircraft, but this was never finalised and all were produced at Warton. Similarly, with the planned new 48-aircraft deal, Saudi Arabia has been keen to undertake some local production of the aircraft, which has delayed completing the deal. It remains to be seen whether any local assembly will be included in the final contract.
BAE Systems confirmed the announcement, CEO Charles Woodburn stating: “The MOI between the Saudi and UK Governments is a further endorsement of Typhoon’s world class credentials as a proven, highly capable swing-role aircraft. This is a positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner. We are committed to supporting the Kingdom as it modernises the Saudi Armed Forces and develops key industrial capabilities critical to the delivery of Vision 2030.” The latter, launched in 2016, is Saudi Arabia’s roadmap for the Kingdom’s development and economic objectives for the next 15 years. UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We have taken a vital step towards finalising another order for Typhoon jets that will increase security in the Middle East and boost British industry and jobs in our unrivalled aerospace sector.”