Saudi Arabia set to buy 48 Typhoon jets from the UK

The jets, made by British company BAE Systems, are part of a multibillion-pound deal which has been under discussion for many years.

BAE confirmed the news in a statement, saying: “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.”

Saudi Arabia set to buy 48 Typhoon jets from the UK
Saudi Arabia set to buy 48 Typhoon jets from the UK

Shares in BAE Systems were up 2.7% on the news.

The preliminary deal comes on the final day of a three-day official visit by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The visit included talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and an audience with the Queen.

There was also an estimated £65bn of additional trade agreed for the coming years as part of the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 economic plan.

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Theresa May greets the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman outside 10 Downing Street
Image:The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Theresa May as part of his visit

Sky News Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said the memorandum of intent still required the details to be ironed out before a final contract is signed, but he added: “You wouldn’t expect things to go backwards now though.

“A recent example is Qatar who signed a statement of intent for 24 Typhoons in September 2017 and then final contract in December 2017.”

Before his visit, the 32-year-old Crown Prince talked about the importance of security ties between between the UK and Saudi Arabia.

He said both countries would be “much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia”.

But there have been protests because of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen.

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Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said the UK had already licensed £4.6bn of arms for Saudi Arabia since the Yemen conflict began in 2015.

He added: “If agreed, this shameful deal will be celebrated in the palaces of Riyadh and by the arms companies who will profit from it, but it will mean even greater destruction for the people of Yemen.”

Mrs May defended the UK’s ties with Saudi Arabia earlier this week, saying all arms sales are strictly regulated.

But she has also raised concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with the Crown Prince during his visit.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced swing-role combat aircraft available and there are almost 500 in service across Europe.

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It is the primary quick reaction and expeditionary aircraft of the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Some 5,000 people are employed by BAE Systems on the Typhoon programme, covering production and support.

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