December 31, 2012
Credit: Credit: BAE Systems
The Oman's decision to buy Eurofighter Typhoons may have drawn a line under the long-running negotiations between BAE Systems and Muscat, but more opportunities lie in the region.
BAE Systems will deliver 12 Typhoons and eight Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers to Oman beginning in 2017 in a £2.5 billion ($4 billion) deal. The sale will push the company's backlog of aircraft production work into the early 2020s, securing both jobs and also a renewed confidence in the wake of the company's failed bid to merge with EADS earlier this year. The contract also includes a comprehensive spares and support package.
Negotiations with Oman have been ongoing for several years. While it seemed inevitable that the sultanate would settle on the Typhoon to replace its long-serving Sepecat Jaguar ground-attack aircraft, a series of engineering issues which plagued the development of the Al Shamikh-class corvette patrol ships—also built by BAE—for the Royal Omani Navy put pressure on the Typhoon deal, pushing it back well beyond its expected conclusion date.
Previously, it had been reported that Oman would receive former Tranche 1 Typhoons from the U.K. Royal Air Force. However, the deal signed on Dec. 21 will see the country receiving Tranche 3 aircraft with provision for an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to be fitted in the future.
Nonetheless, now that the deal is signed, BAE Systems and other companies in the Eurofighter consortium are focusing their efforts elsewhere in the vitally important Middle East fighter market. Work continues on a second batch of Typhoons to Saudi Arabia. However, the company revealed it was struggling to negotiate an agreement on price and this could lead to warnings that its 2012 earnings could be reduced as a result.
BAE has so far delivered 24 out of 72 Typhoons ordered under the Al-Salam deal signed in 2007. Test-flying of the first aircraft in the final batch of 48 Typhoons being delivered under Al-Salam started at the beginning of December.
Work on selling Typhoon to the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues, with U.K. government assistance. Senior ministers, including Prime Minister David Cameron are pushing the Typhoon and other defense products in a bid to boost revenue to British industry. It is understood the UAE may be interested in buying as many as 60 Typhoons to replace its fleet of Mirage 2000-9s. Kuwait and Qatar may also be in the market to replace their F/A-18 Hornets and Mirage 2000s respectively.