May 23, 2012
Credit: Credit: BAE
BAE Systems has signed a 1.6 billion pound ($2.5 billion) deal to supply Saudi Arabia with Hawk jets to train pilots to fly the Eurofighter Typhoon which it has already ordered from the UK company.
The deal provides some welcome relief for the British defence giant, which is battling against shrinking European and American defence budgets and fierce competition.
The deal covers the supply of 22 new Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft, which will be made in Britain, 55 Swiss made Pilatus turboprop aircraft as well as training equipment and other support services, BAE said on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia’s official news agency SPA quoted an unnamed official at the Saudi defence ministry as saying the Hawks would help train “the Saudi air force to be able to use the fighter jets ... efficiently”.
The majority of the Hawks will be made at BAE’s plants in Samlesbury and Warton in Lancashire, northwest England, with some to be built at its site in Brough, Yorkshire, which is due to close in 2014, according to BAE.
British trade union Unite said 218 jobs at the plant in Brough, where planes have been made for almost 100 years, would be saved as a result of the deal. BAE previously said 845 jobs at Brough would be cut.
Earlier this year, BAE said its chances of delivering profit growth in 2012 hinged on talks to finalise a range of contracts with Saudi Arabia in a year marked by tight government defence budgets.
In 2007 Saudi Arabia -- the world’s top oil exporter -- signed the contract with BAE to buy 72 Typhoon aircraft, 24 of which have been delivered to the Royal Saudi Air Force. The Salam deal, as it is known, is worth around 4.5 billion pounds.
Britain’s defence ministry said the deal would provide the Royal Saudi Air Force with “cutting edge officer and aircrew training ... to support the introduction and operation of its growing fleet of fourth generation Typhoon fighter aircraft.”