Saudi Arabia signs warplane deal with United Kingdom during crown prince visit

Katrina Barker
March 11, 2018

The deal for the Typhoon fighters has become bogged down in negotiations over where production of the jet will take place, with Saudi Arabia keen to have some parts of the process on Saudi soil.

"The UK Government has signed a Memorandum of Intent with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to aim to finalise discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon Aircraft", BAE Systems said in a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange.

The Eurofighter fleet will gradually replace the Tornado GR4 fighter bombers operated by the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Chief executive officer Charles Woodburn said: "We are committed to supporting the kingdom as it modernises the Saudi armed forces and develops key industrial capabilities".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to London will turn to defense and security on Friday as he meets British defense minister Gavin Williamson, touching on the most contentious element of his trip: arms sales.

Qatar agreed to buy 24 Typhoons in December in a contract valued at around 5 billion pounds ($6.9 billion), with delivery expected in late 2022.

Meanwhile opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused May's government of "colluding" in war crimes by selling Saudi Arabia military equipment.

And the Crown Prince said both countries are "much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia".

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

"If confirmed 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", said Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

It was not immediately clear whether any of those contracts included arms sales, with the spokesman simply adding that the signed deals included "direct Saudi investment in the United Kingdom and new Saudi public procurement with United Kingdom companies".

The deal will be welcomed at Warton, Lancashire, where the swing-role combat aircraft are built by BAE Systems.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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