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Old 04-20-2006, 09:09 PM
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kurusch kurusch is offline
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Default Saudi updates its airforce...........

The Times April 20, 2006

Typhoon set for new deal of decade
From Richard Beeston in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia is to spend billions on a new generation of fighter aircraft
BRITAIN appeared to have clinched a multibillion-pound deal yesterday to supply Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

With fears that the conflict in Iraq could spill over its borders and with recent sabre-rattling from Iran, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister, said that a deal had been struck with Britain to modernise the Royal Saudi Air Force by upgrading existing British aircraft and purchasing the new Eurofighter Typhoon.

“It is a deal that is a good deal for both countries,” he said. “We have reached a time when we have to renew our equipment.” He said that it was in the interests of the international community for Saudi Arabia to be able to defend its huge oil resources with the best equipment available.

The plan, which has taken months to negotiate, was discussed by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Crown Prince Sultan, the Defence Minister, who is also considering a rival option to buy French fighter jets. British officials refused to reveal details until the agreement can be finalised, but it is understood that the Saudis are interested in an initial order of 24 Typhoons, as part of a package of 72 aircraft to be supplied in coming years.

The agreement will be a huge boost to BAE Systems, which is part of the four-nation European consortium building the aircraft. No figure has been put on the deal, but Typhoons sell for about £50 million each.

In this case the package will include training for Saudi fighter pilots in Britain and a huge technical support operation in Saudi Arabia to maintain and operate the aircraft.

The final figure is likely to run to tens of billions of pounds. It will probably be the biggest defence deal since Margaret Thatcher clinched the multibillion al-Yamamah contract a little more than twenty years ago to supply Tornado jets and other aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force in what was then described as the deal of the decade. The Typhoon sale is part of a wider Saudi arms build-up, made possible by record high prices for crude oil and made necessary by deteriorating security in the region.

Prince Saud said: “The threat of the break-up of Iraq is going to create huge problems for countries in the region.”

Experts fear that a civil war in Iraq between the Shia and Sunni Muslim communities could drag in Iran on the side of its Shia brethren and Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey on the side of the Sunni Arabs.
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