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BAE Systems eyes Bahrain order for fighter jets

Manama, January 27, 2014

By Greg Fountain

UK defence contractor BAE Systems, which is part of a consortium that manufactures the Eurofighter Typhoon, is ready to meet any order Bahrain might make for a squadron of state-of-the-art fighter jets, said a top official.

It follows the company's participation at Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS) earlier this month, reported the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

"His Majesty King Hamad has made certain statements in the last year saying that he is very interested in the Typhoon and we are hoping, as are the British government, that he will place an order with us," BAE Systems group business development director Alan Garwood told the GDN.

"It is far too early to say any more than that, but we have been listening to his intentions and if that is what His Majesty wants to do then we will deliver."

The GDN reported in August that Bahrain was in talks about the possibility of buying an unspecified number of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.

King Hamad met with British Prime Minister David Cameron while he was in London over the summer to discuss the deal.

Little has been said about the talks since, however, and it was feared in December that any possible deal might be under threat after talks between the Eurofighter consortium and the UAE fell through.

But UK Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond told the GDN that he remained confident a deal with Bahrain could be done, largely down to the "deep and multi-faceted relationship" Bahrain enjoys with the UK.

"The news from the UAE obviously was disappointing," Mr Hammond said.

"But we are very grateful to have had confirmation (from the UAE) that the aircraft matched all their requirements. It was nothing to do with the aircraft or its capabilities; it was the terms of the deal that was the sticking point."

The presence of both an RAF Typhoon and a Saudi Typhoon at BIAS 2014 offered an unique opportunity to highlight the aircraft's features and enhancements, Mr Hammond said.

"We know the Typhoon has got fabulous capabilities," he said.

"But being able to bring it here and particularly being able to put an RAF Typhoon next to a Saudi Typhoon means we can showcase this as a 'Gulf aircraft'.

"We hope very much that Bahrain will be joining the Typhoon family soon. I think it would be an excellent fit for the Royal Bahrain Air Force (RBAF)," he added.

Garwood agreed with Hammond's assessment, pointing out that neighbouring GCC country Oman had the Typhoon on order and that RBAF pilots already train in BAE Systems aircraft following the delivery of six Hawk Mk129 aircraft in 2006.

"The Gulf is still a very big market for the defence industry in general and for BAE Systems in particular," Garwood said.

"There are two great growth markets in air sales - the Gulf and Asia. It's very stiff competition here and it's an interesting neighbourhood with a lot going on, so of course all our main American and European friends are here as well as the Indians and the Chinese.

"But that's fine, we are used to operating in competitive markets. We have been here long enough that I think we understand the market reasonably well. That does not mean we are perfect but in Saudi Arabia and Oman we continue to win contracts and have done for decades," he added.

A spokesman for the Bahrain Defence Force Guidance and Culture Directorate declined to comment on any potential deal to purchase the Typhoon aircraft. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | BAE Systems | Eurofighter Typhoon | fighter jets |

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