Europeans Struggle To Match American Defense Clout in the Middle East

 - November 5, 2010, 8:14 AM

European manufacturers of major defense equipment face a struggle to secure new contracts in the Middle East against American competition, as evidenced by the latest Saudi arms deal. The huge F-15 deal probably ends Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) interest in a second batch of Eurofighters. Progress on the Al-Salam deal for the first batch of 72 has been slow, and AIN has learned that the pilot killed in the crash last August was the RSAF’s Eurofighter squadron commander. Meanwhile, the UAE is apparently having second thoughts about the order for up to 60 Dassault Rafale fighters that has been in discussion for at least two years. In September, Defense News reported that the UAE had requested information on the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet as an alternative. British hopes of selling Eurofighters to Oman dimmed when a U.S. offer for a second batch of F-16s was published. A British defense industry official with connections to Oman told AIN that the country made clear it will not buy Eurofighters until the combat jet has been upgraded with an AESA radar. However, AIN understands that BAE has made provision for early deliveries of Eurofighters to Oman, should the situation change. Meanwhile, Qatar has issued a request for proposals for new combat jets, which will likely result in another dogfight between American and European suppliers.