Recent statements from the British government and BAE Systems have clarified the status of negotiations to sell Eurofighter Typhoons to Oman and Saudi Arabia. Oman has now issued a formal RFP. Having taken delivery of 24 aircraft from BAE’s Warton assembly line, the Saudis are still negotiating the price and configuration of 48 more, as well as assembly and maintenance arrangements.
Two years ago, the Omani deal seemed to have been agreed. Then-British prime minister Gordon Brown suggested as much in public, and an aircraft in final assembly at Warton was allocated to Oman. But a British industry source told AIN that Oman would not buy the Typhoons without an AESA radar. Oman has since requested a second batch of F-16s from the U.S., and the sale of 12 more F-16C/Ds was confirmed last month. The British government said last week that the RFP represents an important step toward a contract, and that a sale of Typhoons would “bring wider economic, training and education benefits to Oman.”
Earlier this month, BAE Systems acknowledged that the hiatus in the Al Salam sale to Saudi Arabia would reduce the company’s 2011 earnings from previous predictions. But it said it had made “good progress” in recent discussions “on all items except the price escalation.” Meanwhile, as AIN has previously reported, Typhoon subassemblies allocated to Saudi Arabia have gone into storage at Warton.
It seems that both Oman and Saudi Arabia are holding out for Tranche 3 standard Typhoons, with more extensive weapons integration as well as the AESA radar. India has been offered such enhancements to meet its 126-aircraft MMRCA requirement. That country’s long-awaited choice between the four-nation jet and the all-French Rafale could be announced next week.