Oman confirmed a long-expected order for 12 Eurofighter Typhoons, and also decided to buy eight BAE Systems Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs). The contract is worth about $3.75 billion; deliveries will begin in 2017. The Typhoons will replace aging Jaguar strike aircraft in the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO), while the Hawk AJTs will supplement or replace the RAFO’s Hawk Mk103/203s. BAE Systems will provide in-service support.
“BAE Systems has a long history of working in Oman, and we are delighted this contract will enable us to continue to work together,” said Guy Griffiths, group managing director for the company’s international business. Oman issued a formal RFP for a new fighter one year ago, and may have considered the Boeing F/A-18 and Dassault Rafale as alternatives. The RAFO also operates F-16C/Ds, and has ordered a second batch of 12 such aircraft.
AIN has previously reported Oman’s reluctance to confirm a Typhoon order until the four Eurofighter nations confirmed that an AESA radar would be added to the jet. Saudi Arabia has also been pressing for this upgrade. In a statement last month, BAE Systems revealed that the Saudis have still not agreed pricing terms for the Typhoon contract for 72 aircraft, 24 of which have already been delivered.
British government and industry officials told AIN last month that despite protracted technical discussions, some development funding and positive announcements from Eurofighter, no production contract for the AESA radar has been placed yet with the Euroradar consortium. The officials described various options to fully exploit AESA technology that were still being explored, including deceptive electronic countermeasures, datalinking and IFF positioning, before a contract could be fully specified. But one industry official told AIN, “It’s all about cost.”
It now seems likely that the Omanis and the Saudis will contribute funding for the integration of an AESA radar to the Typhoon. An article in the latest Eurofighter magazine acknowledges, “with the partner nations all under budgetary pressure, Eurofighter may have to share the development of new technologies with partners beyond Europe. As a result, export customers will have the same ability to push the pace of weapons integration, even if the weapon required is not a priority for the partner nations.”
An industry official told AIN, “It makes sense to engage those with the money with those that have the capability.” He said that the British and German governments are closer to approving proper funding for the AESA than the Italian or Spanish governments, because London and Berlin “appreciate the industrial dimension.” But another, more senior official from the same company told AIN that some “exportability issues” also need to be resolved if AESA technology is to be shared with countries outside the four-nation Eurofighter consortium.