With success in Saudi Arabia and Oman, Typhoon looks elsewhere in the Middle East
The Oman's decision to buy may have drawn a line under the long-running negotiations between and Muscat, but more opportunities lie in the region.
BAE Systems will deliver 12 Typhoons and eight Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers to Oman beginning in 2017 in a Â£2.5 billion ($4 billion) deal. The sale will push the company's backlog of aircraft production work into the early 2020s, securing both jobs and also a renewed confidence in the wake of the company's failed bid to merge withearlier this year. The contract also includes a comprehensive spares and support package.
Negotiations with Oman have been ongoing for several years. While it seemed inevitable that the sultanate would settle on the Typhoon to replace its long-serving Sepecat Jaguar ground-attack aircraft, a series of engineering issues which plagued the development of the Al Shamikh-class corvette patrol shipsâ€”also built by BAEâ€”for the Royal Omani Navy put pressure on the Typhoon deal, pushing it back well beyond its expected conclusion date.
Previously, it had been reported that Oman would receive former Tranche 1 Typhoons from the U.K.. However, the deal signed on Dec. 21 will see the country receiving Tranche 3 aircraft with provision for an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to be fitted in the future.
Nonetheless, now that the deal is signed, BAE Systems and other companies in theconsortium are focusing their efforts elsewhere in the vitally important Middle East fighter market. Work continues on a second batch of Typhoons to Saudi Arabia. However, the company revealed it was struggling to negotiate an agreement on price and this could lead to warnings that its 2012 earnings could be reduced as a result.
BAE has so far delivered 24 out of 72 Typhoons ordered under the Al-Salam deal signed in 2007. Test-flying of the first aircraft in the final batch of 48 Typhoons being delivered under Al-Salam started at the beginning of December.
Work on selling Typhoon to the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues, with U.K. government assistance. Senior ministers, including Prime Minister David Cameron are pushing the Typhoon and other defense products in a bid to boost revenue to British industry. It is understood the UAE may be interested in buying as many as 60 Typhoons to replace its fleet of Mirage 2000-9s. Kuwait and Qatar may also be in the market to replace theirHornets and Mirage 2000s respectively.
Oman's order for the Hawk is also particularly significant, following the order for 22 examples from Saudi Arabia earlier this year to fulfill that country's future aircrew training needs. The orders come at the same time that BAE is proposing the Hawk to fulfill the's future jet trainer T-X training requirement.
Oman's Typhoon and Hawk order is just part of a major re-capitalization of the country's armed forces with renewal in the transport, helicopter and fast-jet fleets. When the aircraft arrive, the Typhoons will supplement a fleet of 12F-16C/D Fighting Falcons. In recent weeks, Oman also has requested a $117 million package of weaponry for those aircraft, including -made AIM-120 Amraams, GBU-12 Paveway IIs, WCMD and other ordnance systems.