June 15, 2009 Saudi Arabia has received the first two of up to 72 Eurofighter TYPHOON combat aircraft, Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed Friday. In presence of Saudi Assistant Defence and Aviation Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan, Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and Britain's armed forces minister Bill Rammell the first TYPHOON’s had been handed over on Thursday in a ceremony at manufacturer BAE Systems' Warton site in northwest England. The entire contract for the Eurofighter as the Tornado F3s and Boeing F-15s replacement, including also armaments and maintenance service is estimated to be worth $32.9 billion.
The deal was first announced in August 2006, but then fell into doubt due to a British investigation into massive corruption allegations in earlier arms deals between Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems that implicated senior officials of both countries.
Under the original deal, BAE is to deliver 24 Typhoons completely built to the Saudis, and another 48 are to be assembled inside Saudi Arabia as the country seeks to build up its own aeronautic industry capabilities.
"The Royal Saudi Air Force is getting a fantastic aircraft," Rammell was quoted as saying by AFP. He said that the industrial benefits of the project are also substantial for both nations and will help to sustain several thousand, skilled jobs in the UK and Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years.
Prince Khaled, who also commands the RSAF, said the new aircraft were "not to threaten anyone but to protect and secure the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the coming decades," Saudi state news agency SPA reported.
With this order, Saudi Arabia is the first country outside Europe to have the Typhoon, an aircraft built by Alenia Finmeccanica, BAE Systems, EADS CASA and EADS Deutschland and managed by Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH. In Europe Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and Austria ordered this aircraft which is participating in several tenders around the globe including Switzrland, Brazil, India and Japan.
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