Will F-16 embarrass UK in Oman?



Only four months ago, UK government officials confidently predicted Oman would shortly buy an undisclosed number of Eurofighter Typhoons. The motivation was clear: Oman could assume a portion of the UK government’s order commitment on Tranche 3A for the Eurofighter program, relieving pressure on the UK’s strained defense budget.

Well, something may have changed since April.

Yesterday, the US Congress was informed that Oman had requested a possible order for (wait for it …) Lockheed Martin F-16s!

It’s unlikely that Oman will buy both fighters. The Royal Air Force in Muscat needs to replace about 16 Sepecat Jaguars. Yesterday’s notice by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) indicates that Oman could buy as many as 18 F-16s worth $3.5 billion.

It wouldn’t be the first time that the F-16 has embarrassed a European government. France had appeared to lock-in a deal with Morocco for Dassault Rafales, yet somehow the F-16 triumphed.

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14 Responses to Will F-16 embarrass UK in Oman?

  1. aeroxavier 4 August, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    USA will absolutely destroy all possibility of export sale of others country, specially for the rafale

  2. Dave 4 August, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    Perhaps operating alongside the F-16E/Fs of their UAE neighbors convinced them that it wasn’t worth it to pay such a high premium for the more expensive Typhoon- especially since it’s arguably missing many capabilities relevant to replacing something like the Jaguar. Conversely, the F-16 is well proven in the air to surface role…

  3. ThomasL 4 August, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    This makes sense after hearing that Oman purchased 12 F-16 Block 50s not too long ago.

    Purchasing more F-16s instead of introducing a brand new aircraft would have huge support, training, and logistics advantages.

    The Typhoon may be more capable, but everything comes down to logistics eventually.

  4. Jetcal1 4 August, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    It might also boil down to
    1. Oman may not have the need for technology transfers or work offsets to lower the price of the aircraft or satisfy a local constituency
    2. NRE and tooling costs for the F-16 has probably been paid for while the Typhoon and Rafale may still have NRE built into the price
    3. The dollar is weak giving Oman more bird for the buck
    4. Aftermarket parts and support are available for the F-16
    5. They already operate and maintain the F-16
    6. The US is absolutely intent upon destroying any possibility of export sales by other countries, especially the Rafale

  5. Stephen Trimble 4 August, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    It’s an interesting discussion. I’m not sure how much cost and schedule matters in the GCC compared to the political dimension. I think there was a lot of speculation about Typhoon in part because it is not uncommon for GCC states to split their fleets between US and European suppliers (a la UAE and the forever-pending Rafale deal, and Saudi Arabia’s F-15/Typhoon fleet). I certainly heard whispers about Oman’s interests in Typhoon along those lines while I was at the Dubai Air Show this year, so this announcement comes as a surprise to me, especially after the UK government spoke so confidently about their sales prospects in April.

  6. Jetcal1 4 August, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    Not to be facetious, I wonder if some of the issues with payments made by BAE to secure some contracts might have had some bearing on the decision. Could this be some form of message to the government in London?

  7. Atomic Walrus 4 August, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    This could be as simple as Oman generating some competition to get a better deal. It’s interesting that so many countries regard an evolved F-16 to be comparable to Typhoon or Rafale in capability, at least to the extent to seriously considering them in the same competition. For all of the development effort and cost, would France and the Eurofighter consortium have actually been better off with license-built F-16s?

  8. Jetcal1 4 August, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    AW,
    No, for the same reasons that many do not want the USAF to buy an EADS product for the tanker.(Or buy an American aircraft in Europe.) It’s about having the industrial and engineering ability.

  9. Sintra 5 August, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    This is not a surprise.
    LM has been offering another batch of Vipers to Oman for quite some time, this has been reported severall times, sooner or latter an FMS letter was going to happen. This doesnt mean that Oman his going to buy the Viper, it simply means that it was offered.
    If every time that an FMS letter was released meant that any one country was close to acquire a determined American system… Well, Brasil would be flying Vipers, Hungary would be flying Vipers, South Africa would be flying Vipers, the Tchec Republic would be flying Vipers, Austria would be flying Vipers, Iraq would be flying Vipers, etc, etc, etc
    Each and every one of the countries above have an FMS letter offering the Viper.

    Cheers

  10. Atomic Walrus 5 August, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    Jetcal1, I agree with you that domestic industry (and national pride) are the principal rationale for Typhoon and Rafale. It’s just striking that the work during the ’80s and ’90s yielded a European evolved F-16, while the US produced an F-22. All three programs were also tremendously expensive and significantly delayed.

  11. Stephen Trimble 5 August, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    Sorry Sintra, but I don’t think you understand the process. There hasn’t been DSCA notifications on any of the countries you mention involving the F-16.

  12. Aussie Digger 5 August, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    A DSCA announcement isn’t a sale. Witness Malaysia’s Super Hornet DSCA announcement from 2002. It means a Country has made an FMS request, inclusive of a number of options. It does not mean, in of itself, that Oman HAS chosen to acquire new F-16′s in lieu of Tiffies.

    Obviously Oman is weighing up it’s options in relation to additional fighter capability, over and above it’s existing F-16 capability.

    It should be noted that a large part of that DSCA announcement involves upgrades for it’s existing F-16 fleet.

    Some or all of that order may be followed through in months or years to come or none of it may occur. Countries have many options when buying fighter jets. FMS is simply one.

    Cheers,

    AD

  13. Sintra 5 August, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Stephen

    Austria
    http://www.dsca.osd.mil/pressreleases/36-b/austria%2002-13.pdf
    http://www.dsca.osd.mil/pressreleases/36-b/austria%2002-19.pdf

    Brasil
    http://www.dsca.mil/pressreleases/36-b/Brazil%2002-18.pdf

    Hungary
    http://www.dsca.osd.mil/pressreleases/36-b/Hungary%2001-20.pdf

    Czech Republic
    http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2004/czech_04-01.pdf

    And, yes, there isnt an FMS letter for vipers neither South Africa or Iraq, i was writing on “top of my head”. The Viper wasnt offered to South Africa and the FMS letter for Iraq was actualy for the C-130J.

    But the bottom line is, almost every time that an American weapons system his offered through the FMS system, sooner or latter an DSCA notification appears, that doesnt mean that the country is going to acquire the system. It was also known that another batch of Vipers was being offered to Oman, so a DSCA notification is no surprise.

    Cheers

  14. Stephen Trimble 5 August, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    I stand very sheepishly corrected, Sintra. My own memory of DSCA notices doesn’t go back 10 years, so you have me very impressed as well. Perhaps Typhoon will prevail in Oman anyway, but we’ll see.

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