British Aerospace is proposing the Swedish Saab JAS39 Gripen to Oman as a replacement for its Sepecat Jaguar combat aircraft, while Lockheed Martin is understood to be offering secondhand and new-build F-16s.
The Omani air force is conducting a study into its future combat-aircraft strategy, including consideration of a Jaguar upgrade programme, which would extend the aircraft's life until at least 2005. A final decision on whether to go ahead with the upgrade may not emerge until well into 1998, say sources close to the project.
Oman is considering implementing effectively the same upgrade as that which the Royal Air Force is conducting on its Jaguars to keep them flying until 2008, when they will start to be replaced by the Eurofighter EF2000
The Jaguar GR1B standard provides it with improved avionics, as well as a digital databus. The aircraft can also be fitted with the GEC-Marconi thermal-imaging airborne laser-designator, which is forms part of the upgrade which is being offered to Oman.