Saudi Arabian Typhoons to get capability boost

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BAE Systems will deliver the remaining 48 Eurofighter Typhoons on order for Saudi Arabia over the next five years, with the first examples now in final assembly at the company's Warton site in Lancashire.

A contract modification to Riyadh's 72-aircraft Project Al Salam deal was signed earlier this year, with the nation seeking to introduce additional capability to the European type. BAE says it resumed assembly work in January, as the revised deal was still being finalised.

The Royal Saudi Air Force's remaining Tranche 2 aircraft will be completed in the UK at a rate of between eight and 10 per year, and will be "future-proofed" to receive planned enhancements. Airframe modifications would enable them to carry an active electronically scanned array radar and potentially range-extending conformal fuel tanks.

 

© BAE Systems

 

Saudi Arabia already has 24 Typhoons operational at its Taif air base, and is seeking to integrate national-specific equipment such as a French- or US-sourced targeting pod and precision-guided bombs in the short term. However, the bulk of its equipment requirements are in alignment with the development path now being defined for the four Eurofighter partner nations via a phase one enhancement process, sources say.

"The core nations can only benefit from work beyond the core programme," one source says, referring to the Saudi commitment as "a critical mass to hook into for exports".

BAE Systems Saudi Arabia employs about 5,300 people, including approximately 3,500 Saudi nationals. An in-service support capability for the Typhoon fleet is to be established in the country, with Riyadh also to receive significant technology transfer under the terms of its revised contract.