Tim Ripley/DUBAI

An Anglo-German dogfight looks on the agenda at Dubai 2000 over the fate of the United Arab Emirates requirement for new ground attack aircraft.

Germany is now the hot favourite to win the lucrative deal with an offer of 32 ex-Luftwaffe Dassault Alpha Jet trainers, which looks likely to scupper British Aerospace's proposal for seven new Hawk aircraft.

Both Britain and Germany are bringing their "heavy hitters" to Dubai during airshow week to swing the deal. German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping, backed by a 24 strong delegation of industrialists, is making the first ever visit to the Arabian Gulf region by a German defence chief, while HRH the Prince of Wales is making a flying visit to the airshow on Thursday, as part of a tour of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

In 1997, the then-UK Defence Secretary George Robertson thought he had the Hawk deal sewn up during his visit to the Dubai airshow but the Germans have since stolen a march on BAe with their offer to refurbish 30 Alpha Jets and provide a further two for use as spare parts.

A German Ministry of Defence spokesman says that a contract has been drawn up between the UAE and Germany. The government-to-government contract has not been signed although the spokesman said it was expected to be signed this week.

Source: Flight Daily News