Saudi Arabia's first Eurofighter Typhoon has performed its debut flight from BAE Systems' Warton site in Lancashire, with the aircraft on track for delivery in mid-2009.

Riyadh will receive 72 Typhoons under a government-to-government agreement with the UK dubbed Project Salam. This includes 24 early Tranche 2 production Eurofighters to be diverted to the Royal Saudi Air Force from original customer the UK Royal Air Force.

Saudi Arabia's remaining 48 aircraft will be assembled at a new, purpose-built facility in Saudi Arabia, although industrial details of an expected partnership with Alsalam Aircraft have yet to be finalised.

Saudi Typhoon 
© BAE Systems

Conducted on 20 October by a BAE test pilot, the first flight of the RSAF's single-seat Typhoon 1001 was achieved just 13 months after Riyadh signed a firm contract to acquire the type.

 Saudi Air force Eurofighter Typhoon
© BAE Systems

The milestone "marks the start of an initial test flight programme" for the export customer, says BAE. Painted in RSAF colours and carrying squadron markings, the aircraft is shown carrying dummy MBDA ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missiles and an external fuel tank.

Saudi Arabia will receive 12 two-seat trainers under the Project Salam deal, while Eurofighter industry consortium officials have confirmed that early talks have taken place over a possible follow-on sale to the nation.

Source: Flight International