Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with the UK government covering the supply 72 Eurofighter Typhoons, worth a reported $8.8 billion.

The agreement marks the start of Project Salam, a new Saudi-UK defence cooperation programme that will include aircraft, training, support and development of Saudi industrial capabilities.

The Typhoons will replace Panavia Tornado ADV air-defence fighters supplied to the Saudis under the Al Yamamah arms pact that dates back to 1985.

Typhoon break
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BAE Systems welcomed the signing of the government-to-government agreement as an "important milestone" in its strategy to develop Saudi Arabia "as a key home market with substantial employment and investment in future in-Kingdom industrial capability".

It is believed the first 24 Typhoons will be produced in the UK, with the first aircraft already in final assembly at BAE's Warton plant, while the remaining 48 will be assembled in Saudi Arabia.

"Negotiations relating to the principal terms of the agreement have been successfully concluded and the signed agreement is expected to become effectiuve in due course," says BAE.

The aircraft acquisition will be supported by "substantial logistical and training packages", says the UK Ministry of Defence, "including the opportunity for Royal Air Force and Royal Saudi Air Force aircrews and ground technicians to train alongside each other in the UK".

RSAF and RAF Tornados
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Saudi Tornado IDS strike aircraft completed their first joint exercise in the UK early in September, operating alongside RAF Tornados from Lossiemouth in Scotland.