Fears in some quarters that UK involvement in Iraq would affect the country's defence sales to the Gulf have so far proved unfounded, said the head of the UK government's Defence Export Sales Organisation (DESO) at the show yesterday.

If anything, says Alan Garwood, several deals that had been under discussions for some years had noticeably come "on to the front burner" in recent months.

Malcolm Haworth, DESO's regional director, Middle East and Africa, adds there are "what we feel are a number of significant opportunities for helicopters, particularly in the VIP role", with the AgustaWestland EH101 a strong bidder.

If the machine won the current contest to find a new helicopter for the US president, it would "open up doors all over the place".

The other main area that has seen a significant increase in interest over the past couple of years, says Garwood, is assets to protect Economic Exclusion Zones (EEZ), not just oil installations but fishing grounds.

Source: Flight Daily News