On the final day of the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to the UK, BAE Systems officially announced that the UK Government has signed a Memorandum of Intent with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to aim to finalize discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon fighter jets.
“We have taken a vital step toward finalizing another order for Typhoon jets that will increase security in the Middle East and boost British industry and jobs in our unrivalled aerospace sector,” UK’s Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said commenting on the new contract.
BAE Systems had supplied the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) with 72 Typhoon fighter jets under a previous contract, which was singed in 2007.
The new contract, which worthes more than £10bn according to the Telegraph, will boost the defense industry in the UK and allow BAE System to keep the production line of Typhoon fighter jets up and running, securing thousands of jobs in the UK and even in the EU.
In December 2017, the UK and Qatar singed a £10bn-plus contract to supply 24 Typhoon fighter jets to Qatar, which is facing an Arab blockade led by Saudi Arabia.
According to the Independent, several British activists criticized the new contract with Saudi Arabia and described it as “shameful” due to the ongoing Saudi war on Yemen. The RSAF had used its Typhoon fighter jets on many attacks on Yemen, some of which were even carried out with prohibited weapons, like cluster bombs, also supplied by the UK.
Regardless of all of this criticism, the new contract will likely be executed without any problems, just like several previous contracts. Some Arab experts believe that the Qatari and Saudi contracts are mainly aimed at securing the two countries partnership with the UK and not at improving the military capabilities of these two countries.