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UK inks Saudi deal for 48 Typhoon jets
11 March 2018, 01:33 | Myrtle Vega
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The deal for the sale of Typhoon warplanes has been under discussion for years, but the two sides could not reach any agreement as they disagreed over the place of production of the jets, with Saudi Arabia urging to have some parts of the process on Saudi soil.
The BAE System said in a statement that the signing is a positive step ahead in direction of friendly relations.
While the memorandum of intent comes as good news for BAE and its partners in the Eurofighter consortium, earlier expectations for a follow-on Saudi acquisition had been based around the potential sale of up to 72 Typhoons.
Sky News Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said the deal is expected to be announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and the Crown Prince later this afternoon.
Prime Minister May defended the two countries' defence ties on Wednesday, saying all arms sales were strictly regulated.
Kate Osamor, the shadow worldwide development secretary, slammed the deal as "a national disgrace", saying Prime Minister Theresa May had said she would raise concerns over the Yemen situation in talks with bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia Moves Toward Buying 48 BAE Eurofighter Jets
However, opposition MPs and people in the aid sector have slammed the deal due to Saudi Arabia's ongoing military operations in war-torn starvation hit Yemen, the Guardian reported.
However, British arms companies are reported to have reaped huge benefits from the fighting, earning more than 6 billion pounds ($8.3bn) in trade with Saudi Arabia since 2015 - when the kingdom launched its massive aerial campaign against Houthi rebels.
The deal will be welcomed at Warton, Lancashire, where the swing-role combat aircraft are built by BAE Systems.
He added: "If agreed, this shameful deal will be celebrated in the palaces of Riyadh and by the arms companies who will profit from it, but it will mean even greater destruction for the people of Yemen". In its annual results overview for 2017, published on 28 February, BAE said: "Discussions with current and prospective operators of the Typhoon aircraft continue to support the group's expectations for additional Typhoon contract awards".
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