Saudi Arabia, British Government Pay Lip Service to Follow-on Typhoon Contract

Saudi Arabia Signs Letter of Intent for 48 Additional Eurofighter Typhoons

(Source: compiled by Defense-Aerospace.com; posted March 12, 2018)

Visibly, some experienced British journalists are not convinced that the Letter of Intent actually means anything, and even less that it will lead to a new Typhoon contract. (Twitter screen grab)

PARIS --- Saudi Arabia has signed a “Letter of Intent” with the United Kingdom “to finalize discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon aircraft,” signaling a possible advance in the decade-old attempt by BAE Systems to seal a follow-on sale to the 72 Typhoons ordered in and whose delivery was completed last year.

The letter was signed by Mohammed bin Salman (widely known by his initials as MBS), Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who visited London at the invitation of the Government of Queen Elizabeth ll who, according to the joint final communiqué, “welcomed his Royal Highness the Crown Prince at the beginning of his visit and invited him to lunch at Buckingham Palace.”

The fact that this latest agreement is but a “Letter of Intent” – arguably the lowest level of commitment of all diplomatic agreements – must come as a disappointment to the United Kingdom. This is, in any case, the impression of some skeptical British trade journalists. (see above) And it was signed on the third and final day of his visit, and apparently at the airport just before MBS flew home.

Finally, it should be noted that the single sentence on the Typhoon agreement takes up just 27 of the final communiqué’s 2,529 words, and it comes in the fourth paragraph of the fourth chapter – probably an indication of its importance.

In fact, the Ministry of Defence has not even mentioned the Saudi LoI on its daily “Defence in the media” blog, a general recap of any significant news story regarding the MoD or the British services.

BAE’s own announcement -– five lines, issued as a regulatory stock exchange statement rather than a press release (see following item) – is hardly more enthusiastic, as it should be for a 478-aircraft contract that should keep the UK’s Eurofighter final assembly line open for three or four more years.

Clearly, this sale is not considered a major outcome of MBS’s visit, and there is nothing to suggest that it is considered anything more than a symbolic step by either the British government or BAE – who has not mentioned a follow-on Saudi order in its guidance to investors for a couple of years.

The irresistible conclusion is that the LoI was signed because neither the Saudis nor the British wanted to run the risk of implying the end of their defense procurement relationship, but were keen to keep exposure at a minimum for fear of igniting public outrage at Saudi bombing civilian populations in Yemen.

So, let’s announce a deal, ma non troppo.

(ends)

United Kingdom-Saudi Arabia Joint Communiqué

(Source: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office; issued March 10, 32018)

The UK and Saudi Arabia have issued a Joint Communiqué regarding the visit of His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman.

From 6th to 9th March 2018, during the visit to the United Kingdom of His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at the invitation of the Government of Queen Elizabeth ll. Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom confirmed and reinforced the relations between the two countries, and committed to developing a deeper and more strategic partnership to enhance mutual interests.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II welcomed his Royal Highness the Crown Prince at the beginning of his visit and invited him to lunch at Buckingham Palace. His Royal Highness extended to Her Majesty the regards of the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

…/…

4. Security and defence

4.4 The two nations have signed a number of MoU’s to deepen and broaden cooperation between them and enhance the Kingdom’s industrial defence capabilities, noting that this was being achieved through technology transfer and capability development, training, and building a partnership in research and development on a national and industrial level, and providing technical advisory to the development program of the Ministry of Defence in Saudi Arabia. As a central part of this, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom signed a letter of intent to finalize discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon aircraft. (Emphasis added—Ed.)

(ends)

Memorandum of Intent Between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UK Government

(Source: BAE Systems; issued Mar 09, 2018)

The UK Government has signed a Memorandum of Intent with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to aim to finalise discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon Aircraft.

This is a positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner. We are committed to supporting the Kingdom as it modernises the Saudi Armed Forces and develops key industrial capabilities critical to the delivery of Vision 2030.


Charles Woodburn, CEO, said: “The MOI between the Saudi and UK Governments is a further endorsement of Typhoon’s world class credentials as a proven, highly capable swing-role aircraft.”

“Today’s news is a positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner. We are committed to supporting the Kingdom as it modernises the Saudi Armed Forces and develops key industrial capabilities critical to the delivery of Vision 2030.”

(ends)

Statement by UK Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson (excerpt)

(Source: Blackpool Gazette; posted March 10, 2018)

The following remarks, attributed to UK Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson, were published on March 10 by the Blackpool Gazette. The Ministry of Defence has not issued any statement, except the tweet reproduced above, on the MoI.

Mr Williamson said: “Today, we have been able to sign a memorandum of intent with the Saudi Government about the potential purchase of 48 Typhoon fighter jets. "This is a very important step forward securing jobs here in Lancashire and while we’ve still got much further to go it is a clear sign that the Saudi Government are keen on making that investment.

“These jobs are not just important to Lancashire, they are important to the whole United Kingdom. Those skills that we have got here are ones which are world class.

“My hope is that what we have been doing in terms of Saudi Arabia and in terms of Qatar absolutely vital to preserving jobs here and secure prosperity in this area. But those skills, that knowledge, is world beating world leading and that’s why we have been working so hard to secure this order.

“While the Typhoon has a very long life ahead of it and it is the finest fighter jet in the world, we have to be thinking what is the next generation, that’s why I think that it is such good news that what we have been doing in announcing the Combat Air Strategy.

"We are wanting to work with companies such as BAE Systems on what is going to be the successor to Typhoon, how do we keep the cutting edge of technology here in Britain and in Lancashire.”

He added: “Well, 5,000 jobs depend on Typhoon. We are a leading exporter, designer and manufacturer in the defence field but we have the very highest moral and ethical and legal standards of any country in the world. I am proud that we follow those and I hope and wish that other countries could match them.”

Click here for the full story, on the Blackpool Gazette website.

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