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Source: Oman Will Soon Buy Typhoons, Hawks

Dec. 19, 2012 - 11:56AM   |  
By ANDREW CHUTER   |   Comments
A BAE Typhoon takes off ahead of an air display at the Farnborough International Airshow in 2010. BAE is preparing to close a deal with Oman to supply Typhoon fighters and Hawk jet trainers to the country's air force.
A BAE Typhoon takes off ahead of an air display at the Farnborough International Airshow in 2010. BAE is preparing to close a deal with Oman to supply Typhoon fighters and Hawk jet trainers to the country’s air force. (Ben Stansall / AFP)
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LONDON — BAE Systems is preparing to close a deal with Oman to supply Typhoon fighters and Hawk jet trainers to the country’s air force.

The deal, expected to be signed in Oman on Dec. 21, is part of a wider defense pact due to be inked by the two governments that day, said industry sources who asked not to be named.

Twelve of the Eurofighter Typhoons will be delivered to Oman to replace aging Jaguar aircraft, which make up part of Oman’s strike force.

The number of Hawk trainers involved in the deal is unknown. Oman operates five old Mk103 Hawks alongside PC-9 and Mushak training aircraft.

In a statement, BAE said it had positive discussions on Typhoon with the Omani Ministry of Defence but has not yet signed the contract.

A spokeswoman declined to answer questions about the Hawk sale.

The training package sale would be a boost for the Hawk program, coming on the heels of a 1.6-billion-pound ($2.6 billion) sale of Hawks and other training aircraft to Saudi Arabia this year. BAE is also positioning the aircraft for a key competition to re-equip the U.S. Air Force with trainers.

The two Omani deals will provide a multi-billion pound fillip for the British company following the collapse of merger talks with EADS this year.

The deal will also be a boost for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been active supporting defense export efforts in the region and elsewhere.

Cameron was recently in the UAE helping BAE’s campaign to sell the Typhoon. The two governments also signed a defense cooperation pact during a Cameron visit, which also took place in Saudi Arabia.

A similar arrangement might be in the cards for Oman, the source said.

The news of the upcoming Omani deal was tempered, though, when the company issued a statement Dec. 19 saying it was unable to conclude negotiations with Saudi Arabia over the pricing of 72 Typhoons.

The contract was signed in 2007, but changes to the specifications of the aircraft and abandonment of a scheme to assemble many of the aircraft in Saudi Arabia have led to lengthy negotiations over new pricing.

Twenty-four of the aircraft have been delivered to the Saudis, and more aircraft are on the assembly line after a hiatus caused by the pricing talks. BAE said in a statement that deliveries would recommence next year.

Oman will receive the latest Tranche 3 version of the Typhoon coming off assembly lines at BAE and other Eurofighter partner nations Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Omani fast jet fleet is built around the Lockheed Martin F-16. The Gulf state operates 12 of the fighters and around this time last year ordered a further dozen aircraft from the U.S. manufacturer.

Aside from Oman and Saudi Arabia, Austria is the only other Typhoon export customer. BAE and its partners are also pursuing possible orders in the UAE, Malaysia and elsewhere.

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