Typhoon sales talks with UAE have ended, according to the BAE chief. (BAE Systems)
LONDON — BAE Chief Executive Ian King has killed off hopes the company might return to the negotiating table with the United Arab Emirates over the sale of Typhoon jets.
“It’s done, we have no plans to revive it,” he told reporters in London on Wednesday.
King’s rebuff on the question of a possible revival of negotiation follows speculation the company could return to the table. Despite the apparent hard line, analysts said the prospect of a deal hasn’t entirely evaporated.
“He appears to be keeping the door open but only in the event the UAE decides it wants to return to the negotiating table,” said Doug Barrie, the senior air analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.
Industry executives discounted any likelihood of that happening soon.
Despite the years of talks, first with the French over Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter and then the British with the Typhoon, the UAE has never been in any rush to seal a deal for a new aircraft type, one executive said.
A possible easing of relations with Iran made it even more unlikely the UAE would want to aggravate its neighbor with a big order for strike-capable jets, another executive said.
The expectation is that the UAE will take its time evaluating the situation and look at several fighter options before proceeding, the second executive said.
The UAE pulled out of negotiations late last year to buy 60 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters as part of a wider strengthening of defense ties with the British government and industry, including a possible joint program to build a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV.
The rest of the talks have effectively stalled with no progress expected.
King said the jet, built by BAE, Airbus Defence and Space and Finmeccanica, “meet the UAE’s very exacting standards.”
The BAE boss said the deal could not be struck within the available budget.
Issues over offsets and technology transfer also were said to have been unresolved at the time the plug was pulled on the deal, industry sources said.
The UAE operates Dassault Mirage 2000s and Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60s.
In an interview with the publication Arabian Aerospace at the Bahrain International Airshow this month, British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said one of the most difficult issues had involved taking UAE Mirage 2000s in part exchange for the Typhoons.
Hammond said the problem had been the “commercial structure of the deal in particular dealing with the Mirage fighter the UAE had.”
The aircraft would have been “bought back” by whoever provides the Emirates with a new fighter.
Hammond told the magazine that the Typhoon was part of a package and that package was no longer under discussion.
“Never say never, but at this point the negotiation is closed,” he said.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the UAE would top up its F-16 fleet with an order for a further 25 jets in a deal that has yet to be formally announced.
BAE and its Eurofighter partners are continuing to pursue other export opportunities in the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere.
Export possibilities in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Malaysia are in various stages of discussion along with a top up of between 48 and 72 jets for existing customer Saudi Arabia. ■
This article was updated to include Hammond’s recent comments.