DUBAI — Italian defense firm Finmeccanica and Eurofighter have to present cost breakdowns to the Kuwaiti State Audit Bureau before they see a signature on a deal for 28 fighter jets secured.
Kuwaiti news portal kuwaitnews.com cited parliamentary sources stating that the deal has been refused by the Kuwaiti State Audit Bureau due to a lack of information on costs regarding technical support, training, spare parts and the construction of building structures.
Kuwait University dean of political science and lecturer at the Mubarak Al-Abdullah Joint Staff Command College, professor Abdullah al-Shayji, confirmed the news to Defense News in a telephone interview.
"The deal has been held back by the State Audit Bureau of Kuwait. It is still in discussion in the parliament and some feel that the deal is a non-starter because of the price and the fact that it will not help the Air Force at this point," he said.
The deal was due to be inked on Jan. 31 after an invitation was extended to Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti by Kuwaiti Defense Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Jarrah al-Sabah.
On Monday, an Italian Defense Ministry source told Defense News that the deal was delayed due to "procedural issues in Kuwait."
Al-Shayji, however, indicated that the deal may be further delayed.
"Some military sources told me yesterday that the visit of Pinotti has been canceled altogether and for this time the deal is being put on hold," he said.
The Eurofighter deal was estimated to be worth €8 billion (US $8.9 billion) with Finmeccanica acquiring a large portion of the amount, according to an industry source. Pilot training was also set with the 61st Wing of the Italian Air Force as well as the 4th Squadron, the source added. Furthermore, building and construction work for hangers was due to be included in the deal at the Ahmed al-Jaber Air Force base where the aircraft were to be deployed.
Al-Shayji said that in an analysis conducted by the Kuwaiti Air Force, the Eurofighter came out on top of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Still, Air Force officials prefer the Super Hornets.
"The Super Hornet is one of the best solutions for us," Abdullah al-Foudary, commander of the Kuwait Air Force, told Reuters Jan. 21. "We have the legacy F-18s that we have to find a solution for in 2030-2040."
Al-Shayji said there are back door discussions between the two countries, but he reiterated that the US delays are creating serious trust issues with the American administration.
"There is a sinking feeling that we have been sold to the Iranians and also this is becoming a double whammy as the distrust is increasing between Gulf leaders and the US. I hope that the Americans will wise up so as to raise this increasing trust deficit that has been here over the past two years," he said.
"The US is procrastinating, at this time their unwillingness to supply the F-18s to Kuwait and the F-15s to Qatar is proving that Obama's statements during the Camp David meetings are not coming along," he added. "The American administration has to live up to their word and be pushing the deal instead of blocking it; this is the first time that we see the administration holding back a deal while Congress is pushing for it."