ROME — Kuwait has agreed to purchase 28 Typhoon combat jets in a multibillion euro deal with the Italian government, industry sources in the region said Friday.

The deal is still in negotiation but Kuwait has agreed to buy 22 single seat and six twin-seat Typhoons in a government-to-government agreement.

Italian firm Finmeccanica's Alenia Aermacchi division has been leading the Eurofighter effort to sell the Typhoon to the Kuwaitis.

Industry sources said the deal could see the Kuwaitis be the first export customer for the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar being developed for the jet by Italy's Selex ES.

One industry executive said the agreement is welcome, not least because after a flurry of Middle Eastern successes this year for French rival Dassault with the Rafale, the Kuwaiti decision "reinvigorates other opportunities in the gulf region for Typhoon."

France secured deals for the Rafale in Qatar and Egypt earlier this year and deliveries to Cairo are underway.

Saudi Arabia and Oman are already Typhoon customers in the region. The Saudis have been talking about a further buy of the jets and Bahrain is also another potential customer.

News that the two governments have been in detailed discussions over the sale has been circulating since midyear. The deal follows reports in May that the Kuwaitis were in discussions with the US to purchase up to 40 Boeing F/A-18 fighters.

The position on those negotiations is unknown, although there has been some speculation in the past that the Kuwaitis could go for a split buy.

A US source acknowledged there is always a chance for a split buy from Kuwait, and said talks on a Super Hornet sale to Kuwait are still moving forward.

While declining to name Kuwait specifically, a Boeing spokeswoman said the company and the US government are still in conversation with potential Middle Eastern customers


Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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