LONDON — British export campaigns for the Typhoon combat jet and the weapons that go with it will be led by the Ministry of Defence rather than the Business Department, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told a conference Wednesday at the DSEI exhibition here. in London Sept 16.
"The MoD will be stepping up its role in export promotion and will now lead on key strategic export campaigns including Typhoon and complex weapons," Fallon told an audience of senior military and industry officials.
Typhoon and the associated weapons deals that go with it involving MBDA and Raytheon UK have been a crucial part of a British overseas defense sales effort that netted £8.5 billion (US $13.1 billion) in sales last year, making the UK a leading exporter of equipment and services.
Fallon explained part of the rationale for the switch in control over the export strategic campaigns, saying the MoD "is best placed to offer unique benefits, such as exchanges, advice, doctrine and training that can enhance the long-term capabilities of our partners and increase interoperability." Fallon said.
Paul Everitt, the boss of the trade lobby group ADS, told reporters last week during a briefing that exports needed to be part of the MoD's core role of the MoD if Britain is to get the full benefit from its overseas sales effort.
Production and ongoing development on the Typhoon help safeguard Britain's defense aerospace sector and generate thousands of manufacturing and design jobs.
"The government's priority is to boost our export successes in what is an increasingly competitive marketplace," said Fallon.
The industry's role in generating economic prosperity is expected to figure in the strategic defense and security review planned to be published by the government by the end of the year.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his senior ministers have earned praise for their efforts to boost defense exports since coming to power in 2010 but the campaign to sell Typhoon has had only one confirmed sales success during that time — a deal with Oman in 2012 for 12 jets.
Kuwait last week said it would buy 24 Typhoons but that government-to-government agreement was secured by the Italian government.
Success on the export market has become increasingly urgent as the production run on fighters for the four partner nations is scheduled to end in 2018, although the Kuwait deal will ease those concerns if it is signed.
The four Eurofighter nations of Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain lead the export drive depending on who has the resources available and the best chance of success.
British Typhoon sales campaigns currently include Bahrain, Malaysia and a possible top-up order from its largest export customer, Saudi Arabia.
The Typhoon has lost out to France and the Rafale fighter in recent competitions in Qatar and India, although neither deal has yet been signed.
Political ties were said to have tipped the balance for the French and the government in Paris earned plaudits for its strategic export support for Rafale maker Dassault. It is unclear whether the decision to give the MoD the lead on Typhoon and complex weapons export campaigns are a response to the French successes.
But the British government is moving to boost its chances of success by handing over leadership of strategic export campaigns like Typhoon to the Ministry of Defence.
The Business department's Defence Security Organisation, which runs Britain's export effort in the sector, is still expected to be involved, though.
MoD used to control all defense exports until the Labour government of Gordon Brown disbanded the Defence Equipment Sales Organisation and set up DSO in 2008 under control of the UKTI arm of the business department.