UK-Saudi Talks Continue on Typhoon Deal
Negotiations continue between the UK and Saudi Arabian governments over the details of Project Salam, the agreement to supply 72 Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia. Major decisions still have to be taken on the avionics and weapons configurations, and on the arrangements to produce and support the aircraft in Saudi Arabia. Final assembly of the first 24 aircraft, and training of the first Royal Saudi Air Force crews, will be done in the UK. “Substantial logistical and training packages” have been promised to the Saudi aerospace industry, which effectively means Alsalam Aircraft and AEC. Both companies already support the Tornado, Hawk and PC-9 aircraft that the UK sold to Saudi Arabia under the Al-Yamamah contracts. But Alsalam is now majority owned by Boeing, as first revealed by AIN in its opening edition at the Dubai Air Show [BOEING SEALS PACT TO EXPAND ALSALAM AIRCRFAT]. That may pose technology transfer problems for BAE Systems and other European contractors to Project Salam. AIN understands that the solution will involve physical separation of the facilities. Already, the depot maintenance of the RSAF’s Tornado fleet has been moved from Alsalam’s headquarters at Riyadh to a new facility BAE Systems has built at Dhahran. Support of the Typhoon, including the possible license-production of the other 48 aircraft, could take place at Taif, as part of a strategy to bring high-technology jobs to under-developed areas of the Kingdom.