Friday, December 20, 2013

United Arab Emirates Purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon Placed on Hold

The U.K., which has hoped to sell Eurofighter Typhoons to the UAE, has learned that any potential deal is at least on hold.

“The UAE have advised that they have elected not to proceed with these proposals at this time,” says a note to prime contractor BAE Systems’s investors. The U.K. had been negotiating with UAE for the sale of about 60 aircraft, with Prime Minister David Cameron traveling to the Dubai air show in the hopes of lobbying for BAE’s bid to sell the fighter jets.

In addition to the Typhoon, Dassault’s Rafale and Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet are contending for the UAE’s fighter contract. The news comes one day after Brazil announced it would purchase 36 Saab Gripens.

The move cannot be anything except bad news for Typhoon, which in the last two years has been defeated by the Rafale in India, the F-15 and then the F-35 in Korea, the F-35 in Japan and the Gripen in Switzerland. Typhoon is still a candidate in Qatar, which has increased its requirement to as many as 72 aircraft, and is in the running for a 30-aircraft order in Denmark (against Gripen, Super Hornet and F-35).

Whether the decision indicates that a UAE Rafale buy is close is unclear. According to French press reports, the country’s defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said on Dec. 18 — before the BAE announcement was made public — that there would be “results soon” concerning both a contract for Rafale in India and sales in the Gulf.

Reports that UAE is moving toward requesting the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter may be premature, however, because of political sensitivity and the power of Israel’s lobbyists in Washington. Earlier this year, the UAE was even denied the AGM-158 stealth cruise missile, a much lower-tech system than JSF, and was instead offered the AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile - Expanded Response weapon.

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