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BAE to supply Hawk, Pilatus trainer jets to S Arabia

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The PC-21 turboprop aircraft. A Pilatus photo

FARNBOROUGH/STANS (BNS): Saudi Arabia has awarded a contract worth £1.6 billion ($2.5 billion) to British major BAE Systems for supplying Hawk and Pilatus trainer aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

The contract, awarded last week following an agreement between the Governments of Saudi Arabia, UK and Northern Ireland, under the Saudi British Defence Cooperation Programme (SBDCP), makes provision for 22 BAE Systems-made Hawk advanced jet trainers and 55 Pilatus PC-21 turboprop aircraft.

The deal also covers the provision of equipment and training devices such as aircraft simulators, training aids and aircraft on which to train aircrew, BAE said.

"The fleet of 55 Pilatus PC-21 turboprop aircraft will be supplied with an integrated ground based training system and a comprehensive logistics support package," Swiss aircraft maker Pilatus said, adding that the contract was the biggest ever order in the company's history.

The Stans, Switzerland-based Pilatus had recently won a contract worth Rs. 2,800 crore from India to supply 75 PC-7 MkII turboprop aircraft to the Indian Air Force.

While the PC-21 aircraft, which will replace the Saudi Air Force's PC-9 jets, will fulfil the basic training requirement of its pilots, the Hawk advanced jet trainers will be used for fast jet training part.

Delivery of the Pilatus PC-21 jets will commence from 2014. The UK-built Hawk aircraft will be delivered from 2016, BAE said.

Saudi Arabia had signed a deal in 2006 to acquire 72 Eurofighter Typhoons from European conglomerate EADS. The US Government had recently announced to supply 84 F-15 fighters to the Middle Eastern country.

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