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Saudi signs USD 3 bn deal to buy trainer jets
Posted On: May 24, 2012
BAE Hawk trainer. Photo: BAE Systems.
Saudi Arabia has signed a USD 3 billion deal with Britain to buy trainer jets for the Gulf kingdom's air force, SPA state news agency said.
The agreement includes the provision of simulators, ground and training equipment and spare parts, SPA reported Wednesday, quoting a Saudi defence ministry official.
The official said the new jets would help qualify Saudi pilots "to use fourth-generation jet fighters in full professionalism and efficiency."
Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz in April visited Britain, a major supplier of weapons to the oil-rich kingdom.
Riyadh in 2006 ordered 72 Eurofighter Typhoons in a deal worth USD 32.9 billion, including armaments and long-term servicing. The multi-role fighter jet is built by a European consortium in which Britain's BAE Systems has a 33 per cent share.
Saudi Arabia spends more than 10 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence.
In September 2010, Washington revealed a deal worth up to USD 60 billion to sell F-15 fighters, attack helicopters and other defence equipment and services to the Saudis.
Britain signed in the 1980s its biggest ever arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the long-term Al-Yamamah agreement, which is said to have channelled around 40 billion pounds (USD 63.6 billion in current prices) into Britain's coffers.
The controversial deal was subject to investigation in London over alleged bribes paid to Saudi officials.
Britain's Serious Fraud Office had investigated claims that BAE Systems, one of the world's biggest weapons makers, ran a 60-million-pound (USD 95.4-million) slush fund for Saudi officials to attract contracts.
Graft rumours have long swirled around the deal which is a rolling programme of shipments of hi-tech military hardware.
But police ditched the probe in 2006, before anyone was prosecuted, after the British government came under pressure from the Saudi government.
Then prime minister Tony Blair defended the decision, which was strongly criticised by anti-corruption campaigners, saying the probe could threaten intelligence links with Saudi Arabia at a key point in the "war on terror."
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