Britain to finalise Typhoon plane order talks with Saudi

Britain to finalise Typhoon plane order talks with Saudi

Britain signed a multi-billion-pound preliminary order from Saudi Arabia for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, military equipment maker BAE Systems said on Friday.

BAE Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said it was a positive step toward agreeing a contract with a valued partner.

Difficulties in concluding the deal contributed to plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs at BAE Systems past year.

Shares in BAE were trading up 2.4 percent at 603 pence after the signing of the memorandum was announced.

There was also an estimated £65bn of additional trade agreed for the coming years as part of the Crown Prince's Vision 2030 economic plan.

But a deal reached in December for BAE to produce 24 Typhoons for Qatar was valued at nearly $7 billion.

The 32-year-old crown prince has shaken up his deeply conservative country, pushing through dramatic social reforms, including allowing women to drive, and waging a massive crackdown that the ruling family says went after corruption, but critics say simply targeted his political foes.

"The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country", May said in the House of Commons.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said the United Kingdom had already licensed £4.6bn of arms for Saudi Arabia since the Yemen conflict began in 2015.

"If agreed, this shameful deal will be celebrated in the palaces of Riyadh and by the arms companies who will profit from it, but it will mean even greater destruction for the people of Yemen", said Mr Smith.

"The fact that we have the head of state of a government that has been operating such a blockade - Saudi Arabia - recently invited to Buckingham Palace and Downing Street while the military ... is orchestrating what will potentially become the worst starvation in the last 50 years, I think speaks volumes to another aspect of the problem that I want to highlight - the growing sense of impunity surrounding these crimes against children".

The leader of the Anglican church says Saudi Arabia's crown prince is committed to the flourishing of different faiths in his strict Sunni Muslim kingdom.

But she has also raised concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with the Crown Prince during his visit.

BAE, Europe's biggest defense contractor, has long awaited a major Saudi order for Typhoons, and slowed production in 2016 to ensure it would remain competitive.

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