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Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale Set for Showdown in Saudi Multibillion-Dollar Contract Bid

Does the French effort to establish a foothold in the Saudi Arabian fighter aircraft market with Rafale face potential hindrance from the Eurofighter Typhoon?

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) –Following Saudi Arabia’s declaration of intent to enter negotiations for the acquisition of 54 Rafale fighter jets from France, the German government has unexpectedly withdrawn its opposition to the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to the Arab nation.

This abrupt reversal by the German government has paved the way for a competitive bidding scenario between the Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale, both vying for a lucrative multi-billion-dollar contract with the Saudi Arabian government.

Recently, a German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit was quoted as saying that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had opted not to impede Britain’s endeavors to sell Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

“Yes, the Chancellor (Olaf Scholz) agrees with the perspective on the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia,” he affirmed.

The Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets are jointly produced by a consortium comprising Britain, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Any sale of these fighter jets necessitates approval from all four nations involved.

Berlin’s decision to greenlight the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia is rooted in the belief that the Arab country plays a pivotal role in “maintaining security,” particularly concerning Israel.

Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets

 

Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in ensuring Israel’s security, demonstrated through the successful interception of guided missiles and kamikaze drones by Riyadh’s air defense system against Houthi attacks on Israel, has influenced Germany’s stance on arms sales.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock affirmed, “The German government will not impede Britain’s proposal to sell additional Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia not only significantly contributes to Israel’s security but also plays a crucial role in averting broader conflicts in the region.”

The sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Riyadh faced obstacles following Germany’s suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia in 2018, prompted by the abduction and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Subsequently, a British court imposed a ban on all weapon exports to Saudi Arabia in 2019 due to its military actions in Yemen.

However, with the ceasefire in Yemen, Britain is pushing forward with plans to proceed with the sale of the 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.

London is exerting pressure on Germany to endorse the continuation of this sale, arguing that Germany’s previous reasons for blocking the Eurofighter fighter jet sale no longer apply, given the United Nations (UN)-brokered ceasefire agreement between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

typhoon

Confronted with Germany’s resistance to the Eurofighter Typhoon sale, Saudi Arabia is reportedly contemplating an alternative proposal to procure 54 Rafale fighter jets from the French company Dassault Aviation for its air force.

Should the acquisition of Rafale fighter jets by Saudi Arabia materialize, it would signify the Arab country’s inaugural purchase of French-made fighter jets.

In October last year, French weekly newspaper Le Tribune reported that Saudi Arabia formally sought a price for the acquisition of 54 Rafale fighter jets from the manufacturer, Dassault Aviation.

Earlier revelations from the French newspaper suggested that the Saudi government was deliberating the acquisition of between 100 and 200 Rafale fighter jets, a model also utilized by several neighboring Arab nations.

In recent times, Dassault Aviation has made notable inroads into the Middle East market, securing deals with various Arab countries for the purchase of Rafale fighter jets, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar.

The question arises: Will France’s endeavor to penetrate the Saudi Arabian fighter jet market with Rafale face obstacles posed by the Eurofighter Typhoon? – DSA

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