BAE Systems is set to benefit from a massive £10 billion deal to supply Saudi Arabia with new fighter jets, the company has confirmed.
The leading arms manufacturer in the UK revealed that an agreement between the UK and Saudi governments had been reached which would "effectively initiate the purchase of Typhoon aircraft and the associated commitment to the industrial plan to be launched".
"In December 2005, the governments of… Saudi Arabia and [the] United Kingdom… signed an Understanding Document, intended to establish a greater partnership in modernising the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces," BAE said in a statement.
As a result 72 Eurofighter jets will be sold to the Saudis, the official Saudi Arabian news agency said.
They will replace the outdated Tornados which had also been made by BAE Systems. The Eurofighter Typhoons are manufactured by an international European consortium including BAE Systems, aerospace group EADS and Finmeccanica, an Italian company.
Today's deal extends the long-term al-Yamamah arrangement between the British and Saudi governments which has lasted since the early 1980s.
Strategic interest in defending Saudi Arabia had its roots before that time, however, with British imperial imperatives after the second world war motivating its support of the Saudi regime.