March 24, 2018

Main » Saudi Crown Prince signs off UK visit with push for fighter deal

Saudi Crown Prince signs off UK visit with push for fighter deal

11 March 2018

The jets are made by British firm BAE Systems, as part of a multi-billion pound deal which has been under discussion for many years.

Saudi Arabia has signed a memorandum of intent with the United Kingdom to buy 48 Typhoon aircraft, aerospace giant BAE Systems has said.

The BAE System said in a statement that the signing is a positive step ahead in direction of friendly relations.

The memorandum of intent was signed after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with British defence minister Gavin Williamson.

BAE Systems delivered the last of 72 Eurofighter in June 2017, which included 48 single seat and 24 twin seat variants.

Mrs May defended the UK's ties with Saudi Arabia earlier this week, saying all arms sales are strictly regulated.

During the hour-long visit at Lambeth Palace, the pair discussed the crown prince's reform plans and Welby - the head of the Anglican church - expressed his concerns about the treatment of Christians in Saudi Arabia.

The British government is defending the sale of the planes to Saudi Arabia amid growing pressure to completely halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia with critics warning it will strengthen Riyadh's hand in its ongoing military campaign in Yemen.

The thorny topic of Yemen was on the agenda at a private dinner at May's country residence on Thursday night, but it was tempered with gifts: May's office said she presented Prince Mohammed with a family tree showing the descent of the Al Saud dynasty.

In the lead-up to the trip, tens of thousands of Britons had signed online petitions calling on Theresa May, the prime minister, to cancel MBS' visit over his actions towards his southern neighbour.

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.

Prior to his trip to the United Kingdom, the Crown Prince had traveled to Egypt on a three-day visit.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced swing-role combat aircraft available and there are nearly 500 in service across Europe.

Saudi Crown Prince signs off UK visit with push for fighter deal