| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

British PM urges Germany to approve $6bn fighter jet sale to Saudi Arabia

According to the Daily Telegraph, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has privately appealed to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to authorize the release of a prominent shipment of Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia.
Sunak is lobbying Germany to approve the sale of the 48 jets, which is thought to be worth over £5 billion ($6.1 billion) and has been identified as a strategically vital interest for the UK.
Britain is believed to have threatened to use a legal clause to try and cut Berlin out of the order altogether after disagreements within Germany’s ruling coalition.
The Typhoon was developed from the mid-1980s by a consortium of defense companies — including Britain’s BAE Systems and counterparts in Germany, Italy and Spain — under the patronage of NATO. As a result, Germany has a veto over any future sales.
Around 5,000 jobs at BAE factories and an additional 15,000 around the UK still depend on the Typhoon program, which contributes about £1.4 billion a year to the British economy, according to a report published by the company last year.
Saudi Arabia has already acquired 72 of the aircraft, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK to acquire a further 48 five years ago. The deal later stalled, but the prospects of a sale have been revived in recent months.
In July, however, Scholz caused alarm in London by announcing that Germany would not approve the delivery anytime soon. Britain has put Germany under intense diplomatic pressure to relent as a result, officials said.
The sale is important for the financial health of Britain’s defense industry and thousands of jobs at BAE factories in the north of England.
The UK also hopes that Saudi Arabia will invest in the Tempest program, a British-Italian-Japanese project to develop a next-generation fighter jet.

  • Arab News