David Cameron has headed to the Middle East in a bid to sell Lancashire-built fighter jets.
The Prime Minister will visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as part of a three-day visit to the region.
He is expected to discuss selling BAE Systems’ Eurofighter Typhoon jets to both nations.
The UAE has expressed an interest in buying 60 jets to replace its ageing fleet, while Saudi is understood to be keen on a second “substantial” order on top of the 72 Typhoons they already have.
A Downing Street statement
It added: “On this visit, the Prime Minister hopes to begin the next chapter in the relationship, establishing a truly strategic defence partnership.
“This presents an opportunity to significantly boost the British defence industry – worth £5.4bn in annual exports and sustaining 54,000 jobs – and the Prime Minister will use to the trip to specifically promote the Typhoon fast jet to Gulf leaders.”
The Gulf state of Oman is also believed to be interested in buying 12 Typhoon jets, parts for which are built at BAE’s factories at Warton and Samlesbury, near Preston.
The aircraft is built by a four-nation consortium, including firms in Germany, Italy and Spain.
Later on Monday, Mr Cameron and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan will attend a business event where British firms including defence giant BAE Systems and aerospace firm Rolls Royce will be on display.
Cameron will also hold talks with the crown prince and the prime minister of the UAE on collaborating over next-generation aerospace equipment, the Downing Street statement added.