Fylde jobs hope in BAE Systems’ Typhoon Qatar deal

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Hopes are high among Fylde coast aircraft workers that they could soon be building Typhoons for another Middle Eastern customer.

The Government has announced that a statement of intent to buy 24 of the versatile warplanes has been signed in Qatar.

Should the multi-billion pound deal be finalised, it will provide more work for the BAE Systems teams at Warton, where the final assembly of the jets takes place, and at Samlesbury, where parts are made.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon and his Qatari counterpart, Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah, sealed the deal at the weekend.

Sir Michael said: “After a number of years of negotiations between our two countries, I am delighted to have been able to sign today with Qatar’s Defence Minister, this statement of intent on the purchase of 24 Typhoon aircraft by Qatar.

“This will be the first major defence contract with Qatar, one of the UK’s strategic partners.

“This is an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence co-operation between our two countries.

“We also hope that this will help enhance security within the region across all Gulf allies and enhance Typhoon interoperability across the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

A BAE Systems spokesman said: “BAE Systems welcomes a formal statement of intent between the governments of the UK and Qatar signed in Doha to on the potential purchase of 24 Typhoon aircraft for the future military and training requirements of the Qatar armed

“Discussions are ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

In April 2016, Kuwait agreed to buy 26 Typhoons, and in 2012 Oman agreed to buy 12 and eight Hawks in a deal worth £2.5bn.

Saudi Arabia, which has recently seen relations with Qatar deteriorate over allegations of ‘meddling’ and destabilising the region, is to buy 72.

BAE Systems states that the Eurofighter Typhoon is the best value swing role aircraft in production.

It faces competition globally from the French rival Rafale and from ageing US designs as well as the new F-35 Lightning II for deals with potential buyers such as Belgium, Bahrain, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Typhoon narrowly missed out on sales to the United Arab Emirates.