The Saudi defence ministry announced on Monday that it has signed a 4.43 billion pound (8.86 billion dollar) deal to buy 72 Eurofighter planes, in one of the largest ever British export orders.
"The two governments on Tuesday (September 11) signed the contract for the acquisition of (72) planes for a cost of 4.43 billion pounds," a ministry spokesman told the state news agency SPA.
He said the deal follows an August 2006 agreement in principle and "a memorandum of understanding between the London and Riyadh governments to modernise the Saudi armed forces as part of their close defence ties".
The memorandum, inked in December 2005, also provides for "a transfer of technology, investment in Saudi military industry and aviation training for Saudis", the spokesman said.
The Times newspaper reported on September 7 that BAE Systems was poised to clinch the deal to supply 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to the oil-rich Gulf Arab kingdom.
It had been feared that the deal would be scuppered because of a British probe into allegations Saudi Arabia took bribes from BAE under a military-plane deal struck between Britain and the Middle East kingdom more than 20 years ago.
Britain's Serious Fraud Office last year investigated BAE Systems' 43-billion-pound Al-Yamamah deal in 1985, which provided Hawk and Tornado jets plus other military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
But the investigation was shelved by the British government last December in a move supported by then prime minister Tony Blair amid concerns over Britain's national interests.
Last Mod: 17 Eylül 2007, 19:09