Bahrain in talks to buy Eurofighter Typhoon jets from UK's BAE Systems

Purchase from BAE Systems could push UAE and rest of GCC towards similar deal.

A BAE Systems Plc Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet lands on the second day of the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, U.K., on Tuesday, July 20, 2010. The Farnborough International Airshow is being held from July 19-25. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg *** Local Caption ***  705592.jpg
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LONDON // A British defence firm, BAE Systems, said the government of Bahrain was in talks about the possibility of buying Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.

"Bahrain has expressed an interest in Typhoon and the British government are leading very early discussions. BAE Systems is supporting the government in these discussions," a BAE spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The Eurofighter combat jet is made by BAE, Italian weapons maker Finmeccanica and EADS, a pan-European aerospace and defence corporation. The Eurofighter consortium is targeting exports as European governments slash defence budgets, and it has so far sold jets to Austria, Saudi Arabia and Oman outside of its core market.

It is also vying for orders in South Korea, Kuwait, Qatar, Bulgaria and Denmark. The Eurofighter's main competitors include Lockheed Martin's F-35 jet, Dassault Aviation's Rafale fighter and the Gripen by Sweden's Saab .

Bahrain's national news agency reported on Wednesday that the country's King Hamad Al Khalifa, who was in the UK at the time, had told the British prime minister, David Cameron, that his country was interested in buying Eurofighter jets to "create a cohesive defence system between the Gulf Cooperation Council" nations.

This could be good news for the Eurofighter consortium's attempts to secure a deal for the jet with the UAE, which was expected to finalise a US$10 billion (Dh36.73bn) agreement for a Rafale fighter last year before talks faltered, giving the group hope of winning the deal.

Britain will hope its historic ties with Arabian Gulf states, many of them former protectorates and regional allies, will help it secure a deal with Bahrain, securing jobs for BAE's Typhoon production line at Warton in northwest England.