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Mon 21 Feb 2011 05:42 PM

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BAE in talks with Qatar, Oman on Eurofighter purchases

British firm sees steady growth in Middle East sales as UK reins in military spending

BAE in talks with Qatar, Oman on Eurofighter purchases
The Middle East and Asia are increasingly important markets for European weapons makers

BAE Systems, the UK partner building the Eurofighter, is in talks with both Qatar and Oman over the sale of combat jets.

Kuwait and India also have a requirement for such planes, said Simon Keith, managing director for BAE in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions.

The Middle East and Asia are increasingly important markets for European weapons makers as governments at home rein in purchases to combat budget deficits.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said on October 19 that the country’s armed forces will be cut and military expenditure slashed by 8 percent, adjusted for inflation, over four years.

“The Middle East is a key export area and we reckon opportunities will continue to arise because the industrial infrastructure in those countries doesn’t enable them to build entire military equipment,” Keith said in an interview at a military trade show today in Abu Dhabi.

Keith said there has been steady growth in demand from that region for equipment, with the biggest growth in gear for cyber security and border protection.

The executive said Saudi Arabia has taken delivery of 18 out of 72 Typhoons, the export name for the Eurofighter. The nation placed a £4.4bn ($7bn) order and has options for additional planes.

“I know it’s very high on their agenda to think about getting some more,” Keith said.