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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Saudi Arabia used to bark – now it bites

Saudi Eurofighter TyphoonIn the 30 years since Britain first negotiated the al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudia Arabia, the general assumption has been that this country was by far the main beneficiary of the multi-billion-pound agreement.

Once called “the biggest British sale ever of anything to anyone”, the complex negotiations originally undertaken by the Thatcher government in the mid-Eighties committed Britain to equip the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) with more than 100 Tornado fighter aircraft, as well as 50 Hawk trainers.

The scale of the deal, which also included specialised naval vessels, missile and radar systems, resulted in BAE Systems, the government’s main contractor, employing more than 4,000 people in the kingdom in a deal that is estimated to have earned the company more than £40 billion.

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