The government of Oman has requested that BAE Systems submit a formal bid for the supply of Typhoon fighter aircraft. The move clarifies the Middle East nation’s continuing commitment to the program following delays in completing negotiations.
A spokeswoman for the U.K.-based defense company said it expected to complete negotiations by the end of the year, with deliveries of the first aircraft taking place 36 months later.
The request for proposals involves a squadron’s worth of Tranche 3 standard aircraft — about 12 airframes — a support package and training for the Omani air force.
Last month, Oman ordered a second batch of 12 F-16 Block 50’s from Lockheed Martin in a $600 million deal
The Omanis formally stated their intention to purchase the Eurofighter Typhoon in early 2010, and company executives said at the time that the deal could be ready for signing within months.
In a statement, BAE said it welcomed the release of the request for proposals, adding that the news underpins its long-standing defense and security relationship with the sultanate as a major equipment supplier.
The most recent major equipment sale was signed in 2007 to deliver three corvettes to the Omani navy in a deal valued at 400 million pounds.
The warships remain undelivered for technical reasons.
The first of the Khareef-class vessels should have been handed over in 2010 but have been delayed following the discovery of technical problems during sea trials.
The spokeswoman denied that the signing of the fighter deal between the two sides is dependent on the agreement of a get-well package for three corvettes.
The spokeswoman said the first of the corvettes is now scheduled to be handed over at the end of the second quarter.
The Omanis’ commitment to Typhoon follows recent competition losses for the fighter in Japan and Switzerland.
A decision by India on whether to select the Eurofighter aircraft or its French rival, Dassault Rafale, is imminent.
Earlier this month, BAE announced that talks with the Middle East’s first Typhoon customer, Saudi Arabia, over amendments to a deal to supply 72 fighters, were dragging on and would likely affect its 2011 earnings.
The original deal called for the first 24 aircraft to be delivered from the BAE production line in the U.K., with subsequent assembly in Saudi Arabia.
BAE and the Saudis announced a change of plan last February over where the final 42 aircraft would be built but are still haggling over the details.
Typhoon is a four-nation program involving the Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. So far, it has exported the aircraft to Austria and Saudi Arabia