Oman places $600m order for 12 military aircraft

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Oman has placed a $600m order with Texas-based Lockheed Martin for a second batch of 12 F-16C/D Block 50 fighters, the US Ministry of Defence has said.

The new aircraft, which includes ten single-seat fighters and a pair of two-seat trainers, will join 12 of the aircraft already in service with the Royal Air Force of Oman, the DoD said in a contract notification.

The Gulf state had previously been in talks with UK-based Eurofighter to buy its Typhoons. Downing Street confirmed last year it was in talks for a deal potentially worth billions of pounds, which would have helped ease the budget crisis at the country’s Ministry of Defence.

Defence industry sources had said the British order could be for as many as 24 aircraft as Oman sought to replaces its 24 Jaguar jets.

Lockheed Martin will also provide associated support equipment and logistics services. Work under the deal should conclude by November 2016, said DoD.

Gulf states are ramping up their investment in military equipment amid fears of a threat from Iran. The GCC is expected to spend as much as $100bn over the next few years buying military equipment. 

Washington-based Boeing was also awarded a $50m contract for the installation and check out of Group A and B Radar System Improvement Program kits for the Saudi Arabia’s five Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, said the DoD. Work is expected to be completed Oct. 28, 2013, it added. 

The US last month unveiled plans to sell Saudi Arabia up to $600bn of defence equipment including 4,900 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) as well as other weapons, which would vastly expand the capabilities of the Gulf state’s air force to target fixed structures.

Theodore Karasik, a Middle East security expert at Dubai-based Inegma, in August said the value of arms exports to the Middle East and North Africa would increase in the fourth quarter as countries look to replenish military equipment used during the Arab Spring.

“We’re going into the fourth quarter and we’ve got more events that are going to happen - or there are going to be more requirements – so some of these militaries are going to have to replenish themselves,” he said.

“You already having the UAE ordering new stuff to replace what they used in Libya, for example, [so] I think the numbers will increase,” he added.

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