LONDON,(Reuters) – A record 6 billion pound ($11.4 billion) export agreement for the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet has given a boost to Britain’s defence industry, sending shares in BAE Systems up 3 percent on Friday.
Saudi Arabia said late on Thursday it would take up to 72 of the jets from the multinational Eurofighter consortium which also includes Airbus parent firm EADS and Alenia Aeronautica, part of Italy’s Finmeccanica.
Britain and Saudi Arabia agreed for the Gulf state to purchase the planes after having signed an initial deal in December which analysts say could be worth more than 6 billion pounds.
Saudi defence deals are big business for Britain, with past state-to-state pacts, called Al Yamamah or “dove” in Arabic, representing the largest manufacturing export programmes in UK history.
Shares in BAE, Europe’s largest defence firm, were up 2.8 percent at 370 pence, the top gainers on London’s FTSE 100 index, which was up 0.4 percent at 0916 GMT.
UK firms Smiths and Rolls-Royce will also supply components for the Eurofighter, and Rolls-Royce shares were up more than 1 percent.
The jets will replace British-made Tornado and other planes in a deal which marks a defeat for France’s Dassault Aviation, which was hoping for its first export customer for the Rafale combat jet. Its stock was down 0.6 percent in Paris.
The project’s original backers were Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain but Austria has also committed to buying the plane.
BAE will lead Eurofighter’s activities in Saudi Arabia as part of a system whereby individual members within the consortium take the lead in negotiations.
The jets are likely to be assembled in the UK.