[SIZE="4"]Saudi Arabia Buys MBDA Missiles: Sources[/SIZE]
By ANDREW CHUTER, LONDON
Published: 19 Feb 2010 14:39
Saudi Arabia has signed a deal to acquire the Storm Shadow cruise missile from European weapons builder MBDA as part of a Tornado strike aircraft update package, said industry sources here.
The weapons package also includes the Brimstone anti-armor missile, they said.
Earlier plans to include the ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missile ended last year when the Saudis selected Diehl BGT Defence's rival IRIS-T for Tornado and the Typhoon fighter.
French-based weapons firm MBDA, in which BAE is a major shareholder, has always refused to discuss negotiations even though a Saudi aircraft being modified at BAE's Warton aerospace complex in the U.K. was photographed taking off on a test flight carrying a Storm Shadow.
News of the contract signing emerged as a result of an entry in BAE Systems' preliminary results for 2009.
The document said that "significant incremental orders totalling £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) were received in the period for the Tornado Sustainment Programme weapons contract, naval minehunter mid-life update and a multi-year naval training program."
MBDA seemed unaware the deal had been made public. A spokesman declined to confirm any details, saying it was "up to the Ministry of Defence or the customer to comment."
BAE revealed last year that it was upgrading three Saudi minehunters originally supplied by the VT Group in the mid-1990s.
The British-based company employs around 4,900 people in Saudi Arabia supporting the Tornado, Hawk trainer and other programs.
Last year, the company delivered the first eight of 72 Typhoons purchased by the Saudis and agreed on a package to support the aircraft.
The first deliveries of the Tactica armored security vehicle for the Saudi National Guard commenced in 2009 and a support package has been secured by the company.
BAE chief executive Ian King said Feb. 18 that future Saudi orders might include more Tactica orders, upgrades to Bradley armored vehicles, and the purchase of mine-protected vehicles.
The company admitted, though, that it was having problems with a command-and-control, communications, computers and intelligence program it signed in 2006 with the Saudis.
The C4I program remains "challenging and discussions continue with the aim of agreeing the definition of a solution that meets customer requirements" said the results document.