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21 Dec o5. The Governments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have today signed an Understanding Document, which is intended to establish a greater partnership in modernising the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces and developing close service-to-service contacts especially through joint training and exercises.

The partnership also recognises the key objectives shared by the two Governments with regard to national security and actions to combat global terrorism, and respects the wise leadership role exercised by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in promoting regional stability.

In addition, the United Kingdom Government recognises the need to support the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s efforts further to develop a regional defence industrial centre of excellence. In this regard, BAE SYSTEMS will invest in local Saudi companies, develop an industrial technology transfer plan, and provide suitable training for thousands of Saudi nationals providing through life support for key in service equipments.

The two Governments recognise the requirement to provide enhanced capabilities to existing military assets and ensure that they can be supported by local Saudi industry. Under the terms of the signed document Typhoon aircraft will replace Tornado Air Defence Variant aircraft and others currently in service with the RSAF.

The details of these arrangements are confidential between the two Governments.

Dr Reid said: “I welcome this Understanding as the latest practical example of the close relationship that exists between the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It offers opportunities for forging closer links between our armed forces and industries, which will benefit both nations.”

“This Understanding is good news for both UK and Saudi industry. BAE SYSTEMS, as Prime Contractor, and its many UK sub-contractors will benefit from the work envisaged under this Understanding, which will help sustain several thousand UK jobs over the next ten years. In addition, the associated technology transfer, training and inward investment packages will generate many skilled jobs in Saudi Arabia.”

The Governments of Saudi Arabia and the UK signed a formal understanding in 1985 for the supply of Tornado IDS, Tornado ADV, Hawk and PC-9 aircraft, together with associated support services, equipment, weapons, ammunition and electronic warfare systems; the aircraft have all since been delivered.

The two Governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 1986 elaborating the arrangements put in place the previous year. This formalised the role of British Aerospace (BAe) (as it was called at the time) as the Prime Contractor for the whole programme, and established a UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) Project Office to coordinate the activities of UK MOD in support of the programme and to monitor the contracted activities of BAE. The two governments signed the ‘New Buy Tornado Agreement’ for the supply of additional IDS aircraft in 1993.

Comment: It is ironic that one week after the Government announced the fundamental end to manned aircraft production in the UK and the fundamental ending of the UK’s defence manufacturing base (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.7 ISSUE 49, 15th December 2005, DEFENCE INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY – THE GRADUAL ERROSION OF THE U.K. MANUFACTURING BASE) that the Stock Market reacted in such a positive manner to this announcement. This quite clearly shows the value of manufacturing and high-tech business to the U.K. and the current misguided strategy of supplementing defence jobs with Balti Bars and, casinos, supermarkets and 24-hour drinking will end in tears. A country needs a sound manufacturing and R&D base to survive. We await Lord Drayson’s comments on this announcement, a ‘U’ turn by any of Tony’s cronies is nigh on an impossibility. Perhaps the Union vote will now bring its force to bear in this ‘Think

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