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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

19 June 2015

UK Remains Optimistic Over Further TYPHOON Sales

The UK remains positive about further sales of the Eurofighter TYPHOON to countries such as Qatar and India, despite both country’s initial decision to buy the Dassault RAFALE instead, said Stephen Phipson, Head of the Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) within the British government.

Briefing at the Paris Airshow, Phipson said that although Qatar had opted for 24 RAFALE fighters as the initial replacement aircraft for its Dassault MIRAGE 2000-5s: “It was inevitable that they would buy some RAFALE’s in their 72 fast jet requirement, but we are getting signals that they are still considering whether or not to push forward with TYPHOON. We will give them the option to buy which will probably arise sometime next year.”

Phipson expressed a similar hope over the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA): “Their requirement is for 126 fast jets. I was in India for meetings all last week [and there can still be] competition for the second and even third tranches.” He highlighted the commitment to assemble and support the BAE Systems HAWK fleet within India which supported the country’s manufacturing aspirations.

There were grounds for further optimism regarding potential sales to Bahrain, neighbour of long standing customer Saudi Arabia.  Malaysia was also still regarded as another potential sale, although Phipson said that the Italian government were the lead negotiator regarding that contract. “We have had a meeting at the air show and they assured us the campaign is going really well,” acknowledged Phipson. He said that the ability to provide early deliveries to any new TYPHOON orders was a distinct advantage over other competitors. Regarding ongoing manufacturing, he revealled: “We don’t have to worry until the end of 2016 in terms of its sustainment.

When asked about future new platform projects that would benefit UK industry, Phipson gave a measured response: “We have to start thinking about the whole area of large platforms in a different way. Going forward it is not going to be about individual countries, but collaboration on joint projects. No countries can afford single big platforms outside the US due to affordability.” To that point even Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF-35) has had international funding from countries including the UK, Canada and Australia. He also pointed out that new smaller technology, such as that in unmanned systems, is reducing the need to invest in large scale platforms.

Another area that his organisation is keen to support is that of cyber protection. Commenting on the recent Pentagon personnel breach - thought to have been perpetrated by China - he said that this only served to highlight the importance of cyber protection: “Last year we assisted UK companies to deliver three large export programmes to protect against exactly that. These attacks are going ahead all the time of course. But the UK now has 3,000 cyber security companies. It is a sector that is growing in double digits.” The UK’s cyber exports were £1.1 billion last year but are growing at around 30% per annum, he concluded.
Andrew Drwiega

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