BAE Systems is set to supply the Royal Saudi Air Force with 30 more Hawk advanced jet trainers through a $3bn deal signed on 23 May 2012.
The deal brings with it job security for hundreds of BAE Systems employees and takes, further into the future, the production legacy of a highly successful jet aircraft design now approaching its 40th anniversary.
The Royal Saudi Air Force is presently equipped with 29 Hawk Mk65 and Mk65As, which are export versions of the Hawk T1 flown by the Royal Air Force. Six of these are used by the Royal Saudi Air Force's national display team, the Saudi Hawks.
New Saudi Hawk Contract
The new Saudi Hawk contract follows the country's purchase, six years ago, of 72 Eurofighter Typhoons, also for the Royal Saudi Air Force. In comments made to the SPA news agency, a representative from the Saudi defence ministry stressed that the contract would allow Royal Saudi Air Force pilots "use fourth generation jet fighters in full professionalism and efficiency" and alongside the Hawks will also be supplied simulators, spare parts and other operational infrastructure.
The BAE Systems Hawk made its maiden flight in 1974. It's since been adopted by many nations to provide advanced jet training to future fast jet pilots and among its customers is the United States Navy, which operates the maritime-optimised T-45C Goshawk.
BAE Hawk Trainer Contract
BAE Systems has approximately 40,000 employees in the UK and, with close to £20bn in sales made last year, is among the most profitable arms firms in the world. However, in early 2012, it stressed the need for a number of new deals to be secured - such as the new BAE Hawk trainer contract - to guarantee profit growth for this year, too.
In 2010, BAE Systems was hit with a £286m fine in connection with claims of corruption related to the infamous Al Yamamah arms deals established between it and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.