Bahrain is said to be considering buying Eurofighter Typhoons for its air force, according to comments made on 8 August by BAE Systems officials.
The potential Royal Bahraini Air Force Typhoon order would make Bahrain this four-nation multirole combat aircraft's third Middle Eastern customer, after Saudi Arabia and Oman.
First flown in 1994, the Eurofighter Typhoon was co-developed by the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain. Produced as a single-seat fighter and a two-seat trainer, it is one of the most capable and agile combat aircraft in the world and currently equips six air arms: the Austrian Air Force, German Air Force, Italian Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force, Spanish Air Force and Royal Air Force.
The Royal Bahraini Air Force is the Bahrain Defense Force's air division and was established in 1977. Initially an all-helicopter air arm, it expanded to include fighters in the mid-1980s and presently operates Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons and Northrop F-5s.
Bahraini Typhoon Interest
Now, the Eurofighter Typhoon seems to be a frontrunner to fill the Royal Bahraini Air Force's future fighter needs, alongside such as the Saab JAS-39 Gripen, the Dassault Rafale and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter).
With European air arms having significantly cut back on defence spending in recent months, the Middle East is becoming an ever more attractive marketplace for Eurofighter and other organisations, so the Bahraini Typhoon interest comes at an especially welcome time.
Bahrain aside, the Typhoon is also being pitched to Qatar, Kuwait, South Korea, Denmark and Bulgaria. "Bahrain has expressed an interest in Typhoon and the British government are leading very early discussions", explained a BAE Systems representative. "BAE Systems is supporting the UK government in these discussions."
Among Middle Eastern nations, Saudi Arabia placed a £4.5 billion order for 72 Typhoons six years ago but various hurdles have emerged since then. Oman, meanwhile, ordered 12 Typhoons in 2012.