Eurofighter said it expected global demand for its Typhoon fighter jets to hit 300 over the next 20 years, with the Gulf Arab region representing a big chunk of orders.
“We estimate the market for fighter jets globally is 800 in 20 years,” chief executive Enzo Casolini said at the Dubai Air Show yesterday.
“For Eurofighter, we target 300 global export contracts. For the Middle East I’m targeting, to be pessimistic, 50 aircraft, optimistic a 100.”
The company anticipates that Saudi Arabia which placed an order for 72 jets in 2006 that are now being delivered would soon need to upgrade its fleet of 276 combat jets and could order more. The world’s biggest oil exporter has received six Eurofighter jets and will get two more by year-end.
Casolini said delivery for the rest was on schedule.
“As per our agreement, the first 24 will be coming from the Wharton assembly, and then the other 48 should be assembled in (Saudi Arabia) so at the moment the delivery is on track as per the contract,” he said.
“They have started to build the facility.”
Casolini declined to give more details about the Saudi facility, saying it was a government decision between the Gulf Arab kingdom and Britain.
The Eurofighter contract was conceived 25 years ago and involves Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain building more than 600 high-performance combat jets.
The consortium comprises Britain’s BAE Systems, Italy’s Finmeccanica and EADS, representing Germany and Spain.
Saudi Arabia, which has not seen military conflict since taking part in the 1991 Gulf War, is now battling Yemeni Shi’ite rebels after an incursion across its border.
The kingdom is using air power and artillery to enforce a 10 km (six mile) deep buffer zone inside Yemen to keep Yemeni rebels away from its south-western border.