Eurofighter says Kuwait purchasing 28 warplanes
Kuwait has agreed to buy 28 Typhoon warplanes, becoming the third country in the Gulf region to order the combat aircraft, the Eurofighter consortium said Friday.
Its statement did not give financial details about the deal, which was struck between the governments of Kuwait and Italy.
Eurofighter is a partnership between Italy's Finmeccanica, Britain's BAE Systems and civilian planemaker Airbus.
According to Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper, Kuwait's overall order was estimated to be worth between seven and eight billion euros ($8-9 billion).
The accord was signed Thursday by Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti and Finmeccanica Chief Executive Officer Mauro Moretti, the newspaper said.
"This new agreement is the confirmation of the superiority of the Eurofighter over its competitors and will provide a great opportunity for further Eurofighter orders," said Eurofighter CEO Alberto Gutierrez in the statement.
"The Eurofighter is already proven and trusted by six nations to perform in all operational environments," he added.
In the Gulf region, the Kuwait deal follows Oman's order of 12 Eurofighter Typhoons in December 2012. Saudi Arabia already has the fighter jets in its air force.
"The State of Kuwait will be the third country in the Middle East, and the eighth country overall to operate the aircraft," another member of the Eurofighter consortium, BAE Systems, said in a statement.
"This confirms Typhoon's position as the most advanced new generation swing role combat aircraft available today," it added, referring to the fighter jet's ability to handle different roles in combat.
Kuwait is looking to upgrade its firepower against the backdrop of increased security concerns in the region linked to the rise of the Islamic State jihadist group.
The Eurofighter deal with Kuwait represents a setback for US rival Boeing.
Kuwait had been expected to opt for Boeing's Super Hornet F18s.
Before the sale was official, a source close to the matter in the United States had indicated that Kuwait was in discussions for the two planes, indicating the final order could include both Super Hornets and the Eurofighter jets.
A spokesman for Boeing had said: "The U.S Navy and Boeing continue to discuss Super Hornets with potential Middle East customers."
The Kuwait deal is also a boost for Eurofighter against another rival, the Rafale jet built by French firm Dassault Aviation, which has deals in the region with Egypt and Qatar.
The Eurofighter Typhoon, which has a list price of around $140 million, is Europe's largest collaborative defence programme, with the Kuwait purchase taking the number of the aircraft sold to 599.
Since it first entered into service in late 2003, 444 aircraft have been delivered to six nations: Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia.
Earlier media reports Friday of the sale sent shares of Finmeccanica soaring more the 5.0 percent on the Milan stock exchange, while in London BAE Systems closed nearly 2.0 percent higher.
-- Bloomberg News contributed to this report --
© 2015 AFP