KUWAIT/MILAN: Kuwait and Italy yesterday signed a contract for 28 Eurofighter “Typhoon” warplanes as the state beefs up its military might. Italian aerospace company Finmeccanica, which will assemble the multi-role fighters, said the contract was its biggest ever. It did not specify an amount but Italian media reports said it was worth €7-8 billion ($8-9 billion). The deal also includes logistics, operational support and the training of flight crews and ground personnel, which will be carried out in cooperation with the Italian Air Force, Finmeccanica said in a statement.
Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah witnessed the signing of the deal with visiting Italian counterpart Roberta Pinotti at the Army Officers’ Club yesterday, a statement by the defense ministry’s public relations and moral guidance department noted. The signing ceremony was also attended by Finmeccanica CEO Mauro Moretti, who inked the deal on behalf of the Italian side. The aircraft, 22 single-seaters and 6 twin-seaters will be produced in Italy.
The statement pointed out the ministry’s keenness to acquire highest level of operational capabilities through this purchase. The contract is an intergovernmental agreement between the two countries and includes logistics and operational support, as well as training of both aircrews and ground personnel. The latter will be carried out in cooperation with the Italian Air Force, and in particular with the 20th Gruppo, ItAF Typhoon OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) based at Grosseto airbase.
According to the ministry’s statement, the first two aircraft will arrive in the last quarter of 2019, with the complete arrival of all aircraft by 2022, and an expected in-service operation till 2050. Kuwait will get the Typhoon in its most advanced configuration: Tranche 3 planes equipped with the cutting-edge new electronically scanned array radar.
The National Assembly last month approved spending an additional $500 million as an advance payment for the jets. That funding came on top of $10 billion additional defense spending already approved by parliament in January to upgrade the country’s military. The state is a member of the US-led coalition that has been bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq since last year, and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition pounding Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Last year it bought 24 Caracal military tactical transport helicopters and French light armored vehicles. Kuwait is the third Gulf nation to choose the Typhoon, according to the Eurofighter consortium. Saudi Arabia already flies the aircraft, which have been in service since 2003. Oman placed an order for twelve aircraft in Dec 2012. – Agencies