Germany is attempting to block the sale of 48 British Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia in a move which would potentially cost 6,000 jobs and blow a £15 billion hole in the UK economy, insiders have claimed.
The row centres on Berlin’s commitment to vetoing the sale of the aircraft to the Saudis over concerns they would use them to attack Yemen.
However, a memo has warned that if the order is blocked, BAE Systems’ production lines will be forced to close immediately.
To add insult to injury, Emmanuel Macron’s France is waiting in the wings, and could cash in if the country instead opts to buy their Rafale fighter.
National Security Adviser Sir Tim Barrow is understood to be spearheading a diplomatic mission to “unstick” the Germans prior to a deadline next month for the deal to go through.
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However, sources told The Sun this “is going nowhere”.
Britain will begin phasing out more than 100 Eurofighter Typhoons starting in 2025, with the plan to replace them with U-built 47 F-35B Lightnings.
The planned 6th generation Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) fighter, to be built in conjunction with Japan and Italy, will not be ready for at least another decade, according to the Whitehall memo.
Furthermore, it warns of a £15 billion risk to the UK’s “combat air industrial base”, with Typhoon production lines to close “without further orders” and “theoretical GCAP production not ramping up until the 2030s”.
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The Typhoon programme directly employs more than 6,000 Britons, with a 28,000 more in the supply chain.
Speaking last night, a defence industry insider said other “potential export markets” for the Typhoon continue to be explored.
With tensions rising in the Middle East after Hamas’ terror attack on Israel, they added that “in the event of World War Three then clearly the UK would be able to restart or ramp up Typhoon production here in Britain”.
A Government spokesman said: “The UK remains steadfast in its commitment to our strategic defence relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
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