Expert Comment: What does the blockage of Typhoon Jet sales mean for the UK?

Categories: Salford Business School

Germany continues to block the sale of UK Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia. But what does this mean for jobs, the economy and the supply chain? Dr Jonathan Owens explains the situation.

Earlier this year Germany relaxed their export restrictions against Saudi Arabia, however it is still refusing to allow the sale of the 4.5 generation Eurofighter Typhoon jet to Saudi Arabia.  The UK government has been intensely lobbying Germany’s government for a solution to what would be a leave a huge challenge for the UK’s defence industry, jobs, and supply chain.”

The potential loss of this order could put 6,000 jobs into serious question for those defence workers who are currently employed on the typhoon production. The impact beyond this it could be around 18,000 people for those work directly and indirectly in the Typhoon supply chain.

The UK is currently due to phase out Typhoons from 2025 and be replaced with US F-35B lightnings, before the UK’s 6th Generation Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) fighter come into production during the mid-2030’s. As the GCAP production is not due to commence until the middle of the next decade, and if the Saudi deal cannot be resurrected, or a replacement found, then there is a £15bn black hole and that’s going to leave some questions on to be addressed.

Maintaining the UK’s defence manufacturing sector, particularly in the current unstable global environment, requires continuous investment into the skills that are already in place and have been established over a period of years through the supply chain. Sustaining this is critically important to the UK as well as its Allies, as well as being long term goal of the UK governments STEM strategy. It is vitally important that operational streamlining is not an enforced strategy for the UK’s defence manufacturing sector and its supply chains.

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