Saudi Arabia has launched the first of 22 BAE Systems Hawk trainer jets with parts manufactured locally through an intergovernmental programme.
Saudi youth make up more than 70% of the workforce assembling the 22 Hawk aircraft, following more than two years of training at the hands of international expertise, said the state-owned Saudi Press Agency (SPA), as part of the Saudi-British Defence Cooperation Program involving more than 25 national companies.
Last Monday at the King Abdulaziz Air Base in the Eastern sector, Saudi launched the first Hawk Mk 165 single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, deputy prime minister and minister of defense, highlighted the Saudi British Defence Cooperation Programme (SBDCP) that facilitated the transfer and localisation of technology to manufacture the aircraft, according to SPA.
The launch followed “long-standing agreements between the UK government and the Kingdom” outlined in BAE Systems 2018 Key Results, released in February 2019. BAE Systems is working to support a strategy to develop indigenous supply in Saudi Arabia through an In-Kingdom Industrial Participation programme, promoting training, development and employment opportunities in line with the Kingdom's National Transformation Plan and Vision 2030, said the announcement.
UK military body, The Ministry of Defence Saudi Armed Forces Projects (MODSAP) manages the military contracts under the SBDCP, which supply defence equipment and services to Saudi Arabia, including the initial contract won by BAE Systems in 2012 to supply 22 Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft, according to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee.
MODSAP is a defence cooperation agreement between the UK and Saudi governments to provide support for the equipment already in service with the Saudi armed forces.
Meanwhile, a March 2019 report, conducted by the US University Network for Human Rights and Yemeni monitoring group Mwatana, claimed that the UK and US had broken arms trade laws by supplying weapons to the Saudi/United Arab of Emirates-led coalition fighting against Houthis rebels in Yemen, resulting in the deaths of an extimated 50,000 civilians.
Following this, a US war power resolution in favour of ending US support for Saudi military operations against Yemen was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and has been passed to President Donald Trump.
The UK has licensed a total of £4.7bn arms exports since the war began four years ago, and £860m to coalition partners, according to fact checking charity Fullfact.org. A report by the House of Lords, released in February 2019, outlined the situation in Yemen and the UK's involvement. A judicial review on the UK's licensing of arms to Saudi in July 2017 by Campaign Against the Arms Trade was unsuccessful. An appeal is due to be heard in April 2019 in the High Court.
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