Kuwait to purchase 28 warplanes: Eurofighter

Updated 12 September 2015
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Kuwait to purchase 28 warplanes: Eurofighter

BERLIN: 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.
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 Defense 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.
“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 Daesh 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 USNavy 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 defense program, 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.
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.


Morocco Christians urge religious freedom before pope visit

Updated 32 min 28 sec ago
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Morocco Christians urge religious freedom before pope visit

  • Morocco is 99 percent Muslim
  • The pontiff is due to visit the North African country on March 30-31 at the invitation of King Mohammed VI

RABAT: Morocco’s Christian minority on Thursday called on authorities in the Muslim-majority country to guarantee religious freedoms, ahead of a visit by Pope Francis.
The Coordination of Moroccan Christians, a group representing converts to Christianity in a nation that is 99 percent Muslim, appealed for “basic freedoms of which we, Moroccan Christians, are still often deprived.”
These include freedom of public worship as well as the right to have church or civil weddings and Christian funeral rites and education, it said in a statement.
“We dream of a free Morocco” which embraces religious diversity, the group said, adding that it hopes Pope Francis’s visit this month will be a “historic occasion” for the country.
“We also call on the Moroccan authorities to no longer put pressure on the country’s official churches, including the Catholic church in Morocco, to dissuade them from accepting” converts to Christianity, the statement said.
The pontiff is due to visit the North African country on March 30-31 at the invitation of King Mohammed VI.
More than 40,000 Christians — mostly foreigners — are estimated to live in Morocco, whose king describes himself as the “commander of the faithful.”
Religious pluralism is enshrined in the constitution and freedom of worship is guaranteed, according to the Moroccan authorities.