BAE says Asian, Middle Eastern jet demand to offset Western cuts

WARTON, England, June 11 Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:47am EDT

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WARTON, England, June 11 (Reuters) - Sales of combat aircraft in the Middle East and Asia will more than compensate for cutbacks in U.S. and European spending, Britain's BAE Systems predicted on Tuesday.

Europe's largest defence contractor forecast international markets outside its U.S. and European heartlands would rise to account for around half of turnover at its military air and information unit by 2016, up from around 25 percent currently.

"This is a prudent view," Peter Anstiss, business development director of the unit said at a briefing on Tuesday in Warton, in north west England.

"Very clearly, the international market could more than compensate for the reductions in the U.S. and UK market."

BAE's aircraft include the four nation-backed Eurofighter Typhoon, which it is developing in a consortium with European aerospace group EADS and Italy's Finmeccanica .

Saudi Arabia and Oman have so far signed up to buy Typhoon jets and the plane is also vying to win deals in countries such as Malaysia, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

South Korea is likely to be the next nation to decide which aircraft it will choose when it places an order for 36 jets, Anstiss said. The Typhoon is competing against Boeing's F-15 and Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet.

Countries in the Gulf region have the potential to purchase 150 more Typhoon jets, Anstiss said, adding that this figure excluded Saudi Arabia's order for 72 Typhoon jets and Oman's 12 Typhoon aircraft.

In India, where the company lost a competition to supply the country with 126 fighters to Dassault Aviation's Rafale aircraft, BAE is waiting on the sidelines to jump back in should the talks fall through, he said.

A decision from the Indian government with regards to a signed deal with Dassault could come before the second quarter of next year when the country holds its elections, he said.

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