PARIS BAE Systems (BAES.L) hopes to clinch a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for its Eurofighter Typhoon jet this year, allowing it to beat French rival Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA) in a closely contested race.
Dassault's Rafale jets and the BAE Systems-backed Eurofighter have been locked in competition for the deal to replace at least 60 of the UAE's Mirage fleet.
The UAE was expected to finalize an agreement for the Rafale last year, but talks faltered after the UAE said the terms were unworkable and uncompetitive, opening the door to the Eurofighter consortium.
"We're hoping for a decision this year, but it's also a very complex proposal, a very large proposal," BAE's Group Business Development Director Alan Garwood told Reuters at the Paris Airshow on Monday.
The company has now received a request for a proposal from the UAE, which allows BAE to discuss in detail with the country about its military requirements such as training. BAE aims to respond with a proposal in the autumn, Garwood said.
"We have to see how quickly the UAE government can come to a decision," he said.
In February, the UAE's military spokesman Obeid Al Ketbi said the competition was still "an open field" and a decision would be made in a short period of time.
BAE, Europe's largest defense contractor, has made increasing exports to countries such as the UAE a priority as government budgets in the United States and Europe shrink.
Its multi-role Eurofighter Typhoon jet, which it is manufacturing in conjunction with Airbus-owner EADS EAD.PA and Italian weapons maker Finmeccanica SIFI.MI, has to date received orders from Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Garwood reiterated that pricing discussions with Saudi Arabia over its order of 72 Eurofighter aircraft were still ongoing and they were not dependent on a time scale.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Mark Potter)