Kuwait's parliament approves $500 mln towards Eurofighter deal

DUBAI, March 1 (Reuters) - Kuwait’s parliament approved a draft law on Tuesday allowing the government to make an advance payment of 150 million dinars ($500 million) as part of a Eurofighter jets deal agreed last year, state news agency KUNA reported.

Kuwait signed a memorandum of understanding in September to buy 28 Eurofighter jets, the consortium that makes the aircraft said, in a deal worth up to 8 billion euros ($8.7 billion).

The planes are made by Italy’s Finmeccanica, BAE Systems and Airbus.

Finmeccanica shares fell 6 percent on Feb. 5 with traders citing a delay in the signing of the Kuwait deal. That led a company spokesman to reassure investors that the contract had not been cancelled.

KUNA said the 150 million dinars will be drawn from Kuwait’s general reserve fund, a savings pot managed by the Kuwait Investment Authority, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds.

Kuwait and its fellow Gulf Arab states together make up one of the world’s largest arms markets, buying billions of dollars of military equipment from the United States and Europe.

In January Kuwait’s parliament approved allocating 3 billion dinars over the next 10 years to pay for the procurement of weapons and military equipment. ($1 = 0.3004 Kuwaiti dinars) ($1 = 0.9215 euros) (Reporting by Sylvia Westall; editing by Adrian Croft)