Feeds

US gov may forbid BAE Eurofighter sale to Saudis

Brit kit contains significant US tech. Whoops

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A controversial British deal to supply Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia may have hit an obstacle. It appears that the Eurofighter - long touted as proof that the UK and its continental partners can make serious combat kit without American help - actually contains significant amounts of US technology, and that Washington may not permit the Saudi sale.

The revelations come in an article in today's Financial Times. It appears that the British government's application to export American tech on 72 Eurofighters to the desert princes is the subject of some debate both among Capitol Hill politicos and at the Departments of State and Justice.

The British part of Eurofighter is produced by global multinational BAE Systems, headquartered in the UK but nowadays with most of its operations overseas - especially in America. BAE is handling the UK-negotiated Saudi Eurofighter sale, and the company has been under investigation by Justice feds since last year following revelations that allegedly corrupt payments to the Saudi Prince Bandar had moved via US banks.

The Bandar payments, totalling more than $1bn - which the Prince insists were completely legitimate - are linked to a previous UK gov/BAE deal with the Saudis dating from the 1980s. This deal - known as al-Yamamah - was being investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) until the end of 2006. At that point the SFO investigation was shut down, effectively on the orders of Tony Blair.

The SFO decision was recently excoriated in damning terms by British judges following a legal review, saying that Blair had "surrendered" in "abject" fashion to terrorism-related threats delivered in person at Downing Street by Prince Bandar - who was "allegedly complicit in the criminal conduct under investigation, and, accordingly, with interests of his own in seeing that the investigation ceased".

Following the Blair surrender, angry SFO investigators leaked the fact that some of Bandar's money had passed from British government accounts (controlled by the former armsbiz-run MoD sales office, DESO) to an American bank. This triggered the ongoing US Justice investigation, with which the British government has completely refused to cooperate.

Now the US State Department needs to decide whether to grant a tech-export licence allowing the British government to permit BAE's proposed sale of (as it turns out) partly-American Eurofighters to the Saudis. US export regs say such licences may be denied where there is "reasonable cause" to believe that the applicant has violated US law.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK gov rushes through emergency law on data retention
Cameron: 'The consequences of not acting are grave'
NSA dragnet mostly slurped innocents' traffic
Latest Snowden leak suggests indiscriminate retention
Judge says there's no such thing as a 'Patent Troll'
Apple banned from calling litigant a 'Bounty hunter', 'corporate shell' or 'Troll'
German government orders local CIA station chief to pack his bags
Sour Krauts arrest second local in domestic spy ring probe
Siri, did we just take a hit in that voice-recog patent fight?
Yes, Apple, you did, says this Beijing court
Report: UK.gov wants to legislate on comms data BEFORE next election
Ministerial alarm sets in over EU court's data retention ruling
Russian law will force citizens' personal data to be stored locally
Won't someone think of the software-as-a-service startups?
Russian MP fears US Secret Service cuffed his son for Snowden swap
Seleznev Jnr is 'prolific trafficker in stolen credit card data', it is alleged
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem
Building your ideal BladeSystem infrastructure solution begins with eight simple steps, outlined in this whitepaper.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Build a Business Case: Developing Custom Apps
In this whitepaper learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.