Kuwait to finalise Eurofighter jet deal with Italy
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait and Italy will finalise a multibillion-euro deal next week for the Gulf state to purchase Eurofighter jets, Kuwait's defence minister has said.
Sheikh Khaled Jarrah Al-Sabah did not specify the number of planes involved in the deal but the Eurofighter consortium said in September that Kuwait had agreed to buy 28 fighter jets.
"Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti will visit Kuwait next week to sign the Eurofighter warplanes deal," Al-Sabah was quoted as saying Thursday evening by the official KUNA news agency.
Media reports said the value of the deal was between 7-8 billion euros ($8-9 billion).
The minister said he met with his Italian counterpart earlier Thursday on the sidelines of an anti-Islamic State group coalition meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
The Kuwait deal follows Oman's order of 12 Eurofighter Typhoons in December 2012. Saudi Arabia already uses the fighter jets in its air force.
Kuwait is looking to upgrade its firepower against the backdrop of increased security concerns in the region linked to the rise of IS.
Its parliament last month unanimously approved a request by the government for $10 billion in additional funds for military spending over the next 10 years.
The emirate is a member of the US-led coalition that has been bombing IS targets in Syria and Iraq since last year and is also taking part in a Saudi-led coalition striking Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
In November, Kuwait signed 2.5 billion euros worth of fixed and provisional military deals led by the purchase of 24 Airbus-built Caracal helicopters.
Paris said Kuwait would purchase the helicopters for one billion euros, with an option for a further six.
Further deals included the purchase of French light armoured vehicles and patrol boat maintenance.