Abu Dhabi: The UAE is likely to purchase 60 Eurofighter Typhoon jets as a UAE military team had started negotiations with British company since December 2012 on “certain specifications to meet the requirements of the UAE Armed Forces”, a senior official said.

“The UAE Armed Forces are in talks with us for a purchase of 60 Typhoon fighters,” Joe Parker, Eurofighter Director of Export, told the Gulf News in an interview.

The list price of the fighter starts from Dh320 million (65 million euros).

“There are positive indications,” said Parker, without disclosing any information about the specifications required by the UAE and refusing to announce the price of each fighter as this is “governed by the significant modifications and specifications ordered by the UAE Armed Forces and the commercial side of depends on the package, the maintenance and training of UAE pilots”.

Theodore Karasik, Director, Research and Development at Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), told Gulf News that the latest version of Typhoon that the UAE intends to purchase is governed by some tactical and technical capabilities of the fighter. “The UAE seeks tactical and technical modifications to guarantee a potential delivery of the pure fifth generation of the fighter jets,” said Karasik. “This means installing certain equipment including software and sensors to make the aircraft into a Network Centric Environment,” he explained.

Parker added that Saudi Arabia has already signed a contract with the company to purchase 72 Typhoon aircraft and Oman which signed a deal to purchase 12 aircraft. “Saudi Arabia had signed a deal with the company to buy 72 Typhoon fighters. We have already delivered 24 and the remaining 48 will be delivered in 48 months to replace the Tornado fighters. Oman has signed a deal with us last year to purchase 12 fighters that will be handed over in 2017,” said Parker. “We are in talks now with Malaysia. Kuwait has also approached us and we are in serious negotiations with them,” said Parker.

Wing Commander Gregory Foxy of the UK Royal Air Force told Gulf News that Typhoon fighter is an extremely versatile aircraft . “It is a single seat, twin-engine fighter with optimal performance in Beyond Visual Range (BVR) and close combat, with significant ground attack capabilities,” said Foxy.

The inherent flexibility of Typhoon means that an extended role to encompass air-to-surface capability can also be achieved without affecting Typhoon’s air superiority capability.

The Eurofighter Typhoon, developed by BAE with European firms EADS and Alenia, was designed to be the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft, said Foxy. “The Eurofighter concept has been conceived as a multi-role/swing-role platform that would meet the exacting operational demands of the air forces of Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom,” said Foxy.

He added that the degree of the air-to-surface component varies in content and priority between the nations.

Foxy explained that the priority is given to the air-to-air role. For this reason, the air superiority performance requirements drove the aerodynamic design of the airframe.

In reply to a question on the difference between the French Rafale and Typhoon, he said there are many technicalities. “The new Typhoon helmet incorporates the sub-system elements needed to display a real world overlaid picture on the helmet visor,” said Foxy.

“This is called “Helmet Mounted Symbology System” which is a highly sophisticated helmet and support system that lets the pilot see through the body of the aircraft, giving him a vital advantage when it comes to split-second decision-making,” he added. “Using the new helmet system, the pilot can now look at multiple targets, lock on to them, and then, by voice-command, prioritise them. It’s a lightning-fast system to let the pilot look, lock on, and fire,” said Foxy.

In addition, Typhoon can fly up to 55,000 feet and can reduce opportunities to be monitored by radars.