Germany 'gives the green light' to sell European fighters to Saudi Arabia

Germany announced its readiness to approve the sale of the fourth-generation fighter Eurofighter Typhoon to Saudi Arabia after 5 years of blocking this.

“The German government does not object to the UK considering selling more Eurofighter fighter jets,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during a visit to Israel on November 7, referring to the agreement Britain and Saudi Arabia reached in 2018, in which London will deliver 48 Eurofighter Typhoons fighters to Riyadh.

This agreement has not yet been implemented due to opposition from Germany, one of four European countries participating in the development of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet and has the right to veto sales of this fighter model. Berlin previously stopped selling weapons to Riyadh after Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist with anti-government views, was murdered at the country’s consulate in Turkey in 2018.

Riyadh initially affirmed that it had nothing to do with Mr. Khashoggi’s death but later admitted that individuals working for the government had acted. The incident caused a wave of strong criticism from the international community, including Germany.

Prime Minister Olaf Scholz confirmed in July 2023 that Germany has no intention of approving the sale of Eurofighter fighters to Saudi Arabia “in the near future”. A source from the German government said at that time that Berlin would not make a decision on this issue before the 2025 general election.

According to Foreign Minister Baerbock, Germany changed its mind in the context of the world situation, especially in the Middle East region, becoming “completely different” after October 7 last year, when the armed group Hamas attacked—Israeli territory, sparking a conflict that has lasted more than 3 months in the Gaza Strip.

Ms. Baerbock affirmed that Saudi Arabia currently plays an important role in ensuring security for Israel while also contributing to preventing the conflict in the Gaza Strip from spreading to the region.

“Saudi Arabia is shooting down missiles fired by Houthi forces at Israel, and we appreciate this,” she said, adding that Riyadh is using Eurofighter fighters to block attacks from armed groups in Yemen. The Saudi Air Force currently has 72 Eurofighter fighter jets that were delivered by the UK before 2018.

Eurofighter Typhoon is a fourth-generation fighter model jointly developed by England, Spain, Germany and Italy, launched in 2001. It has a maximum speed of 2,495 km/h, a maximum flight ceiling of nearly 17,000 m, an operating range of 1,390 km and can carry more than 9 tons of weapons.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, Türkiye is also said to want to buy this fighter model. A source from the Turkish Ministry of Defense said at the end of November that Ankara had begun negotiations to buy 40 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. Germany ‘gives the green light’ to sell European fighters to Saudi Arabia in the context that the purchase of F-16 fighter jets from the US was being delayed.

Washington announced that it would only agree to sell F-16s to Türkiye if Ankara ratifies Sweden into NATO, but the country has so far not responded.