BAE is hoping to sell more Typhoons to Saudi Arabia

BAE needs to sell more jets to meet earning targets

Defence contractor BAE Systems needs to secure more aircraft orders to meet its annual earnings target, it said today.

The British company needs to sell more Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia, which accounts for roughly a fifth of its total sales, and other Middle East customers to keep production of the aircraft going beyond 2018.

Saudi agreed to buy 72 Typhoons - a joint project between BAE Systems with partners Airbus Group and Finmeccanica - from the UK in 2007 but there have been no new orders for the jet since Oman's in 2012.

But the company is banking on securing "anticipated" new aircraft orders, and chief executive Ian King confirmed in a call with reporters that sales campaigns were underway.

"There are a number of active campaigns and a number of potential customers and I think we've been clear that the Middle East is an area where there are requirements," he said.

The company is also considering scaling down facilities at a shipyard in Australia, which could have an impact on forecasts, but analysts at Morgan Stanley said that the absence of a new order for Typhoon would be of greater concern than any restructuring of BAE's shipbuilding business in Australia.

"It's conditional on determining with the Australian government what the future of the ship build industry is, it's not necessarily about orders, we need to take a long term view on what they want as capabilities," King said.

Saudi Arabia's increasing assertiveness in the Middle East could encourage it to buy more jets, according to analysts, as it seeks to counter its regional rival Iran, which has been buoyed by the lifting of sanctions following the recent nuclear agreement with the West.

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