BAE Systems has struck a £2.5bn contract to supply fighter jets to Oman, its first major deal since the collapse of its planned merger with EADS. Under the contract, the FTSE 100 defence giant said that it would supply 12 Typhoon and eight Hawk aircraft to the Middle Eastern state, with deliveries expected to start in 2017. BAE will also provide in-service support to the Royal Air Force of Oman. The deal should safeguard thousands of jobs and is a major fillip for BAE, which had pledged to conclude the Omani contact before 2013 in the aftermath of its failed £28bn tie-up with EADS. In the wake of the deal’s collapse, BAE is eyeing a collection of vital export deals worth more than £30bn to shore up its future, including with Oman, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Guy Griffiths, managing director for BAE’s international business, said that receiving the Oman contract was “an honour” and “excellent news” for both BAE and the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium, which includes BAE and EADS. However, shares in BAE fell 7.5 - 2.2pc - to 340.5p on Friday morning, with analysts at Investec pointing out that “trading challenges in BAE’s core US market remain”. Related Articles With defence spending slumping in BAE’s two largest markets - America and Britain - Middle East sales are critical. BAE is working to win a follow-on Typhoon contract in Saudi Arabia, but has cautioned that it is not yet agreed a price with the Saudis. Earlier this week, BAE warned that profits might be lower than expected in 2012 because it had still failed to agree a price with Saudi Arabia for its Typhoon fighter jets despite securing the order five years ago. The bulk of the production for the Oman jets will be carried out at BAE’s sites in Lancashire and Yorkshire, which employ 6,000 people. Prime Minister David Cameron, who is due to visit Oman today , claimed BAE’s deal with the sultanate should help protect jobs. “It’s testament to Britain’s leading aerospace industry and the deal will safeguard thousands of British jobs across the UK, not just at the BAE Systems factories in Lancashire and East Riding in Yorkshire, but at many more small businesses up and down the country that play a vital role in delivering these aircraft,” he said. A spokesperson for BAE said the contract should safeguard jobs in the long-term, with the deal expected to sustain in excess of 40,000 jobs in Britain through BAE and its supply chain. From : Egypt Daily News.