Raytheon has received its first export order for Paveway IV precision-guided bomb, following the US congressional approval to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Raytheon UK officials were quoted as saying by Defense News confirming that they had signed their first Paveway IV export customer, but did not identify the customer involved.
But various reports identify Saudi Arabia as the first potential export customer. The export of the Paveway IV to the Saudis has been held up for several years by the refusal of the US State Department to give clearance for US components included in the weapon.
John Michel, the weapons business director at Raytheon UK, said the contract was signed in December and approved by the US Congress in February.
Michel said weapons would be produced over the next two years, with the first bombs handed over in about 18 months.
Raytheon officials declined to say how much the deal was worth, but the value is believed to be in the region of £150 million (US $247 million), according to the report.
To date, only the UK’s Royal Air Force has purchased the Paveway IV; it is deployed on Tornado and Typhoon jets. Saudi Arabia operates both types of combat aircraft.
Raytheon UK is closing production of a British order to replenish Paveway IV stocks run down by operations against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Raytheon officials at the briefing said the company has delivered 4,000 of the 500-pound warhead guided bombs to the British.
Michel said approval of the export deal by the US should open the way for possible upcoming orders from other Typhoon customers, including Oman. The gulf nation has ordered a squadron’s worth of Typhoons but deliveries have yet to get underway, the report added.