World Economy

Kuwait Boeing Deal to Rescue St. Louis Plant

Kuwait Boeing Deal to Rescue St. Louis PlantKuwait Boeing Deal to Rescue St. Louis Plant

Kuwait plans to order 28 Super Hornet advanced fighter jets worth $3 billion from Boeing, a person close to the deal told AFP Thursday.

The Kuwait deal, along with an expected US Navy order for 12 Super Hornets, would keep open Boeing’s F/A-18 assembly line in St. Louis, Mo., which is facing a shutdown for lack of orders.

The order for the F/A-18E/F multirole aircraft marks an important victory for Boeing over European rivals, which had been pitching the Eurofighter Typhoon to the Persian Gulf country.

The move would beef up Kuwait’s air force, as the country takes part in the Saudi-led coalition attacking Huthi rebels in Yemen.

The deal still requires official approval of the US government, which strictly controls foreign defense sales.

But Kuwait has signed a letter of intent, and it could be officially confirmed in the coming days, possibly as President Barack Obama hosts Persian Gulf leaders in Washington next week, according to the source.

Six (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council leaders will visit the White House on May 13, followed the next day by a trip to the bucolic Camp David presidential retreat near Washington.

Boeing officials have said production of two aircraft per month, or 24 per year, is necessary to keep the St. Louis, Missouri production line at the break-even point, although a slightly slower rate can be managed. Continued procurement of the aircraft by either the navy or a foreign customer would keep the line economically viable and aide further international sales.