BAE Systems will supply 24 Typhoon fighter jets to Qatar, in a deal that will preserve thousands of British manufacturing jobs.
Defence secretary Michael Fallon signed a statement of intent with his Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah on Sunday.
The deal is expected to be worth billions of pounds and safeguard BAE's Typhoon project in Lancashire until at least 2019.
The Typhoon is a multi-role combat aircraft that has long-term potential, and today’s Statement of Intent is thought to demonstrate confidence in both Typhoon and British manufacturing.
Assembly of the jets accounts for around 4,000 jobs and around 10,000 in the UK overall, but there have been fears that work could dry up within two years without a new order.
This new deal is the first Typhoon export deal Britain has struck since 2012, when it agreed a £2.5bn deal to supply 20 aircraft to Oman, and the biggest since 2007, when Saudi Arabia purchased 72 jets.
A spokesman for BAE said: “BAE Systems welcomes a formal Statement of Intent between the governments of the UK and Qatar signed today in Doha.”
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: After a number of years of negotiations between our two countries, I am delighted to have been able to sign today with Qatar’s Defence Minister, this Statement of Intent on the purchase of 24 Typhoon aircraft by Qatar.
“This will be the first major defence contract with Qatar, one of the UK’s strategic partners. This is an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence co-operation between our two countries. We also hope that this will help enhance security within the region across all Gulf allies and enhance Typhoon interoperability across the GCC.