DEFENCE giant BAE Systems has won a £2.5 billion deal to sell 20 aircraft to Oman, helping to sustain thousands of jobs in the UK, including sites at Samlesbury and Warton.

The contract for 12 Typhoon combat fighter jets and eight Hawk training aircraft was welcomed by Prime Minister David Cameron, who will visit the Middle Eastern state.

The aircraft will be partly assembled at East Lancashire’s Samlesbury site and will help to sustain 6,000 high technology and engineering jobs across the two Lancashire sites.

Aircraft manufacture will begin in 2014 with delivery expected in 2017.

The Omani ministry of defence becomes the seventh operator of Eurofighter Typhoon combat fighter and the third export customer, after Saudi Arabia and Austria.

Chris Boardman, managing director at BAE, said the company had a long history of working in Oman and he is delighted that the contract will enable them to continue to work together.

He said: “It’s great news for the company and the UK economy. We are manufacturing our way out of the recession. It is also helping to secure thousands of jobs moving forward.

“This deal will help 6,000 jobs in the UK, with a big dominance for the North West, particularly at Samlesbury and Warton.

“Oman will be one of the first countries to have the new Hawk aircraft, which is the next generation training aircraft, and potential for more sales.

“It’s great news for the Samlesbury site, which is one of the world’s best advanced manufacturing facilities.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "Boosting exports is vital for economic growth and that's why I'm doing all I can to promote British business in the fastest-growing markets so they can thrive in the global race.

"It's testament to Britain's leading aerospace industry and the deal will safeguard thousands of 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."

The company is awaiting a decision for the delayed contract for 72 Typhoons, worth around £4.2bn, which is in the pipeline with Saudi Arabia.