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Airbus to remove German parts from warplanes amid Saudi export freeze: Report

Berlin makes components for other countries' export contracts, including proposed $13bn deal with Saudi Arabia
Germany decided last year to block future arms exports licences to Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (AFP)

Airbus will remove German-built equipment from its C295 military transport plane after the country decided to prohibit arms exports to Saudi Arabia, sources within the aircraft company told Reuters.

"We are now designing [the German content] out of the plane," said one source familiar with Airbus's plans, the news agency reported on Wednesday.

Navigational lamps used for landing the planes are built in Germany, with the total German content standing at about four percent, the source said.

A second company source told Reuters that a review was underway to see if German-sourced parts could be replaced on other Airbus aircraft.

That source added that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to redesign the Eurofighter Typhoon military jet, a multinational programme that has about a third German content, Reuters reported.

The sources did not provide further details to the news agency.

Late last year, Germany decided unilaterally to reject future arms exports licences to Saudi Arabia over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and to freeze deliveries of already approved equipment.

Other European countries have followed suit, including Norway and Denmark, which also pointed to the Saudi-led war in Yemen as cause for concerns about their weapons exports to the Gulf kingdom.

Germany's freeze on shipments to Saudi Arabia has garnered the most pushback so far, with leading arms companies and even some allies - including Britain, France and Spain - expressing frustration over the move and pressuring Berlin to reverse its decision.

Britain's BAE Systems, which generates 14 percent of its annual sales selling Typhoons and other arms to Saudi Arabia, last week warned that Germany's decision could hurt its financial results, The Guardian reported.

Germany makes components for other countries' export contracts, including a proposed $13bn deal for Riyadh to buy 48 new Typhoon fighter jets.

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Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said earlier this month that the company could consider making products free of German parts because of the country's "moral high ground attitude" on arms exports.

Airbus said the export freeze on Saudi Arabia is affecting the delivery of equipment and parts worth billions of dollars.

German arms exports to non-EU or NATO countries have long been up for debate inside the country, as well, with the Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition, historically objecting to such shipments.

The SPD said this week it wanted to extend the freeze on arms exports to Saudi Arabia beyond the current 9 March deadline, despite pressure from Britain and France not to do so.

Merkel last week declined to say whether the freeze would be extended, but senior conservative lawmakers say they see no immediate progress on loosening the embargo.