Bahrain Mirror- Exclusive: A British website revealed that "The government is under fire for the sale of ex-Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft to Bahrain, amid fears the planes could be used to support the deadly Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen."
The website said that Bahrain has purchased two ex-RAF C-130J Hercules transport aircraft from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as part of a government-to-government deal worth up to £30m. More than six million rounds of British Army ammunition to the Bahraini military were sold, amid fears from rights groups it may be used in the country's on-going crackdown on dissent, the website stated.
"Bahrain has sent F-16 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia to support Yemen operations, so I think that's how these C-130s will be used, as well as hunting safaris for the King," said an aviation source with knowledge of the sale told inews website.
The two-year long bombardment of Yemen has seen British-made weapons and combat aircraft operated by Saudi Arabia and its allies contribute to thousands of civilian deaths, and has been criticized by the UN and rights groups. More than 10,000 people have died in the conflict, amid the Saudi-led coalition's relentless air campaign.
Andrew Smith, spokesperson for the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said the sale of the aircraft and ammunition to Bahrain was an "unequivocal statement of political and military support for the Bahraini regime". He said: "If these aircraft are used to aid the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen then it can only intensify the humanitarian crisis."
Sayed Ahmed Al-Wadaei, director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: "Theresa May's government is prioritizing unethical security and trade policies at the cost of human rights and long-term stability. The UK is fostering a culture of impunity by telling the Bahrainis they can continue to build a Made-in-Britain military while they arrest and torture critics at home."
The British defence secretary announced a string of Gulf military deals and visits, adding to anger from arms trade campaigners.
On Sunday, the British defence minister had announced that the Red Arrows would visit Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and UAE as part of a tour to boost arms sales and to show the UK is "open for business" after Brexit. "This tour is about selling fighter jets and strengthening UK relations with dictatorships," said Smith.
A government spokesperson, said: "All military sales are subject to rigorous assessment, including human rights, as we operate one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world."
It is to mention that the Middle East is a key target market for British arms firms, who have exported more than £53m in weapons to Bahrain alone since Saudi Arabia helped the strategically-placed kingdom put down a pro-democracy uprising in 2011, according to the latest figures compiled by CAAT.