MUNICH (Reuters/AFP) - European nations signed a 9.1 billion euro contract on Friday for a further 112 Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets including a 1.4 billion euro engine deal. The deal between Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain and a consortium of European arms firms follows months of debate over the cost of keeping production lines open amid concerns over budgets and growing debate over defence priorities. Ministers from the partner nations signed the contract in front of an audience of military chiefs and defence contractors. The deal represents a boost for manufacturers Britains BAE Systems , Italian group Finmeccanica and European aerospace group EADS , which represents the industrial interests of both German and Spain. The engines are provided by a consortium led by Britains Rolls-Royce and MTU Aero Engines of Germany. The deal brings to 559 the number of Typhoons in service or under production contract, including 72 sold by Britain to Saudi Arabia and 15 sold by Germany to Austria. Critics say the jet was designed to defeat a now obsolete Soviet threat. Backers say it could generate billions of dollars in further exports and that it directly or indirectly supports 100,000 high-tech jobs among producers and their suppliers. Eurofighter was conceived 25 years ago and involves the founder nations potentially buying more than 600 high-performance jets. The deal comes as global competition for fighter sales heats up. Eurofighter is among several models of combat jet competing for a major purchase contract in India. Saudi Arabia is in talks to buy more Eurofighters, sources said last month. A statement from Finmeccanica said further exports could be possible to Switzerland, India, Japan, Romania, Greece and Turkey, and there were other opportunities in South Korea, Bulgaria, Croatia amongst others. The Typhoon is what is known as a swing-role combat jet capable of combining different tasks in a single mission. It is billed as one of the most advanced fighters currently available, and is able to ensure several roles, including air superiority, close air support and maritime attacks. The planes sophisticated weapons systems include air-air and air-ground missiles, laser-guided bombs and a 27 millimetre cannon. However, critics say that the aircraft, conceived during the Cold War as a western European defence against a possible Soviet attack, is now obsolete militarily and an unnecessary splurge in todays economic climate.