France, UK confident of Qatari fighter orders

30 November 2017

The French government is hoping that President Emmanuel Macron will secure a Qatari order for an additional 12 Dassault Rafale multirole fighters when he visits the emirate in early December, Defence Minister Florence Parly said in a 30 November television interview.

She said negotiations have been ongoing for months concerning the Rafales and a “large number of armoured vehicles”. The French newspaper La Tribune has reported that France is trying to secure a Qatari for 300 Nexter VBCI infantry fighting vehicles.

Parly was speaking after meeting Qatari Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah.

The day before, Qatari Ministry of Defence released photographs showing al-Attiyah visiting the Nexter showroom near Paris where he inspected a VBCI-2, which is an improved variant armed with the 40 mm CTAS cannon, a remotely operated weapon station, and MPP missiles.

Qatar has already ordered 24 Rafales, is in the process of procuring 36 Boeing F-15QA fighters, and has signed a letter of intent covering the acquisition of 24 Eurofighter Typhoons. BAE Systems, the Eurofighter consortium member that will assemble the Qatari fighters, revealed in October that the deal will also include six of its Hawk jet trainers.

A senior official from BAE Systems told a parliamentary committee on 28 November that the deal was nearly finalised. “Most of that is now done. It’s in place, it’s in agreement, so therefore it becomes a timing issue of when we move forward to that signature,” Chris Boardman said.

The British embassy in Doha announced on the same day that the Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF) has already identified pilots who will fly Typhoons.

Announcing that four Typhoons from the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) 29(R) Squadron were participating in a joint exercise with Qatari Mirage 2000 fighters at Al-Udeid Air Base, the embassy said: “Many of the QEAF pilots involved in the week-long exercise will be amongst the first to be trained to fly them in Great Britain.”

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