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Qatar signs £6 billion deal with UK for 24 Typhoon fighter jets, missiles and bombs

Contract comes days after Qatar agreed deals with France for Rafale fighter jets and armoured vehicles

Qatar has signed a contract with the UK for the purchase of 24 Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighter jets, plus Brimstone and Meteor missiles and Paveway IV bombs, the U.K. Ministry of Defence said in a press release.

U.K. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and his Qatari counterpart, Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah oversaw the signing of the contract – valued at around £6 billion in total (€6.8 billion, $8 billion) – in Doha, the Sunday, December 10 release said.

The agreement “includes a clear intention to proceed with the purchase of Hawk aircraft,” the release said, adding that it also included a package of training and co-operation between the RAF and Qatar Emiri Air Force, including Qatari pilots and ground crew training in the UK.

“These formidable jets will boost the Qatari military’s mission to tackle the challenges we both share in the Middle East, supporting stability in the region and delivering security at home,” Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

Qatar’s Ministry of Defense tweeted a statement which said the U.K.-Qatar agreement enabled the creation of a Joint Operational Squadron for operations and training which will ensure “combat readiness for all Qatari and British pilots and technicians.”

The new squadron will have a role in security during the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar, and “will ensure ease of future real-time joint operations for both sides, as well as ensuring precision of joint procedures, in light of the two countries’ partnership in combating terrorism,” the statement said.

Qatar’s MoD also said that the agreement included “an electronic warfare system through continuous joint cooperation between the two countries.”

The Typhoons will be assembled by BAE Systems in the UK. BAE in a press release valued the contract for the supply of the aircraft plus a “bespoke support and training package” at £5 billion, and said delivery is expected to commence in late 2022.

The Typhoon is manufactured by the Eurofighter consortium comprising BAE, Airbus and Leonardo.

The signing comes just days after Qatar signed deals with France on December 7 to purchase 12 Dassault Rafale fighter jets and 490 VBCI armoured vehicles, and as a four-state boycott of Qatar enters its seventh month.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties – including air and sea links – with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of being too close to Iran, Saudi’s major regional rival, and of supporting Islamist extremists.

Qatar denies the allegations and has accused the Saudi-led group of attempting to incite regime change.

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4, July 17, 2011. Image: Ronnie Macdonald/flickr/CC BY 2.0

Deal includes missiles and bombs

The U.K. deal includes an agreement with MBDA for Brimstone and Meteor missiles and Raytheon’s UK-manufactured Paveway IV 500-pound precision-guided bomb, the MoD press release said.

The MBDA missile manufacturing consortium comprises Airbus, Leonardo and BAE Systems – the same group of companies that build the Typhoon.

Brimstone 2 missile launched from a Eurofighter Typhoon
Brimstone 2 missile launched from a Eurofighter Typhoon in live firing trials, November 2017. Image: Copyright Eurofighter

Brimstone is a ground-attack missile developed for the RAF specifically to target enemy armor and has seen extensive use in Afghanistan and Libya. BAE Systems conducted a series of successful live firing tests of the Brimstone missile from a Typhoon in November as part of the Typhoon Phase 3 Enhancement (P3E) package which includes mission system and sensor upgrades.

Until now, Saudi Arabia was the only Brimstone export customer, but the United States, France and India have expressed interest in buying the missile, and Germany’s Luftwaffe will procure Brimstone 2 dual-mode missiles for its Eurofighter fleet from 2019.

Brimstone will not be integrated on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

MBDA’s Meteor active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) is part of the Typhoon Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) package that will include the capability to fire the Storm Shadow deep strike stand-off air-to-surface missile. Meteor has a range of more than 100km and is designed for a speed greater than Mach 4. It can also be used by Rafale aircraft, and Qatar signed a deal with France in 2015 to purchase 160 Meteors for those aircraft, along with other MBDA missiles.

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