France confirms deal to sell 24 fighter jets to Qatar
After nearly two years of jockeying, France has beat out the UK and US in a bid to sell fighter planes to Qatar.
In a statement posted on Twitter, the Élysée said that the Emir had confirmed the deal to François Hollande:
French newspaper Le Monde reports that the agreement is worth €6.3 billion (QR25.7 billion). In addition to the planes, France will provide training for 36 pilots and 100 technicians, the publication said.
Negotiations to purchase the fighter jets first began in February 2013, when UK and French contractors bid for the purchase of some 72 combat aircraft.
BAE Systems was offering its Typhoon, and Dassault Aviation, the Rafale.
Qatar ended up postponing its decision as it awaited a bid from the US that involved the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the F-15 Strike Eagle.
Qatar has been spending billions of dollars shoring up its defenses in recent years through the purchase of Apache helicopters, anti-tank missiles, warships and artillery.
Analysts have previously attributed the stockpiling to concerns about Iran.
However, the nation’s ambassador to the US, Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari, said last year that the purchases were not because of any specific country.
“As you know our region is going through a lot of instability. What we bought are weapons to defend Qatar,” he told AFP in July.
France has already sold Rafale jets to India and Egypt this year.
The contract with Qatar is expected to be signed by Hollande during the president’s visit to the Gulf next week. The first deliveries are expected in 2017.