US-Qatar deal for 72 fighter jets worth $21 billion moves forward
The US State Department has approved a potential $21.1 billion fighter jet sale to Qatar, it announced this weekend.
The deal for 72 F-15QA aircraft would include ground support, training packages and maintenance equipment, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.
In a statement, it added that Qatar was “an important force for political stability and economic progress” in the Gulf.”
“The proposed sale improves Qatar’s capability to meet current and future enemy air-to-air and air-to-ground threats. Qatar will use the capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”
The approval comes after years of delays, and still needs a final nod from the US Congress, though this is usually just a formality.
A $10.1 billion deal for 40 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to Kuwait was also approved this week.
Qatar first announced plans to buy 72 new combat jets in 2013, and had been considering bids from the UK, US and France.
Last year, France announced that Qatar has agreed to buy 24 of its Dassault Aviation Rafale planes for QR27.75 billion.
And previously, it was reported that the Gulf country was planning to spend up to $4 billion on Boeing-made fighter jets from the US.
That purchase had been held up reportedly due to concerns from Israel.
FlightGlobal quoted a US Air Force official as citing “interagency delays” as the reason for the lengthy process.
“It took us three years to get to yes, but we got to yes,” USAF Under-Secretary of International Affairs Heidi Grant said this week. “We kept pushing it even though it was kind of a no for now.”
The news will likely come as a relief to Boeing, which needed a big order to keep its production line in the US state of Missouri open.
In other good news for Boeing, Qatar Airways announced plans last month to buy up to $18.6 billion in commercial aircraft from it in the coming years.