Oil-rich Qatar has signed an agreement to acquire 24 Typhoon fighter planes from British aerospace company BAE Systems to the tune of $8 billion; its latest deal in a quest to stock up on high-tech weaponry.
British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson made the announced on Sunday in Doha, where his Qatari counterpart, Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, was the signatory to the pact. The new arrangement, which includes air force personnel training, has conspicuously occurred during the emirate's seven-month riff with several of its neighboring countries.
Britain and Qatar will create a Joint Operation Squadron, a partnership between Qatar's air force and Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF).
"The squadron tackles all air combat operations, ensuring combat readiness for all Qatari and British pilots and technicians," said the statement. "It will have a notable role in operational coverage and aerial security during 2022 World Cup events."
The arrangement will create UK jobs and is expected to be fulfilled by mid-2018. Approximately 5,000 people in Britain are employed to build Typhoons.
Earlier this year, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, have jointly isolated Qatar following accusations that Doha is lending support to Islamist extremism. The latter has denied all the claims.
Qatar's focus on defence also included making an arrangement to purchase missiles from Britain in the near future. Williamson disclosed that the Britain-Qatari Typhoon deal is the biggest export agreement for the fighters in over a decade.
"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," Williamson said.
The minister disclosed that the previous record was a billion-dollar agreement, also inked with Qatar, for 12 French Dassault Aviation warplanes.
The two countries are also readying the purchase of Hawk aircraft by Doha.
An agreement signed with France, for 490 VBCI armored vehicles from Nexter, is estimated to be valued at $1.7 billion, according to the French presidency.