Following its decision to exercise an option for 12 Dassault Rafale (adding to the 24 on order), Qatar has also concluded an $8 billion U.S. (£6 billion) deal with the U.K. for 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters.
In its press release, BAE Systems states that it expects Qatar to submit its first payment for the fighters by mid-2018, with deliveries expected to begin in late 2022.
“We are delighted to begin a new chapter in the development of a long-term relationship with the State of Qatar and the Qatar Armed Forces, and we look forward to working alongside our customer as they continue to develop their military capability,” said BAE Systems Chief Executive Charles Woodburn.
BAE Systems states that the Qatari order pushes the Typhoon’s global order count to 623.
The BBC reports that while the Qatari order ensures Typhoon production work at BAE through the 2020s, it will not prevent the loss of 2,000 jobs that the company announced in October.
Alongside training and maintenance support, the deal also includes the sale of an unspecified number of MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM) and MBDA Brimstone precision-guided air-to-ground missiles as well as Raytheon Paveway IV laser-guided bombs (LGB).
Qatar also intends to procure six Hawk trainers from BAE Systems. It has yet to sign this contract.
Though facing competition from Dassault, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Saab and United Aircraft Corporation, the Eurofighter Consortium has largely captured (excerpt for Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates) the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market with the Typhoon.
In 2016, BAE had expressed interest in securing a follow-on order of 48 Typhoons from Saudi Arabia, which operates 72 Typhoon Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 aircraft. It is unclear when (or if) this purchase is expected.
Notes & Comments:
Based on information from news reports, it appears that the Qatari Typhoon order includes air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions. Of the latter, Qatar is procuring the MBDA Brimstone, a potent close air support (CAS) weapon that was originally designed to be a successor to the AGM-114 Hellfire II.
Unlike the semi-active laser-homing Hellfire-II, the Brimstone uses a millimeter-wave seeker, which serves as an extremely-high frequency synthetic aperture radar that acquires a thorough image of the ground and can identify – as well as target – individual moving targets. This enables the Brimstone to engage moving vehicles in a fire-and-forget fashion. It has a tandem high-explosive warhead.
On the Typhoon, a single hardpoint can carry three Brimstone missiles. For Qatar, this suggests that the Typhoon will be available for CAS operations. Granted, the complete details of Qatar’s munitions package for the Typhoon are not yet known, it could plausibly mirror the Rafale purchase by also including stand-off range munitions, such as air-launched cruise missiles.
There is also the question of Qatar’s ability to fully operate the fighters alongside 36 Boeing F-15QAs and 36 Dassault Rafales. Considering that each of these deals include multi-year production and maintenance support as well as long-term after-sale support opportunities, the outcome of economic gain to the U.S., France, U.K (alongside Germany, Spain and Italy) cannot be dismissed. Each of these countries will have a stake in Qatar, which for Doha is important considering its deterioration of ties with Riyadh.