The Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) received its first batch of Dassault Rafale fighters on 5 June, the Qatar Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced. The first five of 36 aircraft ordered for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) were received by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, during a ceremony at the newly completed Dukhan Airbase on the western coast of the Middle East peninsula.
The first Rafale had been symbolically delivered in February, but the aircraft remained in France for training of Qatar pilots. The country also has the option to buy another 36 fighters.Qatar has invested in expanding its military after the boycott led by Saudi Arabia and followed by its allies United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain in June of 2017. Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of supporting Iran and the Islamist movement, which was denied by the Arab emirate.
The arrival of the first Rafales at Dukhan Airbase marks a key milestone in a major military aviation capitalisation process for Qatar that has recently seen it order a large number of varied fixed- and rotary-winged combat and support aircraft. Dassault fighter Jet is one of several aircraft purchased to strengthen the country’s air force following the embargo of other Arab countries. In addition to the Dassault fighter jets, Qatar ordered 36 Boeing F-15QA (Qatar Advanced)-variant Eagles (with a requirement for 36 more), 24 Eurofighter Typhoons, six BAE Systems Hawks, 48 Boeing AH-64E Apaches, 28 NHIndustries NH90s, four Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs, and four Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules.
Prior to the embargo, Qatar was one of the least armed countries in the region. The country’s air force had 13 Mirage 2000-5 fighters plus some Alpha Jet and PC-21 trainers – France supplied 15 Mirage F1 before that, but the fighters were sold to Spain.
The Dassault Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The fully versatile Rafale is able to carry out all combat aviation missions: air superiority and air defense, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
The Dassault Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006. With more than 30,000 flight hours in operations, it has proven its worth in combat in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. The Rafale was ordered by Egypt, Qatar and India. With over 10,000 military and civil aircraft delivered in more than 90 countries over the last century, Dassault Aviation has built up expertise recognized worldwide in the design, development, sale and support of all types of aircraft, ranging from the Rafale fighter, to the high-end Falcon family of business jets and military drones.