First batch of five Rafale fighter jets ordered by the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) from French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation has arrived in Qatar on June 5.
The reception ceremony of the first regiment of the Qatari Rafale fighter squadron (Al Adiyat) was conducted at Dukhan Air Base and was attended by Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Qatari Armed Forces.
The Amir was accompanied by Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs; Lieutenant General (Pilot) Ghanem bin Shaheen al-Ghanim, the Chief of Staff of Qatari Armed Forces; Major General (Pilot) Salem Hamad al-Nabet, Commander of Qatari Amiri Air Force; and Brigadier General Salim Abdullah al-Dosari, Commander of the Dukhan Air Base and the officer of the Rafale aircraft project.
Eric Trappier, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dassault; Franck Gellet, the French Ambassador to Qatar, and Jean Luc Lamothe, a Representative of the executive director of French company MBDA, also attended the ceremony.
The State of Qatar has initially signed a contract with Dassault Aviation 24 Rafales in May 2015 and an additional 12 Rafales were ordered in December 2017. If the country proceeds with the 36 additional option, its total number of Rafale jets with it will go up to 72, making it the biggest operator of Rafale fighter jets in the world after France.
The first Rafale jet was formally delivered to the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) during a ceremony at the Dassault Aviation’s Merignac facility on Feb. 6 this year. The jets remained in France until now as Qatari pilots are been trained on the platform.
Qatar has separately inked deals with UK-based company BAE Systems to procure 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets for £5 billion, and with American company Boeing for 36 F-15QA (Qatar Advanced) Eagle fighter jets for a cost of US$12 billion.
The new development came amid an ongoing diplomatic row between Qatar and a number of its Gulf neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.