Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) will receive first batch of Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft from France in the first quarter of 2019.
The State of Qatar has ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets in total from French defence major, Dassault Aviation. The initial contract signed on 4 May 2015 between Qatar and Dassault was for the acquisition of 24 Rafale aircraft with an option for 12 more platforms.
In December last year, the country exercised this option taking the orderbook to 36 while announcing an option for 36 additional units. If it 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.
Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.
Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.
It is equipped with the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the OSF (optronique secteur frontal) infra-red search and track (IRST) system.
The Rafale carries a 30 mm GIAT 30 DEFA cannon and can be armed with SCALP EG cruise missiles, MBDA Meteor BVR air-to-air missiles and AM39 Exocet sea skimming anti-ship missiles. The ones used by French military is even capable of conducting nuclear strikes when armed with ASMP-A missiles.
The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.
Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and it has been selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force.