Qatar has signed a letter of intent (LoI) to purchase 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from British defense major BAE Systems.
The agreement was signed by Qatari Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah and his British counterpart Michael Fallon, state news agency QNA reported on Sunday.
“The letter of intent includes the ministry’s intention to purchase 24 modern Typhoon aircraft with all their equipment,” QNA added.
“This will be the first major defense contract with Qatar, one of the UK’s strategic partners,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement, adding that talks over a deal had taken several years. “We also hope that this will help enhance security within the region across all Gulf allies”, it added.
Neither statement gave the cost of the combat jet deal.
It is the first Typhoon export deal Britain has struck since 2012, when it agreed a £2.5bn deal to supply 20 aircraft to Oman, and the biggest since 2007, when Saudi Arabia purchased 72 jets in a deal worth 4.43 billion pounds ($6 billion).
The development could anger other Gulf countries boycotting Doha. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, suspending air and shipping routes with the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is home to the region’s biggest U.S. military base.
The wealthy Gulf state has been accused by its neighbors of supporting terrorism and meddling with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival in the region. Qatar denies the accusations. The crisis has put the region on edge and prompted Turkey to send troops to Doha in a sign of support.
Qatar also signed a deal in June to buy Boeing F-15 fighter jets from the United States for $12 billion and concluded a 5 billion euro ($6 billion) deal with Italy for seven navy vessels.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a joint project between BAE, France’s Airbus and Italy’s Finmeccanica.
The Typhoon has attracted fewer orders this year than the rival Rafale built by France’s Dassault Aviation, which has agreed deals with Egypt and Qatar.
Written with inputs from news agencies