Qatar Takes Delivery of Fifth Batch of Rafale Fighter Jets

Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) took delivery of the fifth batch of three Rafale fighter jets it ordered from the French aircraft manufacturer, Dassault Aviation.

The Rafales arrived in Qatar on Feb. 25 accompanied by QEAF C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter after leaving Bordeaux/Mérignac in France. Out of the three aircraft delivered, two were single-seat version designated Rafale EQ and one was two-seat version designated Rafale DQ.

The delivery of three additional aircraft increased QEAF’s Rafale inventory to 25.

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 during a ceremony at the Dassault Aviation’s Merignac facility on Feb. 6, 2019, and the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets arrived in Qatar on June 5.

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.

Dassault Rafale

Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by France’s 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 aircraft is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.

The fighter 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 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) and AM39 Exocet sea-skimming anti-ship missiles (AShMs). The ones used by the French military are 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. Export variants have different designations.

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 ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Egyptian Air Force (EAF), and the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF).

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