It’s been mentioned as a potential new fighter customer off and on for the last couple of years, but it looks like Qatar is making the first formal steps towards launching a contest to replace its Mirage 2000-5s.
The Dubai air show won’t kick off for just over a week, but with the UK government keen on securing fresh defence exports, it has sent its Red Arrows aerobatic display team and a Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon on a pre-show tour of the Gulf states. So it was no surprise that the combination put on bit of a show over Doha yesterday.
Qatar’s Mirages are getting on a bit, although they only date back to the late 1990s, and the emirate will be looking for a new type to beef up its air policing capacity before hosting the football World Cup in 2022. With 13 aircraft currently in use (NATO-sourced image below), including four two-seat trainers, I’d guess that its requirement could be for around a dozen jets, but don’t hold me to that.
So, which way will Qatar jump? The smart money would probably be on a European system, as it has only recently acquired a new fleet of C-17 and C-130J airlifters recently from the USA, and might not want to be a late-programme buyer for the Super Hornet or F-16.
That means another dogfight between the Dassault Rafale and Typhoon, which are currently going head-to-head for a requirement in the United Arab Emirates. France to win as the incumbent supplier, perhaps?
I’ll be following up on some of the Gulf fighter opportunities during the Dubai show, but let’s not hold our breaths for decisions any time soon.