Qatar will later this year complete a fielding process which will have added 96 advanced combat aircraft to its fleet since late last decade in a dramatic expansion of its air force capability.

The Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) already has completed its introduction of 36 Boeing F-15QA strike aircraft, and the same number of Dassault Aviation Rafales.

BAE Systems in late February announced that it had delivered 10 Eurofighter Typhoons to Qatar in 2023, with these following eight handed over the previous year. Doha’s total Typhoon commitment is for 24 of the aircraft, with shipments to conclude from BAE’s Warton final assembly site in 2024.

Qatari Typhoon

Source: BAE Systems

Qatar took delivery of its first UK-assembled Typhoons in 2022

The QEAF’s Typhoon configuration includes the Leonardo-produced ECRS Mk0 active electronically scanned array radar. The assets are assigned to its 1st Wing, at Dukhan air base.

Qatar is in 2024 marking the 50th anniversary of its air force’s formal establishment. The service has over this time also operated the Hawker Hunter, Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet, Dassault Mirage F1 and Mirage 2000-5 in the combat role. It is in the process of retiring the last of its Mirage 2000-5s.

Doha’s combat aircraft investment programme forms part of a major defence expansion which has also seen it already field Boeing C-17 strategic transports, Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transports, Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and NH Industries NH90 naval and transport helicopters and BAE Hawk, Leonardo M-346 and Pilatus PC-21 trainers.

Qatar F-15s

Source: Crown Copyright

Doha has already introduced 36 F-15QA strike aircraft

Its investment to date has not included ordering support assets such as airborne early warning and control, maritime patrol and in-flight refuelling aircraft.

While there is no indication of a current competition for the last of these, Airbus Defence & Space and Boeing had models of their respective A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport and KC-46A offerings on display during the 3-6 March DIMDEX exhibition in Doha.

Meanwhile, speaking at the tri-service show on its opening day, the US Embassy’s deputy chief of mission in Qatar Natalie Baker noted that the nation is currently Washington’s second-ranked Foreign Military Sales partner.

“We want to remain a top defence sales partner for Qatar,” she says.

Prime minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and other Qatari officials will be in Washington this week for an annual bilateral strategic dialogue with US counterparts including secretary of state Anthony Blinken.

Baker says discussions will include topics such as the nations’ “military and security partnership, trade and investment, AI and technology, education, culture and humanitarian assistance”.

“The dialogue comes at a critical time in the [Middle East] region, where Qatar is playing a central role in mediation and hostage negotiation efforts” during the Israel/Hamas conflict in Gaza, she notes.

Qatar’s role as an international mediator was also apparent at the DIMDEX event, where it hosted an exhibit by the Iranian defence ministry’s export arm and also welcomed a visiting delegation from Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban.