Matra BAe Dynamics and GEC Marconi are locked in a battle to sell a stand-off precision attack missile to Qatar for its Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft, deliveries of which began recently.

The competition mirrors the procurement programme under way in the United Arab Emirates, where the same two are offering their respective stand-off missiles.

GEC Marconi is believed to be offering Qatar a long-range version of its PGM family of weapons, while Matra BAe Dynamics is proposing a variant of the Apache missile, dubbed the Black Pearl.

The possible acquisition of a point-attack stand-off variant of the Apache was included in the initial Dassault Mirage 2000 deal, but no final contract has been signed.

The UAE wants a "man-in-the-loop" weapon. The final Storm Shadow variant of the Apache offered to the Royal Air Force was an autonomous missile.

The Royal Saudi Air Force is also in talks with Matra BAe Dynamics over the acquisition of a Storm Shadow variant for its Panavia Tornado Interdictor Strike Aircraft.

GEC Marconi is also offering the RSAF a guided-missile, but not a long-range stand-off weapon. The RSAF is interested in the Brimstone millimetre-wave-guided anti-armour missile.

Source: Flight International