From one of the weakest air force in the Middle East, but with the huge investment, the Qatar Air Force suddenly became a “giant” in the region with the most modern fighters in the world.
The global fighter jet deals often see competition from the F-35 stealth aircraft to the Rafales, Eurofighter Typhoons, F-15EX and many others. Owning any of the above fighters is enough to make the air force powerful; but what if someone has all four types?
A Middle Eastern country, amid regional tensions, is leading major modernization efforts to replace its aging fleet of Mirage 2000 fighters . Billions of dollars have been invested to buy 96 super modern aircraft.
In an effort to replace its fleet of 12 Mirage 2000, Qatar began a program to modernize their air force in 2015. The US, UK and France are the main recipients of contracts from Doha. I mean every country air force dream to operate all the latest fighter jets from Western countries like F-15EX, the French Rafale and the European Eurofighter Typhoon.
Doha signed a $7 billion contract with Dassault Aviation to purchase 24 Rafale multirole fighters. Twelve more were ordered in 2018, bringing the Rafale fleet to 36 (equivalent to India). Furthermore, Qatar has the option to purchase an additional 36 Rafales.
The Rafale is a twin-engine, multi-role fighter; Designed for the French Air Force and Navy. The Rafale can perform a variety of short and long-range missions, including land and sea attack, reconnaissance, precision strike, and nuclear deterrence. Rafales have been tested on battlefields such as Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Syria and Iraq.
The Rafale made its first flight in July 1986 and can carry a wide range of French-made smart weapons, based on the nature of the mission. Some of the high-end weapons that Rafale boasts are MICA, METEOR, HAMMER, SCALP, AM39 and EXOCET missiles.
Rafale’s flexibility is supported by multi-sensor-data combination, making it effective in blocking, against traditional and asymmetrical threats. As of 2020, Qatar has received 15 Rafales. Their first squadron was stationed at Tamim Air Base in Dukhan.
In 2017, Qatar signed a $12 billion contract with Boeing for the purchase of 36 F-15QA (Qatar Advanced) fighter jets, specifically designed for the operational requirements of the Qatar Air Force (QAF). Boeing recently delivered the first batch of F-15QAs to Qatar. The F-15QA is arguably the most advanced variant of the famous F-15 series. The QA version based on the F-15SA is being produced for Saudi Arabia and has the same software flight control system.
Although the F-15QA is a design from the 1970s, it is considered the flagship version of this aircraft. The F-15QA variant comes with upgraded sensors and increased weapon carrying and usability and is rated for superior long-range ground attack capabilities, further increasing its lethality.
The F-15QA has the ability to take off from short runways, as well as the aircraft’s load capacity of up to 9G, allowing pilots to perform complex maneuvers, without affecting the structure of the fuselage. plane.
According to the famous defense magazine Janes, the F-15 QA will be equipped with a variety of weapons, including the AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missile, the AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missile; AGM-84A Harpoon anti-ship missile and Boeing GBU-31 precision guided bomb (JDAM)
Qatar is probably the only air force in the world, soon to have the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon duo in its air force. In 2017, Doha signed a contract worth 6 billion USD with the UK to buy 24 Typhoons. This is a collaborative product of the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain
The Typhoon is a heavy, long-range multirole fighter aircraft with air superiority, ground attack and “supercruise” capabilities, as the Typhoon maintains a speed above Mach 1, which no need to use afterburner. The Eurofighter Typhoon is equipped with an internally mounted Mauser BK27mm revolver for close air combat and has 13 pylons under the wings and fuselage, with the ability to carry weapons up to 8 tons. The first Eurofighter Typhoon is expected to enter service with the Qatar Air Force in 2022.
Last year Qatar submitted a formal request to Washington for the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter. The request comes after an August 2020 agreement between the US and the UAE, in which Washington agreed to consider allowing some Gulf countries, which are close allies to buy F-35s.
A potential sale of the F-35A to Qatar or the UAE, based on a decades-old US agreement with Israel; in which any U.S. arms sales to Middle Eastern countries must not affect Israel’s “leading military power” in the region
While the US, UK and France have pledged to train pilots for Qatar and handle logistics and technical issues. But one question is, the use of too many types of modern fighter, leading to very high technical requirements and may face more challenges than anticipated.
Furthermore, multiple types of fighter jets coming from different countries, can be a double-edged sword and can lead to supply chain disruptions. However, Doha is not only facing logistical problems but also personnel problems.
With a population of only about 2.78 million people, Qatar will find it difficult to mobilize troops if the country is in a war situation. With the economic potential and relationship, it is not difficult for Qatar to own a modern fighter; But how efficiently and effectively exploit these aircraft is a difficult and complex issue for QAF.