Five Rafale fighter jets arrived in Qatar on Wednesday, a diplomatic source in Doha told Agence France Presse (AFP), a symbolic delivery as Doha marked two years under a Saudi-led embargo.
“I confirm the arrival of the first five Rafales today at 4:45 pm (1345 GMT). They came directly from France,” the source told AFP.
In February 2019, the Qatari Emiri Air Force has received the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation but they have remained in France until now as Qatari pilots have been trained on the platform.
A ceremony hosted by Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, was held in Merignac facility for the delivery of the first Rafale to the Qatari Emiri Air Force, under the patronage of His Excellency Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs, and Geneviève Darrieussecq, French State Secretary to the Minister of Armed Forces, and in the presence of Qatar Emiri Air Force Commander, Major General Mubarak Al Khayareen, the company said in a statement then.
The first Rafale delivery, on schedule, comes after the signature in May 2015 of the contract for the acquisition by the State of Qatar of 24 Rafale to equip its Air Force, and an additional 12, in December 2017, for a total of 36 aircraft to fly under the Qatari colors.
In the frame of this contract, a large group of Qatari pilots as well as technicians are being trained in France both by the French Air Force and the French Industry.
Qatar’s Defense Ministry posted a video showcasing the plane’s capabilities on its verified Twitter account to coincide with the delivery.
The twin-engine Rafale has been in service with the French Air Force since 2004.
In 2015, Dassault Aviation won a contract from Egypt for 24 jets, followed by the sale to Qatar.
In September 2016, India also agreed to buy 36 of the fighters.
Qatar has separately inked deals with France for 50 Airbus A321 passenger planes, as well as a deal with Britain to buy Typhoon fighters.
The Pentagon has also announced a $12-billion deal with Qatar for the purchase of US-made F-15 fighter jets.
Qatar hosts a major US air base, home to the headquarters of CENTCOM, the regional command which leads operations against the jihadist Islamic State group.