Seven years ago, when Saudi Arabia, UAE and, Bahrain first recalled ambassadors from Doha, one could expect Qatar’s military program would undergo a huge transformation.
Qatar has launched an unprecedented extensive weapons development in modern Middle Eastern history. Its military is expanding at an accelerated pace. The air force rose to 96 fighter planes, 8 times more than before, and more is still to come. The country’s navy has grown rapidly. Al this for one main reason; Feeling alienated, Qatar’s military power must be strengthened.
Doha historically concentrated on domestic security due to its huge expat community. However, a dramatic deterioration in ties with big, well-armed Arab neighbors changes Qatar’s military policies.
Following the Arab Spring, the differing role of Gulf Cooperation Council states in Libya, Syria, and Iraq deteriorated the relationships. When Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha in 2014, the growing hostility in the Middle East was brought into stark light.
Doha sought supporters in the area as it became increasingly marginalized inside the council. The country already had the massive Al Udeid airbase, which served as the head office for the US Central Command. The facility, which employs over 10,000 people, is a vital US military asset in the region. Not surprisingly, it makes Qatar and Qatar’s military, a critical partner.
Turkey has also provided substantial assistance. Turkey established a military facility in Qatar as a gesture of goodwill. Hundreds of Turkish troops originally resided there as a training program designed for Qatar’s military personnel. It also conveyed a signal to the area: ‘Qatar is not alone and has significant partners.’
The deterioration in Persian Gulf ties skyrocketed four years ago. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt broke relationships with Qatar in a concentrated campaign. The group withdrew expelled Qatar’s ambassadors, withdrew theirs, and placed a harsh economic sanction on the kingdom.
With the danger of assault by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi becoming a serious possibility, acceleration in consolidation of Qatar’s military strength was the main outcome. Through purchase, training program and massive bilateral contracts, Qatar managed to fill the security gap in the region.
Military Program Focused on Air Force
The air force is at the centre of Qatar’s military expansion and the underlying substantial contracts. The Qatari Emiri Air Force had only a dozen outdated Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft and some Alpha trainers four years ago. The comparatively modest number of Mirages would be massively outnumbered by the rivals’ big, sophisticated air forces.
Two years earlier, Doha had agreed to buy 24 Rafale combat planes from French aerospace firm ‘Dassault’ for $6 billion. As noted in the first contract, another 12 were purchased in 2018. Qatar’s military force can also purchase an additional 36 aircraft to double the current number.
The Rafale is a super hornet fighter jet with sophisticated technology. It can hold a huge payload of weaponry, execute numerous mission types. The flexibility provides Qatar’s military with a huge range of operational capabilities.
Qatar’s military aspirations did not rest on its laurels. The country inked another $12-billion agreement with Boeing in 2017. The deal included 36 upgraded F-15QA fighter planes. The F-15QA is has no rival in its series when it comes to sophistication. It specializes in air supremacy and long-range field attack.
Qatar also signed an accord with the UK in the same year. the purchase of 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter planes aimed to diversifying Qatar’s military air force even more. Typhoon is also a “sophisticated aircraft, a thoroughbred of air superiority capable of a wide range of tasks.”
In a subtle but obvious statement of support for Qatar, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, pledged to train Qatari pilots. The Qatari Emiri Air Force’s tiny and obsolete squad of 12 fighter planes will soon be a superpower with 96 modern fighter jets; Qatar’s military is on the way to become an unrivaled formidable air force in the Middle East.