Airlift Leads Qatar’s Major Force Upgrade
Lockheed Martin announced on October 7 a $393.6 million contract to supply four C-130J-30 “stretched” Hercules military transports to the Qatar Emiri Air Force beginning in 2011. This comes a few months after the Qataris signed a deal to acquire from Boeing two C-17s, which will be delivered next summer. Currently the QEAF has no tactical/strategic airlift capability, so the new purchases signal a dramatic change in air force doctrine. Qatar’s only combat aircraft–a squadron of Mirage 2000-5s–are believed to have lain dormant for some years, arousing some interest from India, which was keen to expand its Mirage fleet. Reports from Qatar suggest that the country will now resurrect its air defense capabilities, possibly with the Mirages but more likely with the purchase of new multirole fighters.