Tag Archives: Qatar

Green light voor Middle East fighter sales – but maybe too late?

After many years of hesitation, the US this week gave the green light for the sale of fighter jets to Kuwait and Qatar – although it may very well be too late. Since requesting the jets, both countries have decided to buy Eurofighter Typhoons and Dassault Rafales respectively. Their response to the green light from Washington remains unclear at this time.

Kuwait in 2015 requested to buy up at least F-18 Super Hornets to replace ageing older model F-18s, while Qatar’s request to purchase up to 72 Boeing F-15s goes even further back. Washington since has kept both countries in the dark about their request right until this week, when the White House notified US Congress that it approves the sale of the fighter jets.

Balance
The decision should be seen in light of the recent multi-billion military aid deal between the US and Israel, the biggest ever between those two countries. Probably to keep things in balance, the White House now decided to favour Kuwait’s and Qatar’s requests as well – doing the US economy a big favour on the side. Both contracts would be worth billions and billions of dollars (in fact, 20 billion in total), much of which will go into Boeing’s pocket. The aircraft manufacturer produces both the F-15 and F-18.

Inked
But no sale is final until a contract has been inked. And whether Kuwait and Qatar will actually do that, remains to be seen. Kuwait earlier this year did sign a deal for 22 Eurofighter Typhoons, worth 8 billion USD. Qatar in 2015 decided on 24 Dassault Rafales, worth 6.3 billion EUR.

That’s a lot of money to pay already. It may be the  same money that Kuwait and Qater waved in front of the US before. Time will tell if there is any money left for Washington and Boeing to grab. If not, then Washington may hope to sell brand new F-16s to Bahrain – another pending deal that was okayed this week by Washington.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest.
Featured image: A USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing on 12 November 2015 over the northern Mediterranean. The unit is deployed to Incirlik AB in Turkey as part of Operation Inherent Resolve (Image © Senior Airman Kate Thornton/USAF)

Fighter jet deals Middle East hang in the balance

Fighter jet deals worth billions of US dollars hang in the balance in the Middle East as they have been doing for a number of years, but things could be moving along now following the apparent ease between Iran and the West. Or did Kuwait and Qatar already make up their mind?

It is no secret that Kuwait is looking to purchase 28 Boeing Super Hornets to replace its fleet of older F/A-18C/D Hornets, and that Qatar has been seeking to buy up to 72 variants of Boeing’s F-15 Strike Eagle.

Production

Both orders would come in handy to keep production lines in the US open, particularly the Super Hornet line. A batch of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) EA-18 Growlers is now in manufacturing and after that it will likely be the end of production for the F-18 Hornet and its variants.

Unless of course Kuwait indeed orders its Super Hornets. A deal never seemed close however, and the reason could very well be that the US did not want to spoil improving relations with shia-Islam orientied Iran by supplying advanced warfare machines to opposing sunni countries such as Qatar and Kuwait.

A Kuwait Air Force F/A-18C Hornet, seen in the UK in 1993 during delivery to Kuwait. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Kuwait Air Force F/A-18C Hornet, seen in the UK in 1993 during delivery to Kuwait. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Israel

That standpoint may change now that the relationship with Iran seems on its way to normalization. On the other hand however, there’s also Israel to be taken into account. That country upgrading its F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) jets and won’t be very happy to see more Arab states getting similar capabilities, also considering the fact that Saudi Arabia already has an impressive fleet of F-15s – and another 84 new-build F-15SAs (Saudi Advanced) are on their way between now and 2019. The US may be sensitive to this also.

Rafale & Typhoon

But perhaps Qatar and Kuwait have already made up their mind. Since requesting F-15s, the former in April signed to buy 24 French Dassault Rafale jets while the latter eyes 28 Italian-made Eurofighter Typhoon jets. A contract for those was rumoured to be signed last December, but still awaits signatures.

The coming months should tell if there will ever be Qatari F-15s and Kuwaiti Super Hornets. And finally, if there will ever be Iraqi Air Force Mirage 2000s, as the United Arab Emirates are reportedly looking to hand over some of their Mirages to Baghdad.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An F-15E in max ‘fuel to noise’ mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

A brand new Eurofighter Typhoon awaits delivery. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A brand new Eurofighter Typhoon awaits delivery. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Rafale jets were recently delivered to Egypt. (Image © Anthony Pecchi / Dassault)
Rafale jets were recently delivered to Egypt. (Image © Anthony Pecchi / Dassault)

Recap: defense orders at Paris Air Show

UPDATED 19 June | As always its the orders for airliners that fight for attention at the Paris Air Show, but on the military side, things are happening as well. Most interesting little fact was the apparent first export order – announced on Monday – for the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, although no country was mentioned. Let’s not be surprised however when it turns out to be Myanmar.

Pakistan Air Force officials only described the country that soon may add the JF-17 to its military inventory, as ‘Asian’. The same officials reported that current turmoil in the Middle East has slowed down export talks. The JF-17’s development meanwhile continues, with a possible two seat version on the way.

On the slower spectrum, Mali and Ghana agreed to buy six and five A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft respectively, while Saudi Arabia signed for four Airbus C295W medium transport and patrol aircraft. Perhaps the most prominent deal was the purchase of four Boeing C-17s for the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

As far as helicopters are concerned, Malaysia placed an order with Airbus Helicopters for two AS365 Dauphins for SAR duties.

Unnoticed by many was the first sale for Aero Vodochody of its new L-39NG aircraft. More on that is here.

Flying
Dassault’s Rafale was the most numerous aircraft. Three Rafales were on the ground, while a fourth gave a flying display. In the trade halls, models of Rafales in the colours of Qatar, India and Egypt were seen. Given the recent orders from those countries, further Rafale sales are unlikely.

Also in the halls, Alenia Aermacchi was pitching its M-345 jet trainer. France is reportedly interested in this trainer aircraft. Elsewhere, Antonov was pitching its new An178 transporter. The Ukrainian company also announced the An188, a military transport aircraft in the A400M and Boeing C-17 category, powered by four turbofan engines.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Caught by its tail: a Black Panther’s JF-17 from Pakistan. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Qatar puts Rafale in winning mood

Another major success for Dassault’s Rafale in just three months: following Egypt’s and India’s earlier order, Qatar is now ordering 24 Rafale fighter aircraft, with an agreement to be signed on 4 May in Doha.

The Qatar order is worth 6.3 billion EUR and also involves training of 36 pilots and 100 mechanics, Paris confirmed on Thursday 30 April. News about a possible purchase from Qatar has been doing the rounds for a long time already. Qatar has been using Dassault Mirage 2000s for a long time already.

The sale marks the definitive end of Dassault’s difficulties in selling the Rafale outside France. After years of marketing talk and endless negotiations with several interested nations, the French company finally sold 24 Rafales to Egypt earlier this year. More recently, India ordered 36 Rafales.

Stick 'm up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stick ‘m up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Turn of events
Over the last decade, foreign Rafale sales seemed a myth, with the type loosing out to either Saab Gripen or the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The remarkable recent turn of events is explained by another turn of events: the advance of Islamic State forces in the Middle East, forcing Egypt and Qatar to speed things up. Both French Air Force and French Navy Rafales have been actively fighting IS forces over Iraq.

F-35
Also, continuing teething problems on the F-35 – issues with flight control, maintainability, sofware and weapon system –  made it clear that the US fighter is far away from being a reliable aircraft, deleting it as an option. An option which maybe was never very likely in the first place for Egypt and Qatar, since the US has already sold the 5th generation fighter aircraft to Israel.

Reliability is also a problem with India’s Su-30 fleet, reinforcement of which was named as an alternative to buying Rafale. Talks about a larger purchase from India are said to continue.

The Rafale still has more cards on the table: the latest F3 R type is also on offer to Belgium. The Belgians seek to replace their F-16s, starting in 2023.

Currently, the only nation flying the Rafale is France, with well over 135 aircraft delivered out of 180 ordered. The original Rafale prototype first flew on 4 July 1986.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Two Rafales seen during operations against IS. (Image © Armée de l’Air)

The granddaddy of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrater and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but the Rafale happens to be our favourite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The granddaddy of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrater and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but the Rafale happens to be our favourite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Eurofighter Typhoon: spreading the aim

In what can only be described as ‘strategically wise’, the Eurofighter consortium is adding new air-to-ground capabilities to its Typhoon. Details of the enhancements were announced on Sunday 22 February during the IDEX defence exhibition in Abu Dhabi. On the same day, a dedicated website about Eurofighter Typhoon in Arabic went live. So market wise, it’s clear where Eurofighter now aims at.

The modification are known as Phase 3 Capability Enhancement (P3E) and give the Typhoon the capability to deploy multiple guided air-to-surface weapons at moving targets with low-collateral damage. During a press conference in Abu Dhabi, Eurofighter Typhoon customers described P3E as an “essential capability”.

A Spanish Typhoon rolls during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Spanish Typhoon rolls during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Needed
The P3E contract is worth 200 million EUR and comes at a time when precise air to ground capabilities are more needed than ever, especially during current air strikes against Islamic State (ISIS) forces. So far, Typhoon has not yet seen any use at all over Iraq and Syria, with 4th generation F-15, F-16, F-18 and Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado fighter aircraft doing most of the work, plus more notably, the 5th generation Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.  French Dassault Rafales (4.5th generation) have also been used, and with a Rafale order from Qatar imminent, Eurofighter is wise to enhance the Typhoon’s air to ground capabilities.

RAF Typhoons were used in the 2011 campaign in Libya, striking ground targets in cooperation with Tornadoes. The British Typhoons clocked up 3,000 flying hours in that campaign.

Italy_Eurofighter_Typhoon
An Alenia Aermacchi-made Typhoon, seen at Turin Caselle airfield. (Image © Alenia Aermacchi)

Focus
“This capability upgrade gives the Typhoon unrivaled full multi-role and swing-role capability”, said Alberto Gutierrez, CEO of Eurofighter. The consortium is also not losing focus on introducing the Brimstone 2 missile required by the RAF. Furthermore, P3E enhances the capabilities of the Storm Shadow long-range strike missile, the Meteor, Paveway IV and ASRAAM weapons. Storm Shadow tests are ongoing in Italy.

The first P3E outfitted Typhoon is scheduled for delivery in 2017. All four core nations (UK-Germany, Italy and Spain) will work together on testing the new capability. When ready, the full swing-role, multi-role weapons arsenal on Typhoon could include a mix of six Brimstone 2 missiles; up to six Paveway IV bombs, two long-range Storm Shadow missiles, four Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missiles and either two IRIS-T or two ASRAAM heat-seeking missiles.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

A RAF 3 (F) Squadron Typhoon over Dubai participating at the Dubai (UAE) airshow. (Image © Eurofighter Cons.)
A RAF 3 (F) Squadron Typhoon over Dubai. (Image © Eurofighter Cons.)