News Desk |
The US State Department has given the nod to a potential $3bn sale of 24 Apache attack helicopters and related equipment to Qatar, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The manufacturer- Boeing Co and other major defence contractors, including Lockheed Martin Corp, General Electric Co and Raytheon Co will take part in the project if a deal is eventually reached, DSCA said in a statement.
The potential sale is going to double the number of Qatar’s previous procurement of these helicopters. The deal will also include additional parts such as engines, night vision sensors, missiles and guns apart from the training of 70 pilots and 100 ground crew members.
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Apaches are utilized for “close air support, armed reconnaissance, and anti-tank warfare missions,” a notice posted on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s website explained. “The helicopters will provide a long-term defensive and offensive capability to the Qatar peninsula as well as enhance the protection of key oil and gas infrastructure and platforms.”
Qatar first requested the Apache helicopters in 2012, with a contract being signed in 2016. Weapons requested in the original Foreign Military Sales notification included AGM-114R Hellfire laser-guided missiles, FIM-92H Stinger missiles with air-to-air launchers, and 70 mm Hydra air-to-surface rockets.
Earlier this year the US State Department approved the sale of the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) II guided rocket.
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While the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council (USSABC) held a roundtable discussion in Washington to discuss investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia to discuss mutual investment opportunities between the two countries, the US’s Apache sale to Saudi’s greatest diplomatic discomfort, Qatar, might stiffen the air.
Since 2017, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea blockade, the Gulf crisis shows little signs of ending any time soon. In fact, according to Gulf academics, the rift may never be mended.