The US is building a missile-defense radar station at a secret site in Qatar as a way to prepare for a possible altercation with Iran, US officials told the Wall Street Journal.
It will also conduct a minesweeping operation across the Gulf this fall in response to a threat from Iran to shut down the oil-shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz by mining them, stated officials.
The Pentagon chose to place the new radar site in Qatar because it is home to the largest U.S. military air base in the region, Al Udeid Air Base, analysts say. More than 8,000 troops are stationed there and at another U.S. base in Qatar.
Qatari officials in Washington and Doha didn’t respond to requests for comment.
…Qatar guards a more neutral stance when it comes to Iran, maintaining close relations with Tehran, which shares ownership with Doha of the region’s largest natural gas field.
The radar base in Qatar, known as an X-Band radar, is expected to cost $12.2 million to implement and is to be completed this month, documents show.
It will coordinate with two similar ones in Israel and Turkey to “form an arc that U.S. officials say can detect missile launches from northern, western and southern Iran,” the report stated.
Meanwhile, Qatar is hoping to buy 24 Apache attack helicopters and 700 Hellfire missiles from the USA, Arabian Business reports.
This new deal comes on top of a request two weeks ago to buy 22 Sikorsky Sea Hawk helicopters from the US, and just two weeks before that, a $1.1 billion deal for 12 Black Hawk helicopters, also from America.
This statement from the US Defense Department explains why they are keen for the purchase to go ahead:
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East. Qatar is host to the U.S. Central Command forces and serves as a critical forward-deployed location in the region.”
The statement also says:
“(The deal) will allow the Qatari Armed Forces (QAF) to replace its aging airframes with multi-mission attack helicopters, capable of meeting its requirements for close air support, armed reconnaissance and anti-tank warfare missions.”
Those keeping a close eye on Qatar’s foreign policy may question the government’s reasons for placing such large orders of battle-ready aircraft.
Photo: Picture by U.S Army