Qatar has signed a letter of intent to buy 24 fighter jets from the UK, officials have announced.
The UK has been trying to sell Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to Qatar for years, but for many, this announcement was unexpected.
This is in part because Qataris had just agreed to spend up to $12 billion on F-15 fighter jets from the US this summer.
It also purchased 24 Rafale planes from France in 2015, a deal thought to be worth $7.5 billion.
The agreement with the UK comes as Qatar tries to drum up international support amid an ongoing Gulf blockade.
It marks Qatar’s first big defense contract with the UK, and will keep the nation’s Typhoon project viable until at least 2019, the Telegraph reports.
The purchase likely won’t be viewed favorably by Saudi Arabia, one of the combat jets’ biggest customers.
In a nod to this, UK Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon cited the security of “all Gulf countries” as being critical to own his nation’s security, adding:
“The UK and Qatar share mutual defense interests, including countering violent extremism, and ensuring peace and stability in the region.”
Qatar’s purchase should also help “increase security cooperation and interoperability” with other GCC Typhoon partners, he said in a statement.
The news comes just a few weeks before Qatar residents will be treated to a display of daring aerobatics when the Red Arrows visit Qatar as part of a Gulf tour.
— Red Arrows (@rafredarrows) September 14, 2017
This will be the Royal Air Force pilots’ first show in Qatar since 2013, when the UK also displayed its Typhoon over Doha.
At the time, they wowed crowds with daring maneuvers and red, white and blue plumes of smoke.