US weapons maker Raytheon Corp. has said it expects to finalize an estimated $2 billion deal to install Patriot Missile Defense systems in Qatar by December.
The agreement is part of a larger $24 billion artillery purchase that the Gulf state committed to earlier this year as it works to build up its defenses.
Speaking to Reuters, Raytheon Vice President Tim Glaeser said that agreements are to be reached within the next four to eight weeks. But he gave no exact details on the final cost or number of weapons to be delivered.
Patriot missile defense system
In March, Qatar Armed Forces signed deals with more than 20 defense contractors to purchase various new tanks, helicopters, warships, missiles and artillery, to the tune of QR87 billion (US$23.89 billion).
The agreements were signed at the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX), during which Qatar also showed interest in missiles from US-based Lockheed Martin Corp., sensors and radars for Apache helicopters and Javelin missiles built by a Lockheed-Raytheon joint venture.
In May, Qatar finally agreed to purchase $11 billion worth of defense weaponry from the US. That deal included 10 batteries for Patriot systems to sink incoming missiles, 24 Apache helicopters and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Once the deals are finalized, Qatar will become the fourth Gulf country to have the missile defense system, which Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait already own.
The UAE has upgraded its Patriot system, while Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are currently looking at doing so, Glaeser told Reuters.
Qatar has been increasing its defenses in recent year by building up its arsenal through expensive weaponry deals and implementing a new law that makes it mandatory for young Qatari men to enroll in national service.
Last year, the Gulf country closed an additional four deals with the US and Germany during a military spending spree, mounting to a total of some $3.2 billion.
Economic and political ties between Qatar and the US have also been growing, and a 10-year Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed in December, confirming that US troops will continue to serve at Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base through to 2024 at least.
Speculations as to why the country has been swiftly improving its defense capabilities have been based around ongoing threats from Iran.
But the nation’s ambassador to the US, Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari, told AFP that the latest purchase in March was not because of a specific country:
“As you know our region is going through a lot of instability. What we bought are weapons to defend Qatar,” he said.