Qatar is expected to purchase some $2.6 billion worth of weapons and tanks from a German defense firm to replace existing hardware, Reuters reports.
The news comes shortly after the Qatar Prime Minister’s visit to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government has the final authority over arms exports.
Reports that Qatar was interested in buying tanks from Germany first surfaced last summer. According to the company that won the contract, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Qatar will use the purchase of armored howitzers and other equipment to phase out French and South African artillery that is over four decades old.
The deal was seen as the latest in a series of purchases the country is making to shore up its defenses, presumably against Iran.
The Gulf country is not the only one who has heavily been investing in defense over the past two years. The US is currently finalizing a $10 billion arms deal with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE for missiles, warplanes and troop transports, the New York Times reports.
The arms sale is second in size only to a 2010 deal the US made with KSA for a $29.5 billion F-15 aircraft, the newspaper continues.
According to one senior official, the sale was “not just to boost Israel’s capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat — and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies.”
Those other security risks, officials said, include the roiling civil war in Syria — a country with chemical weapons that could be used by the Assad government or seized by rebels — and militant violence in the Sinai Peninsula.
Credit: Photo of howitzer for illustrative purposes only by US Army