Qatari military spends US$23 billion on new arms

Coast guard vessels from Turkey among equipment purchased at defense exhibition in Doha

Coast guard vessels from Turkey among equipment purchased at defense exhibition in Doha

DOHA, Qatar – Qatar's military has purchased US$23 billion of arms and equipment at a defense exhibition in Doha, including 17 coast guard vessels valued at US$200 million from Turkey.

Qatar, the world's wealthiest nation with a per capita income of more than US$105,000, announced contracts with 20 weapons manufacturing companies, including US firms Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

The deals, unveiled at the end of the exhibition on Thursday, included a contract worth US$7.6 billion for a Patriot missile defense system.

The Qataris have been very active in the Gulf and Middle East region following the Arab Spring and events in Syria.

Qatar is known to support several Syrian armed opposition groups as well as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and requires high-tech arms to protect it from neighbors including Iran.

The French Defense Ministry said Qatar would buy 22 NH90 military helicopters from Airbus, the European aerospace group, worth US$2.76 billion dollars.

American arm suppliers Boeing confirmed the oil-and-gas-rich state would buy 24 Apache attack helicopters and three Boeing 737 Airborne early warning and control aircraft.

- Protecting territorial waters

Meanwhile, Qatar is also seeking to train its citizens to use modern weapons and other high-tech equipment.

In March, the government made its compulsory Qatari men between the ages of 18 and 35 years to serve between three and four months in the country’s armed forces.

Qatar is already planning to buy 72 new fighter jets, which could cost up to US$20 billion.

With a 563km coastline, maritime defense is vitally important for Qatar in protecting its territorial waters which hold much of its oil and gas resources.

It staged its fourth Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference this week, from Tuesday to Thursday.  

More than 184 companies from 54 countries were at the fair, which was supported by the Qatar Armed Forces and hosted by the country’s navy.

Turkey´s Ares Shipyard, located in the country's coastal Antalya province, signed a deal on Wednesday with Qatar´s Coasts and Borders Security Department to build 17 high-speed coast guard boats to protect Qatar´s coastlines.

Under the agreement - the company's biggest order for maritime ships at the show - Qatar will buy two 46-metre vessels, 10 33-metre ones and five 23-metre versions.

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