UK defence chief says Qatar warplane deal 'on the table'

29th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

Britain's defence minister said on Tuesday that a deal to sell Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes to Qatar was "definitely still on the table".

Michael Fallon, speaking on board a British destroyer anchored in Doha port, said he had held discussions on a possible sale with Qatari officials within the past week.

He added that the deal had not been killed off by a Qatari decision to buy 24 Rafale jets from France.

"It's definitely still on the table," said Fallon, who is in Qatar to attend the three-day Dimdex defence and security fair.

"It's something I have discussed with the new Qatari defence minister, (Khalid bin Mohammad) Al-Attiyah.

"Typhoon is proving itself a very capable aircraft in the skies above Syria and Iraq."

Asked if the French deal could scupper the prospective British sale, Fallon responded: "No".

"Qatar is one of our most important regional partners," added Fallon.

Britain's BAE Systems builds the Typhoon in cooperation with European aircraft maker Airbus and Italian defence firm Finmeccanica.

Britain has long sought to sell Typhoons to Qatar and is in the closing stages of wrapping up a deal to sell the jets to Kuwait.

Two other countries in the Gulf -- Saudi Arabia and Oman -- have also purchased Typhoon jets.

Energy-rich Qatar's spending is being squeezed by falling gas and oil prices but it appears committed to maintaining its defence budget and has previously pledged to increase the size of its air force.

Around 10 of its planes have been used in the ongoing Saudi-led military operations in Yemen.

dh/ak/dr


© 2016 AFP

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