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Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF)

At the time of independence on September 3, 1971, the armed forces consisted of little more than the Royal Guard Regiment and some scattered units equipped with a few armored cars and four aircraft. After gaining independence from Britain, Qatar abstained from joining the UAE and began forming it's own defense forces with British assistance. In 1974 the Air Wing of the Public Security forces became the Air Force, with deliveries of more British helicopters and ex-RAF Hunters as the QEAF's first fixed-wing and combat types. By 1979 modernisation and reorganisation plans resulted in orders for six Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets and 14 Mirage F1 multi-role fighters, which were delivered during 1980-1984. By 1992 the armed forces had grown to a force of 7,500, including an air force of 800.

Concentrated at Doha International Airport, with several outlying fields available for helicopter operations, QEAF units experienced severe congestion and evident vulnerability at the time of the 1990-91 Gulf War. Beginning on January 22, 1991, Qatari aircraft joined other countries in carrying out strikes against Iraqi forces. United States, Canadian, and French fighter squadrons flew daily missions from Doha during the gulf war. One Qatari tank was lost in the engagement, and a number of Arab soldiers were killed or wounded. No Qatari combat deaths were reported during the war.

New infrastructure contracts worth more than $200 million were let with French companies, involving construction of a new dedicated military air base southwest of the capital at Al Udaid, with headquarters, hardened aircraft shelters, air defence radars and Roland missile batteries. The air force was equipped with combat aircraft and armed helicopters. In the 1990s its fighter aircraft include Alpha Jets with a fighter-ground attack capability and one air defense squadron of Mirage F1s, all purchased from France. All of the aircraft are based at Doha International Airport. British pilots on detail in Oman remained on duty with the air force, and French specialists are employed in a maintenance capacity. Nevertheless, an increasing number of young Qataris had been trained as pilots and technicians.

The planned purchase from the United States of Hawk and Patriot missile systems would give Qatar a modern ground-based air defense, but the Hawk sale never materialized and the Patriot sale was long delayed. Orders from a £500 million late 1996 letter of agreement for a UK arms package including 18 BAe Hawks 100s and 15 Shorts Starburst SAM systems were delayed by budget reductions and falling oil prices.

Exercise Eagle Resolve 2005 in Qatar allowed the Qatari Air Force, Medical Services and Emergency Medical Teams to build a working relationship with American Marines and Sailors. The American 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) took part in Operation Eagle Resolve, 2005 in Doha, Qatar 1–9 May 2005 to assist the nation in validating its crisis management plan prior to hosting the "Asian Games" in 2006. Eagle Resolve was one of several exercises in the Arabian Peninsula sponsored by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and executed by U.S. Central Command with Gulf Coast Council (GCC) countries to promote a cooperative defense against weapons of mass destruction and terrorist activity in the region.

Elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), began conducting Exercise Eastern Maverick 2009, alongside Qatari military forces on 28 March 2009, a bilateral training exercise designed to build and improve cooperation between both military forces. During the exercise, U.S. Marines and Sailors will work alongside the Qatari military for approximately two weeks, conducting a number of training exercises, to include small-unit vehicle training and live-fire exercises, as well as pilot training with the Qatari Air Force.

Qatar Amiri Flight
Transport Wing
Transport sq C-17A & C-130J-30
1 Flying Wing
7th Multi-purpose Sq Mirage 2000-5
11th Multi-purpose Sq Alpha Jet
2 Helicopter Wing
6th Antitank helicopter Sq SA. 342
8th Maritime helicopter Sq Commando
9th Helicopter Sq Commando
3rd Helicopter Wing
20th Helicopter Sq AW139
Scramble reports all at Doha save Transport Wing
By 2010 the Qatar Emiri Air Force's (QEAF) personnel strength measures 2100 and among its fleet of equipment was the Mirage 2000-3EDA combat aircraft, the SA 342L Gazelle combat helicopters, as well as the C-17A Globemaster III transport vehicle. The Qatar Emiri Air Force had an active fleet of 12 WS.61 Commando Mk 3 [Sea King] which were delivered between 1975 and 1984. It had two air bases located at al-Udeid and Doha International Airport (IAP) and received training from its British allies. It also participates in joint exercises, specifically with its GCC counterparts. While the QEAF has a few assets, it has negotiated with India to sell combat aircraft and its helicopters are in need of refurbishment. This picture began to change in 2008 with the purchase of two C-17s, in a number of other acquisitions soon followed.

On July 23, 2012 Pilatus Aircraft Ltd announced that the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) has awarded a contract to Pilatus for the procurement of a complete PC-21 Training System, consisting of a fleet of 24 PC-21 trainer aircraft, a suite of Ground Based Training System assets and an extensive logistics support and maintenance package. The QEAF selected the PC-21 as their fixed wing basic and advanced training aircraft, after a thorough evaluation both in Switzerland and in Qatar. The PC-21 will support the training of their young aviators in the newly established Air Force Academy in Qatar. The QEAF Air Academy will receive their first aircraft in the middle of 2014 and training will start mid-2015.

On January 24, 2004 Bechtel Ltd. was awarded a contract to develop the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) by the Government of Qatar. Bechtel’s contract will include the design, construction management, and project management of the new facilities covering a site of approximately 2,200 hectares. NDIA will position Doha and Qatar as a leading regional aviation hub and it will be pivotal to the continued growth of Qatar Airways--the national airline. The new green-field airport will be situated four kilometers east of the existing airport. It will comprise two runways partially constructed on reclaimed land, a 24-gate passenger terminal complex capable of handling 12 million passengers a year, a new Amiri (Royal) Terminal with additional hardstands, a cargo terminal building, aircraft hangars, and associated airline and airport ancillary features, including 25,000 square meters devoted to retail space.

By 2011 the Qatar air force was undergoing a transition from operating out of Doha International Airport to operating at another base in their country that will host several different missions. In March 2011 Qatar Emiri officers toured Shaw AFB to see how the installation does its various missions.

Bechtel provided engineering, project management, and construction management services for the $US15.5 billion New Doha International Airport in Qatar. It was revealed on 20 November 2012 that it was running a year late and would not open until December 2013. It replaces the existing facility, increase passenger and cargo-handling capacity, and accommodate the new Airbus A380 super jumbo jets. When it opens, the new airport will accommodate 24 million passengers and 750,000 metric tons of cargo annually. It will feature two of the longest commercial runways in the world, an 85 meter high control tower, a 510,000-square-meter passenger terminal with 40 gates, a separate terminal for the Emir of Qatar, a general aviation terminal, a cargo terminal, a 150,000 square meter aircraft maintenance center, one of the world’s largest airport catering facilities, state-of-the art air traffic control equipment and security systems, and other facilities.

On 27 March 2014 the Qatar Emiri Air Force has announced it will buy US$23bn of new weapons in a massive re-equipment program. Heading the list for the gulf state is two Airbus A330 MRTT tankers and three Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft at cost of $1.8 billion, as well as 24 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, plus 12 NH 90 transport and 10 NFH 90 maritime helicopters. The Qatari government will not proceed with its planned acquisition of three Boeing produced E-737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft. The Gulf state has chosen not to complete the transaction, Boeing told Jane's on 18 October 2018.

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Page last modified: 27-10-2018 18:37:10 ZULU