Third Batch of Qatari Rafales Delivered

Scramble Magazine reported on 3 September the departure of the third batch of Dassault Rafales for the Qatar Emiri Air Force from Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport in France to Qatar. Final assembly of Rafales is done at the Dassault facility adjacent to the airport.

Previous deliveries of Qatari Rafales were in June and July 2019. With this latest delivery, 15 Rafales have been delivered to date, with 21 Rafales of both EQ single-seater and DQ twin-seater variants remaining to be delivered. In addition to the airframes, the French Air Force and Dassault are training Qatari pilots and ground crew on the Rafale.

No details are available on which squadron the Rafales are intended for, but it is likely that they will join the previously delivered Rafales in the Al Adiyat squadron, which was stood up specifically for the new type.

Qatar signed a contract with Dassault in May 2015, for the purchase of 24 Rafales, and exercised an option to purchase 12 more Rafales in December 2017, for a total of 36 Rafales ordered.

In addition to the Rafales, the Qatar Emiri Air Force has ordered 24 Eurofighter Typhoons and 36 Boeing F-15QA Advanced Eagles. The Typhoons are expected to be delivered starting from late 2021, while expected delivery for the Advanced Eagles starts in early 2020 through to 2023.

The Qatar Emiri Air Force is a longtime customer of Dassault, with previous purchases of Mirage 2000s, Alpha Jets, and Mirage F1s (that were later sold to Spain).  Dassault has offered the Rafale for export to many countries, but has been largely unsuccessful outside sales to Qatar, India and Egypt.

Qatar has engaged in a major military buildup ever since a blockade by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain was declared two years ago. With no hopes of the blockade being lifted anytime soon, the Qatari buildup is likely to continue. Qatar previously announced that it would expand its current air bases and build a new air base to accommodate the new aircraft types.