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Qatar spends big on American choppers and missiles

An Apache gunship performs during the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford this month. (Tim Ireland/Getty Images)

Qatar, the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter, is using its gas money to cash in on some top-of-the-line U.S. supplied military hardware.

Qatar’s defense minister, Hamad Bin Ali al-Attiyah, met with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and signed acceptance letters for $11 billion worth of Apache attack helicopters, Patriot missile defense batteries and anti-tank Javelin missiles, the Pentagon said in a statement Monday.

“Today’s signing ceremony underscores the strong partnership between the United States and Qatar in the area of security and defense and will help improve our bilateral cooperation across a range of military operations,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.

The MIM-104 Patriot is a long-range surface-to-air missile system known primarily for its anti-ballistic missile capabilities, while the FGM-148 Javelin is an anti-tank missile system that also has the ability to engage low-flying helicopters.

In March, Qatar announced it would spend $23 billion to purchase a slew of attack helicopters, mid-air refueling tankers and guided missiles from companies like Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

In addition to its contracts with American defense giants, Qatar has also agree to buy a number of NH90 helicopters from NHIndustries for $2.76 billion. Airbus’ Eurocopter helicopter unit is the majority shareholder in NHIndustries.

Qatar, like other Gulf and Middle Eastern countries, has drastically increased defense spending in recent years.

“This is a critically important relationship in the region,” Kirby said.  “And the secretary is pleased to be able to continue to make it stronger.”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a staff writer and a former Marine infantryman.
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