Qatar, a wealthy Gulf states which is the world’s biggest exporter of LNG, has been accused by Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorism and in meddling with Iran. The tension between the two have placed the region on a edge and has resulted in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain cutting diplomatic and trade ties.
In a move that could potentially anger countries boycotting Doha, Qatar’s defense minister has signed a letter of intent to purchase 24 Typhoon jets from British defense firm BAE Systems.
On June 5, Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia have cut off diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar. They have suspended all air and shipping routes to Qatar, home to the regions biggest military air base and the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
“The letter of intent includes the ministry’s intention to purchase 24 modern Typhoon aircraft with all their equipment,” reported Qatar’s state news agency QNA.
The agreement was signed by Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs and his British counterpart Michael Fallon, reported QNA.
“This will be the first major defense contract with Qatar, one of the UK’s strategic partners,” said Britain’s Ministry of Defense in a statement while adding that talks over a deal had taken several years.
“We also hope that this will help enhance security within the region across all Gulf allies.”
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a joint project between France’s Airbus, Britain’s BAE, and Italy’s Finmeccanica that supports an estimated 40,000 jobs in Britain.
Britain nor Qatar have indicated the cost of the deal.
In 2014, BAE had agreed to supply Saudi Arabia with 72 Typhoon jets in a deal that was then worth $6 billion (4.43 billion pounds).
On Saturday, Fallon told a conference in London that the British government will ramp up its efforts to help BAE Systems sell more Typhoon jets with government-to-government deals.
This year, the Typhoon fighter aircraft has drawn fewer orders in comparison to France’s Dassault Aviation Rafale fighter aircrafts which Egypt and Qatar have agreed to buy.
In June, Qatar had also signed a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from Boeing Co for $12 billion as well as a $6 billion (5 billion euro) deal for seven navy vessels from Italy.
Saudi Arabia has accused Qatar of supporting terrorism as well as in meddling with Iran, its arch-rival in the region.
Qatar has denied both accusations.