Qatar Signs $12 Billion Deal To Buy F-15 Jets From U.S.

Qatar’s Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday the country signed a deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States for $12 billion.

The deal was completed despite the Gulf country being criticized recently by U.S. President Donald Trump for supporting terrorism.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and representatives from Qatar were set to meet Wednesday to seal the agreement, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters. Bloomberg News reported the deal was for 36 jets.

The sale will increase security cooperation and interoperability between the U.S. and Qatar, the Pentagon said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Deal was completed by Qatar’s Minister of Defence Khalid Al Attiyah and his US counterpart [FILE: Reuters]

Defense Secretary Mattis and Qatari Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah also discussed the current state of operations against the ISIS and the importance of de-escalating tensions so all partners in the gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals, the Pentagon added.

In November, the United States approved possible sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion. Boeing Co is the prime contractor on the fighter jet sale to the Middle East nation.

Boeing declined to comment.

Trump on Friday accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the U.S. Department of State’s efforts to ease heightening tensions and a blockade of the Gulf nation by Arab states and others.

US Navy vessels arrive in Qatar

In another development, two US Navy vessels arrived in Doha on Wednesday for a joint exercise with Qatar’s fleet.

The American boats arrived at Hamad Port south of Doha “to participate in a joint exercise with the Qatari Emiri Navy,” according to a Ministry of Defense statement posted on QNA.

The crews of the two vessels were received by Qatari navy officers.

It was unclear if the arrival of the two warships was planned before the Gulf rift or if was a sign of support from the Pentagon.

Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East with 11,000 troops deployed to or assigned to Al-Udeid Air Base. More than 100 aircraft operate from there.

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