US approves $3bn Apache helicopter sale to Qatar

The proposed sale would double the number of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters the Gulf country currently has.

    The sale of the helicopters must be reviewed by Congress before being finalised [File: Focke Strangmann/ EPA]
    The sale of the helicopters must be reviewed by Congress before being finalised [File: Focke Strangmann/ EPA]

    The US State Department has cleared a potential $3bn sale of 24 Apache attack helicopters and related equipment to Qatar, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

    The proposed sale, which would double the number of AH-64E Apache attack helicopters the Gulf country currently has, would also offer additional parts such as engines, night vision sensors, missiles and guns.

    The DSCA said in a statement on Thursday that the helicopters would be used for "close air support, armed reconnaissance, and anti-tank warfare missions" and would also "provide a long-term defensive and offensive capability to the Qatar peninsula".

    "This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East," the agency said.

    The sale of the helicopters has yet to be complete and must be reviewed by Congress before being finalised.

    Defence contractors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp, General Electric Co and Raytheon Co would participate in the project if a deal was eventually reached, the DSCA said.

    In March, Qatar received the first batch of helicopters from its first purchase of the AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies