Qatar has received its first batch of the new generation F-15 combat aircraft, produced by the United States and Boeing, in partnership with the Gulf state.
The rollout took place on Wednesday in a ceremony at Boeing’s headquarters in the US state of Missouri, with the Qatari Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah in attendance.
The minister said Qatar is acquiring the aircraft for defence purposes, adding that the new aircraft have better combat specifications and are faster than the older F-15s.
“The rollout of the F-15QA is momentous, not just in terms of capability but also in terms of the enhanced partnership it represents,” US media reported General Greg Guillot, commander of 9th Air Force, as saying at the event.
“The relationship the United States shares with Qatar is critical to the stability and security of the central command area of responsibility, and we are grateful for our coalition partners continued focus on building interoperability and combined readiness,” he added.
Qatar signed agreements to buy warplanes from the US and some European nations in 2017 after a political dispute broke out between it and its neighbours – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain.
After the feuding Gulf nations imposed a blockade on Doha, it agreed with Washington and Boeing to purchase at least 30 aircraft equipped with the latest technical means.
Experts say the new F-15QA fighter jets are among the best in terms of speed and manoeuvrability during offensive and defensive missions.
Boeing is providing maintenance and logistics support for the Qatar F-15QA programme during pre-delivery pilot training, which began earlier this year.
In addition, Boeing will establish and operate an aircrew and maintenance training centre for the Qatar Emiri Air Force at Al Udeid airbase through 2024 while also providing in-country spares and logistics support once aircraft are delivered, according to local US media reports.