Production of 17 Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets and nine Hawk T2 advanced trainer aircraft for the emirate began in Warton, Lancaster in northwestern England on Friday, with Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah in attendance.
“The project is unique in its ability to enhance the capabilities of the Amiri Air Force and the joint action and defense,” said the Doha-based paper Gulf Times.
Al-Attiyah and his British counterpart Gavin Williamson had signed the contract to supply Doha with the twin-engine, multirole fighters and the trainer jets on December 10, 2017.
The daily also referenced the inauguration of a joint squadron run by the Qatari Air Force and the British Royal Air Force by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani last year. “The joint squadron will have a prominent and effective role in protecting the Qatari airspace during the FIFA 2022 World Cup” — which the emirate has been chosen to host, the paper added.
British Ambassador to Qatar Ajay Sharma, who also jointed the inauguration of the production line, had told the paper back in April, “There will be Typhoon ready for the World Cup. We certainly see these jets as part of the way of securing the event.”
The military agreement was the second billion-dollar one of its own to be signed by Doha since Saudi Arabia led three of its allies — the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain — in breaking off diplomatic ties with the emirate and subjecting it to a blockade.
The quartet has accused Doha of supporting “terrorism” but the emirate has roundly rejected the allegation.
Shortly after the dispute erupted, the United States signed a $12 billion deal to sell F-15 fighter jets to Qatar.
Observers have accused the US and the UK of trying to exploit the diplomatic crisis towards their own financial interests, while publicly urging the regional countries to close up their rifts.