Dassault Aviation has handed over a first Rafale to the Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF). The jet, two-seat Rafale DQ02, was accepted on February 6 during a ceremony hosted by Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO, at the company’s Mérignac facility. Also in attendance were Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Geneviève Darrieussecq, French State Secretary to the Minister of Armed Forces, and QAEF commander, Major General Mubarak Al Khayareen.
The first Rafale delivery comes after the signature in May 2015 of the contract for the acquisition by Qatar of 24 Rafale to equip, followed by an additional 12 in December 2017, for a total of 36 aircraft.
Eric Trappier said: “For the fourth time* in our long and trustful partnership with Qatar, a Dassault Aviation aircraft will serve proudly in the Qatari Emiri Air Force. This first delivery is the culmination of a relationship started more than 40 years ago and I am very pleased and grateful that once again the State of Qatar, has renewed its confidence in our dedication and confirmed not once, but twice, the choice of the Rafale to protect its land and people.”
* the other types referred to are the Mirage F1, Alpha Jet and Mirage 2000-5.
In April 2015 it was officially announced by France’s Presidential office, the Élysée Palace an agreement had been reached for the QEAF to acquire 24 Rafale aircraft during a meeting the between the French President and the Emir of Qatar. The French President travelled to Doha in May that year to witness the formal signature of a contract for the aircraft, as well as an order from MBDA for missiles to arm the Rafales. The acquisition, worth an estimated €6.3bn ($7.05bn), comprised a firm order for 24 aircraft (split between 18 single-seat and six twin-seat Rafales), with an options clause in the contract for the purchase of either 12 or 24 additional aircraft. It also involve training 36 Qatari pilots and 100 technicians. The contract officially came into force in December 2015, when the first downpayment was made.
An option for twelve more aircraft was exercised December 2017 and became effective March 2018, but the split between types is unclear.
Aircraft DQ01 first flew in June 2016 and was subsequently delivered to Istres for trials which commenced in January 2017. In terms of single-seaters, EQ01 first flew on March 27, 2017 followed by EQ02 on April 13, 2017. At least three two-seaters and three single-seaters were flying with Dassault as of January this year.