• Contract is the third foreign order for Rafale jets
  • Deal includes MBDA missiles
  • The French military will train 36 Qatari pilots and 100 technicians

French President Francois Hollande and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani have signed a $7bn contract for the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets, in a move that shows increasingly close ties between the two nations.

The contract is the third foreign order for Rafale jets in 2015 and includes MBDA missiles, the training of 36 Qatari pilots, 100 technicians and an undisclosed number of intelligence officers.

Rafale jets are built by France’s Dassault Aviation, who struggled to sell the planes overseas before 2015.

In February, Hollande announced Egypt would buy 24 Rafale jets in its first foreign contract for the planes.

A total of 36 Rafale jets were ordered by India in April.

Dassault is also involved in talks aimed at selling Rafale jets to the UAE.

Since 2012, Doha has requested $24.9bn of military equipment from the US to upgrade its airforce, including 46 helicopters, at least 1,200 missiles and early-warning radar systems.

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