Qatar to acquire Italian warships

15 June 2016

Contract could be worth in excess of $5bn

Qatar is expected to sign a deal worth an estimated €5bn ($5.6bn) with an Italian defence firm for the supply of four corvette warships.

Italy’s Leonardo-Finmeccanica is expected to supply electronics and weapon systems, according to news agency Reuters.

A corvette is a class of warship smaller than a frigate.

The contract is expected to be signed in Rome on 16 June between Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti and a Qatari government delegation.

Qatar has been focusing on defence spending in recent months. Some say this is directed towards increasing border security against any potential threats, particularly from Iran, to promote the state as a safe destination for foreign investment and to bolster national security ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

The state signed multiple agreements worth an estimated $8.9bn with mostly international defence suppliers earlier this year.

Of these, about 85 per cent, or $7.6bn, was accounted for by an order for 24 Rafale combat aircraft, which was initially announced in early 2015.

The deal to purchase the corvettes from Italy was not included in the April announcements.

The deals announced that month included the purchase of:

  • Coastal battery system from UK-based MBDA (QR2.6bn)
  • Missiles from MBDA (QR240m)
  • Diving support boats from Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar (QR174.2m)
  • Interceptor vessels from Turkey’s Yonka Onuc (QR170m)
  • Pilot training for fighter jets and helicopters from France’s DCI (QR134.8m)
  • Drone cameras from the US’ L-3 (QR95m)
  • Armed attack vessel from France’s Zodiac Aerospace (QR68m)
  • Radar gear from France’s Thales (QR60m)
  • Drones from the US’ Textron Systems (QR54.7m)
  • Three-year C-130 military transport maintenance from the US’ Lockheed Martin (QR50m)
  • Surveillance vehicles from South Korea’s AK & Partners (QR34.6m)

In May, the US State Department approved and notified Congress on the sale of $20m-worth of defence equipment to Qatar.

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