State Dept. approves sale of 72 F-15 fighters to Qatar

By Ryan Maass   |   Nov. 18, 2016 at 1:03 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department has approved a proposed $21.1 billion foreign military sale to the government of Qatar for 72 F-15QA aircraft.

In addition to the multirole fighters, Qatar will also receive associated weapon packages, ground support, training materials and maintenance equipment. In a statement released by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation agency, government officials say the sale is intended to bolster foreign policy interests.

The proposed sale is intended to improve Qatar's ability to meet air-to-air and air-to-ground enemy threats and improve homeland defense capabilities. The U.S. State Department's approval comes just weeks after the British government released a statement upgrading Qatar's terrorism threat from "underlying" to "general". U.S. officials say the sale will not affect the basic military balance in the Middle East.

Aerospace giant Boeing has been listed as the prime contractor for the sale, with additional support from Elbit Systems, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and others.

The Boeing-made F-15 Strike Eagle is a twin-engine fighter designed for multi-role capabilities. Additional customers in the Middle East include the governments of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

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