Al Udeid Air Base
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|Al-Udeid Air Base
قاعدة العديد الجوية
|IATA: XJD – ICAO: OTBH|
|Owner||Qatar Emiri Air Force|
|Operator||United States Air Force / Royal Air Force / Qatari Air Force|
|Elevation AMSL||130 ft / 40 m|
Al Udeid Air Base (Arabic:قاعدة العديد الجوية) is a military base west of Doha, Qatar, also known as Abu Nakhlah Airport (Arabic:مطار أبو نخلة). It houses foreign coalition personnel and assets. It is host to a forward headquarters of United States Central Command, headquarters of United States Air Forces Central, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the USAF. In 1999, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad, reportedly told US officials that he would like to see as many as 10,000 US servicemen permanently stationed at Al Udeid.
Following joint military operations during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Qatar and the United States concluded a Defense Cooperation Agreement that has been subsequently expanded. In April 2003, the U.S. Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East moved from Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia to Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base south of Doha, the Qatari capital.
Al Udeid and other facilities in Qatar serve as logistics, command, and basing hubs for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. In spite of serving as the host to a large U.S. military presence and supporting U.S. regional initiatives, Qatar has remained mostly secure from terrorist attacks. Terrorist statements indicate that energy infrastructure and U.S. military facilities in Qatar remain potential targets. U.S. officials have described Qatar’s counterterrorism cooperation since the September 11 attacks as significant; however, some observers have raised questions about possible support for Al Qaeda by some Qatari citizens, including members of Qatar’s large ruling family.
As part of Australia's contribution to coalition forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, fourteen F/A-18 Hornet fighters from No. 75 Squadron RAAF were based at Al Udeid, along with two P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft and three C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft. During the early phases of the war, the Hornets flew long missions escorting and protecting coalition AWACS Early warning aircraft and tanker aircraft used for air-to-air refuelling. Later, when the threat to aircraft was reduced, the Hornets switched to the ground attack and combat support roles and were used to attack Iraqi ground forces with laser-guided bombs. The Orions flew long endurance missions over the Persian Gulf tracking vessels, curbing smuggling and guarding against the threat posed by suicide boats. The deployed Hercules flew supplies and equipment into Iraq, and later flew some of the first humanitarian aid into Baghdad. The fourteen Royal Australian Air Force Hornets flew over 670 sorties during the war, including 350 combat sorties over Iraq.
Following Australia's formal withdraw of forces from Iraq and to upon Afghanistan in 2008, the air bridge for operations int Middle East was re-located to Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. Military Cooperation and Foreign Assistance
With its small territory and narrow population base, Qatar relies to a large degree on external cooperation and support for its security. With a personnel strength of 11,800, Qatar’s armed forces are the second-smallest in the Middle East. France has provided approximately 80% of Qatar’s arms inventory. Since the 1991 Gulf war, Qatar has pursued a limited program of force modernization. To date, however, it has not purchased significant U.S. weapons systems, although the Qatari government may be considering the purchase of U.S. air and missile defense systems in line with regional trends. The U.S. military has deployed Patriot anti-ballistic missile defense systems to some publicly unnamed Gulf countries, ostensibly to defend against potential missile attacks from Iran.
Qatar invested over $US1 billion to construct the Al Udeid air base south of Doha during the 1990s; it did not have an air force of its own at the time. The United States Army Corps of Engineers also awarded over $100 million in Military Construction Air Force (MCAF) contracts for the construction of U.S. storage, housing, service, command, and communication facilities. Qatar’s financing and construction of some of the state-of-the-art air force base at Al Udeid and its granting of permission for the construction of U.S.-funded facilities helped deepen cooperation with U.S. military forces.
The Al Udeid Air Base now serves as a logistics, command, and basing hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearby Camp As Sayliyah houses significant U.S. military equipment prepositioning and command facilities for the CENTCOM area of operations. Both Qatar and the United States have invested in the construction and expansion of these facilities since the mid-1990s, and they form the main hub of the CENTCOM air and ground logistical network in the area of responsibility. As a result of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. and partner nation facilities in Qatar and elsewhere have received higher use in recent years and may require further investment to meet current and potential future needs.
U.S. Congress Appropriations and Authorizations
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (P.L. 110-181) authorized $81.7 million in FY2008 spending to build new Air Force and Special Operations facilities in Qatar.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (P.L. 110-417) authorizes $69.6 million in FY2009 spending to build new Air Force and Special Operations facilities.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (P.L. 111-84) authorizes $117 million in FY2010 spending to build new Air Force recreational, dormitory, and other facilities at Al Udeid.
The Administration’s FY2011 military construction request for Qatar was $64.3 million, for Air Force facilities and a National Security Agency warehouse.
The FY2012 request includes $37 million to continue the dormitory and recreation facility project.
Royal Air Force operations
Media related to Al Udeid Air Base at Wikimedia Commons
- "Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations". Congressional Research Service.
- "National Defense Authorization Act of 2009". U.S. Federal Government.
- "Public Law 110-417. 110th Congress". U.S. Federal Government.
- "CNN Special Report: Al Udeid Air Base". CNN.
- "Usage of Al Udeid Air Base". GlobalSecurity.org.
- "RAAF over Iraq". Australian War Memorial.