Qatar Air Force

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Qatar Air Force
القوات الجوية القطرية
Qatar Air Force emblem.svg
Qatar Air Force emblem
EngagementsGulf War
Libyan Civil War
Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
Major General Salem bin Hamad al Nabet
RoundelRoundel of Qatar.svg
FlagAir Force Ensign of Qatar.svg
Aircraft flown
FighterMirage 2000, Rafale
HelicopterAérospatiale Gazelle, Westland Sea King, AW139, AH-64
TrainerAlpha Jet, Piper Cherokee, Piper PA-34 Seneca
TransportBoeing C-17 Globemaster III, Boeing 707, Boeing 727, Dassault Falcon 900

The Qatar Emiri Air Force is the air arm of the armed forces of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar.


In March 1967, in response to the British announcement that it would withdraw its armed forces from the Persian Gulf, Qatar set up armed forces, creating the Qatar Public Security Forces Air Wing, equipped with two Westland Whirlwind helicopters. In 1971, it acquired a combat capability when it purchased three ex-RAF Hawker Hunter jet fighters, which remained in use until 1981. It was renamed the Qatar Emiri Air Force in 1974.[1]

The air force began a major expansion in 1979, when it ordered six Alpha Jet trainer/light attack aircraft. This was followed by orders for 14 Mirage F1 supersonic jet fighters in 1980, which were delivered between 1980-84. Twelve Gazelle helicopters, armed with HOT anti-tank missiles were received from 1983. Also in 1983, the air force took over the Qatar Police Air Wing.[2]

In 1991, the Qatari Air Force contributed aircraft to conduct strikes against Iraqi forces during the Gulf War. After the conflict the government sought to fortify their air defense with the construction of a new base southwest of Doha at Al Udaid. The facility has hardened aircraft shelters, air defence radars, and Roland missile batteries.[citation needed] In the 1990s, the QAF acquired a squadron of Mirage 2000s to replace the Mirage F1.

In 2005, the Air Force participated in Exercise Eagle Resolve, along with Qatari medical services and emergency medical teams to build interoperability with their US counterparts. The US 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit took part in this exercise to validate the nation's crisis management plan prior to hosting the 2006 Asian Games.

Other acquisitions have been for an order of 59 AW139 helicopters.[3] The helicopters are used for utility tasks, troop transport, search and rescue, border patrol, special forces operations, and law enforcement. Three additional aircraft were ordered in March 2011 for Medevac services.[4]

By 2010, the Qatar Emiri Air Force's personnel strength was at 2,100 and its equipment included the Mirage 2000-3EDA, the SA 342L Gazelle, and the C-17A Globemaster III. Aircraft either flew out of al-Udeid field or Doha International Airport and received training from British instructors. In January 2011, the Air Force evaluated the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Boeing F-15E and the Dassault Rafale to replace its current fighter inventory of Dassault Mirage 2000-5s.[5] In May 2015, the QAF awarded the contract for 24 Dassault Rafale fighters worth €6.3 billion ($7 billion).[6] [7]

In July 2012, the Qatar Air Force ordered a complete pilot training system from Pilatus centering upon the PC-21. The package included ground-based training devices, logistical support and maintenance in addition to 24 PC-21 aircraft.

In June 2015, the QAF ordered four additional C-17s, to supplement the existing four delivered in 2009 and 2012.

In September 2016, the sale of up to 72 F-15QAs to Qatar was submitted to the US Congress for approval.[8][9] The deal (for 24 planes plus an option for 12 more), valued at US$21.1 billion, was signed in November 2016.[10]

In September 2017, the QAF ordered 24 Typhoon fighter jets from the UK.[11] In December 2017, the QAF ordered 12 additional Rafale fighter jets from France, with an option for 36 more.[12]

In August 2018, Qatar announced the construction of a new air base to be named after Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. In addition to the new air base, Al Udeid Air Base and Doha International Air Base are to be expanded in order to accommodate aircraft on order.[13]


  • Al Udeid Air Base[14]
    • 3rd Rotary Wing
      • 20th Squadron – 39 AW139
    • Transport Wing
      • Transport Squadron – 8 C-17 Globemaster, 4 C-130J-30
      • Al Zaeem Mohamed Bin Abdullah Al Attiyah Air College - 8 x MFI-395 Super Mushshak, 24 x PC-21, 14 SA342 Gazelle (to be replaced with 16 x H125)
  • Doha International Air Base
    • 1st Fighter Wing
      • 7th Air Superiority Squadron – 9 Mirage 2000-5EDA, 3 Mirage 2000-5DDA
      • 11th Close Support Squadron – 6 Alpha Jet
    • 2nd Rotary Wing
      • 6th Close Support Squadron – 14 SA342 Gazelle (To be replaced with AH-64)
      • 8th Anti-Surface Vessel Squadron – Westland Sea King
      • 9th Multi-Role Squadron – Westland Commando Mk 2
  • Dukhan / Tamim Airbase
    • U/I Fighter Wing
      • Al Adiyat Fighter Squadron – 5 Rafale


Current inventory[edit]

A Qatari Mirage 2000-5 participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn
A Sea King conducts a counter-terrorism exercise
A C-17 on take off
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Alpha Jet France / Germany light attack 6[15]
Mirage 2000 France multirole 5EDA 9[15]
Dassault Rafale France multirole 15 21 on order[15]
F-15E Strike Eagle United States strike fighter F-15QA 36 on order[15]
Eurofighter Typhoon Germany / United Kingdom multirole 24 on order[15]
Airbus A330 MRTT France aerial refueling / transport KC-30A 2 on order[16]
Boeing C-17 United States heavy transport 8[15] one aircraft operated with the Qatar Amiri Flight
C-130J Super Hercules United States utility transport C-130J-30 4[15]
AH-64 Apache United States attack AH-64E 3 21 on order[15]
Westland Sea King United Kingdom ASW / utility Mk.3 11[15]
NHIndustries NH90 European Union utility / transport 28 on order[15]
AgustaWestland AW139 Italy utility 19[15]
Aérospatiale Gazelle France armed scout 342 13[15]
Trainer Aircraft
BAE Hawk United Kingdom conversion trainer Hawk 100 9 on order[15]
Airbus H125 France rotorcraft trainer 16 on order[17]
Mirage 2000 France conversion trainer 5DDA 3[15]
Pilatus PC-21 Switzerland primary trainer 24[15]
PAC Super Mushshak Pakistan primary trainer 8[15]


Previous notable aircraft operated by the Air Force consisted of the Hawker Hunter, Dassault Mirage F1, Boeing 707, Boeing 727, Westland Whirlwind, Britten-Norman Islander, and the Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma helicopter.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Air International September 1988, p. 136.
  2. ^ Air International September 1988, pp. 136, 139.
  3. ^ Qatar Armed Forces Sign Contract for 18 AW139 Helicopters. Retrieved on 2011-03-28.
  4. ^ "The Qatar Armed Forces Order Three EMS-Configured AW139s" Archived May 5, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Agusta Westland 21 March 2011
  5. ^ US Bid Delays Qatar Jet Competition[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ France sells 24 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar in a $7 billion deal Archived 2015-05-18 at the Wayback Machine AP News
  7. ^ "Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF)". Archived from the original on 28 February 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  8. ^ "U.S. set to approve sales of Boeing fighters to Qatar, Kuwait - sources". Reuters. 1 September 2016. Archived from the original on 30 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Fighter Jet Sales to Gulf Allies Backed by U.S. After a Wait". Bloomberg. 29 September 2016. Archived from the original on 28 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Qatar and Kuwait fighter deals signed off". Combat Aircraft. 18 November 2016. Archived from the original on 19 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  11. ^ "UK to supply Qatar with 24 Typhoon fighter jets". Archived from the original on 2017-09-17. Retrieved 2017-09-17.
  12. ^ Visite d'Emmanuel Macron au Qatar: Doha achète 12 Rafale et 50 Airbus Archived 2017-12-13 at the Wayback Machine France24
  13. ^ Binnie, Jeremy (29 August 2018). "Qatar announces new airbase". IHS Jane's 360. London. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Armed Forces Overview – Qatar Emiri Air Force". Archived from the original on 2016-10-14. Retrieved 2016-08-26.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "World Air Forces 2020". Flightglobal Insight. 2020. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Airbus has been selected by Qatar to supply two A330 MRTT". Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  17. ^ "State of Qatar signs contract for 28 NH90 multirole helicopters". Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  18. ^ "World Air Forces 1985 pg. 70". Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015.