Qatar Air Force

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Qatar Air Force
Qatar Air Force emblem.svg
Qatar Air Force emblem
Founded 1974-present
Country Qatar
Engagements Libyan Civil War
2015 military intervention in Yemen
Brigadier General Mubarak Mohammed Al Kumait Al Khayarin
Roundel Roundel of Qatar.svg
Ensign Qatar Air Force flag.svg
Aircraft flown
Helicopter Aérospatiale Gazelle, Westland Sea King, AgustaWestland AW139
Interceptor Dassault Mirage 2000
Trainer Alpha Jet
Piper Cherokee
Piper PA-34 Seneca
Transport Boeing 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 1968, 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 the Doha at Al Udaid. The facility has hardened aircraft shelters, air defence radars and Roland missile batteries. In the 1990s, they acquired more Alpha Jets with a ground attack capability and a squadron of Mirage F1s, from France.[citation needed]

In 2005, the Air Force participated in Exercise Eagle Resolve, along with Medical Services and Emergency Medical teams to build Interoperability with their US counterparts. The U.S. 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit took part in exercise to validate the nation’s crisis management plan prior to hosting the Asian Games in 2006.

Other acquisitions have been for an order of 18 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 Medivac services.[4] By 2010, the Qatar Emiri Air Force's personnel strength was at 2100 and among its fleet of equipment was the Mirage 2000-3EDA, the SA 342L Gazelle, as well as the C-17A Globemaster III. Aircraft either fly out of al-Udeid field or Doha International Airport and receive 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 Air Force awarded the contract for 24 Dassault Rafale fighters worth €6.3 billion ($7 billion).[6][7]

In Jun 2015, it was announced that four additional C-17s were ordered to supplement the existing four delivered in 2009 and 2012.


  • Al Udeid Air Base[8]
    • Transport Wing
      • Transport Squadron - 4 C-17 Globemaster, 4 C-130J-30
  • Doha International Airport
    • 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
      • 8th Anti-Surface Vessel Squadron – Westland Sea King
      • Multi-Role Squadron – Westland Commando Mk 2
    • 3rd Rotary Wing
      • 20th Squadron – 18 AW139


A Qatari Mirage 2000-5 participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn
A Sea King conducts a counter-terrorism exercise
A C-17 on take off

Current inventory[edit]

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Alpha Jet  France light attack 6[9]
Mirage 2000  France multirole 5EDA 9[9]
Dassault Rafale  France multirole 0 24 on order[10]
Boeing F-15E  United States Strike fighter 0 36 on order[11]
Boeing C-17  United States heavy transport 4[9] 4 more on order[12]
C-130J United States utility transport C-130J-30 4[9]
AW139 Italy utility 18[9]
SA342 Gazelle  France armed scout 14[9]
Westland Sea King  United Kingdom ASW / utility Mk.3 11[9]
NH-90  European Union utility / transport 22 on order[9]
AH-64 Apache  United States attack AH-64E 24 on order[9]
Trainer Aircraft
Mirage 2000  France conversion trainer 5DDA 4[9]
Pilatus PC-21 Switzerland primary trainer 2[9] 24 on order[13]


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.[14]