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 Gulf state of Qatar.


In March 1968, in response to the British announcement that it would withdraw its armed forces from the 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. TwelveGazelle 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 4 additional C-17s were ordered to supplement the existing 4 aircraft delivered in 2009 and 2012.


  • No. 1 Fighter Wing
  • 9 single-seat Mirage 2000-5EDA
  • 3 2000-5DDA trainers
  • No. 2 Rotary Wing

As of January 1993, all the air force's aircraft were based at Doha International Airport.[8]


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 / Germany light attack 6[9]
Mirage 2000 France multirole 5EDA 9[9]
Dassault Rafale France multirole 24 on order[10]
Boeing C-17 United States heavy transport 4[9] one aircraft operated with the Qatar Amiri Flight
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] 22 on order[9]


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.[11]