Above: Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) Rafale EQ QA220 at Dukhan-Tamim Air Base, Qatar, during the arrival ceremony on June 5 following a non-stop ferry flight from France by five of the QEAF aircraft. Qatar News Agency
FIVE QATAR Emiri Air Force (QEAF) Dassault Rafales were delivered to Dukhan-Tamim Air Base, Qatar, on June 5 following a non-stop ferry flight from France. They were accompanied by French Air Force Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix tanker 041 ‘F-UJCG’ from GRV02.091 ‘Bretagne’ at BA125 Istres le Tubé. The aircraft comprised single-seat Rafale EQs QA211, QA216, QA217, QA218 and QA220, plus two-seat Rafale DQ QA204. These were the first QEAF Rafales to arrive in country, following formal hand-over of the first aircraft at Bordeaux-Merignac, France, on February 6, as previously reported on Warnsey’s World. Since then the aircraft had remained in France for pilot training.
A reception ceremony at Dukhan was attended by Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, along with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs H E Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Chief of Staff of Qatari Armed Forces Lieutenant General (Pilot) H E Ghanem bin Shaheen Al Ghanim and Brigadier General Salim Abdullah Al Dosari, who is in charge of the Qatar Rafale project and also commander of Dukhan Air Base, along with other senior officers of the QEAF and Qatar Armed Forces. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Eric Trappier, Ambassador of the French Republic to the State of Qatar Franck Gellet, and Representative of the Executive Director of French company MBDA Jean Luc Lamothe also attended the ceremony. The aircraft have joined the QEAF’s Al Adiyat Rafale Fighter Squadron at Dukhan.
Qatar signed a contract on May 4, 2015, for the purchase of 24 Rafales, comprising 18 single-seat and six two-seat aircraft. The deal included options on either 12 or 24 additional aircraft and 12 options were exercised in December 2017, the contract then becoming effective in March 2018. It is believed the additional 12 are all to be single-seaters. During the hand-over ceremony in February it was stated that a total of 21 Rafales will be delivered to the QEAF by the end of 2019.