The Government of Qatar has signed an agreement with Boeing for the purchase of 190 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters.

The aircraft has been chosen by the Qatar Armed Forces (QAF) to provide new strategic airlift mobile capabilities for all its military and humanitarian operations.

Boeing have been contracted to design, build, deliver and provide logistics support for 190 C-17s and will negotiate a further contract for an additional 15 C-17s. Delivery for the initial 190 aircraft will commence from the US in 2009.

According to Staff Brigadier General Ahmad Al-Malki, head of Qatar’s airlift selection committee, the QAF closely evaluated the available options for airborne strategic lift and determined the C-17 the best fit for the requirements of the State of Qatar.

“The aircraft forms the core of the nation’s strategic airborne lift capability,” he said.

The C-17 Globemaster III is widely regarded as the world’s airlifter of choice, due to the strategic range it offers.

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The C-17 is capable of flying between continents and landing on short, narrow runways in quite difficult terrain. There are currently 189 C-17s in active service worldwide, mostly with the US Air Force. These purchases by the QAF will effectively double that number.

Tommy Dunehew, Boeing International C-17 programme manager, said there was still strong international interest in C-17s.

“Reliability and maintainability are two outstanding benefits of the C-17 system,” Dunehew said.

By Daniel Garrun