The US Government has signed letters of offer and acceptance (LOA) worth $11bn with Qatar for the sale of attack helicopters and air-defence systems.
Signed by the US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Qatar’s Defence Affairs Minister Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, the agreement covers the Boeing-built AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, as well as Patriot and Javelin missile systems.
Pentagon press secretary navy rear admiral John Kirby said in a statement: "Today’s signing ceremony underscores the strong partnership between the United States and Qatar in the area of security and defence, and will help improve our bilateral cooperation across a range of military operations."
The deal is reportedly the biggest US weapons sale this year, and is also the first acquisition of Patriot missiles by Qatar.
Unnamed US defence officials were quoted by Agence France Presse as saying that the US will supply around ten batteries for the Patriot systems, as well as 24 Apache helicopters and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Qatar has been investing in missile defence systems to counter the threat from Iran, which has strengthened its missile arsenal, the officials said.
The two ministers also signed and renewed the US-Qatar defence cooperation agreement during Hagel’s visit to Doha.
"This is a critically important relationship in the region, and the secretary is pleased to be able to continue to make it stronger," Kirby added.
As well as governing the interaction between the US and Qatari armed forces, the ten-year agreement enables the continued deployment of US soldiers to installations in the area, including the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Reuters reported.
Image: A US AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter at Forward Operating Base Speicher, Iraq. Photo: courtesy of the US Army, photo by Tech Sgt Andy Dunaway.