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Qatar to buy Patriot missiles in $11 bln deal: US officials

ARLINGTON, VA - JULY 03: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (R) brief members of the media July 3, 2014 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP

WASHINGTON: Qatar plans to buy US Patriot missile batteries and Apache attack helicopters in an arms deal worth about $11 billion, senior Pentagon officials said Monday.

The sale would provide Qatar with roughly ten radars and 34 launchers for Patriot systems designed to knock out incoming missiles, as well as 24 Apache helicopters and Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Qatar was investing in missile defense systems to counter the threat across the Gulf from Iran, which has built up its missile arsenal, officials said.

Qatar's minister of state for defense, Major General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, committed to the sale in a signing ceremony Monday in Washington after talks with his American counterpart, Chuck Hagel, officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The weapons deal was the biggest for the United States in 2014 and came as Qatar weighs proposals in a fighter jet competition, with US aerospace firm Boeing vying against British and French defense companies.

"It's a good sign," said a senior defense official, referring to the arms sale and the prospects for the fighter jet bidding.

The United States wants to preserve its role as "the defense provider of choice" for Qatar and other Gulf states, the official said.

The weapons would enhance American's security and diplomatic ties to Qatar, the official said, despite some disagreement over Syria and Qatar's assistance to some rebel groups deemed too radical by Washington.

 

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