“We wouldn’t give a precise date but what we can say is that by the time of the World Cup, Qatar will have Typhoons.”
In December Qatar signed an $8 billion (6.5 billion euro) deal with Britain for 24 Typhoon jets. At the same time, the two countries agreed to create a Joint Operation Squadron using both of their air forces. It is this joint flight group that will provide air security for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the first Middle Eastern country to host the tournament. “We certainly see the Typhoons as part of securing the World Cup and I think the Qatari authorities certainly see it in that way,” Sharma said.
The defence deal comes at a politically sensitive time for both countries. For the past 10 months, Qatar has been politically and economically isolated by a group of states led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The bloc — which includes Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — accuses Qatar of promoting terrorism and seeking better ties with Saudi Arabia’s Shiite regional rival Iran. Qatar, which vehemently denies the accusations, has claimed the boycotting countries considered military intervention to resolve the crisis.
Doha’s purchase of the jets is one of a number of defence deals Qatar has signed with countries including the US, Russia, France and Italy since the crisis began.