The Qatar and UK governments signed an agreement for 24 Typhoon fighter jets and confirmed an intention of purchase for an undisclosed amount of Hawk aircraft. The biggest Typhoon export deal in a decade draws on a letter of internet signed back in September 2017.

The approximately £6 billion-worth of aircraft will be assembled in the UK by BAE Systems. According to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, the deal also includes an agreement with MBDA for Brimstone and Meteor missiles and the Raytheon’s Paveway IV UK-manufactured weapon for the jets.

The agreement, signed between the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and his Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah, also includes a package of training and co-operation between the Air Forces which will see them working together more regularly, including Qatari pilots and ground-crew training in the UK.

“It is a great pleasure to sign our biggest export deal for the Typhoon in a decade”, said Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. “These formidable jets will boost the Qatari military’s mission to tackle the challenges we both share in the Middle East, supporting stability in the region and delivering security at home. As we proudly fly the flag for our world-leading aerospace sector all over the globe this news is a massive vote of confidence, supporting thousands of British jobs and injecting billions into our economy”.

“The UK and Qatar share a close and longstanding defence relationship, with a joint-exercise between the Royal Air Force and the Emir of Qatar’s Air Force just last week seeing Typhoon jets fly over the Arabian Peninsula”,  notes the UK Defence Ministry in an official statement.  “The two countries share mutual interests of countering violent extremism, and ensuring stability in the region, and this purchase will deepen those ties by helping to prevent terrorism from spreading and protecting our prosperity and security at home”.

BAE Systems, a British defense company, has been struggling to secure offers for Typhoon and Hawk aircraft. Due to the lack of deals and the UK government’s decision to retire its Tornado (also manufactured by BAE Systems) fleet, in September 2017 the company announced organizational changes including 2000 jobs cuts in the UK.

Therefore, the deal with the Gulf state is vital in sustaining the production and jobs “well into the next decade”, BAE Systems noted while announcing the letter of intent with Qatar also in September 2017. Qatar is the ninth country to purchase the Typhoon, with this year seeing the first delivered to Oman. The UK government is also in negotiations with Saudi Arabia for “a second batch of sales”.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is jointly built by Airbus, BAE and Leonardo (former Alenia Aermacchi) and has had 510 units built as of June 2017.

Qatar is currently under an economic blockade from its neighboring countries that accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism at a state-level. The crisis has severely hit the country, with Moody’s saying that Qatar has spent almost $40 billion (almost a quarter of its GDP) supporting its economy during the first two months of the blockade.