France to monitor Qatar airspace during FIFA World Cup 2022

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As part of a defense agreement between the two countries, France will help Qatar secure its airspace during the 2022 World Cup. The Emirate is set to host the international men’s football championship between November 21 and December 18, 2022.  

The French armed forces will provide the host nation with an “Advise and Assist”, sending both personnel and material to the Qatari territory, according to a report from the French Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee.  

“With the exception of isolated terrorist acts, which are by nature very difficult to detect, the threats identified concern the cyber field […] and intrusion of aircraft or drones in the airspace of Qatar,” reported French lawmaker Didier Quentin. 

Along with advisors, a BASSALT anti-drone system will also be deployed. Developed by Hologarde after a partnership between the French Air and Space Force and Paris’ airport operator (ADP), the system can detect, identify and scramble incoming drones. Launched in 2019, it was used to protect several international events in France and was briefly tested in Mali as part of Operation Barkhane. 

In addition, one of the French Air Force’s four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) will be deployed. Based on Boeing’s 707-320 airliner, the E-3F Sentry uses an AN/APY-2 passive electronically scanned array radar system capable of tracking more than 600 targets in a range of 400 kilometers (250 miles). 

That temporary assistance enters within the framework of “in-depth cooperation” between the two countries. Two important contracts were the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighters and 28 NH-90 helicopters (16 of which will be assembled in France by Airbus Helicopters). The Emirate could soon acquire two Pleiades-Néo observation satellites, as well as five Thales GM200 MMA radars.  

According to the report, Qatar was the second-largest importer of French weapons over the 2010-2019 period, with a total of €11.05 billions (US$12.47 billions) in orders from French defense manufacturers. 

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