The government of Qatar has boosted its plans to buy Hawk training planes from BAE Systems, the country's defense minister Khalid Bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah said Wednesday.
Qatar is now looking to buy nine Hawk trainer planes, rather than only six previously discussed, Mr. Al-Attiyah said at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
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The deal is a boon for BAE Systems, which last year announced plans to cut jobs in its military plane building unit due to a dearth of orders.
Qatar and BAE Systems in December already finalized a deal for delivery of 24 Typhoon combat jets starting in late 2022. The deal is valued at around GBP5 billion ($6.9 billion). At the time the two were still in talks about the Hawk trainer planes.
Qatar has been on an equipment buying spree. Last year, it announced a massive $12 billion order for 72 Boeing Co. F-15 combat jets. In November, Doha also committed to taking 12 more Rafale combat jets from France's Dassault Aviation SA, having previously bought 24 of the planes.
Qatar's weapons deals come amid a diplomatic crisis that began in June between the Persian Gulf state and many of its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Those countries have been critical of Qatari ties to Iran, accused the country of supporting terrorism, and cut trade ties. Qatar has denied the charge and criticized its neighbors for their efforts to isolate the country.
Mr. Al-Attiyah said Qatar was ready to engage in talks to resolve the issue. He didn't signal any momentum, though, that any promising talks were underway.
The U.S., which has a large military installation in Qatar and cooperates closely with other Persian Gulf state armed forces, has unsuccessfully tried to help heal the political rift.
Mr. Al-Attiyah said the country was investing heavily in new military equipment, including also from Turkey and China, to lower its reliance for national security on other countries. "It is not wise to be heavily dependent on our allies to come fight for us," he said during his London visit.
Write to Robert Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 17, 2018 06:42 ET (11:42 GMT)