France-based contractor Dassault Aviation received its down payment from the government of Qatar for the delivery of 24 Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft.
The contract for the jets was signed in May 2015 by French President Francois Hollande and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Qatari officials say the contract represents a closer defense relationship between the two countries.
"In a demanding geopolitical context, Qatar wants to benefit from the Rafale's qualities in the same way as it was able to do previously with those of the Mirage F1, Alpha Jet and Mirage 2000," Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier said in a statement. "Dassault Aviation and the 500 French companies associated with the Rafale program are honored by this demonstration of trust."
The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter designed for a variety of combat missions, and is launched from both ground- and sea-based platforms. Capabilities include reconnaissance and nuclear strike deterrence. The aircraft entered service with the French Navy in 2004, and then the French Air Force in 2006.
The contract between Qatar and Dassault Aviation is valued at approximately $7 billion.
By Ryan Maass
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