Editor’s Note: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Here’s an indication of a partner nation who’s grown weary of being put on hold and has taken matters into its own hands to procure the hardware it needs to secure itself in a part of the world which grows more and more hostile as days pass. Qatar, thanks to close ties with Japanese banks, has made the down payment on Dassault Rafale fighter jets and guided munitions. It will be interesting to see how the decision affects Qatar’s desire to purchase F-15s, a deal which has been approved by both the Department of Defense and State Department, but still waits on a decision from the current administration.
Japanese banks drew on close commercial ties to Qatar when they lent funds that helped Doha pay last year’s down payment for Rafale fighter jets and missiles worth €6.3 billion ($6.8 billion), financial specialists said.
A bank loan to Qatar, a nation rich in oil and gas reserves, signaled an economic shift for the Arabian Gulf nation and its strong business ties to Japanese lenders and construction companies.
Qatar paid the deposit for the Rafale deal Dec. 16, finally putting into effect contracts signed eight months earlier on May 4. A down payment is usually 15 percent of the total amount.
The order included 24 Dassault Aviation fighters and 12 options, and guided weapons from MBDA and Safran’s Sagem. The French Air Force will also train Qatari pilots and maintenance personnel.
Japanese banks lent Doha funds for the down payment, and have major business interests in Qatar, which is building transportation and infrastructure projects for the World Cup.
That may have made it hard for French banks to lend to Qatar for the Rafale as there is geopolitical risk, with tension rising with Iran and the Islamic State, he said.
US banks were unlikely to have funded the Qatari order as that would likely displease Boeing, a competitor to Dassault in the fighter market, the financial specialist said.
Qatar seeks acquisition of 73 F-15E Strike Eagle fighters, with 36 in a first tranche, US Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker has said. The White House is expected to decide soon whether that deal will go ahead, as the Defense and State Department support for the request.
Islamic State forces are active in the Middle East and there is also rising tension with Iran, which is close to Russia. Moscow has authorized delivery to Teheran S-300 surface-to-air missiles in a deal reported to be worth $800 million and which previously had been suspended.
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