U.S. Army AH-64E Apache pilots land for fuel.
The State Department has approved a $3 billion sale of 24 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and related equipment, such as the Lockheed Martin [LMT] AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight (MTADS), to Qatar.
Last year, the department approved a $1 billion sale of 10 of the helicopters to Egypt and a $242 million sale of 17 of the rotorcraft to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)--nine re-manufactured models and eight new ones. That sale came under some fire from human rights groups, as the UAE has provided military support to the Yemen government in its war against Houthi rebels--a war which has claimed civilian lives.
"Qatar is host to the U.S. Central Command forces and serves as a critical forward-deployed location in the region," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said on May 9 in its announcement of the possible AH-64E sale to Qatar. "The acquisition of these helicopters will allow for integration with U.S. forces for training exercises, which contributes to regional security and interoperability."
"The proposed sale of the AH-64E Apache helicopters will supplement the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s previous procurement of 24 AH-64Es, which are capable of meeting its requirements for close air support, armed reconnaissance, and anti-tank warfare missions," DSCA said. "The helicopters will provide a long-term defensive and offensive capability to the Qatar peninsula as well as enhance the protection of key oil and gas infrastructure and platforms. Qatar will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces."
"The proposed sale of these missiles will not alter the basic military balance in the region," the agency said.