Qatar seeks to spend billions of dollars to increase its military power, particularly its air force capabilities, but the small Gulf state may face a staffing shortage, according to a report by Defense News.
Just last week, BAE Systems and Qatar entered into a contract valued at around 5 billion pounds ($6.7 billion) for the country to buy 24 Typhoon combat aircraft. BAE Systems said delivery was expected in late 2022 adding that the contract was subject “to financing conditions and receipt by the company of first payment, which are expected to be fulfilled no later than mid-2018.”
The deal with Britain comes after reaching two other deals with the US and France to receive 36 Boeing F-15QA and 12 Dassault Rafale.
A source familiar on the matter said last week’s deal will provide 96 new aircraft, noting however that Doha may not have enough personnel.
“The problem faced here is the lack of Qatari armed forces personnel to operate three top-line fighter types. In order to compensate for staffing shortage, Qatar will inevitably have to recruit foreign forces,” the source was quoted as saying by Defense News.
According to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Qatari weapons imports increased by 245% in 2012-2016 compared with figures from 2007-2011. SIPRI however said Doha’s weapons imports are significantly less than those of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“The balance between official Qatari citizens and expatriates, and the very high speed with which the country is ordering highly advanced weapons, it remains to be seen how it will be able to absorb these weapons into an effective force and how much they will be dependent on foreign support, including mercenaries,” Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at the institute, said.
Meanwhile some analysts said these recent arms’ deals are mere traditional display of power by Qatar to show the extent of its solid ties with western countries.