US State Department approves Qatar buying $1bn anti-drone defence system

Decision comes after President Joe Biden designated Qatar a major non-Nato ally of the US earlier this year

Militaries around the world are rushing to upgrade anti-air defence systems to counter unmanned aircraft and drones that pose new challenges to traditional systems. UK MOD
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The US State Department has approved the potential sale of an anti-drone system to Qatar in a deal valued at $1 billion, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The principal contractors will be Raytheon Technologies Corp, SRC and Northrop Grumman Corp, the Pentagon said. It added that the Pentagon's Defence Security Co-operation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale on Tuesday.

The possible sale approval comes after US President Joe Biden designated Qatar a major non-Nato ally of the United States earlier this year, granting special status to a key friend in a turbulent region.

"Qatar is a good friend and reliable and capable partner and I'm notifying Congress that I will designate Qatar as a major non-Nato ally to reflect the importance of our relationship. I think it's long overdue," Mr Biden said in January when he met Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim.

Separately, Qatar has also played a role in the Iran nuclear talks and in relations with Afghanistan, where Washington's interests were represented by the small Gulf country.

The proposed sale will improve Qatar's capability to meet threats by providing electronic and kinetic defeat capabilities against drones, the Pentagon said.

It will require the assignment of five additional US government and 15 US contractor representatives to Qatar for five years to support fielding, training and sustainment activities, the statement said.

Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.

Updated: November 30, 2022, 9:20 AM