27 Mar 2014 by Stephen Trimble – FG
Washington DC - The Qatar Emiri Air Force has selected Airbus Defence & Space to supply two A330 multi-role tanker transports (MRTT), potentially adding a seventh customer for the type.
Airbus announced the selection on 27 March, with virtually no prior warning of a potential sale.
Qatar's air force has no in-flight refueling capability today, but it has been steadily building up its transport capacity.
Lockheed Martin has delivered four C-130J-30s and Boeing has delivered four C-17s to Doha in the last four years, joining a fleet of Airbus and Boeing commercial aircraft serving as VIP transports.
The tanker selection also comes amidst an extended selection process for Qatar to buy up to 72 fighters to replace an ageing fleet of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5s.
The bidding process has drawn interest from all of the western fighter makers except Saab, with the Boeing F-15E and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-16 all in contention.
Airbus has so far delivered 17 A330 MRTTs among five signed customers with a total of 34 orders. Singapore has also ordered six of the aircraft, while India also is in the final stages of negotiating an order for six more, the company says.
The converted A330-200 is capable of carrying 111t (245,000lb) of fuel.