Defense One reported that the late September decision to sell $7 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Qatar and Kuwait, which had been delayed for over two years by Israeli fears that the weapons would be turned against Jerusalem, was finally allowed to pave the way for a purchase by Qatar Airways of the Boeing jetliners.
The fighter jet sale was widely reported as approved September 28, and the Qatar Airways deal, announced October 7, followed it by just over a week. When asked during a Washington DC news conference the day the purchase was announced whether the sales were connected, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said, “We don’t relate anything to anything. Qatar Airways has an independent policy of ordering airplanes. So nothing is attached to anything.”
Qatar had requested 36 F-15 fighter jets, a roughly $4 billion sale, with an option to buy up to an additional 36. The Kuwait sale of 28 Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, with an option for up to 40 total, is valued at about $3 billion, Flight Global reports. The airliner deal, for the purchase of 30 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 777-ER passenger jets, both long-haul aircraft, is valued at $11.7 billion, according to Boeing. An additional letter of intent to purchase 60 737 MAX 8 aircraft, would add another $6.9 billion to the total.
US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, former deputy national security adviser to US President Barack Obama, was present at the DC news conference.
Defense One reported that the Qatar deal had been put on hold while the US negotiated a 10-year, $38 billion security package with Israel for 2018-2028. Defense News reported in February that Israel opposed the Qatar sale, unless the new aid deal included a few billion dollars more to allow Israel to upgrade its own fleet. The new Washington deal for Jerusalem – $3.8 billion a year for 10 years – is a record for defense aid to a country. Defense News reported that Israel was hoping for a deal closer to $50 billion over the same time frame.
The sale comes just in time to save Boeing’s 40-year-old F-15 production line, which, it has been reported since 2014, was running out of the orders it needed to keep production going.
Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said at the October 7 press conference that the deal would affect more than 100,000 jobs across the US.
US, Israeli, and other officials have accused Qatar of supporting anti-Israel and terrorist groups.