In the biggest arms deal so far this year, the Obama Administration finalized a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. As reported by the Agence France Presse via The Daily Star (of Beirut, Lebanon) on July 15, 2014 and also by the Reuters news service via The Fiscal Times, on July 14, 2014, some of the most advanced American military technology will soon be signed over to the Middle Eastern nation.
While the specifics of the sale were solidly under wraps by Department of Defense officials, the agreement itself was signed off by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Qatar’s defense minister, Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah at the Pentagon. However, speaking on grounds of strict anonymity, an American official has verified to Agence France Presse that the Qataris have purchased “roughly” 10 batteries of Patriot missiles, as well as 24 of the cutting edge Apache attack helicopters and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles.
A standard MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery can have up to 16 launchers with each launcher stocked with up to 16 PAC3 missiles per. At 256 missiles per battery, not counting however many extra purchased for reserve, the Gulf Arab nation will have at least 2,500 top-notch American missiles at their disposal.
Along with the state of the art missiles comes the recently upgraded AN/MPQ-53 radar system, the “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept On Target” or the acronym PATRIOT. Also standard equipment includes the AN/MSQ-104 Engagement Control Station (ECS) which serves as the nerve center of the Patriot firing battery.
With more letters than a pot of alphabet soup, the Federation of American Scientists notes that the Qataris will also be privy to “the main sub-components of the ECS are the Weapons Control Computer (WCC), the Data Link Terminal (DLT), the UHF communications array, the Routing Logic Radio Interface Unit (RLRIU), and the two manstations that serve as the system’s man-to-machine interface. The ECS is air conditioned, pressurized (to resist chemical/biological attack), and shielded against electromagnetic pulse (EMP).”
Qatar has been in the American headlines recently as the nation that facilitated the release of five Taliban prisoners released from the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who is suspected of possibly deserting his unit in Afghanistan to defect to the Taliban. The Gitmo Five will remain in Qatar for a year before being set free to their own devices.