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Qatar to buy Patriot missiles in USD 11 bln deal: US officials

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MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.

WASHINGTON (AFP): Qatar plans to buy US Patriot missile batteries and Apache attack helicopters in an arms deal worth about USD 11 billion, senior Pentagon officials said on Tuesday.

The sale would provide Qatar with roughly ten radars and 34 launchers for Patriot systems designed to knock out incoming missiles, as well as 24 Apache helicopters and Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Qatar was investing in missile defence systems to counter the threat across the Gulf from Iran, which has built up its missile arsenal, officials said.

Qatar's minister of state for defence, Major General Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, committed to the sale in a signing ceremony on Tuesday in Washington after talks with his American counterpart, Chuck Hagel, officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The weapons deal was the biggest for the United States in 2014 and came as Qatar weighs proposals in a fighter jet competition, with US aerospace firm Boeing vying against British and French defence companies.

"It's a good sign," said a senior defence official, referring to the arms sale and the prospects for the fighter jet bidding.

The United States wants to preserve its role as "the defence provider of choice" for Qatar and other Gulf states, the official said.

The weapons would enhance American's security and diplomatic ties to Qatar, the official said, despite some disagreement over Syria and Qatar's assistance to some rebel groups deemed too radical by Washington.

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Qatar  Patriot  US  Missile  
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