MBDA fully engaged in Qatar

Paolo Valpolini

“MBDA is fully committed with the production and delivery phases of the contracts awarded by the Minister of Defence of Qatar in 2016 and 2018. We are progressing with the deliveries of systems and munitions on time and budget”, Lorenzo Mariani, Executive Group Director Sales & Business Development of MBDA and Managing Director of MBDA Italia, said speaking with a small group of Italian media after DIMDEX 2022 exhibition.

In June 2016, MBDA signed a contract worth € 1 billion to supply the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces with Exocet MM40 Block 3 anti-ship as well as Aster 30 Block 1 and VL Mica air defence missiles to equip the new four Al Zubarah class corvettes, two Musherib class OPVs and the LPD (Landing Platform Dock) that Fincantieri is delivering to the QENF under a € 3.8 contract signed earlier on the same month. The following September saw the award of the contract for the supply of an undisclosed number of coastal defence systems deploying two different munitions, the Exocet MM 40 Block 3 and the Marte ER (Extended Range). During DIMDEX 2018 MBDA was awarded the contract for additional Marte ER munition to be used on new NH 90 naval variant helicopters for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF).

“By the end of last year, we have delivered the components of the first coastal defence system (CDS) while the second will follow soon according to plans. In the meantime, we have successfully completed the last qualification live firing of the new Marte ER anti-ship munition with the series production rapidly advancing in order to begin first deliveries of both coastal- and helicopter-launched variants in the second half of 2022, to be available before the 2022 World Cup in Qatar”, the MBDA representative explained.

The QNEF is the launch customer of the new CDS whose baseline configuration comprises a mobile sensor unit with both radar and EO/IR sensors, a mobile control unit and a flexible number (up to four) of mobile firing units each equipped with four missiles, together with mobile maintenance and reloading units as required. The sensors and control unit is networked by design and can be provided with its own over-the-horizon surveillance and targeting platform, as specified by the local customer requiring an aerial unmanned platform integration.

“In parallel we began deliveries of the VL MICA for the new QENF Musherib-class OPVs, to be followed by the MM 40 Exocet Block 3 for both the ships and the Coastal Defence System, alongside the Aster 30 Block 1 to equip both the new corvettes and the LPD”. Using early warning information from the Qatar Emiri Air Defence Forces’ surveillance network as well as the Leonardo Kronos Power Shield on board the under-construction LPD, the latter and the four Al Zubarah-class corvettes equipped with the Kronos Grand Naval 3D multifunction radar and the Aster 30 Block 1 can provide tactical ballistic missile defence capabilities.

MBDA is also completing the weapons package deliveries for the QEAF fleet of Dassault Aviation Rafale combat aircraft, while by 2022 the company will begin armament deliveries for the Eurofighter Typhoon for the same air force.

Other market opportunities could come in the country for the protection and security of events such as the FIFA World Cup 2022, which is expected to require a counter drone capability. “We are ready to support the Qatari Armed Forces in satisfying these requirements with our open architecture and modular Sky Warden ad hoc solution,” Mariani said. Other, in this case, longer-term potential sales could come from new smaller naval platforms the QENF is looking to acquire and being promoted by different Turkish and European shipyards. At the same time, on the land sector, a potential market could arise for the MMP fifth generation land combat missile, which was displayed on a dedicated stand at DIMDEX 2022.

Photos by L. Peruzzi