Drones, UAVs
Illustrative image. Image Credit: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON: The US government on Tuesday announced the approval of a $1 billion sale of FS-LIDS counter-drone systems and other equipment to Qatar.

“The proposed sale will improve Qatar’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing electronic and kinetic defeat capabilities against Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.

“The total estimated programme cost is $1 billion. This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country,” it added.

The announcement on the sale of the systems comes after repeated drone attacks claimed by Tehran-backed Al Houthi militia elsewhere in the Gulf region, and as Russian drone strikes against Ukrainian cities further highlight the threat posed by unmanned aircraft.

The principal contractors will be Raytheon Technologies Corp , SRC and Northrop Grumman Corp, the Pentagon said in a statement. It added that the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale on Tuesday.

The potential sale approval comes after US President Joe Biden, earlier this year, designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally of the United States, granting special status to a key friend in the region.

“Qatar is a good friend and reliable and capable partner. And I’m notifying Congress that I will designate Qatar as a major non-NATO ally to reflect the importance of our relationship. I think it’s long overdue,” Biden said in January when he met Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Separately, Qatar has also played a role in the Iran nuclear talks and in relations with Afghanistan, where Washington’s interests were represented by the Gulf country.

The proposed sale will improve Qatar’s capability to meet threats by providing electronic and kinetic defeat capabilities against drones, the Pentagon said.

It will require the assignment of five additional US government and 15 US contractor representatives to Qatar for five years to support fielding, training and sustainment activities, the statement added.

Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.