When Qatar gained independence on 3 September 1971, the country’s armed forces was made up of just the Royal Guard Regiment along with a few scattered units with armoured vehicles and four aircrafts.
With time, Qatar started adding to its armed forces, with the help of Great Britain, and by the time it was 1992, Qatar’s armed forces had increased to 7,500 soldiers on the ground and this included the Air Force with 800 soldiers.
When His Highness (H.H.) became the Amir of Qatar on 27 June 1995, he supervised a comprehensive programme to modernise Qatar's Armed Forces by increasing the number of army personnel and improving their training, forming new units, and ordering state-of-the-art weaponry and machinery. When H.H. Sheikh Tamim handed over power to his son H.H. The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, he continued where his father had left off and has since continued to build the Qatari Armed Forces. H.H. The Amir Sheikh Tamim is the Commander-in-Chief of the Qatar Armed Forces and oversees it with the assistance of the Defense Council, which is set under his direct authority.
Today, the Qatar Armed Forces is made up of more than 12,000 personnel, and since 2015, Qatar has made it mandatory for Qatar citizens to be conscripted in the army with an average of 2,000 graduates on a yearly basis.
Qatari men between the ages of 18 and 35 years old must train in the military for at least three months if they are college graduates, and four months if they have high school diplomas or have dropped out of school.
The Qatari Amiri Land Force is the biggest part of Qatar’s Armed Forces, and even though Qatar is not a big country, it has a very capable army population. The Qatari Amiri Land Force is specially trained to counter terrorist attacks, and for this, it regularly participates in joint exercises with GCC countries, United States of America, Turkey and with other Western and Middle Eastern countries.
Qatar’s mechanised infantry and combat support units consist of over 300 armoured scout vehicles, troop transports and armoured cars and 91 artillery pieces of various calibres, amongst others.
Also known as the Qatar Amiri Navy, the Qatar Amiri Naval Forces did not have any ships when Qatar gained independence in 1971, but by the time it was 1992, it had grown to include a navy force of approximately 700 personnel with three La Combattante III missile boats from France. This later increased to six Vosper Thornycroft large patrol boats, and by 2010, the Qatar Amiri Naval Forces had 1,800 personnel, and participates regularly in naval exercises with the US and other countries.
The Qatar Amiri Naval Forces are well-equipped to ward off any kind of infiltration attempt into its territory, and includes the Coast Guard, Marine Police and Coastal Artillery.
It continues to equip itself with more advanced underwater capabilities to protect Qatar’s territorial waters and today has interceptor boats, patrol boats, Halmatic (Vosper Thornycroft) Pilot crafts Rotrork crafts, Robha Class LCTs, compact weapons system, goalkeeper anti -missile\aircraft guns, Stingeo ship sensors, Exocet coast defense batteries, MMR-3D Radars, and more. It has also signed a number of agreements for more maritime equipment.
The Qatar Amiri Air Force was established in 1974 and was equipped only with ex-RAF Hawker Hunters. In 1979, the Qatar Amiri Air Force began to expand its fleet, and bought Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets, and today, it has Dassault Mirage F1s, single-seat Mirage 2000-5DEA multi-role combat aircrafts, two-seat Mirage 2000-5DDA combat trainers, Gazelle helicopters, armed with HOT anti-tank missiles, Westland Whirlwind helicopters, the C-17A Globemaster III, C-17s, and much more. Major purchases since 2014 include Apache helicopters, Javelin missiles, Early Warning Radar, PAC 3 Patriot systems, and F-15 jets.
Today, the Qatar Amiri Air Force's personnel strength is over 2,500, and under H.H. The Amir Sheikh Tamim, it has expanded its air capabilities, doubling equipment stocks and bringing in vehicles, including fighter jets, transport aeroplanes and helicopters,
A new air base is being established and will be named 'Tamim Airbase'. In addition, Al Udeid Air Base will be expanded and the Doha Air Base will be developed to welcome new aircraft and systems that have been introduced to the air force.
Al Udeid Air Base, is home to the forward headquarters of United States Air Forces Central Command, the Combined Air and Space Operations Centre, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing. It is located approximately 20 miles southwest of Doha and plays host to over 11,000 US military personnel and dozens of warplanes. It is one of the U.S. military’s main logistics and command hubs in the Middle East. It has one of the longest runways in the Persian Gulf a (12,500 feet), and can accommodate up to 120 aircrafts.
Cover image credit: Doha News Twitter Page
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