PARIS --- Negotiations between Qatar and Nexter on a €1.5 billion sale of VBCI wheeled armored vehicles have accelerated in recent weeks, the French website La Tribune reported Sept. 17, and a contract could be announced on December 18, Qatar’s National Day.
Qatar could finalize by the end of the year a contract to acquire 490 VBCI armored vehicles, a potential contract that was estimated by the Elysee Palace to be worth about 1.5 billion euros.
Doha would like to announce this contract on Qatar’s national day on December 18th. Initially, the contract was to have been signed in June but this goal proved too ambitious.
In parallel to a large contract signed in December 2017, during a visit by Emmanuel Macron and which also included 12 additional Rafale fighters, Qatar signed a letter of intent for the purchase of 490 VBCI to Doha. This would be the first export contract for the VBCI.
Very tough competition for equipment
Most of the delay in signing the contract is due to delays in selecting and integrating the VBCI weapons and options, according to La Tribune.
The vehicles will be armed with MBDA's medium-range missile (MMP), fitted to a turret provided by Norway’s Kongsberg A/S in place of Nexter’s original turret. In addition, Kongsberg; jointly with Thales, will also provide the vehicle’s communications suite, while Thales will provide the radar fitted to some versions.
This industrial scheme has been validated by Barzan Holdings, a company owned by the Qatari Ministry of Defense. Barzan and Nexter had created a joint venture, which will serve as the industrial main contractor for the delivery and maintenance of VBCIs.