* U.S. firms get deals worth $7.6 bln
* Boeing gets contract for 24 Apache attack helicopters
* Lockheed, Raytheon also win contracts
(Adds details, in paragraphs 9-11, of additional weapons
By Praveen Menon
DOHA, March 27 Qatar announced contracts worth
about $23 billion on Thursday to buy attack helicopters, guided
missiles, tankers and other weapons from Boeing Co,
Airbus and other arms makers as the Gulf state
accelerates its military build-up.
The world's top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter
announced deals with about 20 global companies, including firms
from the United States which were awarded deals worth 27.5
billion riyals ($7.6 billion), said a spokeswoman for a Doha
defense conference where the announcements were made.
The weapons purchases include large deals with Lockheed
Martin, Raytheon and others.
Qatar, and other Gulf Arab and Middle Eastern countries are
looking to acquire new high-tech military equipment to protect
themselves from neighboring Iran and internal threats after the
Arab Spring uprising.
Boeing confirmed that the announcement included a
contract to buy 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and three
Boeing 737 Airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
The deal for the helicopters was valued at 8.9 billion
riyals, said the spokeswoman for the conference.
In Paris, France's Defense Ministry said Qatar had agreed to
buy 22 NH90 military helicopters from a unit of European
aerospace group Airbus worth 2 billion euros ($2.76 billion) and
two Airbus-made refueling tankers.
NHIndustries is 62.5 percent owned by Airbus' Eurocopter
helicopter unit, 32 percent owned by AgustaWestland, a unit of
Italy Finmeccanica's and 5.5 percent by Stork Fokker.
Qatar also committed to buy a Patriot missile defense system
built by Raytheon equipped with PAC-3 missiles made by Lockheed;
advanced daytime, high-definition sensors and radars for Apache
helicopters; and Javelin missiles built by a Lockheed-Raytheon
joint venture, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Raytheon had told analysts in January that it expected to
finalize an order with Qatar in the first half of 2014 for over
$2 billion in Patriot missile defense system equipment.
The Pentagon approved the sale to Qatar of $9.9 billion
worth of Patriot fire units, radars, and various Raytheon and
Lockheed missiles in November 2012.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the U.S. body which
oversees foreign arms sales, had notified lawmakers in July 2012
of a possible sale of Apache helicopters to Qatar.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. agency had no immediate comment.
Washington has been keen to deepen its cooperation with Gulf
nations, which have been long-standing allies, on missile
defense and increase pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.
The Apache helicopters are built by Boeing and used by the
U.S. Army, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands,
Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and United
They will be fitted with Longbow radar equipment made by a
joint venture of Lockheed and Northrop Grumman Corp.
($1 = 3.6415 Qatar Riyals)
(Additional reporting by Marine Pennetier in Paris and Andrea
Shalal in Washington, Editing by William Maclean, Elaine
Hardcastle and Tom Brown)