PARIS — Nexter has completed an evaluation of mobility and the firing of a 40mm CTA International gun on its VBCI armored vehicle in Qatar, a major move in a potential sale of the vehicle, the French land systems company said.
“Nexter Group announces the success of the new VBCI evaluation campaign by Qatari forces,” the company said in a Dec. 19 statement. “This is another important step towards signing the contract for the supply of VBCI combat platforms in Qatar.”
The evaluation began early in December and ran to mid-month. It included the VBCI firing its Nexter CTA 40mm gun on the move, a Nexter spokeswoman said. A Nexter turret with a 40mm, cased, telescoped armament is one of the options offered to Qatar.
“The evaluation went very well.” the spokeswoman said. “We are confident.”
That test began a few days before Qatar signed a letter of intent with Nexter on Dec. 7 for an order of 490 units.
Stéphane Mayer, chairman and CEO of Nexter, said he was “proud of the confidence of the Qatari armed forces and committed, as well as the entire group, to finalize the contract in the near future.”
“European industry is embracing Qatar,” said Robbin Laird, an analyst with with consultancy ICSA in Washington and Paris.
Qatar has been busy the last few months. Here is a selection of stories related to the Middle Eastern country's acquisitions:
• A huge military buildup is underway in Qatar. But who will man the systems?
• ‘Nothing more natural’: Turkey-Qatar procurement business flourishes
• Qatar inks deal with UK for 24 Typhoon jets, training package
• Qatar moves to buy more Rafale jets, order infantry fighting vehicles
• US clears $1B Qatar F-15 package, amid regional tension
The French government and industry have reached out to Qatar at a time when there is a broad shift and tension in the region, he said. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cut ties with Qatar, while France has “real interest in the UAE,” he added.
France operates an air base in the UAE and has long offered the Rafale fighter jet to the Gulf state, which flies the Mirage 2000-9.
Britain sealed a deal with Qatar for the Eurofighter Typhoon; France secured a sale of a further 12 Rafale jets to bring the total order to 36; and Italy has sold warships.