During the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference, Safran Aircraft Engines signed a Services Agreement with the Qatari Armed Forces.

Building on their 40-year relationship, this new arrangement will see Safran support the M88 engines powering Qatar’s current fleet of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, which GlobalData intelligence says were procured between 2019-21.

In addition, the supplier will provide Qatar’s Armed Forces with a wide range of services, from spares, repairs and overhauls to detailed technical on-site support, optimizing maintenance operations with the customer.

The M88 engine incorporates advanced technologies such as integrally bladed compressor disks (“blisks”), a low-pollution combustor with smoke-free emissions, single-crystal high-pressure turbine blades, ceramic coatings, and composite materials.

The Qatari Armed Forces have operated nine M53-powered Mirage 2000 jet fighters for over 25 years. They also operate Mirage F1 aircraft powered by the ATAR 9K engine and Alphajet trainer/light attack aircraft equipped with Larzac engines.

In May 2015, Qatar became the second export customer of the Rafale powered by Safran’s M88 engines. The Gulf nation signed a contract with Dassault Aviation to acquire 24 Rafale fighters.

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This $7bn contract also included an option for 12 additional fighters, and Qatar exercised the option in December 2017. The company started the deliveries, with the first Rafale delivered to the Qatari Emiri Air Force in February 2019.

The Rafale is powered by two M88-2 engines from Safran, each providing a thrust of 75 kilonewtons.

The aircraft is equipped for buddy-buddy refuelling with a flight refuelling hose reel and drogue pack.

The first M88 engine was delivered in 1996. It is a twin-shaft bypass turbofan engine principally suitable for low-altitude penetration and high-altitude interception missions.

The Air Force version can carry payloads of more than 9 tonnes on 14 hardpoints, and the naval version has 13. The range of weapons includes Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM, and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick, and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles; and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.