Qatar is set to sign a $7bn contract with France’s Dassault Aviation to acquire 24 Rafale multirole fighter aircraft, amid increasing instability across the Middle East.

The contract is part of efforts to modernise defence capabilities of the country’s air force. It will be signed next week in the presence of French Republic President François Hollande in Doha.

Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said: "This new success for the French team demonstrates the Rafale’s operational qualities and confirms the confidence that countries that are already users of the Mirage 2000 have in our company."

Trappier was quoted by BFM TV Qatar as saying eleven planes will be delivered each year from mid-2018, with an option to buy 12 more planes.

"The contract is part of efforts to modernise defence capabilities of the Qatar’s Air Force."

According to a French Defence Ministry official, the contract will also cover supply of MBDA missiles, along with training of 36 Qatari pilots and 100 technicians by the French army.

This agreement represents the third Rafale deal this year for Dassault. Last month, reports emerged that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to finalise a contract with Dassault for the acquisition of 36 Rafales by the end of this month.

In February, the Egyptian Government selected the Rafale for its national air force in a deal valued at more than €5bn.

The Rafale programme is supported by Dassault Aviation’s partners Thales and Safran, along with 500 other companies.

Rafale is a delta-wing multi-role jet fighter designed to conduct air-to-air combat, reconnaissance flights and nuclear bombing missions. It is powered by two SNECMA M88 engines.

The aircraft is capable of carrying anti-ship, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It has been in use with the French Navy and Air Force since 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Image: Rafale delta-wing multi-role jet fighter. Photo: courtesy of Dassault Aviation.