Senior officials have taken part in the inauguration of what has been dubbed Turkey’s largest defense investment in Qatar: A helicopter simulation center that will help the Gulf country train its pilots.
At least a thousand pilots will be trained annually at the center that was built by Turkish defense contractor HAVELSAN in the al-Udaid military base.
Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli accompanied his Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Muhammad al-Attiyah in a simulated search and rescue mission yesterday at the training center’s opening ceremony.
In a speech, the Turkish defense minister said both countries were “friends” and strategic allies and that the simulation center was an important step to boost their defense ties.
Turkey has already provided training for 55 Qatari military helicopter pilots in the past.
The $39-million project was designed by 40 engineers to simulate a 15-seat AW-139 military helicopter. The facility includes a tactical control center with flights, door-mounted machine guns and partial flight training simulators.
Turkey’s ever-growing relations with Qatar recently expanded into the defense and military sectors. Earlier this year, Turkey deployed soldiers to Qatar for joint anti-terrorism and security efforts according to authorities.
Yesterday, Turkey’s Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication Minister Arslan, held talks in Doha with his Qatari counterpart Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti.
Arslan said they discussed ways to improve cooperation between two countries and called for dialogue to solve the “Gulf crisis” that began in June when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar.
Ankara has sent food aid to Qatar in the face of blockade against Qatar by other countries.
“Turkey will continue to take all necessary steps to overcome this crisis,” Arslan told reporters.
The Turkish minister said Qatar Airlines would commence flights between Adana in southern Turkey and Doha today and the flights would benefit citizens of both countries as well as the civil aviation sector.