Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri has signed a €4bn contract with the Qatari Ministry of Defence to construct seven new generation surface vessels for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces.

Qatar chose Fincantieri over French rival DCNS for its naval modernisation plan, reported Navaltoday.

Under the contract, Fincantieri will build and deliver four more 100m-long corvettes, one amphibious landing platform dock and two offshore patrol vessels.

"With this contract Fincantieri creates a true partnership with the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces."

The contract also includes providing support services in Qatar for a period of 15 years following the delivery of the vessels.

Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono said: "With this contract Fincantieri creates a true partnership with the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces, which now position themselves as technologically advanced.

"The backlog increase will guarantee work for another ten years at least, ensuring continuity to the activities in the shipyards, creating the conditions to contribute to the country’s growth and increase the value for the shareholders.

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"We achieved this goal thanks to the support of the Italian System, finally responding to the great ambitions of the major national companies, and to the key role played in this deal by our government and our navy, that supported us actively until the final closing of the agreement."

Construction of the ships will commence in 2018 at the Fincantieri Italian shipyards. The vessels will be deployed for maritime surveillance and patrolling duties in territorial waters and in the exclusive economic zone.

As part of the contract, Leonardo-Finmeccanica will supply Fincantieri with the latest generation of naval combat system, main radars and on-board sensors for the new ships.