Qatar is expected to sign a letter of agreement with Italy on Thursday for the planned purchase of four corvettes, a support vessel and two missile boats from Italian shipyard Fincantieri.

The deal would be worth almost €5 billion, or $5.6 billion, a source knowledgeable of the deal told Defense News, and include missiles supplied by MBDA as well as naval guns, radars and electronics supplied by Italy’s Leonardo-Finmeccanica.

The agreement follows keen attempts by France to head off the deal and convince Qatar to purchase French FREMM frigates instead of the Italian vessels. […]