Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin has revealed that a new Typhoon squadron will be No. 12 squadron, and that it will temporarily integrate Qatari personnel, including pilots and ground-crew based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said:

“QATAR proudly becomes the ninth nation to buy the world’s leading multi-role combat aircraft.

The formation of a joint squadron means our RAF will take the lead in providing training and support to the Qatari Emiri Air Force as it brings the Typhoon into service.”

The Qataris will not be a permanent part of the squadron say the MoD, but will be integrated ahead of the delivery of the Typhoon aircraft. The move will provide the country with valuable joint frontline experience on an RAF Typhoon Squadron and speed up their preparation for when their own jets are delivered.

The government had earlier announced that the life of the Typhoon is to be extended into 2040 and that two additional squadrons will be created, giving a total of 7 front-line squadrons.

“We will be extending the life of our multirole Typhoon for 10 extra years through to 2040, meaning we will be able to create 2 additional squadrons. This will give us a total of 7 frontline squadrons, consisting of around 12 aircraft per squadron.”

There will now be eight front-line squadrons. The additional eighth squadron will be formed with air frames taken from the other seven. It’s understood that increased availability will allow squadrons to downsize and provide the aircraft for the eighth squadron while still allowing the same number to fly.

It is understood that this move was made possible by the TyTAN contract, Typhoon Total Availability eNterprise service.

The contract which replaces the previously contracted Typhoon Availability Service, PC4, PC5, RDSS and Contract 1 contracts sees BAE Systems entering into a 10 year partnership with the Ministry of Defence to transform support to the UK Typhoon fleet.

Accordingto the RAF, BAE Systems will work in partnership with the Royal Air Force and the MoD and will jointly “transform the way they work” to further reduce the costs of operating the fleet at RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth by more than a third.

The three currently unmanned squadrons are expected to stand up in the 2018-2023 period.

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Daniele Mandelli

12 Squadron is not “new”

It is currently No 12 ( Bomber ) Squadron at RAF Marham flying Tornado GR4.

Lee H

Hi Daniele
As I say below:
Creating something out of nothing but getting rid of something (12-16 Tornado GR4) and leaving nothing – a slight of hand if you like.

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Lee

And as I say even further below. The nothing is indeed Tornado GR4 and this step is only until sufficient F35 are in service to keep squadron numbers current.
It will be years until we have more than 617 and 809 Squadrons on F35 and the Tornado is going.

Yes it is a slight of hand but I agree with it.

Lee H

Afternoon No more aircraft but the RAF still find a way to add another Sqn. How can you have around 12 a/c per Sqn if you are not increasing the number of frames? Whilst I believe in sortie generation over frame numbers I do believe that this is the start of the smoke and mirror exercise that I talked about in a previous post – creating something out of nothing but getting rid of something and leaving nothing. Is this going to be an operational Sqn or OCU? Are more pilots suddenly appearing from somewhere? Did the RAF manpower planners… Read more »


It all seems to hinge on whether TyTAN can deliver. In a world where we hear of little but budget pressures and probable or actual cuts I think we have to be grateful if there are circumstances where new initiatives can seemingly conjure something from nothing. I know most of us here wish it wasn’t so but I’m afraid that in today’s environment the alternative to taking something away and “replacing it” by creating something out of nothing (or if successful it’s probably fairer to say creating more force elements at readiness from the same overall total unit numbers) is… Read more »

Lee H

Hi Julian No need to shoot you down. As I said I believe in sortie/force generation over number of aircraft, same goes for all platforms (no point in having 6 £1bn T45’s if you can ever only afford and man 5). However I would ask to see the evidence where these framework agreements have really ever resulted in huge efficiency savings and an increase in a/c sortie generation. All of our contracts with suppliers should be in the best interest of the user, to generate aircraft hours in the most cost effective way possible. What is his now, attempt number… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Lee I believe the pilots and ground crew for these units will come from the current 9 ( B) 12 ( B ) and 31 Squadrons at Marham on Tornado. As Tornado retires the number of squadrons is kept current at 8 by forming these extra units. The issue is how long is Tornado needed for Op Shader as the crews are needed. The extra frames you refer to are the Tranche 1 Typhoons which were due to be withdrawn. The nothing you refer to is Tornado retiring, which would have reduced squadron numbers to an even more unacceptable… Read more »


Oh come on people stop the ‘negative vibes’… Danele – They mean (as I am sure you realise) this is a new Typhoon squadron. Not an entirely ‘new to the RAF’ Squadron Lee – This is how we re – equip current squadrons and we have done for decades. Its no ‘sleight of hand’ at all. Much better than disbanding 12 Squadron surely? And then you are misrepresenting the article and the MoD. What was quoted to give context was the earlier MoD statement about 7 Squadrons with the re-activation of stored airframes. What is happening now is they are… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Of course I know that Chris.

But we know how MoD like to spin things so I do have a certain sarcasm with MoD announcements.

As I mentioned above I’m in agreement with the extra units.

Mark L

Nice to have a positive voice amid all the negativity Chris!

Lee H

Hi Chris Sorry for delay in reply. Couple of things. All assets are utilised to get the maximum out of their airframe life (sweating) and has been practice for a number of years. I am also aware that airframe life can be extended. To sustain an increased sortie generation with the same number of frames (including those that are in maintenance) will more quickly reduce the number of hours those frames have left. You cannot do more with less however you want to play with the numbers. To generate force packages you have to be able to deploy those a/c… Read more »

Robert Blay

Well said Chris.


This is good news. Kudos to all concerned. ‘Creating’ an additional squadron from an unchanged total number of airframes is the result of more efficient and faster maintenance. This should be reflected in costs of ownership which in turn ought to make Typhoon a more attractive sales proposition.


Sounds good to me.. 10 front line squadrons in the future, however they do it! 8 typhoon sqn’s and 2 F35 sqn’s plus OCU.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree! I’m sceptical about the 8th but we shall see.


I agree with all the positives on this and it is generally good news, however all an enemy has to do is shoot down 84 aircraft and Britains defence is severely weakened. Yes it is good news that the maintenance regime is providing more flight hours, but the force is just too small – not just Typhoon but the whole combat (fighter / bomber) force and that is concerning. We need to find a way to get this to circa the 400 airframes the USMC is proposing for its F35B force and I am comfortable with that being a combination… Read more »


Pacman27 – Back the truck up a second. Why exactly should we ‘support Europe from our shores’? The EU has decided to embark on its own defence force, military policy and command structures. We are leaving the EU. Forgive me but I have lost where it is our responsibility outside of a NATO operation. A NATO that will IMHO, by the EU’s actions and the understandable annoyance of the US taxpayer, become redundant.

Of course if the EU wishes to pay the best military force in Europe to defend them …..


A Pacman27.

The Ministry of Defense is considering Reactivating the RN FAA 809th “Immortals” in 2023, using F-35B’s…

Geoffrey Roach

There is no suggestion as far as I know that two or three of the Typhoon squadrons will stand down when the Lightning comes along so the mix could be 8 x Typhoon and 2 plus 2 Lightning…. at least?

Daniele Mandelli

Oh Geoff if only.

RAF back up to 12 Fast Air as it was in 2010.

And totally bucking the trend of endless defence cuts and more with less, by increasing numbers? What are you smoking, I’ll have some.

I’m afraid you will see the older Typhoons withdrawn ( the 2 extra squadrons ) once more F35’s are here.

Geoffrey Roach

It’s the liquorice in the toffee’s I think it’s going to my head!

Daniele Mandelli

And so they should. Enjoy! We can all dream.


Hi Pacman.. I don’t think it would be easy for another country to shoot down 84 UK Typhoon jet’s.. The Typhoon is a superb fighter jet.


Whilst I tend to agree with you if it was a 1-on-1 situation – we have lost aircraft in most of our major conflicts and are constrained by the small number of aircraft at our disposal.

Certainly if it did kick off with a Peer nation – 84 aircraft is no where near enough.


This lack of depth across the piece is what worries me the most. They are so complex with such long lead times a fight is over before production / training moves an inch.

Airframes, subs and ships are my greatest worry. Most vehicular stuff can be ferried in from America in quantity if worst came to worst.

Roger Smith

The Fifth Generation MiGs and Sukios might well do it and Russia is building them fast. Look at how much of it’s GDP Russia spends on defence these days compared with the UK.


I do hope this squadron is based in Qatar. And that all pilots are vetted by MI6, because I’d hate for a front-line fighter piloted by a Islamist plant to use it weapons against our capital during a routine flight. This idea seems good on paper but include a ton of caveats.


I think we have to be realistic about who would be a peer nation… Let’s face it that would be Russia and they would be up against the whole of NATO air power not just the UK. There is no other nation in the world that i can see where the UK would fully mobilise it’s air force to fight another nation one -on-one. I think sometimes we forget that’s what NATO is for and other military organisations we belong to.. We mobilise forces and fight together. There will not be too many occasions where the UK fights a peer… Read more »


John – for ‘NATO air power’ you should say ‘UK and US air power’ because the rest wouldn’t be around for a while. The EU Commission, as Commanders in chief of the EU Air Force would need to call a conference over several long lunches, have three late night meetings and then announce at the midnight hour they are going to seek to mediate the problems … As Russia drives its tanks across the Ukrainian and German plains …


Chris – we know you have an animus against the EU, but now you’re just being silly…..




Hi John If history has shown us anything – it is that at the end of the day we must be prepared to defend ourselves until a coalition is in place, we did this with Napoleon and the 2 WW’s and I see no reason why this would change. European countries commitment to NATO is all about other countries paying for their defence – especially true of Germany. We need to move to a force that can protect our shores from a peer threat – as that is the worst case scenario and if we have more funding and appetite… Read more »


It’s not peer opponents we need to look at, its the next tier down or the one below that. Gulf war 1, UK lost 12 jets, so in today’s money that is 1 out of 7 squadrons gone. The gulf war involved huge numbers of allied forces, especially from the US and more importantly the US bringing the growler a capability very few allied nations have. Now consider what would happen if say UK and France decided to act together against a similar opponent and consider the likely losses. The RAF is hopelessly under powered, considering it has been used… Read more »

Alan Reid

Hi Steve I don’t disagree with your argument: that the RAF needs more resources. Even today, though, I believe the air forces of the UK and France do exercise considerable combined combat power – although the lack of a Growler type aircraft is a serious gap in their inventory. I think your figures on losses should be revised: the RAF lost 6 Tornado GR1s on operations during the Gulf War of 1991. 3 were shot down by SAMs (believed to have been – Roland, SA14 & SA2) 1 was blown-up by it’s own bomb 2 hit the ground during low-level… Read more »


I think the 12 include crashes, but they were still losses.

I really don’t get why we did not invest in growler style jets after Iraq showed the extreme weakness of the conventional jets without anti radar support.


Interesting comments from all above..

But i do think 9 or 10 squadrons will suffice when it comes to future needs.. Think if i’m right in saying that would be anything up to 120 front line combat aircraft plus OCU sqn’s.

Any extra combat aircraft for the RAF/RN in the future would be excellent but as i said i think the UK can manage with 10 Squadrons.


Just to add.. Totally agree with you Pacman a few extra escorts for the navy would be appreciated.


I know I bang on about this but the USMC is getting 400 F35bs on a $30bn pa budget. I know this doesn’t cover everything but it is roughly 50% of the UK defence budget. USMC 190k people and an Airforce larger than the RAF (take a look at the infographics on this – its pretty amazing/disconcerting). Surely we can and must do better. We should take a long hard look at ourselves and the USMC or ADF or IDF and then seek to create an expeditionary force with 50% of the available budget and use the remainder for home… Read more »


We withdraw the anti-radiation missiles, so the f35 moves the story forward but not fully. We are effectively assuming that in the opening salvo we can nolify the opponents anti-air defenses and then bring in the typhoons. This is also assuming that the f35 stealth really holds up. Considering the russian jets were mirroring the US f22’s earlier this week, it seems stealth isn’t quiet as good as advertised. On the USMC front, you just can’t compare for multiple reasons, including. 1. USMC benefit from economy of scale through purchases with the other US forces 2. USMC budget doesn’t also… Read more »


Steve I think you can compare the USMC budget – as I have highlighted and acknowledged it is not like for like, but then again the UK Defence budget is double that of the USMC – so what I am saying is spend half on replicating the USMC and the other 50% filling the other elements not covered such as CASD etc. For me if we can replicate or even get close (75% of) to the USMC and then spend the other £30bn on Navy – inc CASD ($15bn), £8bn (Airforce – strategic lift/support) and $7bn for central admin and… Read more »


I don’t disagree on the value for money front, but it is easy to see where it falls apart. Take the current Apache, we insisted in adding UK specific parts to the US design and effectively doubled the price for a maybe marginal improvement in performance. Then there are purchases like the Wildcat’s, a decent helicopter but because it was produced locally, it has been made in limited numbers and so massively over priced for its capability. The combination of messing around to support unprofitable UK industries and lack of scale means what we do have is massively overpriced. The… Read more »


Agreed Steve ( especially on Apache) but also think this is the way we need to be thinking and we need to dramatically rationalise and scale up what we do buy. Merlin offers great specs and true VFM – we should have double the fleet we currently have. If we are to buy British then we do need to get volumes that support a price point, or accept we are uncompetitive and buy from the best value supplier. If we accept we are uncompetitive and wish to support UK industry – then this needs to be factored into the budget… Read more »