Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson hosted the Amir Of Qatar at the standing up ceremony of the UK-Qatar Joint Typhoon Squadron this week. 

The Qatari Amiri Air Force has 24 Typhoon aircraft on order. The squadron will incorporate both Qatari pilots and ground crew, and will give them valuable experience ahead of their first Typhoon being delivered in 2022.

The joint squadron, named No. 12 Squadron, will initially be based at RAF Coningsby, and later in Qatar. It’ll become operational in 2019. Not since the Second World War has the RAF formed a squadron with another nation.

The Ministry of Defence said ‘The two countries share mutual interests in countering violent extremism, and ensuring stability in the region, and this formation will further reinforce those ties by helping to prevent terrorism from spreading and protecting the prosperity and security of the UK at home’.

It has however been reported that while the UK say the squadron is for training, Qatar say it is for joint operations.

Qatar also has 9 BAE Hawks on order. This will become their principle advanced trainer aircraft. They already have 11 UK manufactured Sea King helicopters that have been retrofitted to carry two Exocet anti-ship missiles.

Qatar’s orders come amid a diplomatic crisis that began in June 2017 between it and many of its neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Those countries have been highly critical of the Qatar’s ties to Iran. They have accused the country of supporting terrorism, and have cut trade ties. Qatar has denied this charge.



  1. Qatar counters violent extremism and ensures stability in the region ? Ask the Syrian people what they think of those ASSertions.

  2. The squadron is for training? What happened to covering the loss of 3 Tornado units? And what happens to the RAF element once it moves to Qatar ?

    • It was always stated that the Sqn would be co-manned, initially with RAF instructors and Qatari trainee pilots. Once the Qataris have formed their own Sqn, 12 will come back to UK and become a regular front line unit. Question is: will 12 have any QRA, AE or other policing roles prior to 2022 or will it operate very much like 29 Sqn?

      An extra Sqn nevertheless

      • Thanks Julian1.

        Training I knew but I assumed wrongly it would carry out front line roles too, that training was only part of its remit.

        Another squadron yes but using existing aircraft while others are retired, as long as that is kept in mind, seeming as numbers are the critical thing this day and age.

        • yes indeed but more pilots and airframes at higher states of readiness. I actually think this Sqn will be hybrid training/operational at least at a certain point in time. It may become the RAF commitment to the middle east once Shader ops are over at least in the mid-term and could therefore be quite busy

          • You mean permanently deployed? As in the RAF version of permanently deployed T31. Interesting. Cheers.

  3. Typhoon is a fine aircraft. Those who flogged Lightnings to Saudi Arabia in the 60’s as multi role aircraft were better salesmen, though.

      • Nor were they suited for ‘multi role’ – the F5’s replaced them, as I recall, Still, they could have been sold F104 Starfighters instead !

        • The Saudi F56 Lighting did actually have some multi roll capability.

          It could be fitted with sneb rocket pods and 1000 lb bombs on outer wing hardpoints.

          However, as Mike correctly says, it was a beast to maintain and operate. It required a permanent BAC maintenance and support effort in country, with more than a few contact pilots and seconded RAF personel.

          • I know that it was fitted as a multi-role aircraft but it was totally unsuited to ground attack.

          • Saudi pilots and ground crew liked the Lightning and F5. F5 still had Lear Siegler contractors until the late 90s and probably OOS date. Both had the same issue, legs too short for KSA and limited load. Of their time.

    • (Chris H) Steve M – A development we should treat with huge scepticism. This is quite possibly just the USA using Japan to put feelers out and find where the UK actually is so it can devise a plan to destroy it as competition. Not that they actually have anything similar in plan. Its either 5th Gen small F-35 or 4th Gen larger F-15 / F-18.

      Japan are just extensions of the US military production machine and purchasing policy. If the Yanks got an idea the Japs were serious about working with us and not them they would just send a letter to the Japanese PM saying they are removing the US 7th Fleet. Co-operation killed right there. So why bother in the first place and risk data bleed direct to the USA?

  4. Without an uplift in defence spending the trache 1 Typhoons will still be a clear target for cuts.

    They are the easiest and lowest hanging fruit to pic unfortunately. I would personally be very surprised if they are kept past 2025 , got shot off with some blurb about obsolescence and lack of upgrades etc…

    Personally, as pure air defence assets the Trache 1 machines are perfectly capable assets out to 2030 and I think we should be looking to buy the Austrian fleet on the cheap as they get rid of them.

    Those 15 aircraft would help support two full air defence squadrons out to retirment. Plenty of spare parts ( strip the three T birds for one) and upgradable single seater airframes to induct into service if needed…


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