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.
— Jonathan Beale (@bealejonathan) January 17, 2018
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.