Pilots from the Royal Air Force and Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) will fly Typhoons together for the first time as a joint squadron in Qatar.
According to the Royal Air Force, No.12 Squadron is “a unique initiative between the UK and Qatar” and will “provide the QEAF with valuable experience operating the Typhoon” as they prepare to receive their first aircraft.
The Government of Qatar have ordered 24 Typhoons as part of a £6 billion deal, which also includes 9 Hawk jet trainers and a bespoke support and training package. You can read more about that here.
More than 130 personnel from the Royal Air Force have deployed to Qatar to support the two-week Exercise Epic Skies which will see Qatari pilots and engineers fly and maintain the Typhoon alongside their RAF colleagues.
According to the Ministry of Defence:
“Pilots from the joint squadron will be challenged in a range of air to air, and air to surface scenarios which will put their training to the test. Qatari pilots, engineers, and technicians are completing world-class training at a number of RAF establishments prior to joining 12 Squadron, where they will develop their technical skills and build their experience on the Typhoon.”
12 Squadron reformed in 2018 as the RAF’s first joint squadron since the Second World War.
Qatari pilots and groundcrew have been learning how to fly and maintain the Typhoon at RAF Coningsby since June 2020, with RAF personnel providing training both in the air and on the ground.
Wing Commander Chris Wright, Officer Commanding 12 Squadron, said:
“It has been fantastic to return to Qatar this year and receive such a warm welcome from so many familiar faces. Considerable progress has been made since last year’s Epic Skies, with many pilots and engineers from the Qatar Emiri Air Force thoroughly embedded into 12 Squadron. The first of the Qatari pilots to begin flying the Typhoon are eager to put their new skills and training to the test, flying alongside their colleagues in a series of challenging scenarios on home turf.”
Lt Col Faisal Al-Ghanim, Deputy Officer Commanding 12 Squadron, said:
“This year’s Epic Skies is particularly unique. I’ve been involved in several of these exercises in the past, but this year is the first time I return home to fly the Typhoon alongside my RAF and Qatari colleagues, wearing the 12 Squadron crest. We joined the Squadron earlier this year to a very warm welcome, quickly integrating into day to day life and operations. Returning to fly from Qatar at a familiar air base is an absolute privilege, and I look forward to the challenges the exercise brings to our joint squadron.”