Four Qatari pilots have completed their conversion to the Eurofighter Typhoon and have joined No.12 Squadron.
Air Vice Marshal Ian Gale, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff added his own congratulations to all the graduating pilots, pointing out that: "The Royal Air Force and Qatar are partners together in a joint Typhoon Squadron - No.12 Squadron - so this graduation is a vital step in building the unit together."
No.12 Squadron stood up on 24 July 2018, in a special ceremony at Horse Guards, attended by the Amir Of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani and the then UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Williamson said during the ceremony that “Qatar remains a close and important friend to the UK and it is the only nation with which we have a joint squadron. This requires a level of trust, born from our long-shared history and our commitment to a shared future.”
The squadron will “temporarily integrate Qatari personnel, including pilots and ground crew,” and was expected to operate some of the Tranche 1 Typhoons that the RAF had once planned to phase out but then decided to retain. In fact, A2&I understands that the squadron will operate Tranche 3 aircraft, closer to the standard being supplied to Qatar, albeit without the new Captor-E Radar One Plus AESA radar.
The Joint Squadron will enable UK and Qatari personnel (pilots and ground crew) to train alongside one another and to gain valuable experience operating the aircraft. This will also help Qatar prepare for the acceptance of its first Typhoon deliveries in 2022. The Squadron will operate from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, before deploying to the new Tamim Air Base at Dukhan in western Qatar, where it will play a vital role in securing Qatari airspace during the FIFA 2022 Football World Cup.
Before its first Qatari pilots joined the unit, No.12 Squadron completed the three-week Exercise Epic Skies III in Qatar, flying a number of sorties alongside the Qatari Emiri Air Force. Wing Commander Chris Wright, Officer Commanding Number 12 Squadron said that: “Epic Skies 3 has provided 12 Squadron with a great opportunity to continue to develop the strong relations between our air forces, and to fly alongside the newly-formed QEAF Rafale cadre, with whom we look forward to working closely over the coming years.
"The exercise has been extremely well-timed for 12 Squadron, allowing this new team to test our mettle in a foreign location, following some hard work back at Coningsby since our reformation, and ahead of the first of our QEAF personnel joining the Squadron in early 2020. The first pilots and groundcrew are progressing well on their Typhoon training courses with sister squadrons and this training has allowed to us confirm our preparations are on track for their arrival. Just as importantly, our time in Qatar has allowed us to work hard on our cultural awareness and even our Arabic.”
Before returning to Coningsby a trio of No.12 Squadron Typhoons took part in a flypast over Doha joining Qatari assets to celebrate the country’s national day celebrations on 18 December.
Source: Arabian Aerospace