The Royal Air Force’s Number 12 Squadron has today completed a three-week exercise in Qatar. Since their arrival 12 Squadron Typhoons have flown a number of sorties alongside the Qatari Emiri Air Force as part of Exercise EPIC SKIES III. The exercise runs annually but this is the first time that the squadron has taken part.
12 Squadron was re-established on 24th July 2018 and will shortly become a joint Royal Air Force, Qatari Emiri Air Force squadron that will integrate personnel from both nations. Epic Skies III was therefore an ideal opportunity for pilots and ground crews to learn from each other first-hand and develop a close working relationship.
“Epic Skies 3 has provided 12 Sqn 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 Sqn, 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 Sqn 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.”
Wing Commander Chris Wright
Officer Commanding Number 12 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant Helen Seaman, Junior Engineering Officer 12 Squadron said:
“As the first JEngO during the formation of 12 Sqn, this has been a challenging and interesting time for me. Embarking on an overseas deployment as a new and still partially formed Typhoon Sqn has been a steep learning curve. It has however demonstrated the exciting times that we have ahead.”
The Exercise has given personnel the opportunity to work alongside their Qatari counterparts during busy days and allowed them to experience local life first-hand at quieter times.
Senior Aircraftman (Tech) Sam Melling said:
“This has been a very interesting and insightful detachment for me as it has allowed me to start understanding Qatari culture. For example when we were looking around the Corniche one of the locals invited us onto a boat and talked us through the traditional way of boat building. I believe going forward these personal experiences will help us to create stronger bonds between the RAF and the QEAF.”
12 Squadron is now heading back to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire ready to begin training its first Qatari crews.