Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hosted his Qatari counterpart as they opened 12 Squadron and signed a Statement of Intent to establish an additional joint squadron.
The UK has offered to base Qatar’s recently acquired nine Hawk aircraft at a British RAF station, which could also be home to a joint RAF & QEAF Hawk training squadron.
“Today we mark the start of an exciting new chapter in the longstanding defence relationship between the UK and Qatar, reinforcing and strengthening the bonds our Armed Forces already share. Building upon the success of our joint Typhoon squadron, this new era of collaboration will deliver prosperity and security benefits for both our nations.”
The partnership would provide RAF personnel with access to increased aircraft flying hours, give the QEAF access to world-class RAF accredited training, and see long-term investment in RAF infrastructure and training facilities.
His Excellency Dr Khalid, Minister of State for Defence Affairs in Qatar and a former fast jet pilot trained at RAF Valley, took to the skies in a Typhoon to experience first-hand the expertise, skill and professionalism of 12 Squadron.
In June 2020, 12 Squadron commenced flying as a joint squadron for the first time. Since then several training milestones have been achieved including heavy weapons training and taking part in an exercise at sea alongside the Royal Navy.
The Squadron’s new headquarters at RAF Coningsby were built by a team of over 30 sub-contractors from both national and local supply chains. Its flexible and multi-functional design will be able to support the longer-term requirements of the RAF.
Following the achievements already set by 12 Squadron, which is the UK’s first joint squadron since World War Two, the potential new joint Hawk training squadron will further deepen the UK’s defence relationship with Qatar and in turn, contributes to the security and stability of the Middle East.