A brand new Royal Air Force squadron will be stationed at a Lincolnshire air base following the sale of 24 fighter jets to Qatar in a £6bn deal.
A package of training and co-operation between the British and Qatari Air Forces, which will see them working together more regularly as part of the multi-million pound deal to supply the country with 24 Typhoon aircraft, has been agreed.
Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin expanded on that agreement at a State of Qatar National Day reception in London. She revealed that a new UK-based Typhoon joint squadron will be called No. 12 Squadron, and that it will temporarily integrate Qatari personnel, including pilots and ground-crew based at RAF Coningsby.
Qatar proudly becomes the ninth nation to buy the world’s leading multi-role combat aircraft and the formation of a joint squadron means that the RAF will take the lead in providing training and support to the Qatari Emiri Air Force as it brings the Typhoon into service.
The Qataris will not be a permanent part of the squadron, but will be integrated ahead of the delivery of the Typhoon aircraft. The move will provide the country with valuable joint frontline experience on an RAF Typhoon Squadron and speed up their preparation for when their own jets are delivered.
The UK and Qatar already share a close defence relationship, with a joint-exercise between the Royal Air Force and Qatar Air Force last month seeing Typhoon aircraft fly over the Arabian Peninsula.
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, the government says.
The new 12 Squadron is currently operating Tornados, and will transition to the future Typhoon force . The biggest export deal for the Typhoon project in a decade, valued at around £6 billion and sustaining thousands of UK jobs, Qatar is the ninth country to purchase the Typhoon.
This year also saw the first delivered to Oman, whilst the MOD is leading the offer to replace Belgium’s F-16s with the jets and continues to discuss the prospect of a second batch of sales in Saudi Arabia.