BAE Systems has been awarded a six-year contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to provide support and training for a new joint British-Qatari Hawk training squadron, which will be based at RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire.
As part of this contract, which was announced by BAE Systems on July 14, the British aerospace company and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the Hawk platform will provide Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs) for the new binational unit. These QFIs will deliver both live and synthetic training services for Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF) student fast-jet pilots. The contract value has not been revealed.
Noel Henderson, head of the Qatar Hawk programme at BAE Systems, said: “Working closely alongside the UK [MOD], we have started to mobilise this service by delivering, installing and commissioning equipment ready for the arrival of the first aircraft.
“We are proud to support the delivery of training expertise to the new joint squadron and we are recruiting and training personnel through our Qatari joint venture partner company BSL, which recently established a UK entity. These highly-skilled people will work alongside the QEAF and RAF as part of the ‘Whole Force’ team,” he added.
Announced as part of relationship expansion plans between the QEAF and RAF on April 1, 2021; Leeming will host the new joint British-Qatari Hawk training squadron – the nameplate of which has yet to be revealed. The unit will employ the QEAF’s future fleet of nine new-build BAE Systems Hawk Mk 167 advanced jet trainers, which are currently in production.
This new binational training unit will be the second of its kind to stand up in recent years. In July 2018, No 12 Squadron was reformed at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, as a joint British-Qatari Eurofighter Typhoon training unit. This was the first joint squadron to be inducted into RAF service since the end of World War Two and the Battle of Britain.
The new QEAF Hawk Mk 167s have been allocated the UK military test serial numbers ZB131 (QA001) through ZB139 (QA009) inclusive. They will be the final aircraft to be built at BAE Systems’ production facility in Brough, East Yorkshire, ending 104 years of aircraft manufacture at the factory, which will subsequently continue to operate as an engineering plant. Final assembly and completion of the Qatari Hawks is conducted at the company’s facility in Warton, Lancashire.
On May 26, 2021, the third production Hawk Mk 167 for Qatar – serial ZB133 (QA003) – was the first of the nine examples ordered for the QEAF to complete its maiden flight from Warton. The following day, the second production aircraft – serial ZB132 (QA002) – graced the skies for the first time. As of June 21, 2021, the first three examples had completed their initial post-production test flights.