British and Qatari defence ministers signed a statement of intent on October 14 to base the Qatar Emiri Air Force's (QEAF's) future BAE Systems Hawk fleet in the UK.
The announcement came after the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, and Qatari Minister of State for Defence, Dr Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah, opened No 12 Squadron’s new headquarters at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire. Established in 2018, No 12 Squadron is a joint British-Qatari unit that trains aircrew from both nations to fly the Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighter. The binational unit, which is the RAF’s first since World War Two, commenced flying operations in June 2020.
During the visit, the two defence ministers signed a statement of intent, which outlined the UK’s offer to base the QEAF’s future BAE Systems Hawk fleet at a British RAF station. Qatar has nine examples of the advanced jet trainer on order, which if based in the UK, could form a second joint British-Qatari training unit.
In a news release, the RAF added that “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.”
In the announcement, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, said: “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.”
In June 2018, Qatar confirmed it had placed an order for nine BAE Systems Hawk training aircraft in addition to the nation’s acquisition of 24 Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoons. The procurement contracts for both platforms became effective on September 18, 2018. Deliveries of the Hawk to Qatar are expected to begin in 2021, with the first Typhoon’s expected to be handed over in 2022.