BAE Systems has finalised a £5 billion deal to sell 24 Typhoon fighter jets to Qatar. The order will help keep production lines open in Lancashire after thousands of the defence group’s jobs were axed last year. The deal also includes nine Hawk training aircraft as well as training for Qatar’s air force. The deal, worth around £5bn includes the aircraft and a bespoke support and training package. Qatar is now buying nine Hawk trainers, rather than six, which will also be welcome news for BAE Systems’ factories in Warton and Brough which make the jets.
Qatar is the ninth buyer of the Typhoon, which is made by BAE with France’s Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo, supporting around 5,000 UK jobs. BAE also has a long-standing relationship with Qatar’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, which also plans to buy 48 of the jets. The Government backed the deal through its UK Export Finance arm, which provides finance and insurance for export deals, amid deepening ties between the two countries. Under the deal, a Typhoon joint squadron comprising both Qatari Emiri Air Force and RAF personnel will be based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire ahead of the delivery of the aircraft.
The deal also involves a package of training and co-operation between the British and Qatari Air Forces which will see them working closely together in the future. A new UK-based Typhoon joint squadron, reformed as No.12 squadron, will comprise both Qatari Emiri Air Force and RAF personnel, including pilots and ground-crew based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire ahead of the delivery of the aircraft. It represents a unique initiative, with the RAF not having formed a squadron with another nation since the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter. The Typhoon was designed originally as an air superiority fighter and is manufactured by a consortium of Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo that conducts the majority of the project through a joint holding company, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH formed in 1986. NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency manages the project and is the prime customer. Later production aircraft have been increasingly better equipped to undertake air-to-surface strike missions and to be compatible with an increasing number of different armaments and equipment, including Storm Shadow and the RAF’s Brimstone.