The first Qatar Emiri Air Force Hawk aircraft landed at RAF Leeming yesterday to join the new Joint Qatar Emiri Air Force-RAF Hawk Training Squadron. The Joint Hawk Training Squadron will train pilots from both air forces, starting initially with a group of Qatar Emiri Air Force student pilots. The Squadron will eventually be home to all of Qatar’s Hawk T2 Mk167 aircraft, which are being produced by BAE Systems in the UK. The Squadron will give the Qatar Emiri Air Force access to world-class UK flying training, provide RAF personnel with access to additional aircraft flying hours, and see long-term investment in station infrastructure and training facilities.
The new Squadron and the manufacturing of its aircraft will support thousands of jobs in the UK, primarily in the North of England. Qatar and the UK share mutual interests in ensuring stability in the Middle East. The Joint Hawk Training Squadron boosts Qatar’s ability to tackle our shared security challenges, which helps protect the security of the UK at home and abroad. Providing valuable training opportunities for both nations, the updated defence agreement will also see the RAF Voyager deploy to Qatar to periodically provide air-to-air refuelling training for the Qatari Emiri Air Force’s (QEAF) fleet of fast jet aircraft.
“This presents an exciting opportunity to share our expertise and training and the arrival of the Joint Hawk Training Squadron will be a terrific boost to Leeming as well as the local community,”said Group Captain Blythe Crawford RAF Leeming Station Commande.
“I am delighted to welcome our Qatari friends to RAF Leeming and to work in partnership with BAE Systems to deliver world class flying training in support of both the Qatar Emiri Air Force and RAF,” said Group Captain Blythe Crawford RAF Leeming Station Commander.
The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. It has been used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft. The Hawk is still in production in the UK and under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), with over 900 Hawks sold to 18 operators around the world. The Hawk 128 (Hawk T2) is the new Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. The T2 builds on the design of the Australian Mk. 127 and the South African Mk. 120s. In 2012 orders were placed by the Royal Saudi Air Force and the Royal Omani Air Force.
The Government of Qatar has committed to a £6 billion package which includes 24 Typhoons, nine Hawk T2 Mk167 jet trainers, and a bespoke support and training package. Hawk and Typhoon aircraft ordered by the Government of Qatar are being assembled in the UK, supporting thousands of jobs at locations including BAE Systems’ sites in Warton and Samlesbury, Lancashire. This will secure work on the assembly line until the middle of the decade. The decision to base the new Squadron at RAF Leeming represents a long-term commitment to the base, which provides a strategic and operational Main Operating Base for the RAF.
The RAF Voyager fleet already supports Defence activity around the world and the Qatar AAR service over the next two years will be part of this. The formation of a second UK-Qatar joint squadron, which was initially announced last year, will provide additional flying hours for RAF pilots and see long-term international investment in new infrastructure and training facilities at RAF Leeming. This will include a Hawk training simulator, and the refurbishment of existing facilities. The deployments will be planned to co-ordinate with the UK’s operational and training needs and will benefit the RAF by enhancing its interoperability with international personnel and equipment.