12 Squadron, the joint UK-Qatar Typhoon squadron, will continue operating as a bilateral squadron at RAF Coningsby for the next two years, as agreed today by both nations’ air forces. The agreement was signed at the UK Ministry of Defence in London by the Commander of the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF), Major General Jassim Al-Mannai and Deputy Commander Capability Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton for the Royal Air Force (RAF). This next phase of the joint UK-Qatar Typhoon squadron will see RAF and QEAF personnel continue to work together at RAF Coningsby. Together, pilots and groundcrews from both nations will build on the lessons and operational skills developed to date to further enhance interoperability between the two nations.
“I am delighted this extension agreement has been signed. Qatar is an important regional partner and we in the Royal Air Force look forward to continuing to develop this close partnership, to the benefit of both Air Forces and nations. This partnership makes an important contribution to promoting peace and stability in the region,” Air Marshal Sir Richard Knighton, Deputy Commander Capability said.
The announcement comes after 12 Squadron’s return home last week from a six-month deployment to the Middle East, the RAF’s longest ever Typhoon squadron deployment. This successfully concluded the first phase of the joint squadron: to build the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s operational experience on Typhoon in time for the arrival of their own aircraft. During the deployment in Qatar, 12 Squadron supported the formation of the first Qatar Emiri Air Force Typhoon squadron, 7 Squadron and the integration of Qatar’s first Typhoon aircraft. By November 2022, 7 Squadron was established and the Qatar Emiri Air Force Typhoons took to the skies alongside 12 Squadron to provide air security for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The decision to extend the joint squadron signifies the strong bilateral defence relationship between the Qatar Emiri Air Force and the Royal Air Force, exemplified by the fact that 12 Squadron is the RAF’s first joint squadron with another nation since World War Two. Qatar and the UK share mutual interests in ensuring stability in the Middle East. Joint operational training on 12 Squadron boosts both nations’ ability to tackle shared security challenges, contributing to regional stability and protecting the prosperity and security of the UK. The QEAF’s new Typhoon Wing will be home to the 24 Typhoon aircraft Qatar has purchased. Alongside the associated RAF training package, this purchase supports jobs in the UK, particularly in the north of England.