Aviation photographer and The War Zone contributor Jamie Hunter recently captured this typically dynamic shot of three Eurofighter Typhoons from a unique joint U.K./Qatari unit. The spectacular three-ship break is the first time we have seen an aerial photo sortie of this kind involving the jets of No 12 Squadron, stationed at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.
No 12 Squadron was set up to provide operational training for pilots and ground crew of the rapidly expanding Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) which, alongside Typhoons, has also ordered Dassault Rafales and Boeing F-15QA multirole fighter jets as part of a wide-ranging overhaul. Ultimately, No 12 Squadron will head to the Middle East to continue its mission, including providing air defense coverage for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, before likely returning to the U.K.
A former Tornado GR4 unit that saw active duty during the fight against ISIS under Operation Shader, No 12 Squadron was re-established in July 2018 to provide operational training and support to the QEAF as part of that service’s purchase of 24 Typhoons.
In 2019 the squadron took its Typhoons to Qatar for the first time to take part in Exercise Epic Skies III, a series of maneuvers that took place at Al Udeid Air Base and which involved technical training and joint flying. Four Typhoons from the unit flew also over the Qatari capital city of Doha as part of Qatar National Day celebrations, flying alongside QEAF Rafales. The squadron returned to Qatar for another edition of the same drill last December, too, this time bringing six jets.
The operational U.K./Qatari Typhoon unit will be followed later this year by a training squadron following the same format. Under an agreement formalized earlier this month, a new squadron flying Hawk T2 advanced jet trainers will be established at RAF Leeming, Yorkshire. This will provide advanced training to both U.K. and Qatari pilots, operating the nine Hawk T2s ordered by Qatar. The squadron is expected to stand up in September.
The relationship between the U.K. and Qatari air forces is clearly flourishing. The Typhoon is set to become an essential part of the QEAF fighter capabilities, and we’re very happy to get a chance to see the jets being put through their paces in British skies before the unit heads to their permanent home next year.
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