The British Royal Air Force and Qatar Emiri Air Force, for the first time in history, have come together for joint exercise ‘Epic Skies’ and would operate Eurofighter Typhoons together as a joint squadron in Qatar.
Six Typhoons from RAF’s 12 Squadron arrived in the Gulf nation on 29th November, according to the information posted on the service’s website.
The exercise would span two weeks, and more than 130 British personnel have been deployed to Qatar. “Pilots from the joint squadron will be challenged in a range of air to air, and air to surface scenarios which will put their training to the test,” the press release said.
It will also include operating 12 Sqn’s assets “against and alongside” Qatar Emiri Air Force Dassault Rafales and Mirage 2000-5s, in Dissimilar Aircraft Combat Training (DACT) exercises.
The Qatar Emiri Air Force operates the Mirage-2000s, Rafales, and will operate the F-15E and Eurofighter Typhoons in the near future. An order for 24 Typhoons worth £6 billion, which also includes 9 Hawk trainers and support package has already been placed by Qatar.
Qatari pilots, engineers, and technicians are completing world-class training at a number of RAF establishments prior to joining 12 Squadron, where they will develop their technical skills and build their experience on the Typhoon.
“It has been fantastic to return to Qatar this year and receive such a warm welcome from so many familiar faces. Considerable progress has been made since last year’s Epic Skies, with many pilots and engineers from the Qatar Emiri Air Force thoroughly embedded into 12 Squadron.
The first of the Qatari pilots to begin flying the Typhoon are eager to put their new skills and training to the test, flying alongside their colleagues in a series of challenging scenarios on home turf,” said Wing Commander Chris Wright, Officer Commanding 12th Sqn.
The 12th Squadron was formed in 1915 as a part of the Royal Flying Corps, even before the existence of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Squadron moved to France in 1915 and took part in the First World War. The unit subsequently took active participation in the Second World War and won many commendations and gallantry medals.
“This year’s Epic Skies is particularly unique. I’ve been involved in several of these exercises in the past, but this year is the first time I return home to fly the Typhoon alongside my RAF and Qatari colleagues, wearing the 12 Squadron crest. We joined the Squadron earlier this year to a very warm welcome, quickly integrating into day to day life and operations.
Returning to fly from Qatar at a familiar airbase is an absolute privilege, and I look forward to the challenges the exercise brings to our joint squadron,” said Lt. Col. Faisal Al-Ghanim, the Deputy Officer Commanding 12th Squadron.