Wednesday, October 5, 2022

First Eurofighter Typhoon Handed Over To Qatar; Will Guard Skies During The FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar received its first Eurofighter Typhoon from BAE Systems on August 15 at an official rollout ceremony in the UK, hosted by Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Group, Managing Director Air.

The event was held at BAE Systems’ facility in Warton, UK. It was attended by Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs, Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah and Commander of Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF), Major General Jassim Mohammed Ahmed Al Mannai.

The Typhoon will be delivered from the UK to Qatar later this month, as per the statement released by BAE Systems. The fighter was seen in Qatari in-service colors, undertaking flight tests at the Wharton facility.

“Today’s Typhoon delivery is another exciting milestone for our joint UK-Qatar collaboration, which will see the sharing of training and expertise between our respective air forces and will ensure both our nations stay at the forefront of defense capability,” said Ben Wallace, UK’s Secretary of State for Defense.

Wallace added the joint project underlines that “Britain values its Middle East partnerships.”

The fighter jet will also participate in air security activities during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in Qatar starting November 20.

As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy will assist Qatar in protecting its airspace during the event, as part of which the ‘Joint Typhoon Squadron,’ also known as ’12 Squadron,’ stationed at RAF Coningsby and operated by RAF and QEAF personnel will guard Qatar’s airspace throughout the event.

Most of the missions will be carried out by the QEAF, which manages air security for the event. The UK will offer its expertise and capabilities gained during the 2012 Olympics hosted in the country.

The Qatari Typhoons

The QEAF signed a contract with BAE Systems for 24 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters and nine Hawk Mk 167 advanced training jets in December 2017.

Together with the support and training package and the armament contract with the MBDA company, the deal was valued at around £6 billion ($7.585 million).

An image of a Typhoon aircraft
Qatar’s First Eurofighter Typhoon (BAE Systems)

The acquisition is part of QEAF’s expansion and modernization effort, which began in 2010. Qatar divided its aircraft purchases into three segments to procure Dassault Rafale, Boeing F-15 Advanced Eagle, and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The first order was placed for Rafale in March 2016, followed by an order for F-15QAs in June 2017, after which Qatar signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) to purchase Typhoons in September 2017 and placed an order for 24 jets two months later.

A Qatari Rafale jet. (via Twitter)

While the breakdown between single-seat and two-seat Typhoons ordered for the QEAF is unclear, reports suggest the Qataris will eventually operate 18 single-seaters and six two-seat versions.

The Typhoons, similar to the F-15QA and Rafale, have been acquired by the QEAF as multi-role fighters with advanced air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, which include Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs), and the Brimstone and Paveway IV precision-guided munitions for attacking ground targets.

Also, the Qatari Typhoons are fitted with the Leonardo European Common Radar Standard Mk 0 radar, or ECSR Mk 0, featuring an active electronically scanned array (AESA), making them the first British-assembled Typhoons to have this radar.

Qatar received the first batch of F-15QA on August 25, 2021. (via Twitter)

A remarkable feature of this radar is that it is mounted onto a steerable swashplate or ‘re-positioner,’ which can be tilted to either side, offering a much broader ‘look’ angle beyond 90 degrees off the centerline of the jet.

This can provide significant tactical advantages in specific scenarios, for example, if the fighter has to perform a ‘beaming’ maneuver to evade detection by an enemy fighter, as discussed in detail by a previous EurAsian Times report.

Qatar’s Arms Procurement Program

With the addition of Typhoon to its inventory, the QEAF is set to become the only air force to boast both Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon in its fleet. In addition to that, the country also had the most advanced variant of the Boeing F-15.

Ultimately, the QEAF will field 36 Rafales, 36 (or even 48) F-15QAs, and 24 Typhoons.

Since 2010, Qatar has embarked on one of the most ambitious arms procurement programs in the Middle East in the wake of plummeting relations with Saudi Arabia and UAE following the Arab Spring movement, which saw these countries supporting different factions in the conflicts in Libya and Syria.

The downturn in regional relations reached a critical point in June 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, in a coordinated effort, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed an economic blockade on the country.

Qatar perceives the threat of invasion by Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a tangible reality which is why it has sought to accelerate its armament program.

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