The first four Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) Eurofighter Typhoons have been flown to the Gulf nation and begin operations. They were officially accepted into service at a ceremony at BAE Systems’ Warton factory in the UK on August 15.
Three of the four aircraft left Warton on August 25, with the fourth aircraft to follow a few days later. After rejoining their accompanying Voyager tanker, one of the planes encountered a minor technical problem and returned to Warton for further checks, while the remaining pair continued on to Athens, Greece. After departing on August 27, one aircraft encountered a minor problem and the pilot decided to make a precautionary return to Athens, leaving QA404/ZR505, piloted by the Qatari squadron commander (Colonel Faisal Al-Ghanim) for flying on the jet’s new jet at Tamim Air Base, Dukhan. Upon arrival at Dukhan, the Typhoon performed a low-level flyby, flanked by a pair of F-15QA Eagles, then parked alongside F-15QAs and pairs of Rafales and NH90 helicopters. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani hailed the plane.
The next pair of Typhoons left Warton just after midday on August 30, bound for Luqa Airport in Malta. The plane remaining in Athens flew to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, where it was joined on August 31 by the pair. The three planes then left Akrotiri on September 1, passing through the Royal Saudi Air Force base at Tabuk. A bird strike on one of the planes delayed the end of the trip, but all three finally reached Dukhan on 4 September. Their arrival resulted in the establishment of the QEAF’s new Typhoon unit, Al Thariyat (“Moving Wind”) Squadron, more formally known as No. 1 Wing’s No. 7 Squadron (formerly Mirage Unit 2000 of the QEAF).
The planes were operational when they arrived at Dukhan, and enough combat-ready crews underwent training with joint Qatari-British No. 12 Squadron RAF for the unit to immediately activate its own Typhoon QRA detachment. Although Qatari pilots trained on the Tranche 3 Typhoon with mechanically scanned array radar, the new ECRS.Mk 0 AESA radar uses the same human-machine interface, so conversion to QEAF standard is largely a matter of understanding the capabilities of the new sensor rather than learning to operate an entirely different system.
The squadron began operating on air defense rapid reaction alert duties on 4 September. was to deploy to Dhukan with eight typhoons to reinforce Qatari unity, as part of the Al Thariyat exercise. The RAF aircraft will be deployed to Qatar for six months from early September.
BAE Systems has set up full support facilities in Dukhan and will provide a turnkey support solution. The company’s presence continues to grow and it expects to reach 300 by the end of 2022. The last of 24 Qatari Typhoons on order is expected to be delivered by mid-2024.