UK Typhoons arrive in Qatar for EPIC SKIES II
UK Typhoons have arrived at Al Udeid air base in Qatar ahead of the joint UK/Qatari exercise, EPIC SKIES II.
Having taken part in a separate Middle Eastern exercise, the Typhoons touched down in formation led by Wing Commander Jim Lee, Officer Commanding II (Army Cooperation) Squadron. The pilots were welcomed by Wing Commander Mark Baker, Commanding Officer of Number 1 (Fighter) Squadron, and the Exercise Commander from the QEAF, Lieutenant Colonel Faisal Al-Ghanim.
EPIC SKIES II cements already strong military and political ties between the two nations. Earlier in the year, RAF’s Number 12 Squadron was re-established as a joint UK based unit that will temporarily integrate, from 2019, Qatari personnel including ground crew and pilots, and will be based initially at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, and later Qatar.
Qatar has also ordered 24 Typhoon aircraft from the UK in a multi-billion pound deal which will bring the two nations even closer together to ensure a seamless transition from operating the aircraft jointly, to sole Qatari operated squadrons once the aircraft are delivered.
According to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson: “Our formidable Typhoon jets will boost the Qatari military’s mission to tackle challenges in the Middle East, supporting stability in the region and delivering security at home.”
Wing Commander Mark Baker added: “It’s a tremendous honour to take part in this exercise, especially at a time when our two nations are becoming closer than ever. The Typhoon aircraft is a hugely capable platform that has served the UK well since its introduction; I’m sure it will continue to serve both the UK and Qatari militaries for years to come.”
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