Last month, Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from the UK’s Royal Air Force took part in the service’s largest-ever mass firing of Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM).
The Missile Practice Camp took place over the sea in the Hebrides Air Weapon Ranges and was the largest mass firing of the infra-red missiles from Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II to date. Over the course of 10 days, pilots from eight different Typhoon and Lightning II squadrons successfully launched a total of 53 missiles at target drones. Typhoon pilots from 1(F), II(AC), 6, and IX(B) Squadrons based at RAF Lossiemouth, as well as from 3(F), and 41 Test & Evaluation Squadron at RAF Coningsby, worked with the Lightning IIs from 207 and 617 Squadrons based at RAF Marham in the event.
Eurofighter Typhoon Heading to the Middle East
Soon, Eurofighter aircraft will be taking part in another operation – namely helping protect the skies over the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar as it hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup, one of the largest and most high-profile sporting events on the planet.
It was only in August that the first Typhoon aircraft was delivered to the Qatar Armed Forces at a roll-out ceremony hosted by Cliff Robson, BAE Systems Group, Managing Director Air. The event, held at BAE Systems’ facility in Warton, United Kingdom, took place under the patronage of Dr. Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, and in the presence of Commander Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF), Major General Jassim Mohammed Ahmed Al Mannai.
The first three of four aircraft were subsequently ferried to the Gulf nation to begin training operations in advance of the World Cup, which is scheduled to begin on November 20. A joint RAF-Qatari Typhoon squadron – 12 Squadron – will provide air security operations during the matches. Members of the unit have a pedigree to rival any footballer, and that includes Squadron Leader Luke Wilkinson, who was among the RAF aircrews that provided protection during the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
“It’s the absolute capstone of what we’re doing,” said Wilkinson.
“It’s a great honour to be representing the RAF at a global event but also providing assurance and safe skies for the fans, for the participants and for the organisers of the World Cup in support of our colleagues,” he added. “We fully understand the demands of a layered defence at a global event.”
Some 200 personnel in the unit, including pilots, along with eight RAF Typhoons began a six-month deployment, dubbed “Project Thariyat” earlier this year to train with their Qatari counterparts. The deployment of 12 Squadron to Qatar further builds upon the strong bilateral defense relationship between Qatar and the UK, exemplified by the fact that 12 Squadron is the RAF’s first joint squadron with another nation since the Second World War.
The squadron began operating on air defense quick-reaction alert duties on September 4.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the FIFA World Cup, and it spent billions of dollars constructing eco-friendly and architecturally advanced sporting facilities. Due to heat concerns, this also marks the first time the World Cup will be played in the northern hemisphere in the late autumn – which also required a reduced timeframe of just 28 days, with the final match being held on December 18, Qatar’s National Day.
Given the fact that there are several ongoing conflicts in the region, security has been a major concern for Qatar, which earlier this month signed a memorandum of cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) for U.S. armed forces to contribute towards security at the tournament. The Qatari government also has signed similar agreements with the UK, France, Turkey, and South Korea to aid in the security arrangements.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.