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New Qatar Hawks ready for training action in UK

Posted 3 October 2021 · Add Comment

The first two BAE Systems Hawk Mk 167 jet trainers for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) have arrived at RAF Leeming in the UK, reports JON LAKE.

The aircraft will form part of the new joint RAF/QEAF Hawk training squadron at the North Yorkshire base. The gloss black painted aircraft are broadly equivalent to the RAF T.Mk 2 variant and carry RAF serials, but with Qatari national insignia. The all-black colour scheme is standard on RAF trainer aircraft and was selected to provide maximum conspicuity in UK conditions, and many may be disappointed that the aircraft do not wear the crimson and white colours seen on early artists impressions, and used on Qatar’s Pilatus PC-21s!

This unit will build on the success of No.12 Squadron, the joint RAF-QEAF Typhoon squadron at RAF Coningsby, and was established as the result of an agreement signed by the Ben Wallace, MP, the British Secretary of State for Defence and His Excellency Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs in Qatar.

The Joint Hawk Training Squadron will train pilots from both the RAF and the QEAF, but the programme will start with a group of Qatari student pilots. It will be supported by BAE Systems who have been awarded a six-year contract to provide Qualified Flying Instructors, delivering both live and synthetic training.

Noel Henderson, Head of Programme – Qatar Hawk, BAE Systems, said: “We are proud to support the delivery of training expertise to the new joint squadron and we are recruiting and training personnel through our Qatari joint venture partner company BSL, which recently established a UK entity. These highly-skilled people will work alongside the QEAF and the RAF as part of the Whole Force team.”

BAE Systems delivers availability support and training to a global fleet of more than 650 Hawk aircraft, and these provide a key element in the training pipeline of many of the world’s leading air forces, including several within the GCC.

The formation of this second UK-Qatar joint squadron will mean access to world class flying training for Qatari pilots, extra flying hours for RAF personnel and long-term UK and international investment in infrastructure at RAF Leeming. This has allowed current facilities to be refurbished and funded the acquisition of a new Hawk training simulator.

Group Captain Blythe Crawford, RAF Leeming Station Commander said: "I am delighted to welcome our Qatari friends to RAF Leeming and to work in partnership with BAE Systems to deliver world class flying training in support of both the Qatar Emiri Air Force and the RAF. This presents an exciting opportunity to share our expertise and training and the arrival of the Joint Hawk Training Squadron will be a terrific boost to Leeming as well as the local community."

Yorkshire has been the home of RAF flying training for many years, and Crawford went on to promise that his station would show the Qatari student pilots "everything North Yorkshire has to offer” and that the new unit would “continue the flying training legacy of Leeming and the wider Vale of York."


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