A PARTNERSHIP between the UK and Qatar will see the establishment of a joint training venture between the respective air forces based in North Yorkshire.

The RAF and Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) are to work together when a Hawk training squadron is created later this year at RAF Leeming.

Expected to be in place by September, the new squadron will deliver advanced jet training to both the QEAF and RAF pilots. The base will also be home to Qatar’s recently-acquired nine Hawk T2 Mk167 aircraft, which are currently being built by in the UK by BAE Systems at Warton, Lancashire.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “In the face of new and emerging threats, it is vital we collaborate with our international allies to tackle our shared security challenges and our long-standing relationship with Qatar exemplifies this. By working together we continue to share skills and expertise whilst promoting global security and driving prosperity at home.

“I’m delighted RAF Leeming has been chosen to base the historic second UK-Qatari joint squadron, which recognises the globally-held high regard of RAF flying training.”

The UK and Qatar Defence Secretaries both signed the agreement. They are pictured pre-Covid

The UK and Qatar Defence Secretaries both signed the agreement. They are pictured pre-Covid

The formation of a second UK-Qatar joint squadron builds on the success of 12 Squadron, a joint RAF-QEAF Typhoon squadron in Lincolnshire. It will provide additional flying hours for RAF pilots and see long-term international investment in new infrastructure and training facilities at RAF Leeming. This includes a Hawk training simulator, and the refurbishment of existing facilities.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs in Qatar, Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, said: “An important step in the ever growing military partnership that joins QEAF and RAF. The joint Hawk training squadron is an integral component in increasing interoperability and coordination between both air forces, leading to closer cooperation and alignment in future military and peacekeeping efforts.”

The decision to house the new squadron at RAF Leeming represents the MoD’s long-term commitment to the base, which provides a strategic and operational main operating base for the RAF.