A deployment of the joint RAF-Qatari Typhoon squadron - 12 Squadron - has departed Royal Air Force (RAF) Coningsby to support the Qatar Emiri Air Force with air security operations for the FIFA World Cup, UK Defence Journal (ukdj) reported.
Qatar will host the tournament from 20 November to 18 December. This will be the first time any Arab country has held the event, which sees national football teams compete against each other for the World Cup.
12 Squadron pilot, Squadron Leader Luke Wilkinson, was quoted as saying: “It’s the absolute capstone of what we’re doing. 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.”
“We’ve got a good pedigree in terms of major sporting events. I was working on the Olympic Games in London in 2012 and so we fully understand the demands of a layered defence at a global event,” he added.
Eurofighter brings height, speed and reach. These are the keys of air power as far as we’re concerned. We will be there as a constant presence and we’ll be able to react to an absolute multitude of threats very, very quickly. There’s nothing quite like the power that comes from the Typhoon in terms of thrust. It is an absolute dream to fly. Eurofighter is an ideal platform for air security. We proved that at the Olympics. But it is part of a layered defence - there’ll be other units from the UK Armed Forces supporting the Qatari armed forces with their defence and protection of the World Cup.”
12 Squadron was reactivated in 2017 and became a joint squadron in 2020 when the Qatari contingent arrived in the UK.
“As their Eurofighter jets were being built, their pilots and their technicians were being built too, to provide them with a day-one capability at Dukhan Main Operating Base in Qatar. It was run like a front-line squadron, with British and Qatari pilots learning from each other,” Wilkinson concluded.