Following the confirmation last month by BAE Systems that Qatar had signed an order for 24 Eurofighter Typhoons, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed details of a training package. Meanwhile, Eurofighter reported that final production of the 28 aircraft ordered by Kuwait in 2016 is underway, and that they would be “the most advanced variant of the fighter jet ever made.”
The Qatar contract extends the final production line at BAE’s Warton facility, which was running down, into the 2020s. BAE said that the contract is worth approximately £5 billion ($6.8 billion) and is still “subject to financing conditions,” with the first payment expected in mid-2018. But the MoD gave a value of “around £6 billion” for what it described as “the biggest export deal for the Typhoon project in a decade.”
Deliveries will not begin until late 2022, which may allow time for enough Qataris to be trained to fly and maintain the aircraft, when the country’s air force is also trying to absorb the 36 Dassault Rafales and 36 Boeing F-15QA Strike Eagles that it has also ordered. BAE Systems said it would “establish a new technical training college in Doha, focused on providing students with the critical skills required to support Qatar Armed Forces air platforms in the future.”
The MoD said that a new “joint squadron” will be established at the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon training base, Coningsby. It will take over the No. 12 Squadron "number plate" from a Tornado GR.4 squadron that is disbanding. The squadron will “temporarily integrate Qatari personnel, including pilots and ground crew,” the MoD added. It will operate some of the Tranche 1 Typhoons that the RAF previously planned to phase out, but decided last year to retain.
The Kuwaiti jets are being assembled on Leonardo’s production line in Italy, and will be the first built with the Captor E-scan (AESA) radar. The four original Eurofighter partner nations have paid for development of this radar, and a prototype was first flown nearly 10 years ago. But neither Germany, Italy, Spain, nor the UK has committed to funding its production and retrofit to their Eurofighter fleets.
Leonardo said that the Lockheed Martin Sniper laser designator pod would be integrated on the Kuwaiti Eurofighters, as well as the DRS-Cubic ACMI P5 combat training pod. The jets would be equipped with the MBDA Storm Shadow and Brimstone plus “other air-to-surface weapons,” the company added.
The agreement with the Kuwaiti MoD also includes the design and construction of the infrastructure at Al-Salem airbase; a suite of training devices to establish a pilot operational conversion unit there; and initial support services for three years (with an option for a further five). Deliveries will run from 2020 to 2023.