Following their first flight in October and official handover in Italy on December 7, the first two Eurofighter Typhoons have been delivered to the Kuwait Air Force (KAF). The pair of two-seat aircraft arrived in Kuwait on December 14 at the end of a “trail” ferry flight refueled by two Boeing KC-767 tankers operated by the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI, Italian air force) from the 14° Stormo (wing) and escorted by two Typhoons from the 4° Stormo.
Kuwait signed for 22 single-seat and six two-seat Typhoons in 2016 as part of a split buy—alongside Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets ordered in 2018—to replace its F/A-18A/B legacy Hornets. Italy led the Kuwaiti sales campaign on behalf of the four-nation Eurofighter consortium, and its air force and industry lead the support effort as part of a wider framework agreement that includes training and maintenance support.
As part of that agreement Kuwaiti pilots train with the AMI, including initial training up to the gaining of military wings, and operational conversion to the Typhoon, which is performed by the 4° Stormo’s 20° Gruppo at Grosseto. AMI instructors and test pilots from Leonardo are supporting the initial training of Kuwaiti pilots and the establishment of an operational conversion unit at Al Salem air base, which is the base for the operational aircraft. The AMI is also training Kuwaiti maintainance mechanics.
Kuwait’s Typhoons are the first to be delivered with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. “The Eurofighter Typhoons we have developed and produced for the Kuwait Air Force are the most advanced in the whole history of the European program,” said Leonardo’s CEO, Alessandro Profumo. “We will provide the country with an impressive air defense capability. In cooperation with the Italian air force we trained their pilots in our training centers in Italy, and we built state-of-the-art infrastructures to support and maintain a fleet of 28 aircraft.”
Through its Italian and UK activities Leonardo is responsible for around 36 percent of the program by value, not only as one of the major sub-assembly manufacturers and providing the assembly line for the Kuwaiti aircraft at Caselle, but also through its electronics businesses, including playing a major ole in the ECRS Mk 0 AESA radar. Around 200 of the 400-plus suppliers are based in Italy, where the workforce of direct, indirect, and induced employment numbers around 20,000 personnel.
The KAF is also expecting to receive its first Super Hornets soon. The 22 F/A-18E single-seaters and six F/A-18F two-seaters have all been built, with the last being handed over to the U.S. Navy in September. Training is being conducted in the U.S. prior to transfer to Kuwait. Both Typhoon and Super Hornet are being integrated with the Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod.