Qatari Hawk Trainers Make First Flights
LONDON—BAE Systems has flown the first three of nine Hawk jet trainers ordered by Qatar.
Aircraft enthusiasts watching BAE’s facilities at Warton, England, have noted flights by three Hawk Mk.167s in recent weeks, with the first of the Hawks taking to the air on May 26. A second Qatari Hawk flew on June 4.
In a statement to Aerospace DAILY, BAE Systems would not confirm the first flights. “We regularly conduct flight testing on aircraft at our Warton aerodrome site. However, we are unable to provide details on individual aircraft.”
The nine jet trainers are part of a wider package of equipment being ordered by Doha which includes the purchase of 24 Eurofighter Typhoons, which were contracted by the Qatari government in December 2017.
The Hawks were added as part of an amendment to the Typhoon deal in mid-2018.
But Qatar’s Hawks are unlikely to leave the UK. Instead, they will join a new joint UK Royal Air Force/Qatar Emiri Air Force unit that will train Qatari fast jet pilots at Leeming, England.
The UK has already formed a joint UK/Qatari squadron at Coningsby flying the Eurofighter Typhoon, which will move to Qatar in 2022 to provide air defense for the country for the 2022 World Cup before returning to the UK in 2023.
Like its approach to purchasing new fighters, Qatar is also outsourcing pilot training to other countries beyond the UK. It has signed agreements with the Italian government and Leonardo to use the International Flight Training School established in Sardinia.