Kuwait Growing Experience With Eurofighter

The Kuwaiti Typhoon’s presence at the Royal International Air Tattoo was the first by the Gulf State since 1993.
Credit: Duncan Mackellar/Royal International Air Tattoo Photography Team

RAF FAIRFORD, England—Kuwait’s Air Force is steadily building its Eurofighter experience as it advances its government-to-government procurement of the combat aircraft with Italy.

Four of the Kuwait Air Force’s 28 planned Typhoons have arrived at the newly constructed Salem Al Sabah extension to Kuwait Ali Al-Salem airbase, built specially for the Typhoon fleet.

“The Eurofighter brings with it a massive boost in power and acceleration and combat capability over the Hornet,” Col. Eisa Alrashidi, commander of the Kuwait Air Force’s 7th Squadron, told Aerospace DAILY at the Royal International Air Tattoo on July 16. “It is a complex aircraft and learning the systems takes time. But as a pilot you know there is a lot of redundancy and that helps you fly the aircraft and focus on the mission.”

Alrashidi was present at the show, having brought one of the Kuwaiti aircraft from Italy prior to delivery. It was the first Kuwaiti military aircraft at the Air Tattoo since 1993.

The aircraft at the Air Tattoo is due to be delivered to Kuwait in the coming weeks alongside the air force’s first single-seat aircraft.

The Gulf state ordered its Typhoons in April 2016 and will be the first customer to receive Eurofighters fitted with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar—the Mk. 0 version of the European Common Radar System AESA that will also be featured on Typhoons destined for Qatar. The fleet will be split between two operational squadrons—Alrashidi’s 7 Sqdn. and 18 Sqdn.—with the aircraft pooled between the units.

Kuwaiti pilots destined for the Typhoon are being converted onto type through an operational conversion course in Italy before returning to Kuwait. Along with training, the government-to-government agreement also sees Leonardo personnel providing support to the fleet looking after scheduled, unscheduled and depot-level maintenance in-country. The OEM is growing its presence in-country from 100 people currently to around 300 to support the program. The company will grow local capability to support the aircraft.

The primary role of the Kuwaiti Typhoons will be air defense, expanding to the air-to-ground mission later. Alrashidi said the air force was still considering which weaponry would be adopted to arm the fleet.

Typhoon deliveries are due to be completed in 2024. These will be joined by a fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets, the first of which are due to be delivered in 2023, Alrashidi said.

The arrival of the new combat aircraft fleet will enable Kuwait to begin replacing the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets the country purchased in the years after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991.

This story has been edited to correct a mistake regarding the delivery completion dates of the Kuwaiti Typhoons.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.