Rafale arrival in Qatar
A first Qataris’ Rafale group undertook the journey from France to the Persian Gulf.
On June 5th, Qatar’s Ministry of Defense announced on Twitter the departure of a first lot of Rafales to its territory. So far, the aircrafts were based in France. Pictures of the flight transfer and of the arrival at Al Adiyat basis were posted on Twitter on June 7th. The crossing was performed with the assistance of a tanker aircraft.
Qatar ordered 36 Rafales, of which 24 in 2015 and an additional 12 as a purchase option in 2017, all of them entirely produced in France by Dassault Aviation. The official reception ceremony of the first aircrafts took place in February 2019.
The French Air Force was very involved in the training of the Qatari staff. The training initial schools prepared mechanics, intelligence specialists, firemen and logisticians. A Rafale squadron was created within the 3rd squadron of Mont de Marsan. It counted twenty French aviators responsible for the support of the crew and the rest of the Qatari personnel ramp-up.
This unit allowed the qualification of at least patrol sub-commander rank to fifteen Qatari pilots. Some Qatari pilots were also qualified as instructors. Qatar Rafale Squadron will shut down during Summer 2019.
In addition to these 36 Rafales, Qatar ordered 36 Eurofighter Typhoons and 36 F-15 with purchasing options for new orders. An impressive step up for any air force whose fighter component was limited to 12 Mirage 2000-5 until now.