RAF pilots and Typhoons return from Qatar after helping keep World Cup safe

Watch: 12 Squadron arrives home from Qatar deployment that included providing security at the World Cup.

The pilots and Typhoon jets of the RAF's 12 Squadron have returned home following a five-month deployment to Qatar, where they provided security for the World Cup.

The deployment has now returned to its home base at RAF Coningsby.

Since 2018, 12 Squadron has been a joint British and Qatari Typhoon unit, becoming the RAF's first joint squadron with another nation since the Second World War.

Wing Commander Chris Wright, Officer Commanding 12 Squadron, said that being invited by Qatar to help provide security for the World Cup was a real privilege.

The RAF worked together with the Qatar Emiri Air Force to secure the skies during the international football championship.

The pilots even got a chance to enjoy the event, and not just from the skies above.

"We did get invited to quite a few games in the ground, which was really good," said Flight Lieutenant Peter James, Typhoon pilot, 12 Squadron.

"So, I think loads of the guys got to go and see Wales versus England.  

"I think for all the deployments you get to go to, going to see a World Cup game is pretty spectacular," the pilot added.

Securing the skies over Qatar during the FIFA World Cup 2023 CREDIT QATAR MOD
Securing the skies over Qatar during the FIFA World Cup 2023 (Picture: Qatar MOD).

The RAF has assisted Qatar in standing up its first Typhoon squadron, in a mission named Project Thariyal, meaning Typhoon in Arabic.

Since September 2022, the RAF has been conducting joint training with the Qatar Emiri Air Force, which has recently purchased 24 Typhoons.

According to Wing Commander Wright, securing the World Cup was the climax of the joint UK-Qatari mission that had started in July 2018.

"Day one of the World Cup, the first jets airborne were two Qatari typhoons, with two Qatari pilots, and they were trained on these jets right here at RAF Coningsby," said Wing Commander Wright.

Now that the mission has been completed, a decision is still being made on whether 12 Squadron will become RAF only or remain as a joint UK-Qatar squadron.

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