Tag Archives: Qatar Emiri Air Force

Fighter jet deals Middle East hang in the balance

Fighter jet deals worth billions of US dollars hang in the balance in the Middle East as they have been doing for a number of years, but things could be moving along now following the apparent ease between Iran and the West. Or did Kuwait and Qatar already make up their mind?

It is no secret that Kuwait is looking to purchase 28 Boeing Super Hornets to replace its fleet of older F/A-18C/D Hornets, and that Qatar has been seeking to buy up to 72 variants of Boeing’s F-15 Strike Eagle.

Production

Both orders would come in handy to keep production lines in the US open, particularly the Super Hornet line. A batch of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) EA-18 Growlers is now in manufacturing and after that it will likely be the end of production for the F-18 Hornet and its variants.

Unless of course Kuwait indeed orders its Super Hornets. A deal never seemed close however, and the reason could very well be that the US did not want to spoil improving relations with shia-Islam orientied Iran by supplying advanced warfare machines to opposing sunni countries such as Qatar and Kuwait.

A Kuwait Air Force F/A-18C Hornet, seen in the UK in 1993 during delivery to Kuwait. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Kuwait Air Force F/A-18C Hornet, seen in the UK in 1993 during delivery to Kuwait. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Israel

That standpoint may change now that the relationship with Iran seems on its way to normalization. On the other hand however, there’s also Israel to be taken into account. That country upgrading its F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) jets and won’t be very happy to see more Arab states getting similar capabilities, also considering the fact that Saudi Arabia already has an impressive fleet of F-15s – and another 84 new-build F-15SAs (Saudi Advanced) are on their way between now and 2019. The US may be sensitive to this also.

Rafale & Typhoon

But perhaps Qatar and Kuwait have already made up their mind. Since requesting F-15s, the former in April signed to buy 24 French Dassault Rafale jets while the latter eyes 28 Italian-made Eurofighter Typhoon jets. A contract for those was rumoured to be signed last December, but still awaits signatures.

The coming months should tell if there will ever be Qatari F-15s and Kuwaiti Super Hornets. And finally, if there will ever be Iraqi Air Force Mirage 2000s, as the United Arab Emirates are reportedly looking to hand over some of their Mirages to Baghdad.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An F-15E in max ‘fuel to noise’ mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

A brand new Eurofighter Typhoon awaits delivery. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A brand new Eurofighter Typhoon awaits delivery. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Rafale jets were recently delivered to Egypt. (Image © Anthony Pecchi / Dassault)
Rafale jets were recently delivered to Egypt. (Image © Anthony Pecchi / Dassault)

Final C-17 Globemaster leaves Long Beach

After 21 years and 279 aircraft procuded, the curtain falls for Boeing C-17 Globemaster III production in Long Beach, California. The final C-17 left the production facility on Sunday 29 November on it’s way to another Boeing facility in Texas in preparation for delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force next year.

Qatar is one of nine operators of the  Boeing C-17 Globemaster, the military transport aircraft that first flew on 15 September 1991 from Long Beach. The US Air Force is the largest operator by far, taking 223 aircraft. The last USAF-delivery took place in 2013.

Customers

Over the last decade, India quickly became the second largest operator, counting 10 Globemaster. Australia and the UK both operate eight aircraft. Other operators are Canada, NATO, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Along with the UAE, Qatar was one of the operators to snatch up some of the last Globemasters remaining for sale. Ahead of closing down production, Boeing decided to produce a dozen or so ‘white-tail’ C-17s; aircraft with no formal customer. Other countries to take some of these aircraft were India, Australia and Canada.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III (Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An Australian C-17 Globemaster III (Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

Qatar Air Force doubles Globemaster fleet

The Qatar Emiri Air Force is doubling its fleet of Boeing C-17A Globemaster IIIs. An agreement was signed at the Paris Air Show (PAS15) on 15 June 2015 for a second batch of four of these strategic airlifters.

Qatar was the first Middle East customer to order C-17s. Two C-17s were received in 2009, with a second two arriving in 2012. One of the C-17s is operated as a VIP airline for the royal family and the government of Qatar. This Qatar Globemaster flies in the livery of Qatar Airways, like many of the Qatar Amiri Flight.

Boeings bet to produce 10 additional C-17s on its own expense seems to pay off. With the final aircraft already in production the last Globemaster III is planned to be ready in Mid-2015. Of the last ten Canada buys one, Australia two – possibly four – and the United Arab Emirates two. That left four aircraft, with New Zealand reportedly interested and Australia possibly buying another two. Some sources say that even Sweden considers the C-17, but the country seems happy for now with the time it buys on the three NATO/EU C-17s based at Papa in Hungary.

Qatar now has snatched up four of the five remaining Globemaster. That leaves just one C-17 for Boeing to sell.

When production ends with 279 aircraft built the United States Air Force will by far stay the biggest C-17 user with 223 Globemasters, followed by the Indian Air Force with 10 aircraft. Then comes the Royal Air Force, the UAE Air Force, the Qatar Emiri Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force all having eight machines. The Royal Canadian Air Force flies five Globemasters, NATO/EU Partners stay at 3 and the Kuwait Air Force owns two.

Source: Boeing
Featured image: The second Qatar Emiri Air Force C-17A Globemaster III (Image © Boeing)

Qatar puts Rafale in winning mood

Another major success for Dassault’s Rafale in just three months: following Egypt’s and India’s earlier order, Qatar is now ordering 24 Rafale fighter aircraft, with an agreement to be signed on 4 May in Doha.

The Qatar order is worth 6.3 billion EUR and also involves training of 36 pilots and 100 mechanics, Paris confirmed on Thursday 30 April. News about a possible purchase from Qatar has been doing the rounds for a long time already. Qatar has been using Dassault Mirage 2000s for a long time already.

The sale marks the definitive end of Dassault’s difficulties in selling the Rafale outside France. After years of marketing talk and endless negotiations with several interested nations, the French company finally sold 24 Rafales to Egypt earlier this year. More recently, India ordered 36 Rafales.

Stick 'm up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stick ‘m up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Turn of events
Over the last decade, foreign Rafale sales seemed a myth, with the type loosing out to either Saab Gripen or the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The remarkable recent turn of events is explained by another turn of events: the advance of Islamic State forces in the Middle East, forcing Egypt and Qatar to speed things up. Both French Air Force and French Navy Rafales have been actively fighting IS forces over Iraq.

F-35
Also, continuing teething problems on the F-35 – issues with flight control, maintainability, sofware and weapon system –  made it clear that the US fighter is far away from being a reliable aircraft, deleting it as an option. An option which maybe was never very likely in the first place for Egypt and Qatar, since the US has already sold the 5th generation fighter aircraft to Israel.

Reliability is also a problem with India’s Su-30 fleet, reinforcement of which was named as an alternative to buying Rafale. Talks about a larger purchase from India are said to continue.

The Rafale still has more cards on the table: the latest F3 R type is also on offer to Belgium. The Belgians seek to replace their F-16s, starting in 2023.

Currently, the only nation flying the Rafale is France, with well over 135 aircraft delivered out of 180 ordered. The original Rafale prototype first flew on 4 July 1986.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Two Rafales seen during operations against IS. (Image © Armée de l’Air)

The granddaddy of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrater and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but the Rafale happens to be our favourite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The granddaddy of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrater and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but the Rafale happens to be our favourite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Overview: Yemen Air Strikes

UPDATED 21APRIL 2015 | The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) led air strikes on Houthi rebel positions in neighbouring Yemen has got a broad military support from many other Arab nations. As Airheadsfly.com got new data the RSAF F-15S (Strike) Eagles and EF2000 Typhoons didn’t fly into combat alone at all.

If our sources are correct the United Arab Emirates Air Force sent 30 of its fighter jets, mainly Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Desert Falcons and possibly a number of Dassault Mirage 2000s. The Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) and Kuwait Air Force both said to have contributed about 15 combat jets each. If true, the relatively large RBAF contribution is remarkable, since the country has only about 15 to 17 operational F-16Cs and eight remaining and aging Northrop F-5Es.

The Kuwait Air Force used almost half of its 35 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet. The Qatar Emiri Air Force scrambled up to ten of its Mirage 2000s, while the Royal Jordanian Air Force flew six of its Lockheed Martin F-16s into combat in the Yemen.

Air Assets Operation Restoring Hope (known as Decisive Storm until the end of April 2015)

  • Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF):
    100 aircraft, including Boeing F-15C Eagle air-superiority fighters, Boeing F-15S (Strike) Eagles, Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon multi-role fighters, Panavia Tornado interdictor / strike aircraft, Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters (unconfirmed), Aérospatiale (Airbus Helicopter) AS532M Cougar CSAR helicopters
  • United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF):
    30 fighter jets of Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Desert Falcon and Dassault Mirage 2000 type
  • Kuwait Air Force (KAF):
    15 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet multirole fighters. Some or all operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia.
  • Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF):
    15 aircraft of the Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon and Northrop F-5 type
  • Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF):
    10 Mirage 2000-5 fighters. Some or all operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia.
  • Royal Jordanian Air Force (RDAF):
    6 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16A/B Fighting Falcon multirole fighters
  • Royal Moroccan Air Force:
    6 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multirole fighters
  • Sudanese Air Force:
    3 to 6 Sukhoi Su-24 strike aircraft. Operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia. Moreover the Sudanese Air Force has likely deployed some of its four C-130 Hercules and possible its two Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft in support
  • Egyptian Air Force:
    contribution unknown
  • US Air Force (USAF):
    Boeing KC-135 Stratofortress upon Saudi request. First refuelling mission flown on 8 April 2015.

Focusing
The air strikes are focusing on Houthi rebel positions, air defence sites, air bases and Sanaa international airport, command-and-control locations and army camps in Sanaa, Saada and Taiz. The first strikes were launched on 25 or 26 March 2015, with ground forces engaged as well in what has been dubbed Operation Decisive Storm. Officially it takes place under the flag of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the members.

Footage posted by AlAribya on YouTube

Saudi Arabia has said to have committed a 100 aircraft, as well as 150,000 ground forces. The six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons that the Royal Moroccan Air Force already had in the United Arab Emirates to fight ISIS in Iraq have also been retasked with supporting the Saudi-led operations in Yemen. Sudan committed three combat aircraft, Sukhoi Su-24s (“Fencer”) sources say. Egypt pledged its support as well, but there is no information yet on how many and which aircraft it will sent.

The US Armed Forces are not directly taking part in the military ops, but do provide essential tanker support, according to sources to USA Today.

A Royal Saudi Air Force E-3 Sentry taking off (Image © Boeing)
Although its involvement has not been officially confirmed, it is very likely that the Saudis use their E-3 Sentries to provide a complete radar picture of the operations zone in Yemen (Image © Boeing)

Conflict
The conflict in Yemen is between loyalist forces that support fled president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi / Zaidi Shia rebels. Main focus is the western part of the country. There the loyalist forces have the most support in the Sunnis south – with Aden as the principal city. Whoever control Aden, controls the sea lanes to/from the Red Sea – a main supply route for oil and other goods. The Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia is said to be pushing towards Aden with a ground force of about 5,000 troops.

The Houthi forces have a strong control of the northern part of the west, mainly north of the capital of Sanaa. They easily took control of the capital last September and are known to be an effective fighting force, meaning the Arab coalition will very likely deploy combat aircraft and maybe helicopters in the close air-support role. In fact, the Saudis deployed armed helicopters (likely Apaches, but this is unconfirmed) on the border when its ground forces clased with Houthi forces.

Footage posted by AlAribya on YouTube

Iran
During a large part of the 20th century there were two Yemens. North Yemen became a state in 1918, while South Yemen freed itself from colonizer Britain. The two united on 22 May 1990, but unrest has plagued the country since 1993. In the current conflict Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia support the loyalist forces – including military ground and air ops since this week. Iran is opposing the use of weapons by its Arab neighbours, but has so far stayed out of the conflict militarily.

Houthi rebel combat planes
Officially at least, since some sources indicate that Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force pilots are flying combat planes of Yemeni Air Force units who sided or were overrun by Houthi rebels. One or more Iranian ships have also docket in Hudaidah with military equipment and ammunition on board earlier this March.

But with the Royal Saudi Air Force controlling Yemeni air space since Thursday 26 March, it is unlikely that Houthi planes with Yemeni or Iranian pilots will stand much of a change. In fact, according to several sources on 30 March 2015 the Saudi-led air strikes have destroyed at least 11 fighter jets of the Houthi rebels. The rebels got quite a prize in the third week of March, capturing Yemeni Air Force Al Anad Airbase with apparently up to 21 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets. Some sources say that the Houthis never had more than 16 combat aircraft in total, so the exact details are somewhat sketchy.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A UAE F-16 (Image © Michael B. Keller / USAF)

Related: Saudis use Typhoon and F-15 in Yemen strike

A Jordan F-16, bought from surplus Belgium inventory. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Jordan F-16, bought from surplus Belgium inventory. (Image © Elmer van Hest)