back to article Blighty flogs Qatar a bunch of missiles and Typhoon fighter jets

Qatar has agreed its long-awaited order for 24 British-built Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets and a billion pounds' worth of missiles assembled in the UK to go with them. The £5bn Qatari order for the jets, built by BAE at its Warton and Samlesbury bases in Lancashire, will not, however, save all of the thousands of jobs set …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Free at last.

      It's unlikely to come back and bite us in the ass.

      Quatar's military acquisitions are more made with the aim of keeping foreign partners with some influence onboard than from a practical defense standpoint, hence buying small quantities of weapons from the USA, France and of course ourselves.

      If they ended up in a shooting war with the neighbors currently participating in a blockade against them for (alledgedly) sponsoring terrorists against their neighbors then said shooting war wouldn't last long at all.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free at last.

      "It won't come back and bite us in the ass"

      No, but it might eventually bite a certain near by apartheid terrorist state though.

  2. DrD'eath

    We build and sell the typhoon, but have built an aircraft carrier unsuitable for them and have to buy USA aircaft for it. There complexities and subtleties here that are beyond my comprehension.

    1. TheVogon

      You can blame Gordon Brown for most of that mess!

    2. Korev Silver badge

      The Typhoon was never designed as a carrier-based aircraft.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        The Typhoon was never designed as a carrier-based aircraft.

        The Typhoon was never designed as a carrier-based aircraft.

        Neither was Su-27 nor Mig29.

        Looking at the most important parameter for carrier conversion, the stall speed. Hmm... Typhoon surprisingly enough has _LOWER_ official stall speed than Su-33 and Mig-29.

        Similarly, its take off weight: 23,500kg is actually lower than the F35B 27,200kg or the successful naval conversion of the Su-27, the Su-33 - 33,000kg.

        So the most common excuse of "It's too obese too fly off a carrier, we should buy Rafale instead" does not apply either. It is possible. Just no will to do it. I suspect BAE makes way more money shafting the RAF and NAVY with the F35 and it also makes it where it really matters - in the USA.

        1. Matt Hawkins

          Re: The Typhoon was never designed as a carrier-based aircraft.

          The air frame also needs to be suitable for being catapulting off a deck and suitable for landing on a moving deck.

          BAE would make considerably more money selling Typhoons rather than the F35. Unfortunately the MoD didn't want to pay for a Marine Typhoon and didn't want a nuclear power plant to produce the steam. The options were the F35 or something French.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: The Typhoon was never designed as a carrier-based aircraft.

            The air frame also needs to be suitable for being catapulting off a deck and suitable for landing on a moving deck.

            Apparently BAe's argument is that they don't need to be catapulted. They can operate off a ski-jump with full ordnance load. They have actually done some flight-testing on their thrust vector system, and also on the changes to the wing-roots that allow lower stall speed for carrier ops, as well as better dogfighting performance.

            So it may not be total fantasy. However they'd also need to re-design the airframe to be able to take arrested landings - and they'd have to re-do chunks of the avionics bays for all that lovely salt water - and it would be a major re-design. Which wouldn't be cheap. And who'd possibly want it? The MoD might want 100 max, and more likely 70-odd. The Indian navy maybe, but that's it. France won't be buying it, and nobody else in NATO has or wants that kind of carrier.

        2. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: The Typhoon was never designed as a carrier-based aircraft.

          "Typhoon surprisingly enough has _LOWER_ official stall speed than Su-33 and Mig-29... Similarly, its take off weight: 23,500kg is actually lower than the F35B 27,200kg or the successful naval conversion of the Su-27, the Su-33 - 33,000kg."

          This would be the Su-33 whose entire operational history consists of failing to land on an aircraft carrier (apparently due to being either too fast or too heavy for the arrestor cables, although obviously the Russian military aren't too forthcoming on the details), then having the remaining planes fly from ground bases in Syria instead? That may not be the best comparison really, or the best use of the word "successful" for that matter.

          1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Re: Su-33 - 33,000kg

            Bloody hell, it's about the same weight as F-14. Not going to be easy to handle these if you're short on the deck estate.

    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      The typhoon design isin't suitable for an aircraft carrier regardless of if we'd built the carrier with cats and traps.

      If we wanted a Typhoon designed for a carrier it would have been cheaper and more expediant all around to just buy the Dassault Rafale from France.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      The Typhoon is too fat and heavy to land on an aircraft carrier. It was designed as a Cold War air superiority fighter - that just happened to miss the Cold War by a decade and a bit. But that's advanced defence procurement for you - the project studies were begun in the 70s, the design work in the 80s and it then takes years/decades to get off the ground.

      BAe are a partner in the F35 program - so we have some fingers in that pie. But since it was decided not to go for a catapult carrier, the F35 was the only game in town. Harrier being rather long in the tooth by this point. And also, very short range.

      Catapult carriers are incredibly hard on the airframes (which last many years less) - as well as being much harder on the pilots, so that we wouldn't be able to have a joint RAF / Navy force of planes - that can be assigned either to the carriers or to other duties.

      So this would almost certainly mean buying more planes in totaly - though obviously we could buy cheaper ones. French (spit!) Rafales or F18 Super Hornets for the carrier and something else for the RAF (perhaps the cheaper F35A). So there would be much less flexibility. If a crisis coincides with both QE and PoW not being in major refit - then we'd be able to briefly deploy both at once with full air groups of 48 F35s. That's a Falklands War type situation, that looks incredibly unlikely - so that option may be totally irrelevant anyway. But say wouldn't be available if we'd gone cats'n'traps and ordered one and a half full air-groups - so we could only ever sortie one carrier at a time.

      I'm not sure any of these are the choices I'd have made - but despite lots of column-inches to that effect, they're also not totally irrational.

      1. DrD'eath

        Good answers

        As they make a navalised typhoon I assumed it was suitable for aircraft carriers.

        I'm not being sarky, I actually learn something from the comments.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good answers

          As they make a navalised typhoon I assumed it was suitable for aircraft carriers.

          I'm not being sarky, I actually learn something from the comments.

          Mmm. Remember this is BAE that your dealing with, and read their press releases with more skepticism than is reserved for other snake oil sellers.

          My read of that article is "they have done computer simulations of what a navalised version might look like if somebody would buy it". It's the same as the deal offered with the cats and traps for our aircraft carriers, by the same company.

          ie, it's thereotically possible, but they've just said they could do it. Not that they've done detailed design and costings for it. That's done after you give them a purchase order, of course. (Hence why BAE is known to the armed forces as Billions Above Estimate)

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Good answers

            As for the Naval Typhooon, yeah... Probably when pigs fly.

            I doubt the airframe could handle no-flare landings. The undercarriage definitely needs a total redesign, adding a lot of weight, reducing max range and performance.

        2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Good answers


          Interesting. I didn't know the Typhoons were designed for thrust vectoring - and a quick look at Wiki suggests that it's a possibility for tranche 3 that hasn't yet been implemented. They've also done the work on some of the low speed aerodynamics - but not yet implemented it. Same for the conformal fuel cells mentioned.

          So what I'd say from the date of that article is that BAe were attempting to persuade the MoD to look at the Eurofighter, becuase the coalition had decided to look again at catapults, before realising that they weren't going to be possible to retrofit to the carriers.

          There's no way the Indian navy were going to pick an untested design from a foreign company, over off-the-shelf hardware - so I guess they were dangling the idea to the MoD that they could solve some of their Typhoon cost problems by getting more orders for carrier ones (with somewhat fantasy design), have more UK jobs, and even the possibilty of export orders to India. Though why India would buy an untested new plane, when they could have Rafales or MiGs (that are already operating) is anyone's guess.

        3. Richard Plinston

          Re: Good answers

          > As they make a navalised typhoon I assumed it was suitable for aircraft carriers.

          Models and "simulation tests" do not constitute "make" in the present tense.

    5. Matt Hawkins

      There is no Typhoon capable of being launched from an aircraft carrier. If there were it would require steam catapults. Steam requires nuclear. So your option would require a nuclear powered carrier with a re-designed Typhoon. A viable option but one that was weighed up with the alternatives.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Would require steam catapults

        Not strictly true - the MoD was planning to use the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), as seen on the USS Gerald R. Ford, if they went down the cats-and-traps route. This doesn't requre steam, but probably calls for more electric power generating capability.

        As far as I recall, a navalised Typhoon was considered for the navy, but the yanks convinced our government that the F35 would cost less. Yes, really. Just like they convinced them the F111 would cost less than the TSR2 back in the sixties.

        1. Jon 37

          Re: Would require steam catapults

          > EMALS ... probably calls for more electric power generating capability.

          The propulsion is already electric. So they already have a lot of electric generating capacity to drive the electric motors that drive the propellers. An electric catapult would presumably charge up a capacitor to use to power the launch, so there should be enough spare power for that.

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Would require steam catapults

          As far as I recall, a navalised Typhoon was considered for the navy, but the yanks convinced our government that the F35 would cost less.

          It may. For other countries, not UK.

          Some of the other countries which used to operate Harriers after choosing F35B went for a lighter amphibious assault/carrier ship. They effectively downgraded to a ship smaller than their previous "Harrier Carriers" which were similar to UK's old Invincible class.


          OLD Spanish aircraft carrier: - similar spec to Invincible.

          New Spanish (they do not even call it carrier):

          Half the capacity, specifically built for F35B or similar VTOL aircraft + helicopters, also capable of carrying landing craft, cheap and already ordered in one form or another by 3 other navies. At least one of them specifically as a F35 + power projection platform. If UK went down this route it could have had 4+ of these for the same price as QE and PW with 3+ of them operational at the same time delivering much better bang for the overall buck.

          The reason why the F35B UK programme is so bad value for the money is not just the aircraft, but building a single purpose aircraft carrier for it which is in the same size/displacement zone where you can have a real one launching real aircraft. This defeats the purpose of spending money on VTOL aircraft.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @Matt Hawkins

        Steam catapults need a steam plant. Not necessarily nuclear.

        Britain invented the steam catapult just after WWII. This was way before nuclear propulsion was an option.

        But you are in a way, quite right. We don't have any ships with steam turbines any more (probably the last built was the Type 82 destroyer HMS Bristol), so there isn't any serious steam generation in HMS QE or PoE (these are IEP - Integrated Electric Propulsion involving diesel and gas turbines driving generators and electric motors), and there is not enough electrical generation for EMALS, although I think that EMALS actually use a kinetic storage device to charge up and rapidly dump the electrical power that is needed to launch aircraft.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: @Matt Hawkins

          Steam generating equipment for JUST a catapult isn't actually all that size able. I'm guesstimating you'd get away with a modern boiler about the size of the average living room with modern fuel oil burners. A steam catapult doesn't use that much steam really. Not compared to the turbines needed to propel such a ship anyway. The problem is probably more the forces involved. A steam catapult only has a limited sub-set of power settings. Pretty much: OFF, ON, and slightly less ON but still quite brisk. EMALS was/is supposed to deliver a much more constant and gently shove, but you're still accelerating a 30.000 kg mass to 65 m/s in a matter of seconds. Being generous that a measly 650 kN you've got to somehow contain, no matter how you contain it

          1. Sanguma

            Re: @Matt Hawkins - why steam generation?

            Use a High Pressure Hot Air Generator. The political party is of no importance, they can be stuffed into a closet, and they eat much the same as any other person. And it doesn't matter if they are in government or in opposition, they still generate enormous amounts of high pressure hot air.

            You may as well make good use of them.

      3. Richard Plinston

        > Steam requires nuclear.

        And yet British carriers have used steam catapaults since 1950 without a trace of nuclear.

        In fact the discussions were based on installing electric catapaults. Also BAe claim they can build a Naval Typhoon that can operate from a ski jump.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Voland's Right Hand

          "Neither was Su-27 nor Mig29."

          Possessing an air arm that is as effective as Russian naval aviation is not actually something a significant sea power should aspire to.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    So glad...

    ..we put human rights at the top of our priorities.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: So glad...

      I thought same , and then read this:

      Looking for horrific examples of abuse, but having read it , they dont seem to be the worst country in the middle east . Standard religious cult based laws.

      They scored a few points on womens rights though

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So glad...

        So if you ignore sharia law and forced labour, it's not that bad, especially when compared to other middle eastern countries....

        It's like saying being bitten by a cobra is better than being stung by a swarm of killer bees.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So glad...

        "they dont seem to be the worst country in the middle east . "

        Yep, the award for worst human rights abuser in the Middle East is generally won by Israel. And they are up against some pretty stiff competition!

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: So glad...

      Well of course human rights are top priority for them.

      After all, politicians and BAE directors have human rights as well, things like the right to a massive salary, and maybe a bonus too. So they're making sure that those human rights are the ones being given priority.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radio 4 Today programme pointed out that Qatar currently have ten such planes. The orders they are placing multiply that number by many times ( x10?).

    The analysis was that the planes were effectively tokens in buying political support from Europe and the USA

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The analysis was that the planes were effectively tokens in buying political support from Europe and the USA"

      Probably helps that the pound is still down 20% on when the talks started. They've got an absolute bargain.

    2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      " by many times ( x10?)."

      I make it x3.4

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I make it x3.4"

        The Today programme was factoring in other recent deals with France and the USA - both larger than the UK one. So that gets three members of the UN Security Council potentially onside. The grand total with options comes to well over 100 combat aircraft.

        "Qatar on Thursday agreed to buy 12 additional Dassault Aviation-made Rafale fighters with an option for 36 more, [...]"

        "The tiny but gas-rich Gulf state earlier this year signed a deal to buy 72 F-15 combat aircraft from Boeing [...]"

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          72 f15s? i guess the uk purchase really is just a diplomatic exercise then

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    These formidable jets will boost the Qatari military's mission to tackle the challenges we both share in the Middle East

    Such as the stand off with Saudia Arabia to whom the UK is also selling warplanes? I assume that the best thing that can happen is an expansion of the hostilities in Yemen…

    1. gskr

      Re: Shipbuilding?

      In any war the only winners are the weapons merchants...

      The only reason for weapons merchants to exist is war, or the potential for one....


      Hey Qatar... I heard that Saudi Arabia said yo mamma is so fat.... AND I heard they're buying shiny weapons...

      Hey Saudi Arabia... I heard that Qatar said...

      Hey Shareholders... ££££££

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: Shipbuilding?

        Us british have always had a fine tradition of selling quality arms to whoever wants them so long as

        A. They're not fighting us

        B. They're fighting someone else we dont like

        C. We're selling arms to their enemy.

        Prior to 1917 , the US was cheerfully selling materials to both sides in WW1, and it was only the blockade of Germany by us British that stopped the germans getting anything from there....

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: Shipbuilding?

      It's a form of pragmatism. If the UK didn't sell them some planes, then US almost certainly would, or that other bastion of capitalism Russia.

      There might be some expectation that having a economic relationship with the country means that in times of trouble, if HM Ambassador pops round to see the head guy that he will be let in the door long enough to deliver his (or her) "we don't think you ought to do that" speech. Possibly with the hint that those spare parts and extra munitions they will be needing to keep planes viable will either appear promptly, or very much slower than desired dependent on HM the Q's FO hearing the right noises on state radio that afternoon.

  6. toby mills

    Given that the Saudi & UAE, UK's other allies in the region, are currently boycotting Qatar this makes for interesting timing and won't impress the Saudi's too much. Though balance that against the region's anger at recent USA announcement on Israel perhaps its the UK showing some regional support.

    More likely UK just trying to get more money to pay of the Brexit bill

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      More likely UK just trying to get more money to pay of the Brexit bill

      Presumably also the UK keeping (or supporting) its existing combat aircraft design/manufacturing capacity is also some sort of defense advantage...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        let me fix that

        The UK keeping or supporting it's 33% of existing design/manufacturing capacity.

        The remainder is designed and built by enemy (EU) forces.

    2. hopkinse

      The UK has historically had closer links with Qatar than Saudi - Bahrain, Qatar and the trucial states ( UAE ) were british protectorates until the early 70s, unlike Saudi...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Parts of what is now Saudi Arabia were British protectorates and helping ibn Saud was useful to British interests at one time.

        I'm guessing most of the world was unbothered post WWI by him taking control of the old Ottoman regions

        If oil hadn't been found there in the late 1930s, no doubt no one would care what the House of Saud was up to aside from providing hospitality to the pilgrims on the Hajj.

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      More likely UK just trying to get more money to pay of the Brexit bill

      Not even that. Just desperate to show that UK.PLC can find international trading partners outside the EU. And as noted in comments above, business as usual in the arms dealing department.

  7. sloshnmosh

    Fake News (?)

    "The analysis was that the planes were effectively tokens in buying political support from Europe and the USA"

    Ha! You can't just "buy" political support here in the US....Oh. wait

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the upside

    If relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar take a dip for the worse, we can honestly say we back the winner.

  9. RobertLongshaft

    IS this the same countries which drives its slave workers to death building stadiums for the 2022 world cup ? Over 1200 deaths and counting?

    Yeah selling these barbaric monsters hi tech military equipment is a bloody marvelous idea. At least we'll know how well they are armed when we have to bring them democracy in 5 years time.

    1. scrubber

      Stadium Building

      "The UK and Qatar will also form a joint squadron to provide aerial security during the 2022 football World Cup, which the Gulf state is hosting."

      Probably to round up/kill the slave workers trying to escape. Our facial recognition, having been perfected at the Notting Hill Carnival should be able to match the confiscated passport photos to the civilians in the crosshairs.

  10. DrD'eath


    In summation. Apart from the catapult launch, which we don't have, would make the airframe bendy. The rope grabbing stopping system would pull the back end off, and the salt water would make it go rusty, the typhoon is a fine choice.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Summary

      The landing itself would also make the undercarriage go a bit skew-whiff.

      Have a look at a Buccaneer's undercart to see what strength is required

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Soon to be seen bombing a part of Yemen...

    Mercifully not near you!

    I know that most of the West has mortgaged our energy security to the Middle East (or that other well-known haven of philanthropism, modern-day Russia), and these oil states need militaries to defend themselves and their energy resources from even more nasty autocrats. Plus I understand that if we don't sell them weapons they will get lesser-quality ones from Russia or China and there goes our influence and security over our energy needs.

    However, I grow increasingly concerned about the atavism involved in selling Israel and Arab police states/autocratic monarchies advanced weapons so that we can see these on TV being used to bomb other arabs who are less lucrative customers.

  12. Prosthetic Conscience

    Sell some to Qatar, sell some to Saudi Arabia then wait to see them in action?

  13. EnviableOne Silver badge

    Qatar are definatley currying favour

    for a small military force they have too many types to operate effectivley

    F-15s, Rafaele's and Typhoons all do the same job and they have to maintain 3 training squadrons, 3 maintanance cotracts and 3 sets of spares.

    The Sea Typhoon variant was one of the early proposals for the FCA program, that became the JCA program, and the F35 won due to it being a 5gen rather than 4th gen airframe

  14. armyknife

    Playing both ends against the middle.

    What chance those Saudi and Qatari Brit-built typhoons ending up on opposites sides of a shooing war?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like