LONDON: Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from the UK will protect Qatar’s airspace from threats during the country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup later this year, The Times reported on Wednesday.
It comes as part of a major purchase of the jets — sold by Britain’s BAE Systems — by Qatar, which will take delivery of 24 of them by next year.
Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, Qatar’s ambassador to the UK, said during a ceremony in Lancashire to mark the first jet transfer that pilots from both countries will be ready to scramble on short notice during the tournament.
Typhoons have a top speed of almost 1,400 miles per hour. They were used during London’s hosting of the Olympic Games in 2012 to provide air cover. The jets sold to Qatar will arrive “fully operational” and ready to fly.
Al-Attiyah said major public events are “soft spot” targets for terror attacks, and adequate protection is needed.
“The situation globally remains stable but nonetheless could be volatile. Anything could basically happen. So we prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he added.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace hailed the Typhoon deal as an “exciting milestone.”
As part of Qatar’s preparations for the tournament, the country will also deploy navy and army forces to react to threats.
Al-Attiyah described the deployments as “one of many proactive measures we are taking to ensure we deliver a safe and secure tournament. One has to be vigilant.”