In a deal likely to help cement the US’s presence in the Persian Gulf, hundreds of Qatari nationals are poised to move to Idaho. Qatar is in the process of purchasing 36 new F-15QAs and all the accompanying support equipment, as well as infrastructure to train pilots and maintenance personnel, and it is all likely to happen in Mountain Home, Idaho.

A Qatar Emiri Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircrew works with U.S. Air Force and Coalition partners to transport cargo from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Jan. 17, 2018. The Qatar Emiri Air Force transported cargo to assist U.S. and Coalition partners in sustaining combat operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook)

Upgrades, People, Upgrades

The $12 billion deal is part of Qatar’s desire to upgrade its own Air Force. Qatar already buys aircraft from the US, and flies the C-17 Globemaster III , C-130 Hercules, and AH-64 Apache. In 2016, the Qatari government reached a deal with the American government and Boeing to procure up to 72 new, F-15QA variants. 36 have been committed to, with an option to purchase the remaining 36. The QA variant is unique to the Qatari Air Force, but is similar to the F-15EX rolling off the line and into the hands of US pilots.

Part of the deal to purchase these upgraded F-15s is “cradle-to-marriage” support. “Cradle-to-marriage” because once the Qatari Air Force has been trained on operations and maintenance, support roles are handed over, and the jet life-cycle becomes solely a Qatari responsibility. The initial contract sets a ten-year timetable to equip, train, and gain proficiency on the new airframe. Active-duty USAF members will be part of the stand-up of the training wing at Mountain Home AFB.

Have Gun, Will Travel

Training foreign national military members in the US is not a new concept. Mountain Home is currently the home of the 428th Fighter Squadron, a squadron dedicated to training Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15SG pilots, weapons system officers, and ground maintenance personnel. This Singapore detachment is one of many across the US under the Peace Carvin program. The detachment currently at Mountain Home, known as Peace Carvin V, celebrated 10 years at Mountain Home in 2019.