The ‘Enduring Relationship’ Today
The Royal Air Force and Royal Air Force of Oman maintain a very close working relationship to this day.
This relationship has evolved out of the air forces shared heritage. During the first Gulf War (1990-91), the Royal Air Force of Oman supported Royal Air Force efforts when aircraft operated out of RAFO Seeb and Thumrait. More recently, in 2001, Oman hosted Exercise SAIF SAREEA II, a major undertaking involving forces across all the services of the two nations.
Royal Air Force Loan Service Today
From the formation of the Royal Air Force of Oman in 1959 to the present day, loan service remains the key physical embodiment of the two air forces’ ‘enduring relationship’. Notably, Great Britain’s former Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Lord Stirrup, served as a loan officer with No. 1 (Strikemaster) Squadron during the Dhofar War in the 1970s. Today, 22 Royal Air Force officers and non-commissioned officers hold a variety of positions with the Royal Air Force of Oman. These positions range across policy, training and standards areas and support the Royal Air Force of Oman’s evolving capabilities.
Exercise MAGIC CARPET
Exercise MAGIC CARPET is an annual bilateral exercise hosted by the Royal Air Force of Oman dating back to the 1980s. Designed to enhance Great Britain’s links in the region, the exercise also provides the Royal Air Force with an opportunity to conduct operationally relevant training. MAGIC CARPET allows for the conduct of a full spectrum of operations and numerous elements of the Royal Air Force, including aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing E3D Sentry, typically deploy in support of the exercise.
The Royal Air Force of Oman and RAF College Cranwell
The Royal Air Force of Oman maintains close links with the Royal Air Force’s training establishments. Key remains the RAF College at Cranwell, which provides initial officer training for many aspiring officers. In July 1986, Sultan Qaboos acted as reviewing officer to Initial Officer Training Course No. 94. In September 2013, the Commander of the Royal Air Force of Oman, Air Vice-Marshal Mattar bin Ali Al Obaidani acted as reviewing officer to Initial Officer Training Course No. 32, which included two Omani cadets. Air Vice-Marshal Mattar is himself a Cranwell graduate.
The Industrial Relationship
The British aviation industry has long been a vital element in providing support to the Royal Air Force of Oman. Outside the supply of aircraft from British companies, Airwork Services Limited provided maintenance and technical support to the Royal Air Force of Oman from its formation in 1959 through to this day. The most significant recent British involvement was the announcement in 2012 of the purchase of 12 Eurofighter Typhoons and 8 BAE Hawk 128 advanced trainers from BAE Systems by the Royal Air Force of Oman. The Typhoons will enter service from 2017 and be based at a bespoke airbase at Adam in north-eastern Oman.