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Qatar, US militaries enhance theater security cooperation through Sky Shield IV

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jessica Tait
  • Ninth Air Forces (Air Forces Central) Public Affairs
Service members from the Qatar Emiri Air Force, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps conducted training during Sky Shield IV at Al Udeid Air Base, Jan. 23-25.

Sky Shield IV served as Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central)’s first major training event in 2022 and the fourth iteration of the bilateral defensive counter-air combat patrol, and combat search and rescue (CSAR) training.

“Flying side-by-side as a joint U.S. and Qatari force increases our collective strength and serves as a remarkable demonstration of assurance and deterrence,” said Lt. Gen. Greg Guillot, 9th AF (AFCENT) commander. “During this latest Sky Shield, it was particularly impressive to see the variety of aircraft involved.”

Sky Shield IV included live flying with: QEAF Rafale, AgustaWestland AW139, and AH-64 Apache; U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), and KC-135 Stratotanker; and U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet.

“I have been privileged to work with our Qatar partners for the past 12 months and personally witnessed tremendous growth in the interoperability of our air forces,” said Maj. Dustin Mayes, AFCENT Senior Defense Officer-Qatar Air Defense Liaison Team. “As with the last iteration, we allowed Qatari pilots the opportunity to tactically command both U.S. and QEAF formations of aircraft and practice procedures. In this iteration, we seized the opportunity to bring greater capacity to our training through incorporating the deployed U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18s.”

The joint bilateral training event included defensive combat air and offensive strike against a simulated threat, as well as CSAR scenarios and an aerial formation.

“The visual demonstration of the coalition’s combat power and integrated strength was most evident with the aerial formation and CSAR event,” said Mayes. “The biggest highlight for me during this iteration of Sky Shield was the joint and bilateral successes achieved by multiple QEAF, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps assets.”

AFCENT works with Gulf Cooperation Council partner nations during training events and real-world operations to strengthen theater security cooperation efforts against aggressors within the region.