Al Udeid Air Base

Al Udeid Air Base


Major base in Qatar for RAAF Hercules and F-14 aircraft during the eary stages of the invasion of Iraq, and for Hercules o an ongoing basis. It is not yet clear whether Muharraq was one of four Australian Gulf bases to undergo rationalisation in late 2009.

Al Udeid – [Google Earth*]

*Google Earth (free download) required.

Government sources



Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, 25°06’57″N 51°18’55″E,

Detailed historical account, with photos and satellite images and links to other Qatar facilities.

The RAAF in Iraq

Short account, with photographs.

Australia’s four Mideast bases to be combined to cut costs Mideast Aust, Max Blenkin (AAP), SMH, 2009-10-31

By the end of the year, Australia’s four bases in the Middle East will have become one under a rationalisation program designed to cut costs and improve efficiencies for fighting the conflict in Afghanistan. The new facility will host RAAF AP-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft as well as support troops serving in Afghanistan. It will also house around 500 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel with capacity to accommodate another 500 as troops transit to and from Afghanistan. Australia is spending $87 million on new accommodation, hangars and maintenance facilities at the base. But under diplomatic agreements, the Australian government and defence force undertake not to publicly identify the Persian Gulf nation hosting the new facility, shared with New Zealand, Canadian, Dutch, British and US forces. Neither will Australia identify the other Persian Gulf nations in which troops have been based, although all are well known.

Defence Business: View from Canberra – Home away from home, Australian Defence Magazine, 1 March 2009

Since 2003, Australia has maintained three significant bases in the Persian Gulf region but these will soon become one. Two AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and 170 personnel operate from Al-Minhad air base in Dubai, three C-130 Hercules transport and 160 personnel operate from the US Al-Udeid air base in Qatar and the Force Level Logistics Asset (FLLA) with 110 personnel operates from the major US facility at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait.

Under the new status of forces agreement between Iraq and Australia, the embedded personnel can stay on to July, with the prospect that a handful of specialists may remain after that date. SECDET operates under a diplomatic convention which allows a nation to provide security for their diplomats and mission. Afghanistan is now the main event with the Hercs routinely flying into Kabul, Kandahar and Tarin Kowt. But getting there is a roundabout route because Iran bars coalition overflights. The way in is out the Gulf then up across Pakistan.

That would in theory make Qatar the best base for Afghanistan operations but the reality is that most flights heading for Afghanistan must go via Kuwait to collect personnel and particularly their weaponry. And that’s because of a whole range of new restrictions imposed by the Qatari government on movements of foreign aircraft, their crews and cargo. These are comparatively recent and have been described by one defence official as a “complete embuggerance”. This most often manifests as a rigorous application of local immigration law with the consequence that crews, non-complying through no fault of their own, have been technically deported from Qatar.

Quite why this has occurred remains a mystery to Australian officials charged with smoothing the way and sorting out the messes. Australia has no official diplomatic presence in Qatar (the mission for the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi handles Qatar). Neither does Qatar have an embassy in Australia and on one theory, relations could be enhanced through boosting the diplomatic ties. However, the US and UK have embassies in Qatar and both also experience aggravation. Qatar’s strategic outlook appears to have undergone a shift. The US abandoned its Saudi bases and moved onto Qatar in the lead-up to the Iraq conflict, with Central Command (CENTCOM) running the war from Camp As-Saliyah outside the capital Doha. Relations between the US and Iran are hardly warm, with much speculation in the latter stages of the Bush administration that the US could launch a pre-emptive strike – with much of that coming from Al-Udeid. The base is currently home to a wing of B1-B Lancer bombers which conduct operations over Afghanistan.

Mid-east military HQ goes to Gulf, Patrick Walters, Australian, 2008-09-22

The Australian Defence Force will embark on a major revamp of its command arrangements and logistical bases in the Middle East next year as the military winds down its involvement in Iraq and gears up for a long campaign in Afghanistan. The relocated joint taskforce headquarters will be much closer to Australia’s main war effort in Afghanistan with the last of combat forces having been withdrawn from Iraq earlier this year. At the same time, Defence wants to consolidate its current support bases dotted along the Arabian Gulf into one key location. Since the 2003 Gulf War Defence has maintained separate bases in the region for its C-130 Hercules detachment, its AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft, and its main logistical support base in Kuwait. The C-130 Hercules detachment with about 160 personnel is based in Qatar and the AP-3C Orions with 170 personnel are based in the United Arab Emirates.


Wizards of OZ, Tony Holmes, Global Defence Review

In February 2003, the Australian government announced that it would forward deploy both Hercules and Hornet aircraft and an air forward command element to the Middle East area of operations (MEAO).The latter, according to an Australian Defence Force (ADF) spokesman, would be ‘responsible for co-ordinating air operations with coalition partners, and providing national control of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) assets’. Al Udeid air base, Qatar was chosen as the primary operating location for the bulk of the RAAF aircraft allocated to the campaign. Home to the USAF’s 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, as well as numerous RAF and US Navy/Marine Corps assets in-theatre (and Central Command HQ), Al Udeid has yet to be officially named by the Australian DoD as its primary operating base. The pre-positioning of aircraft began on 7 February 2003 when two tactically configured C-130Hs and a strategically configured C-130J departed RAAF Richmond, near Sydney. Forty-eight hours later, 14 F/A-18A Hornets headed for Al Udeid from their base at RAAF Tindal, in the Northern Territory. On 21 February three Australian Army Aviation Corps CH-47D Chinooks were flown out to Kuwait aboard USAF C-5B Galaxies.

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 8 November 2009