Egyptian Air Force

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Egyptian Air Force flag.

The Egyptian Air Force, or EAF (Arabic: القوات الجوية المصرية‎, al-Qūwāt al-Gawwīyä al-Miṣrīyä), is the aviation branch of the Egyptian armed forces. The EAF is headed by an Air Marshal (Lieutenant General equivalent). Currently, the commander of the Egyptian Air Force is Air Marshal Magdy Galal Sharawi. The force's motto is 'Higher and higher seeking glory' (Arabic: اعلاء الاعلى في سبيل المجد‎, I‘la’ al-a‘là fī sabīl al-magd).

Egypt's aviation history is tied to its aspirations as an independent country and to its leadership role in the Arab world. Now the EAF is the largest Arab air force and the second in the middle east after the Israeli Air Force with a total of over 579 combat aircraft and 121 armed helicopters.


[edit] History

[edit] Establishment

In late 1928, the Parliament of Egypt proposed the creation of an Egyptian Air Force. The Egyptian ministry of war announced that it needed volunteers for the new arm to become the first four Egyptian military pilots. Over 200 Egyptian officers volunteered, but in the end only three succeeded in passing strict medical tests and technical examinations.

These three went to RAF number 4 Flying Training School at Abu Suwayer near the Suez Canal, where they were trained on a variety of aircraft. After graduation they travelled to England for specialized training.

On November 2, 1930 King Fuad announced the creation of the Egyptian Army Air Force (EAAF) and in September 1931, the British De Havilland aircraft company won a contract to supply Egypt with 10 De Havilland Gipsy Moth trainers.

The first commander of the EAAF was a Canadian squadron leader, Victor Herbert Tait. Tait selected staff and weapons and built air-bases. In 1934 the British government provided 10 Avro 626 aircraft, which were the first real Egyptian military planes. A further 17 626s together with Hawker Audaxes for army cooperation and close support and Avro Ansons for VIP work followed shortly afterwards.

In 1937 the Egyptian Army Air Force was separated from the army command and became an independent branch named the Royal Egyptian Air Force (REAF). New bases were built in the Suez canal region and the western desert.

In 1938 the REAF received 2 squadrons of Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters and a squadron of then modern Westland Lysander reconnaissance aircraft, (Egypt was the last nation to use the Lysander in action, during the 1948 Arab campaign against Israel).

[edit] World War II

As the Egyptian border was threatened by an Italian and German invasion, the Royal Air Force established more bases in Egypt during World War II. The Egyptian Air Force was sometimes treated as a part of the royal Air Force, at other times a policy of neutrality was followed. As a result of this vacillation, few additional aircraft were supplied by Britain, however the arm did receive its first modern fighters, Hawker Hurricanes and a small number of Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks. In the immediate post war period, cheap war surplus aircraft, including a large number of Supermarine Spitfire Mk9s were acquired. The REAF also bought Macchi MC205V fighters and trainers from Italy.

[edit] The 1948 War

Following the British withdrawal from Palestine and the founding of Israel on the 14th of May 1948, Egypt declared war along with other Arab countries on the new state. The Egyptian Air Force contributed to this conflict with C-47 Dakotas and Spitfires and managed to shoot down two Israeli aircraft but suffered heavy losses. Egyptian air force Spitfires also attacked Royal Air Force Spitfires, which the Egyptian government incorrectly believed were to be handed over to Israel. The first raid surprised the Royal Air Force, and resulted in the destruction of several RAF aircraft on the ground and the death of an airman. The British were uncertain whether the attacking Spitfires had came from Arab or Israeli forces. When a second raid followed shortly afterwards it met a well prepared response, and the entire Egyptian force was shot down - the last aircraft being baited for some time as the RAF pilots attempted to get a close look at its markings. This was the only occasion Spitfires fought each other.

Relations with Britain were soon restored, although poor relations with Israel ensured that arms purchases continued. New Mk22 Spitfires were purchased to replace the earlier models. In late 1949 Egypt received its first jet fighter, it was the British Gloster Meteor F4 and shortly after De Havilland Vampire FB5s. However the policy of the Nasser government lead to Egypt also acquiring aircraft from the Eastern Block.

The first Soviet aircraft arrived in Egypt in 1955. Initial deliveries included MiG-15 fighters, Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, Il-14 transports, and Yak-11 trainers. Instructors from Czechoslovakia accompanied these aircraft. This period in Egypt's air force history also yielded the first indigenous aircraft production as the country began manufacturing its own Czech-designed Bu 181D primary trainers.

[edit] The Suez Crisis

After Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956, Egypt was attacked by Israel, France, and the United Kingdom in what came to be known as the Suez Crisis. Heavy losses were sustained by the Egyptian side. The conflict, though devastating militarily, turned out to be a political victory for Egypt and resulted in the total withdrawal of the aggressor forces from the country. It also forced the EAF to begin rebuilding its Air Force with non-British help.

Soon after the war, Egypt formed a political union with Syria and Yemen and the Egyptian Air Force became known as the United Arab Republic Air Force.

By the mid-1960s, British aircraft were replaced completely by Soviet hardware. The Soviet Union became the principal supplier of the EAF and many other Arab states. This allowed the EAF to greatly modernize and boost its combat effectiveness. The MiG-21 Fishbed arrived in the early 1960s, bringing with it a Mach 2 capability. The MiG-21 would remain Egypt's primary fighter for the next two decades. In 1967, Egypt had 200 MiG-21s. The air force also began flying the Sukhoi Su-7 fighter/bomber in the mid-1960s.

[edit] The Six-Day War

In the 1967 Six-Day War the EAF was destroyed on the ground in mere hours after Israel launched a surprise attack. Subsequently, the Soviets again sent a large number of aircraft and trainers to Egypt in order to help revitalize the EAF.

On the 14th of July 1967, using what planes were left, the (EAF) launched a strike on Israeli targets, located east of the Suez Canal, forcing the Israelis to withdraw temporarily from the front line.

[edit] War of Attrition

Following the 1967 defeat, Egypt carried out a prolonged campaign of attrition against Israel. The Egyptian Air Force applied the lessons it learnt earlier from the Israelis. A 32-year-old deputy MiG-21 regiment commander who has been flying since he was 15 recalls: "During the war of attrition, the Israeli air force had a favorite ambush tactic", he told Aviation Week and Space Technology. "They would penetrate with two aircraft at medium altitude where they would be quickly picked up by radar, We would scramble four or eight to attack them. But they had another dozen fighters trailing at extremely low altitude below radar coverage. As we climbed to the attack they would zoom up behind and surprise us. My regiment lost MiGs to this ambush tactic three times. But we learned the lesson and practiced the same tactics. In the final fights over Deversoir, we ambushed some Mirages the same way, and my own 'finger four' formation shot down four Mirages with the loss of one MiG."

[edit] The 6th of October War

On the 6th of October of 1973, the EAF led a surprise attack across the Suez Canal carrying out precision strikes and engaging in dogfights with the Israeli Air Force. The EAF was the key to the success of the Egyptian crossing in the 6th of October War (also known as the Yom Kippur War). During the initial attack the Israeli Air Force was ordered not to engage the EAF or get within 15 miles of the Suez Canal to avoid the Egyptian SAM sites which were responsible for the majority of Israeli aircraft losses during that war. At last light of the same day, a force of 100 Mi-8 armed helicopters loaded with 18-man commando teams was launched deep into Sinai to attack the Israeli-occupied oil fields and to disrupt the flow of Israeli reinforcements heading for the Canal front by interdicting one of the main roads by which Israeli reserve armor had to travel to reach the Bar Lev Line.

Later in the course of the war, the EAF fought a series of defensive battles to parry the offensive thrusts of the Israeli Air Force. On October 7, the Israeli Air Force mounted a major attack on the Egyptian air force bases in the Nile delta, using F-4 Phantoms, Skyhawks and Dassault-Breguet Mirages coming in from the North at extremely low altitudes over the Mediterranean Sea. The Israelis attacked in seven waves and penetrated to bomb a number of Egyptian air fields and surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites.

In the 6th of October War, the EAF was under the command of Hosni Mubarak. Although it performed better than in previous conflicts, out of some 650 planes about 220 planes were destroyed. Most critical was the loss of frontline planes such as the MIG-21 Fighter and the Ilyushin Il-28 jet bomber used for bombing raids.

[edit] Upgrade and Development

Beginning 1982, the EAF began receiving advanced F-16 fighters under the Peace Victor Program. In 1986, it received Mirage 2000 fighters. Egypt also license built Alphajets, Gazelles and EMB-312 Tucano airplanes.

The Camp David Accords caused a change in the composition of the EAF. The EAF began to rely on American, French and even some Chinese planes. The addition of these planes along with the ones already in the EAF gave it an interesting composition.

In 1987 the E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) entered service and was upgraded with advanced AN/APS-145 radars. The EAF upgraded its F-16 fighters to enable them to to be armed with AIM-7 Sparrow AAM and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and GBU TV stand off guided bombs.

During the early 1990s, all Mig-23, Su-7/20, Tu-16 and Il-28 were retired from service. More recently, the EAF added AH-64 Apache helicopters, and K-8 trainers.

[edit] The EAF Today

Image:Egyptian F-16s.jpg
Egyptian F-16s flying in close formation next to the Pyramids.

Currently, the backbone of the EAF is over 220 F-16s, making Egypt the 4th largest F-16 operator in the world. The Mirage 2000 is the other modern interceptor used by the EAF. It continues to fly MiG-21s, F-7 Skybolts, 35 upgraded F-4 Phantoms, Il-28s, Dassault Mirage Vs, C-130 Hercules plus a large inventory of older Chinese and Russian fighters among other planes. These are well supported by 6 E-2C Hawkeye AWACS aircraft which are being upgraded to the new and highly advanced Hawkeye 2000 standard.

Egypt remains the largest aircraft producer in the Arab world. The country's aviation industry manufactures or assembles Alpha Jet trainers, Gazelle helicopters, and Tucano Turboprop trainers. Parts are also built for the Mirage 2000 and the F-16 as well as for older Soviet aircraft.

[edit] Insignia

Image:Egyptian Air Force Roundel.svg

The Roundel of the EAF consists of three circles, with the outside one being red, the middle one white, and the inner one being black. These are the colors of Pan-Arabism. The fins of aircraft carry the flag of Egypt.

[edit] Aircraft

[edit] Fighter Aircraft (Current Inventory)

[edit] Active

[edit] In Reserve

  • 10 Su-7 Retired and obsolete
  • 120 Mig-17 Retired and obsolete
  • 24 Tupolev Tu-16 Retired and obsolete
  • 40 F-6 Retired and obsolete
  • 12 Il-28 Retired and obsolete

[edit] Transport/Utilities/Reconnaissance

    • 30 An-12 Most retired and in reserve

[edit] Trainers

    • 119 L-29 Retired and obsolete

[edit] Attack Helicopters

[edit] Transport/Other Helicopters

    • 12 Mi-4 Retired and obsolete

[edit] Future of the Egyptian Air Force

The Egypt Air Force just recently ordered the rebuilding of their AH-64A's into the D model. CH-47D's are also on order. The Egyptian Navy recently received the SH-2G's as replacement/addition to the Sea King and Gazelle helicopters. The trainer fleet is being modernized by an order for 68 Grob-115's, and for the K-8 Karakorum. The Grob's and K-8 are still being delivered.

Next to these orders there is still a big wish-list which will be on hold due to budgetary constraints. Most likely the C-130's will be among the first to be replaced in the short future.

In the late 1990's, then Air Marshal Ahmed Shafik (and the incumbent Civil Aviation minister) expressed the ambitions of the Egyptian Air Force for the 21st century.

The EAF hopes to obtain the modern technology it needs to deter any aggression, help its allies, and protect Egyptian national security. This technology includes space and air reconnaissance systems; airborne command and control aircraft; advanced stealth fighters such as the F-22; and air refueling and heavy transport aircraft. Egypt is also one of many nations believed to have some interests in buying the JF-17/FC-1 Light Fighter from the Sino-Pakistani consortium.

[edit] External links

[edit] See also

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