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The Egyptian Air Force History


In the late 1928 the Egyptian parliament proposed the creation of an Egyptian air force. The Egyptian ministry of war announced that it needs volunteers to the new arm and 200 Egyptian officers volunteered for the new arm, from them only for will be chosen following strict medical tests and technical examinations and those will be the first Egyptian military pilots. Their names was: Abd El-Minuim Miquati, Ahmed Abd El-Raziq, Fuad Abd El-Hamid. They will be sent to the RAF number 4 flying training school at Abu Suwayer near the Suez Canal in Egypt where they will be trained on variety of aircraft ranging from large ones to small ones. After graduating from the flying training school the 3 first Egyptian pilots traveled to England for specialized training. The second of November 1930 the royal decision was taken by King Fuad of Egypt to create the Egyptian air force under the name of Egyptian Army Air Force (EAAF) and in September 1931 the British De Havilland aircraft company won a contract to supply Egypt with 10 DH-60 tiger moth trainers. Although the British government wanted to ship the aircraft to Alexandria and due to Egyptian pressure an order to the ship which was carrying the aircraft to return to England where 5 aircraft will be assembled and flown by the first Egyptian pilots to Cairo. On 23 May 1932 five of the 10 Egyptian moths took off from Hatfield air field north of London flown by Abd El-Minuim Miquati, Ahmed Abd El-Raziq, Fuad Abd El-Hamid and 2 other British pilots. On 2 June these 5 aircraft arrived at Almazah airport northeast of Cairo and they were greeted by the Egyptian king a large crowed of exited Egyptians and this remarked the birth of the Egyptian air force. The first commander of the EAAF was squadron leader Victor Herbert Tait who was a Canadian, he started his working by choosing his staff, building airbases and selecting weapons himself. In 1934 the British government will agree to provide Egypt with 10 Avro-626 aircraft. Those will be the First real Egyptian military planes. During these years the Egyptian Army Air Force as was it called in these old days primary mission was fight drug smuggling beside aerial photographing. In 1937 the Egyptian Army Air Force will be separated from the army command and will be an independent branch named the Royal Egyptian Air Force (REAF). In 1938 the REAF received 2 squadrons of gloster gladiators fighters and 1 squadrons of westland lysenders reconnaissance aircraft. New bases were built in the Suez canal region and the western desert and this is the Royal Egyptian Air Force order to battle in late 1938:


The 1st squadron-using westland lysenders to support the navy and the army.

The 2nd squadron-using gloster gladiators for air defense.

The 3rd squadron-using modified Anson for royal transportation.

The 4th squadron-using Anson for transportation.

The 5th squadron- using gloster gladiators for air defense.

During the world war-II the Egyptian air force had its first experience. When the British asked the Egyptian to provide long-range patrols over the Red Sea to monitor the Axes sea movements there and it also made some air defense missions against German and Italian air raids and the REAF scored one air kill against German Henkil He-III bomber. In late 1943 the RAF transferred 6 P-40 Tomahawk fighters to the REAF. After that, discussions were made on purchasing some of these fighters to replace Gloster Gladiators MK-Is, but this never happened and instead Gloster Gladiators were upgraded to MK-II version.

It was April 1948 when the Egyptian army entered Palestine to face the Israelis. At this moment only the REAF had to face an enemy for the first time. In an offensive plane based on using the REAF extensively. But unluckily the REAF was not ready for war. There was neither training nor good weapons. It was a disaster but the REAF faced it bravely and made as much as it could to help ground and sea forces. And it achieved success despite its bad conditions. During the war Egyptian Spitfires attacked Ramat David airbase as they thought that the RAF leaved it, but in fact there were still some British fighters that took off and intercepted the Egyptian attackers and they shoot down 1 Egyptian aircraft and the other escaped. During this war the REAF used for the first time its operational bases in Sinai and for the first time it entered a real war.

In the late 1949 Egypt received its first jet fighter, it was the British Gloster Meteor F4 and shortly after it the De-Havilland Vampire FB5. But this didn’t prevent the REAF from buying weapons from Italy as the Macchi MC205V fighters. The REAF was neutral during the revelation of 1952 and after it immediately the old REAF guard retired. During the period between 1953 and 1954 there was a small cooperation with the UK for training. In 1955 the deal for the Czech arms was set up and the EAF began receiving its new advanced Russian fighters. In late 1951 there were talks about the assembly of Vampire fighters in Egypt, but these talks ended in none after the beginning of the Egyptian commando attacks on the British bases in the Suez Canal area.

The Suez war was the second experience to the EAF, It have just came after the begging of the arrival of the new ordered Russian weapons which was ordered in 1955 when Egypt nationalized the Suez canal. Most of these new weapons were either not yet delivered or not fully trained on by the EAF crews, before the war and while making a high altitude day reconnaissance mission a British Canberra was severely damaged by Egyptian Mig-15s. The war started when Israeli paratroopers landed near Mitla pass in middle of Sinai. For the next two days it was a real war between Israel and Egypt were the EAF engaged the Israelis in a lot of battles and gained some of them proving it self also Egyptian IL-28 bombers bombed deep inside Israel and the Egyptian Mig-15/-17 fighters engaged in devastating battles with attacking aircraft and proved high standards. But in the 31st of October 1956 the British bombers attacked EAF‘s air bases and ground facilities and their for the president Nasser took a decision to stop all Egyptian military aviation activity because he didn’t want to lose the newly trained Egyptian pilots. At the end and Despite its high loses the EAF was proud of its performance, more than 200 sorties was flown by the EAF.

After the Suez war Egypt got replacements for its losses during the war and in 1958 the EAF became super sonic when it purchased Mig-19 fighters. Also in 1961 the EAF joined the mach 2 club when it ordered the Mig-21 fighters. In this period also the EAF purchased its Tu-16 bombers and As-1 kennel air to ground missiles and during this period the Yemen war took place where the EAF made a lot of transport missions and some ground attack missions using armed light prop trainers. In late 1966 Egypt received its first batch of Su-7 ground attack fighters.  Also in this period Egypt started its aerospace industrial plan and Ha-100 primary trainers and Ha-200 advanced trainers were built and entered service, although the Ha-300 fighter programme was going on the arousal of financial problems seized the project.

It was 8:45 in the morning of the 5th of June 1967 the Israeli air attack started and in less than 3 hours Egypt lost more than 227 military airplanes on the ground. The Egyptian reaction was so tough but in fact it came to late and due to its high losses the EAF couldn’t change mush of the course of the war. In six days of fighting the Egyptian air force flow a lot of sorties in both air to air and air to ground missions and scored more than 25 aerial victories and it destroyed a lot of Israeli ground targets. In the end of the war the EAF succeeded by the help of the air defense in downing about 72 IAF fighters. During the war a lot of Egyptian pilots made heroic actions made a great effort to prevent the IAF from entering the Egyptian air space and trying to guard the returning Egyptian armies. Algeria sent some Mig-21 fighters to support the EAF and some were downed in combat. The EAF conducted some long range attack missions against Israel itself using Il-28 bombers, but most of these missions failed and at least one Il-28 was shot down in combat.

Between 1967 and 1970 it was not a period of peace for the EAF. The EAF went in a large construction plan to build air bases to increase its survivability and for the first time in its history the EAF planned and made a lot aggressive attack mission and it all first began when Egyptian Mig-17 escorted by Mig-21 fighters flew massive destructive attacks on the Israeli positions along the Suez canal in the 14th of July 1967 only one month after the six day war. During this period also Egypt received replacements for its loses during the six day war. The EAF was the first branch of the Egyptian army to return back to the war. Flying photoreconnaissance missions and attack missions all over Sinai using hit and run tactics the EAF regained its self-confidence. And proved its self as a tough foe for the IAF. Beginning of 1969 the battle of Egypt rely began when the Egyptian air defense forces (EADF) began deploying its Sam sites along the Suez Canal. Israel lunched an air campaign to destroy Egyptian air defense network using its newly supplied F-4E phantoms so the Egyptians had no option and their fighters engaged the Israelis in devastating air battles were the Egyptian fighters scored a lot of victories including the shoot down of the first F-4E over the north of the gulf of Suez in the 9th of December 1969. Following this Israelis began deep strike missions ending this period with the electronic summer of 1970 were the EADF succeeded in downing more than 13 Israeli fighters in one week. One of the most important events of the war of attrition was the battle of Egypt when Egyptian fighters were the only defense of Egypt against the Israeli deep striking missions, during these days Egyptian fighters went in large air battles against attacking Israelis and shot down more than 50 enemy fighters in less than 2 weeks. Also some Russian fighters pilots were sent to Egypt to support the Egyptian crew and they did a great work although some of them were killed in air battles with the Israelis. Although the EAF lost large some of equipments and personal it configured out its problems and needs and gained experience which helped the EAF to have the upper hand during 1973 war.


Exactly at 5 to 2 P.M. more than 220 Egyptian fighters and bombers took off begging the first strike in which the EAF attacked five Israeli air bases including AL-Arish where the Israeli air command is stationed and destroying the five air bases completely. Also it attacked some Hawk Sam sites, two batteries of 175 mm long-range artillery, three radar and command posts, two ECM bases, three logistics areas and strong points on the Suez canal shore and during this strike only five Egyptian planes were downed in which one of its pilots were president Sadat‘s brother. TU-16 bombers also fired more than 25 As-1 Kennel and As-5 Kelt in which sum where using anti-radiation seekers to destroy radar sites. The transport squadrons using its heavy Mi-8 helicopters transported a lot of commando groups and they heavily attacked from the Israeli fighters were the Egyptian pilots managed to escape the enemy fighters and one Egyptian Mi-8 downed an F-4E using its S-57 anti-tank rocket pod. In the 14th of October EL-Mansura air battle took place, it happened when the Israelis tried to raid the Egyptian air bases in the east of the Delta but they were intercepted and for the coming 50 minutes the EAF will scour 20 air kills and losing only three fighters making it s highest scour in one battle. After the gap of EL-Dflesuar some Egyptian Sam sites were destroyed (about 10 sites) the Egyptian fighters took over and engaged the Israelis in devastating air battles in which some of 50 to 60 airplanes would participate from both sides although this the EAF succeed in preventing the Israelis from entering the Egyptian air space. During the war the EAF flow more than 6815 sorties and lost about 96 airplanes in which only 30 was lost in air combat (about 120 kills were scored by the Israelis during the war on the Egyptian front were the rest was against other Arab fighters that worked along side with the EAF). About 30 Egyptian pilots achieved ACE record and the EAF downed more than 90 Israeli fighters plus more than 110 were downed by the EADF. The Egyptian strategy during yum kipper war was to use the very powerful Egyptian air defense network in close cooperation with the Egyptian air force to prevent the Israelis from taking air superiority. This way of fighting proved it self and in the end of the war the success was with the Egyptian for the first time in their modern military history.

For the second time in its history the wind of change had blow on the EAF and During this period the EAF got its most advanced Russian weapons and they were the Mig-23 floggers before the broke out between Egypt and Russia in the late 1975. In 1976 Egypt returned to China for fighters, spare parts and other equipment and it purchased J-6 fighters and J-7 (some of them have been assembled in Egypt). This period also remarked the beginning of purchasing western weapons when Egypt orders MirageV fighters and C-130 transport planes. In 1977 the seven day border war between Egypt and Libya happened and it was the last war for the Egyptians and the EAF were it made a lot of striking missions and it is reported that the EAF lost three fighters to ground fire and downing six Libyan fighters and destroying several others on the ground and destroying radar sites along the border. The 14th of October 1979 remarked the arrival of the first patch of the Egyptian 36 F-4E phantoms and for the coincidence pilot Ahmed Atif the EAF’s FPK (first phantom killer) was the first Egyptian pilot the fly the phantom.

Beginning from 1982 the EAF began receiving its advanced F-16 fighters under peace victor program and it received in 1986 its Mirage-2000 fighters. Egypt also built under license the Alphajet, Gazelles and EMB-312 Tucano airplanes. During the beginning of the nineties all Mig-23, Su-7/20, Tu-16 and Il-28 were retired from service. In 1987 the E-2C Hawkeye (AW&CS) entered service and they are upgraded with advanced AN/APS-145 radars. The EAF modernized its F-16 fighters to have the capability of carrying and lunching AIM-7 Sparrow AAM and AGM-84 Harpoon anti-shipping missiles and GBU TV stand off guided bombes. The F-16 is now the backbone of the EAF (220 fighters were 196 are operational and 24 are in order). In 1994 Egypt purchased AH-64A attack helicopters that is now being upgraded to D Longbow version and in 1997 it received SH-2G (E) anti-submarine helicopters to work with the navy. Now the EAF is the largest Arab air force and the second in the Middle East after Israel with total of 555 fighters. The EAF is entering the third millennium with large upgrading and modifying programmers. Old L-29 is being replaced by advanced K-8E that will be locally built in Egypt and the German Group-105 will replace old HA-100 in the Egyptian air academy service. Proud of its history, hoping in its future the EAF is now considered one of the most combat capable air forces in the world.