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The Egyptian Air Force, or EAF ( , ), 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 Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed. The force's motto is 'Higher and higher for the sake of glory' ( , ).Currently the EAF has over 586 combat aircraft and 149 armed helicopters, . The backbone of the Egyptian Air Force is 190+ (220 received, 18 lost in mishaps/accidents and 7 F16A/B grounded) F-16 Fighter Jets and it is the 4th largest operator of F-16's in the world.



First three Egyptian pilots
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 Canalmarker, where they were trained on a variety of aircraft. After graduation they travelled to Englandmarker 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.

Egyptian Air Force Insignia (1937-1958)

The first commander of the EAAF was Canadianmarker squadron leader Victor Hubert 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.

Royal Egyptian Air Force ensign
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).

World War II

As the Egyptian border was threatened by an Italianmarker and Germanmarker invasion, the Royal Air Force established more bases in Egyptmarker during World War II. The Egyptian Air Force was sometimes treated as a part of the Royal Air Force, at other times a strict 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 Tomahawk. In the immediate post war period, cheap war surplus aircraft, including a large number of Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXs were acquired. The REAF also bought Macchi MC205V fighters and trainers from Italymarker.

The 1948 War

Following the British withdrawal from Palestine and the founding of Israelmarker on 14 May 1948, as part of its commitment to the Arab League Egypt declared war on nascent Israeli state. The Egyptian Air Force contributed to this conflict with C-47 Dakotas performing as light bombers and Spitfires and managed to shoot down two Israeli aircraft.On May 22 Egyptian Air Force Spitfires attacked the Royal Air Force airfield at Ramat Davidmarker, believing the base had already been taken over by Israeli forces. 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 come 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.

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 FB5. However the policy of the Nasser government lead to Egypt also acquiring aircraft from the Eastern Block.

The first Soviet aircraft arrived in Egyptmarker in 1955. Initial deliveries included MiG-15 fighters, Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, Il-14 transports, and Yak-11 trainers. Instructors from Czechoslovakiamarker 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 Gomhouria Bü 181 Bestmann primary trainers.

The Suez Crisis

After Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canalmarker in 1956, Egypt was attacked by Israelmarker, Francemarker, and the United Kingdommarker 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 Unionmarker 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.

Egypt also produced Helwan HA-300 its first supersonic aircraft.

The Yemen War

The Royalist side received support from Saudi Arabia, while the Republicans were supported by Egypt and the Soviet Union. The fighting was fierce, featuring heavy urban combat as well as battles in the countryside. Both foreign irregular and conventional forces were also involved.Strategically, the Yemen War was an opportunity for Israel. It stagnated Egyptian military plans for the reinforcement of the Sinai by shifting the Egyptian military focus to another theater of operation. Egyptian historian Mohammed Heikal writes that Israel provided arms shipments and also cultivated relationships with hundreds of European mercenaries fighting for the royalists in Yemen. Israel established a covert air-supply bridge from Djibouti to North Yemen. The war also gave Israelis the opportunity to assess Egyptian combat tactics and adaptability.

Egyptian air and naval forces began bombing and shelling raids in the Saudi southwestern city of Najran and the coastal town of Jizan, which were staging points for royalist forces. In response, the Saudis purchased a British Thunderbird air defense system and developed their airfield in Khamis Mushayt. Riyadh also attempted to convince Washington to respond on its behalf. President Kennedy sent only a wing of jet fighters and bombers to Dhahran Airbase, demonstrating to Nasser the seriousness of American commitment to defending U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia.

The Six-Day War

In the 1967 Six-Day War the EAF's combat capacity was severely damaged after the Israeli Air Force destroyed its airbases in a sudden attack (Operation Focus). Despite significant losses, individual EAF pilots nevertheless took off to challenge the attackers and blunt their attack, achieving a number of air-to-air kills. During the last four days the EAF also managed to undertake 150 sorties against Israeli units throughout the Sinai After the war, the Soviet Unionmarker replenished EAF stocks, sending large numbers of aircraft and trainers to Egypt in order to help revitalize the EAF.

The 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."

Yet the EAF couldn't regain its lost capability due to reconstitution following the 1967 debacle. With so many inexperienced pilots having to be exposed to combat, many were shot down while the survivors brought back valuable experience. Several EAF pilots scored victories against the IAF during this period.

October War 1973

The EAF was involved in the initial raid with over 220 aircraft (including the MiG-21MF) taking part in the surprise attack. Unlike their Syrian counterparts, EAF aircraft evaded Israeli radars by flying below detection height. Their attacks largely went undetected and the IAF's belated response flew right into the teeth of the Egyptian air defence umbrella.

EAF aircraft were held in reserve after that point, mainly concentrating on air field defence in conjunction with the SA-3 'Pechora' while the more mobile SA-6 'Gainful' protected Egyptian forces at low and medium level, aided by the ZSU-23-4SP and shoulder-held SA-7 SAMs.

Despite these limitations, the EAF conducted offensive sorties from time to time, with the Tu-16 firing AS-5 'Kelt' stand off weapons causing considerable panic behind Israeli lines . The Su-7BM was used for quick strafe attacks on Israeli columns and the Mirage IIIE (sometimes confused with the Mirage 5) donated by Libya carried out long-range attacks deep inside Sinai at Bir Gifgafamarker.

However, when Israeli armoured forces used a gap between the two Egyptian armies to cross the Suez Canalmarker west into Africa (Operation Stouthearted Men), in the process destroying Egyptian SAM sites on the west bank, the EAF was forced into battle against the better equipped IAF. The EAF scored victories and continued to contest IAF operations, while also launching attacks on Israeli ground forces in the East Bank of the Suez Canal. In most of these engagements, Egyptian MiG-21s (of all types) challenged Israeli Mirage IIICJs or Neshers.

The IAF did not operate freely and did not have the air supremacy it enjoyed during the previous conflict, the 1967 war. Egyptian MiGs were used with their better maneuverability that most IAF air crafts in that war to conduct new tactics and lessons learned from the 1967 war.

El-Mansourah air battle

During the Yom Kippur War, in the "El-Mansoura air battle", Israel launched a large scale raid with over 100 aircraft – F-4 Phantoms and A-4 Skyhawks – attempting to hit the huge air base at el-Mansourah. It culminated in an almost continuous dogfight lasting no less than 53 minutes. According to Egyptian estimates over 180 aircraft were involved at one time, the majority belonging to the Israelis. At 10 pm local time, Cairo Radio broadcast "Communiqué Number 39", announcing that there had been several air battles that day over a number of Egyptian airfields, that most intensive being over the northern Delta area. It also claimed that 15 enemy aircraft had been downed by Egyptian fighters for the loss of three Egyptian aircraft, while an even greater number of Israelis had been shot down by the Army and the Air Defense Forces over Sinai and the Suez Canal. For its part, Israel Radio claimed, early the following morning, that the IAF had shot down 15 Egyptian aircraft, a figure subsequently reduced to seven..

Later on, the Egyptian government changed the country’s “Air Force Day” from November 2 to October 14, to commemorate the Mansourah air battle.

Libyan-Egyptian War

After the cease-fire, there were some more skirmishes between Libyan and Egyptian fighters. In one example, two LARAF MiG-23MS engaged two EAF MiG-21MF which had been upgraded to carry Western weaponry. The Libyan pilots made the mistake of trying to manoeuvre with the more nimble Egyptian fighters, and one MiG-23MS was shot down by Maj. Sal Mohammad, while the other used the speed advantage to escape.

Operation Bright Star

Operation Bright Star is a joint / combined exercise by American and Egyptian forces in Egypt involving tactical air, ground, naval and special operations forces field training, conducted every two years.

Bright Star was first conducted in the summer of 1980 as a single service bilateral ground maneuver event involving only ground forces from the United States and Egypt.

Bright Star began to evolve in 1985 as air forces of both the U.S. and Egypt were added to this ground forces exercise. This marked the beginning of Bright Star as a joint endeavor for the US– meaning more than one U.S. service was involved. Special forces and naval forces of both countries joined the exercise in 1987.

Other allied nations also join Bright Star exercises in Egypt including France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

Upgrade and development

Egyptian Air Force F-16D
Beginning 1982, the EAF began receiving F-16 fighters under the Peace Vector Program. In 1986, it received Mirage 2000 fighters and was licensed to manufacture them with 20 being produced with one lost in a training sortie. Egypt also license built Alphajet, Gazelles and Embraer 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 Chinesemarker 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 Early Warning (AEW) entered service and was upgraded with advanced AN/APS-145 radars. The EAF also upgraded its F-16 fighters to enable them to fire the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.

The EAF also operates 35 AH-64 Apache attack helicopter which were initially delivered as AH-64A variant but were later upgraded to AH-64D standard. The Egypt Air Force had rebuilt their AH-64A's into the D model. CH-47D's are also on order. The Egyptian Navy recently received the SH-2G Seasprite to replace and supplement their older Sea King and Gazelle helicopters. 74 Grob G-115's and 120 K-8 Karakorum trainers were ordered to update the fleet.

Future requirements

In the late 1990s, 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 next generation fighters; and air refueling and heavy transport aircraft.

In 2002, Egypt requested 12 F-15E Strike Eagle strike fighter from the US. Israel quickly moved to block the sale, citing that in all Egypt's recent military exercises Israel was the target. The Americans refused to ban the sale of F-15s to Egypt at first but later agreed when Israel presented further evidence that Israel was in fact the "enemy" in all of Egypt's military exercises.

Due to the refusal of the USA government to allow such weapons to be acquired by the EAF and also due to the failed deal for 4.5 billion in 2005 for 60-100 F-16C/D Block 60/62. On November 6, 2006, Egypt began talks with Mikoyan over the possible sale of 40 MiG-29SMT fighters.

In 2007, Egypt further examined prospects for delivery of a larger batch of MiG-29SMTs (60-80 planes) & 24-40 Yak-130 in the advanced trainer/light support role to replace the aging Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet plus a deal for 20-25 Sukhoi Su-35 for air superiority role. The deal was encouraged by an effort by Russia to regain Egypt as an ally. However, these deals have not been confirmed yet.

Egypt had also made several deals with Ukrainian companies for the upgrade of their old MiG-21 aircraft. The upgrade will include the implementation of Helmet-mounted-sight and R-73 missiles coupled with LCDs and few engines modifications. It is not clear whether the upgrade will include the insertion of the Kopyo Radar.

EAF will receive a new batch of F-16s . The new batch consists of 24 F-16s Block 52+ aircrafts with associated support equipments and kits for JDAM bombs to upgrade the Mk-84 GP bombs already in service to the JDAM level .

The EAF today

Currently, the backbone of the EAF are 220 + 24 on order F-16's. The EAF also operates 19 Mirage 2000's. It continues to fly 32 upgraded F-4 Phantoms, 60 Dassault Mirage Vs, 26 C-130 Hercules. 8 E-2C Hawkeye AWACS aircraft which are being upgraded to Hawkeye 2000 standard provide AEW&C capability. But the EAF is still facing restrictions regarding its plans to procure 5th generation fighters , air refueling capabilities and guided/precision munitions.


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 the Egyptian flag.

The former roundels of the EAF included a similar variant with two green stars used from 1961 to 1973 thus the current insignia was also used during that war, and in both cases the current Egyptian flag was used , and one with the old Egyptian crescent and three stars on a green background.

Aircraft Inventory

In service
Fighter Aircraft
Chengdu J-7 Airguard


Multirole fighter




out of 150 delivered, to be replaced by JF-17/FC-1
Mig 21

Multirole fighter



Advanced trainer








out of over 360 delivered, upgraded with British electronics and avionics; armed with mixed Russian and Western weapons. In 2008, Egypt made several agreements with Ukrainian companies for the upgrade of 60 of these old fighters.
McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II Fighter bomber F-4E 25 out of 46 delivered; 222nd Tac Fighter Bde at Cairo West
Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon

Multirole fighter

Advanced trainer

Multirole fighter

Advanced trainer








out of 220 delivered, 46 of the F-16C/D are license built by TUSAS of Turkey. + 24 F-16 C/D Block 52 on order
Dassault Mirage 2000

Advanced trainer

Multirole fighter




out of 20 delivered and assembled before production line closed, license built by Arab OI.
Dassault Mirage 5

Multirole fighter

Advanced trainer

Ground attack









out of 82 delivered
Trainer Aircraft
Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet

Advanced trainer Total




license built by Arab OI. Consideration to be replaced by 24-40 Yak-130
Aero L-39 Albatros Advanced trainer L-39ZO 10 ex-Libyan.
Aero L-59 Super Albatros Advanced trainer L-59E 47 out of 48 delivered.
Embraer EMB 312 Tucano Basic Trainer EMB 312 54 license built by Arab OI, out of 134 built (80 of which delivered to Iraq)
Grob G-115 Primary trainer G-115E 74
Hongdu K-8 Karakorum

Advanced trainer K-8E 80 70 of which are license built by Arab OI, an additional 40 are to be produced for delivery by 2010
Zlin Z 142C

Primary Trainer

Z 142 C 48 Known as Shabarbar in the EAF
Antonov An-74 Tactical transport An-74T-200 3 6 more on order
Antonov An-24 Maritime patrol An-24 3
Beechcraft 1900

Maritime patrol






de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo


Total DHC-5D



Lockheed C-130 Hercules









including 3 C-130H purchased from the Danish Air Force in 2004, out of 30 delivered, 4 were lost at different times, one of which during the Cyprus operation
Boeing CH-47 Chinook

Navigational training








license built by Agusta, of the 15 C model delivered, 12 were updated to D standard and added to the 4 D models received in 1999. The remaining 3 C model were relegated to navigational training. New Deal for additional 6 new CH-47F is in progress.
Hiller UH-12 Rotor Training UH-12E 17 out of 18 delivered.
SH-2G Super Seasprite ASW SH-2G/E 13 Electronic/Navigation Suite upgraded to Egyptian Navy requirements, 10 originally delivered, 1 lost due to pilot error, 4 US Navy surplus were bought to replace the lost unit and the remaining 3 are used as spare (10 active + 3 spares)
Mil Mi-6 Heavy lift 9 out of 20 delivered ( Being phased out from service, replaced by the Chinook )
Mil Mi-8







Artillery Observation














out of over 140 delivered replaced by MI-17 HIP Local assembled
Mil Mi-17 Assault Mi-17H 20
Boeing AH-64 Apache Attack/Gunship AH-64D 35 An additional 12 AH-64D Longbow Block II are being delivered, ordered in 2008/9, & total modernization for the existing fleet is being held , making a total of 47 units .
Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk Assault UH-60A 4 An additional 18 are on order from US surplus.
Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk Search-and-Rescue (SAR/CSAR) and Assault UH-60M 4
Westland Sea King ASW MK 47 6 Egyptian variant of the British HAS2 model
Westland Commando









A total of 28 were delivered, 4 MK2B version were relegated as VIP transport of the Presidential fleet.
Aérospatiale SA-342 Gazelle

Naval Patrol

Battlefield Scout


SA 342K

SA 342L




license-built by the Arab British Helicopter Company, out of 108 originally delivered and licensed built
Airborne Early Warning and Control
E-2C Hawkeye AEW E-2C 2000 8 News confirmed that Egypt , France , UAE , Japan and Taiwan will all receive more of these AEW aircrafts from the US stocks when they are phased out from the US navy service in 2010 and will be upgraded to the Hawkeye-2000T level before handover .

Presidential and Governmental Fleet

In addition to Air Force aircraft, a number of aircraft are directly under government control (Presidential Fleet), including:

Obsolete and Retired

  • 42 Sukhoi Su-20C - Fighter Bomber out of 48 received (4 donated to China and 2 to the USA)
  • 36 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 - Multi role Fighter out of 48 received (8 donated to China and 6 to the USA)
  • 60 Sukhoi Su-7B - Ground Attack, out of 140 received
  • 80 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 - Fighter and Ground Attack, out of 480 received
  • 19 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 - Strike Fighter, out of 145 delivered
  • 40 Shenyang F-6 - Chinese copy of MiG-19 Interceptor Fighter, out of 72 received ( Some internet rumors suggest they had been phased out from service and donated to the Sudanese Air Force in early 2000s )
  • 6 FT-6 - Chinese copy of MiG-19 Advanced Trainer, out of 18 received
  • 9 Tupolev Tu-16 - Heavy and Long Range Bomber, out of 30 received
  • 12 Ilyushin Il-28 - Light Bomber and Maritime Patrol/reconnaissance, out 80 received
  • 12 Antonov An-12 - out of 32 received
  • 45 Aero L-29 Delfin - Basic Trainer, out of 120 received
  • 12 Mil Mi-4 - Utility transport helicopter, out of 70 received


The following individuals have had command of the Egyptian Air Force:

Royal Egyptain Air Force commanders

Egyptian Air Force Chiefs of Staff

Egyptian Air Force and Defense commanders

Egyptian Air Force commanders


External links

See also

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