Somali Air Corps

Somali Air Corps

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name = Somali Air Force
start_date = 1958
country = Flag|Somalia
garrison_label = Air Headquarters
equipment =
equipment_label =
nickname =
motto =
colors =
colors_label =
march =
mascot =
battles =
anniversaries =
decorations =
battle_honours =
notable_commanders= General Ali Matan Hashi 1959-1978

identification_symbol_label= The Roundel
identification_symbol_2_label= Finflash

The Somali Air force (SAF) (Somali: Ciidamada Cirka Soomaaliyeed) (Italian: "Corpo di Sicurezza della Somalia , "Somali Aeronautical Corps") was from 1958 to 1991 the Air force of the Military of Somalia. The Somali Aeronautical Corps was the name of Somali Air Force during the colonization. After 1960 when Somalia gained independence the name changed to Somali Air Force. The roundel to the right corner is the symbol of Somali Air Force.

After Independence (1960–1969)

The Somali Air Force was established after Somalia's independence, and was first equipped with small numbers of Western aircraft, such as the Beech 18, (possibly six) C-47 Dakotas for transport tasks, a few Piaggio P.148s, and P-51D Mustangs used as fighters, and a pair of Bell 47 Sioux helicopters, When on 21 of October 1969 Siad Barre took over power, ending the Igaal reign and proclaiming Somalia to be a socialist state, a rapid modernization took place. Many Somali Airmen where sent to training outside Somalia to countries such as the USA, Italy, the Soviet Union, and the UK. After the training many of these men showed great talent. Some became the nation's leading instructors and fighter pilots. The Somali Air Force was considered the best air force in Africa at the time. Here below is the list of aircraft of the Somali Air Force.

According to the Administration of Air Defence in Mogadishu at 30 July 1960.

C-47 Dakota

Beech 18

Piaggio P.148

Bell 47

P-51D Mustang

Beechcraft C-45

North American AT-6 Harvard

Stinson L-5 Sentinel

oviet Influence (1969–1978)

In the beginning of the 1970s, Somalia and the USSR signed a friendship deal, which included the provision of a large number of modern weapons, advisors, training and maintenance. The air force expanded rapidly, and was at the time one of the most advanced in eastern Africa. The first squadron of jet fighters was equipped with the MiG-15 'Fagot' (Nato codename), along with some MiG-15UTI 'Midget' double seaters for conversional training. Also provided were small numbers of transport aircraft: An-2 Colt biplanes, An-24 Cokes, some Il-18 "Coot"s and at least one An-26 'Curl'. Yak-11 'Moose' trainers and a few Mi-4 'Hound' piston-engined helicopters were also added to the inventory. The respected Il-28 'Beagle' was also rumored to have been in service, albeit in very small numbers.Later on, the Soviets sold more modern jets: a large number (at least two fully equipped squadrons) of MiG-17 'Fresco' subsonic jet fighters, and a smaller number of MiG-21F and MiG-21MF 'Fishbed' supersonic point defence fighters, and possibly twelve Mi-8 'Hip' turbine powered transport helicopters. The advanced MiG-23 is also rumoured to have visited Somalia in the seventies, but it is very unlikely they were actually in use by the Somali Air Force. Here below is the list of aircarfts of Somali Air Force (1969–1978):




An-2 Colt



Cessna 205


The Ogaden War (1977–1978)

During the 1970s, the SAF or Somali Air Force had proven to be a useful airpower that provided security to Somali Airspace. Its achievements in the first 'real' war turned out to be a disappointment. Dreams of a Greater Somalia and Somali support of the WNLF-rebels, active inside the Ethiopian part of the Ogaden, led Siad Barre's regime to start an incursion of the Somali region of Ogaden claimed by Ethiopia.

The territory had always been a disputed region, and its mostly nomadic inhabitants are Somali people. Aided by more than 250 tanks and 300 armoured vehiclesFact|date=February 2007 (the largest armoured army in sub Saharic Africa at the time), some 23,000 soldiers marched towards the west and at first brought almost 95% of the Ogaden province under Somali control. The Ethiopian defences where broken within days of the invasion. In 1977–1980, Somali Land forces were considered the strongest army in Africa.Fact|date=February 2007

The Somali Air Force was ordered to protect the Somali Army and to offer close air support on the battlefield. By this time however, Ethiopia itself had sought assistance of the Soviet Union, the latter being forced to drop Somalia as a client state because of the Ogaden war. The SAF, not only strongly reliant on Soviet equipment but moreover on Soviet assistance, training and maintenance (even some pilots), suffered badly from these recent political changes. At first it had at least been able to provide the army with close air support, but by the time the invasion was halted by the regrouping Ethiopian forces, the SAF lost momentum.

Worst of all, after the souring of Soviet-Somali relations, Cuba had joined the Ethiopian effort by missleading information that American troops had invaded Ethiopia. The Cuban's helped reclaim the Ogaden province with modern Russian arms like Mil-24 'Hind' attack helicopters, flown by Cuban pilots, proved to be devastating for to the old and relatively thinly-armoured Somali T-34 and T-54/55 tanks. The SAF was not efficient enough to win airpower, and shortly after, the Somali army was defeated and driven out of the Ogaden in the end of 1978. Tensions remained, however, and some three years later the conflict rekindled for another round of Ethiopian-Somali bloodshed. By this time the SAF was degraded to the extent that it played almost no significant role in the area anymore.

The Difficult Decade (1978–1991)

After the loss of Soviet assistance, and the loss of equipment in the Ogaden, the SAF tried to maintain itself by getting help from other sources. First of all, relationships with the U.S. improved in the wake of the Cold War conflict in the Horn of Africa, and with Ethiopia getting a lot of Soviet military assistance, the SAF received in turn some American assistance as well, but not nearly enough to rebuilt the squadrons.

A Bell AB204B Iroquois and some AB206 Jet Rangers and maybe a CH-47 Chinook were provided and a couple of unarmed Cessna trainers, but the SAF had to turn to other sources.

A lot of Italian equipment reached Somalia: three Douglas C-47s, at least two Aelitalia G.222L medium transport planes and some twelve SIAI SF. 260 Warrior light trainers/COIN aircraft (six SF.260Ms, six SF.260Ws), "a few" Agusta-Bell AB.212s, plus three Piaggio P.166s. [ Somali, 1980-1996] ACIG]

F-6C 'Farmer' jet fighters (Chinese MiG-19 copies) [ Somali, 1980-1996] ACIG] , and FT-6 double seat fighter trainers in 1983. Zimbabwean private contractors overhauled and repaired some MiG-21 jet fighters, and maybe a few Chinese F-7's 'Fishbed'(MiG-21 copies) fighters were provided.

Libya provided three Antonov An-26 transports and several Mil Mi-8 helicopters.

Also, Abu Dhabi gave 6 or 8 used Hawker Hunter FGA.76's ground attack fighters and one Hawker Hunter T.77 double-seat trainer, which were flown by South African and Rhodesian mercenaries, while the Zimbabwean repair crews provided their maintenance. New transport aircraft were also added from a number of western European sources: 6 C-212 Aviocars and some 4 BN-2 Islanders were acquired. In the 1980s, the SAF consisted of:

*one fighter squadron equipped with MiG-21s (or F-7s)
*two fighter squadrons equipped with some 20 remaining MiG-17s (spare parts from China F-5 or through cannibalization of grounded MiG-17s)
*one ground attack squadron equipped with the 7 or 9 (ex Abu-Dhabi) Hawker FGA.76 Hunters
*two ground attack/fighter squadrons equipped with some 20 Chinese F-6s
*one training/counter-insurgency squadron equipped with 12 SIAI SF.260 Warriors
*one helicopter squadron equipped with a mix of remaining Mil-4's, Mil-8's and western Agusta Bell AB 204B and AB 206 helicopters
*one transport squadron equipped with a mix of remaining An-2s and An-24s, and 6 new C-212 Aviocars and a few BN-2 Islanders.The national carrier airline, Air Somalia, equipped with 5 Boeing 707s, could also provide some transport capacity.

However, due to the costs of the first and second ongoing Ogaden conflict, the worldwide economic problems, and some severe droughts in the Horn of Africa, the Somalian economy collapsed halfway the '80s and funding for the rather large air force dried up. Still the SAF managed to deploy some squadrons to fight rebels in the north of Somalia in the late 1980s.

The End of the SAF (1991)

With the fall of the Siad Barre's regime in 1991, a civil war ignited and chaos roamed free in Somalia. Funding for any government activity, including the SAF, ended immediately, and the remains of the SAF were photographed in a derelict state at Mogadishu Airport in 1993 by U.S troops in Mogadishu.

Earlier Aircraft

Fighter Squadron
* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 FishbedMF and F (as Chengdu F-7 Fishbed)
* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 Fresco
* Shenyang F-6 Farmer
* 6-8 Hawker Hunter FGA.76 and 1 T.77 double-seat trainer
* MiG-15UTI Fagot
* Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon

Helicopter Squadron
* Mil Mi-4 Hound transport helicopter
* Mil Mi-8 Hip transport helicopter
* Augusta-Bell aircraft:
** AB206 Multipurpose utility helicopter
** Bell AB204B Multipurpose utility helicopter
** Bell AB.212 medium utility helicopter

Transport Squadron
* Antonov An-24 Coke transport
* 4 Antonov An-26 Curl light transport
* 2 Britten-Norman Islander BN-2 Utility aircraft
* 6 CASA C-212 Aviocar medium transport
* Alenia G.222 medium transport
* 5 Boeing 707-330 transport
* Airbus 310-330 transport
* 6 Douglas C-47 Dakota transport

Training aircraft
* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15UTI Fagot jet trainer
* 6 Aermacchi SF.260W and 6 Aermacchi SF.260M jet trainer
* Yakovlev Yak-11 Moose prop trainer
* North American P-51 Mustang prop trainer
* Piaggio P.148 two-seat primary/aerobatic trainer
* Beech C-45 prop transport trainer

* Cessna trainer
* Antonov An-2 Colt prop utility aircraft
* 2 Bell 47 light utility helicopter
* Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter gunship
* 1 Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy lift transport helicopter
* Beechcraft Model 18 light transport
* Ilyushin Il-18 Coot prop transport
* 3 Piaggio P.166
* 40 Shenyang F-6C Farmer (Chinese copy of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 Farmer) jet fighter
* Shenyang FT-6 Farmer Farmer double seat trainers


* [ History of the Somalia Air Force]
* [ Somalia, 1980-1996] ACIG
* [ Somali Hunters] -The history of the Somali air force contains information from several sources:
* ; Southeast Asia Aerospace
* ; U.S. Library of Congress ; country studies (political history)
* plus several written sources; use maybe restricted.

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