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Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO)
Royal Oman Air Force (ROAF)

The Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) is equipped with advanced fighter, interceptor and other aircraft, as well as anti-aircraft missiles and modern radar, defence and weapons systems to ensure a high level of combat proficiency at all times and in all circumstances. In addition to its F-16 fighters, RAFO’s combat capability is reinforced by a number of Hawk and Jaguar aircraft along with Super Lynx and NH90 helicopters, that also provide back-up for the Royal Navy of Oman in protecting the coastline as well as offering support services for members of the public in the mountain areas.

To enhance their skills and expertise, they also take part in exercises with the air forces of the Arab Gulf Co-operation Council states and other friendly countries. The Airbus A320-300 has replaced RAFO’s BAC-111 transport planes.

While the Royal Air Force of Oman (ROAF) (Al-Quwwat al-Jawiyya al-Sultaniyya al-’Umaniyya) is not the largest or most modern air force in the Gulf, it is one of the most professional air forces in the Arab world. The Royal Oman Air Force had a strength of about 3,500 in 1992, and about 5,000 in 2005. In the early 1990s its forty-four combat aircraft of British manufacture consisted of two fighter-ground attack squadrons of modern Jaguars, a ground attack and reconnaissance squadron of older Hunters, and a squadron of Strikemasters and Defenders for counterinsurgency, maritime reconnaissance, and training purposes. The air force is fairly well equipped with three transport squadrons and two squadrons of helicopters for troop transport and medical transport.

1 Trainer season PC-9, "Super Mushshak"
2 Transport squadron "Skyvan"
3 Helicopter squadron "Super Lynx", "Jet Ranger"
4 Transport Squadron A320
5 Transport squadron "Skyvan"
6 Fighter-bomber squadron (light) "Hawk"
8 Fighter-bomber squadron "Jaguar"
14 Helicopter squadron 205A, "Super Puma", "Puma"
15 Helicopter squadron "Super Lynx"
16 Transport Squadron C-130H
18 Multi purpose relay F-16
20 Fighter-bomber squadron "Jaguar"
Rapier SAMs were linked to an integrated air control and early warning network based on a Martello radar system. Skyvan aircraft fitted with radar and special navigational gear conduct maritime reconnaissance and antipollution patrols. The principal air bases are at Thamarit in the south and on Masirah. Others are collocated with the international airport at As Sib, at Al Khasab on the Musandam Peninsula, at Nazwah, and at Salalah. Officer and pilot training takes place at the Sultan Qabus Air Academy on Masirah. Pilots of fighter aircraft receive advanced training in Britain.

By 1997 the Omani air force was conducting a study into its future combat-aircraft strategy, including consideration of a Jaguar upgrade program, which would extend the aircraft's life until at least 2005. British Aerospace proposed the Swedish Saab JAS39 Gripen to Oman as a replacement for its Sepecat Jaguar combat aircraft, while Lockheed Martin offered secondhand and new-build F-16s.

The Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) ordered 20 NH90 TTH in order to replace its fleet of ageing AB205A/206/212/214. The NH90 TTH chosen by Oman is to date one of the most advanced and versatile version of the NH90. This NH90 fleet will cover a wide spectrum of missions from the VIP transport, to troop transport and Search and Rescue missions round the clock in the most demanding conditions. The Certificate of Transfer of the first batch of two NH90 multipurpose helicopters occurred on 23 June 2010 on the Royal Air Force of Oman base of MUSANA after a very demanding 2 months evaluation period in severe operational conditions. This initial delivery which marked the first delivery of an NH90 in the middle east was followed ahead of schedule, in July 2010, by the acceptance process of the second batch of NH90.

A new air base has been under construction at al-Musana'a in the northern part of the country and this will boost operating efficiency when it becomes operational.

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