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Aviation Unit

During programs marking the 56th Armed Forces Day at the Barclay Training Center 11 February 2013, Ambassador George W. Wallace, Jr., a career diplomat, lawyer and administrator who is Advisor to the President on Foreign Affairs, recommended that Government considers creating a Navy and an Air Force to defend the countrys long coastline and air space, respectively. An Air Force will serve as a deterrent, while the Navy will protect our coastline against illegal encroachments on our territorial waters. The Navy will also effectively protect oil and gas facilities off the coast of Liberia, he warned.

The Liberian Air Force was officially disbanded in 2005. The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) had included an Aviation Unit, but it could not in any sense be considered an air force. The Aviation Unit was founded with the delivery in 1970 of three Cessna U-17C light aircraft. During the 1980s it operated three fixed-wing aircraft from Spriggs-Payne Airfield in Monrovia on reconnaissance duties and for transporting light cargo and VIPs. The Aviation Unit was expanded in the 1980s with the delivery of more Cessna aircraft: three 172s, a 206, 207 and two single engined turboprop 208s.

In emergencies the AFL could enhance its capabilities by using the aircraft operated by Air Liberia. This was pointed out in November 1983, at the time of the raid on Yekepa that was linked to Quiwonkpa's alleged plot, when Air Liberia reportedly transported 200 soldiers from Monrovia to upper Nimbi County within six hours in order to squelch the possibility of a coup. The Liberian government and the high command were reportedly interested in building up the capabilities of the Aviation Unit, but it was thought that funding difficulties would preclude a significant expansion.

The Liberian Air Force was formed from the Aviation Unit by an Act of Legislature on August 12, 1987. Statutory responsibilities were to: protect and defend the air space of the Republic of Liberia; protect lives and properties; provide air mobility for military and civil personnel; assist in search and rescue operations; undertake emergency operations; conduct reconnaissance patrols; participate in joint military operations and perform other duties as may be designated by the Ministry of Defense. The LAF was to be headed by a colonel in his capacity as Assistant Chief of Defense Staff for the Air Force and was mandated to train personnel and develop doctrine; advise the Chief of Staff of the AFL on matters relating to the Air Force. Two refurbished DHC-4 Caribou, a single Piper Aztec light twin and three IAI Arava STOL twins were delivered in 1989.




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