Yemen Air Force
Yemen's military consists of an army, navy, air force, and reserves. In 2007 total active troops were estimated as follows: army, 60,000; navy, 1,700; and air force, 5,000. The air force includes an air defense force. The air force, including air defense, has 75 combat aircraft and eight attack helicopters, as well as assorted transport aircraft, training aircraft and helicopters, and both air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. There are unconfirmed reports that Yemen recently acquired TOR air defence systems, which would be far more advanced than the current air defense systems in place.
The biggest purchaser of Russian-made aircraft in the Middle East in the mid-2000s was Yemen, which bought 16 MiG-29 aircraft of various modifications in 2002 and signed a contract with Russia for their modernization in 2004. At the beginning of September 2001 Vedomosti reported the sensational news that RAC "MiG" had signed a big contract worth up to $300 million to deliver an unknown number of MiG-29 fighters to Yemen. The paper's sources said there is also an option to buy another $100 million worth of jets. The contract with Yemen, if its financial parameters are correctly reported by Vedomosti, is RAC "MiG"'s biggest since the Malaysian contract of 1994, which called for the delivery of 16 MiG-SE fighters and two MiG-29UB for a total of $560 million to $650 million, according to various source. During 2005 the MiG corporation sent 6 MiG-29SMT fighters to Yemen and modernized twelve earlier supplied MiG-29SE. The Russian company also modernized two MiG-29Bs for the Air Force of Eritrea. The shipments cost $300 million.
In 2002 MiG corporation started work on a major package of contracts signed in 2001 for delivering new aircraft and upgrading the old ones. As far as deliveries are concerned, these included the transfer of some 10 MiG-29 fighters to Yemen under a 2001 contract for 14 aircraft for $437 million.
In February 2009 the president of Yemen said his country planned to buy a number of MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters and other military equipment from Russia. Ali Abdullah Salah, on a visit to Russia, met with President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss military and trade cooperation, as well as tackling piracy and terrorism. "These [the MiG-29] are excellent aircraft. We have had them for a long time and several years ago we brought them to Russia and carried out their modernization program," the Yemeni president said in an interview published by Russia's Vremya Novostei newspaper. "Suffice it to say that we are planning to acquire more of these aircraft and probably MiG-35 fighters as well. We are also in talks on the purchase of Russian helicopters and patrol boats," he added.
About 90% of the military hardware and aircraft used by the Yemeni Armed Forces were made in the Soviet Union. Yemeni Air Force had 44 MiG-29SMT and MiG-29UBT fighters in service. Yemen and Russia were holding talks to reach an agreement on the maintenance of military hardware, component supplies and training of Yemeni military personnel in Russia.
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