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Angola Air and Air Defense Force - Modernization

The Angolan Air Force, similar to its army, was well equipped with first line equipment. In some cases, the equipment that the Soviet Union furnished FAPLA was so new that western arms experts gained access to Soviet material not previously encountered elsewhere. For example, the SA-8 surface to air missile and the Flat Face radar, the system associated with the SA-6 missile, were first acquired in Angola and provided to western specialists for closer technical examination. FAPLA flew MiG-23 fighters, MiG-21 and SU-22 fighter-bombers, Mi-24/25 attack helicopters and Mi-8/17 transport helicopters; by 1987 its Air Force numbered eighty fighters and 123 helicopters. The size of their air component, the proximity of their air bases, and the anemic state of SADF air defense assets allowed FAPLA commanders to provide greater air coverage than their enemy over the battle zone.

According to a 1987 press report, FAPA/DAA was reorganized into three regiments: a fighter-bomber regiment headquartered in Lubango, a transport regiment in Luanda, and a helicopter regiment in Huambo. In addition, FAPA/DAA aircraft and air defense units were deployed in strategic locations throughout the country. Of Angola's 229 usable airfields, 25 had permanent-surface runways, 13 of which exceeded 2,440 meters.

The capabilities and effectiveness of FAPA/DAA had increased markedly following its creation. FAPA/DAA's expanded capacity to provide air cover and supply to forward ground forces, strike at UNITA bases and interdict South African aircraft, evacuate wounded personnel, and perform reconnaissance and liaison missions became particularly apparent during combined offensives after 1985. Like the army, FAPA/DAA developed modern facilities to repair and service both military and civilian aircraft for Angola and other African states.

Private business organizations providing professional services that are linked to warfare are referred to as “privatized military firms”; “private military companies” and “private security companies”; “private soldiers”; and “contract or corporate warriors.” other less flattering names such as “shadow soldiers” “mercenaries,” “whores or dogs of war”. In 1993 Angola hired Executive Outcomes (EO), the South African private security firm, to retrain their armed forces and lead them into battle. In the course of the conflict, EO employees piloted Angolan Air Force planes and participated in commando raids. EO provided logistics and flew several helicopters bought for the conflict. It also provided pilots for Angolan aircraft, as the air force had the equipment but lacked the combat expertise to really use it to its full potential. Soon after, Jonas Savimbi was forced to sue for peace and sign the Lusaka Protocol in 1994, but the fighting slowly restarted in 1996.

In July 2007 Embraer delivered the first Legacy jet to SIMPORTEX, located in Luanda, Angola. The State-run company is responsible for purchasing the country’s military materiel. Besides the newly-delivered Legacy 600 jet, the deal with SIMPORTEX covers a broad parts and services contract. The Angolan company also began operating a twin-turboprop EMB 120 Brasilia, and both air craft were used to carry Angola’s government authorities. The presence of Embraer’s Defense and Government products on the African continent has grown in recent years. Angola has been flying the Tucano turboprop, since 1997.

In the end of January 2013, the first three of six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft were delivered to the National Air Force of Angola, as part of a total order for six aircraft. Upon this delivery Angola becomes the third operator of the Super Tucano in the African continent. The airplane will be used for border surveillance missions.

The Air Force has a pending order for 12 Sukhoi Su-30MK fighter jets and expects large quantities of military equipment ordered in 2013 year from Russia in a $1 billion arms deal.

Although the military side of Luanda's International Airport contains some large, orderly and inventoried ammunition warehouses, it also has large piles of bombs, guided missile ammunition, and other military equipment lying in the sun or in unlocked and rusting shipping containers. A civilian school stands less than 50 yards from the unfenced ammunition storage area. The airport's outer perimiter fence has not deterred pilferers from the adjoining neighborhood; the backs were removed and silk parachutes cut out of fuel air bombs lying in a pile near the fence.

The FAN's lack of capacity for safe weapons destruction and equipment necessary for destruction has led them to seek outside assistance to destroy unwanted items in their arsenal. HALO Trust's Weapons and Ammunition Disposal (WAD) Team has developed a strong relationship with the FAN though building on trust from past successes in small-scale weapons cutting programs and its extensive humanitarian demining program in Angola. In 2006 the FAN asked HALO to destroy ammunition and weapons systems at eight bases and military airports; that request since expanded to 15 locations.

Russia’s state arms export monopoly said 23 November 2013 that it will deliver 12 Su-30K fighter jets to a nation in southern Africa. In the wake of a visit by a high level Russian delegation earlier this year, it was widely reported in Russian media that Moscow had agreed to supply 18 of the jets to Angola. “These aircraft will be delivered to a South African country. For the first step, we are inclined to deliver 12 of the 18 units,” Mikhail Zavaliy, a top executive from Rosoboronexport told reporters, without specifying what country he was talking about. The final six aircraft will be supplied at a later date, Zavaliy said.

The Su-30K fighters in question are a batch of aircraft initially supplied to India in the late 1990s, prior to Delhi receiving the more advanced multirole Su-30MKI variant. They were returned to Russia in 2007 and have since lain idle in a Belarusian repair plant, according to a report in Vedomosti newspaper in Octobr 2013. Angola has close diplomatic and military ties with Russia that have endured since the Soviet era.

By the end of 2015 the first four refurbished and modified aircraft will be delivered. Completion of this work is planned for the end of 2016 - beginning of 2017. Angola has acquired 12 machines, while Rosoboronexport is looking for a buyer for the six others in this batch of trade-in aircraft. The Belarusian 558th Aircraft Repair Plant was chosen to fulfill the contract, as in the Soviet years has been the prime contractor to repair Su-27 (on the basis of which created the Su-30).

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