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Egyptian Air Force History

The first Egyptian planes arrived in 1932, when the first 5 aircrafts Egypt had bought in September 1931 took off from Hatfield airfield north of London to make their journey to their new home in Egypt. They formed the first nucleus of the first Egyptian Arabic and Muslim state Air forces in history. On 02 November 1930 the historic Royal decree was issued by King Fouad I to create the Egyptian Air forces. Its name then was the Egyptian Army air forces "EAAF". In September 1931 the British De Havilland aircraft company won a contract to supply Egypt with 10 DH-60 tiger moth trainers.

In 1937 ,the Royal decree was issued by King Farouk to separate the Air forces from the army command and it became an independent branch with a brand new name and a new insignia. The name would be "Royal Egyptian Air forces" aka " REAF "and the insignia would be representing the Egyptian Royal flag in another important era in the history of EAF as New air bases were built in Suez Canal and the western desert, of course the Suez Canal was a very important and critical place. In 1938 Egpt bought more military aircraft from 2 squadrons of Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters and a squadron of then modern Westland Lysander reconnaissance aircraft.

In World War II, Egypt was threatened by the Italian and German invasion and advance its western desert. Egyptian ministries were focused on not involving Egypt in the war. Sometimes they followed the neutrality policy, depending on the political decision back then of the ministry or the cabinet that existed - there were about 5 ministries following different parties with different views about the war whether Egypt would participate in it or no. In the end Egypt had to engage in it and despite the Egyptian sympathy for the Nazis, which was based ont hatred of the British and the rosy promises for freedom of independence by the Nazis from the Arabic Berlin radio station.

The war of 1948 came and the first real test the REAF had to face came at last , the whole Egyptian army including the REAF was not ready for that war from training and preparations. The Royal Egyptian Air forces participated in the war of 1948 effectively and it caused losses in the Israeli side.

After 1952 the revolution had a principle among the six principles that was to establish a powerful army and for that reason the REAF became the EAF in 1953. When the Soviet Union became Egypt's principal arms supplier in the 1950s, it also played a preeminent role in advising and training the Egyptian air force. Much of the Soviet influence on the air force's structure and organization still prevailed in the 1980s, although training and tactics were affected by the changeover to Western equipment and the advanced training provided by the United States and other Western countries.

Flying units were organized into air brigades that were headquartered at a single base. Brigades officially consisted of three squadrons that each had sixteen to twenty aircraft. Many brigades, however, had only two squadrons. With its headquarters at Heliopolis near Cairo, the air force had about seventeen principal air bases out of a total of forty major installations, as well as reserve and auxiliary bases.

Egypt never stopped insisting on maintaining a state of war with Israel; its military preparations for aggression have never ceased and its threats of preventive war have continued. In explaining over the years his policy of military preparations against Israel, the President of Egypt told two different stories: at times he admitted that his preparations were intended for war against Israel, and at times he represents his military preparedness as being forced upon him by Israel.

It was Egypt which, in 1951, first introduced Vampire and Meteor jet fighter planes and in 1952, upon Nasser's accession to power, brought into service modern Centurion tanks and new destroyers of British manufacture. The Israel Defence Forces were obliged to seek a balance, and thus, in 1954, Israel acquired Meteor jets.

The next tide was the Egyptian deal with the Eastern Bloc, in 1955, as a result of which Egypt received, in 1956, tanks, SU-100 mobile guns and the heavy Stalin-3 tanks, MIG-15 and MIG-17 jet fighter planes and Ilyushin-28 bombers, carrying a load of three-and-a-half tons of bombs; and, at sea - the Skori destroyers and the M and W submarines.

General Nasser started after the Suez War of 1956 to reconstruct and reconfigure the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) with the help of massive Soviet resources. At the same time, he had to recognize the nature of his own population - half urban and concentrated on only four percent of the land, prone to await plans and orders from above, and generally lacking education and industrial skills. Nasser, therefore, concentrated his efforts at recruiting from the elite, educating them as airmen, and making their profession respectable among their peers. However, his Soviet instructors tended to reinforce the Egyptian lack of initiative by their massive welded-wing formations and high-altitude tactics.

The Egyptians were not content. In spite of the tranquillity which prevailed along the border and in the area after the Sinai campaign, the Egyptians in 1960 began developing ground-to-ground missiles, aimed against Israel. In 1961 they introduced MIG-19 fighter planes.

The year 1962 marked a new tide in the arms race - the Egyptians obtained MIG-21 jet fighters, Tupolev-16 heavy bombers, carrying 10-ton bombs, and giant Antonov-12 transport planes for 120 soldiers. This deal also included batteries of SA-2 ground-to-air missiles, which arrived a year later.

Again the Israel Defence Forces were compelled to ensure a balance - in the air. This was done at first by Mystère and Vautour planes, and later, in 1959, SuperMystères and Mirages. Centurion tanks reached us only in 1960, and in that year we also received the first submarines.

But the race went on. In the air, the Egyptians received of late supersonic MIG-21 and Sukhoi-7 planes. To these must be added the heavy MI-16 helicopters, carrying 80 soldiers each.

Only a few hours after the June 1967 War began, Israel had virtually wiped out the Egyptian air force. The government later tried and imprisoned the commander of the air force and a few other officers and purged many other senior officers. The combat efficiency of the air force, which had dropped almost to nil as a consequence of the war and its aftermath, was restored by renewed deliveries from the Soviet Union and intensified Soviet-led training of pilots and crews.

After the 1967 defeat, Nasser forced the EAF to practice against low-level attacks, hardened his bases, and engaged in electronic warfare. But the Egyptian air force, with a severe shortage of trained and qualified combat pilots, was unable to either challenge the Israelis effectively in the skies over Egypt or to launch significant retaliatory attacks against Israeli targets. The situation was so bad in fact that Nasser even admitted it in public. More and better planes - there had been speculation on an improved MIG-21 or so-called MIG-23 - would not alone help Nasser, although there was pressure to provide them. The Egyptians were unable to employ effectively what they already had.

After the June 1967 War and again after the October 1973 War, Egypt had to rebuild totally its air force.




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