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BAC 167 Strikemaster

The BAG 167 was Britain's entry in the armed trainer market. The BAC 167 Strikemaster, a combat derivative of the Jet Provost Mk 5, first flew in October 1967. The prototype Jet Provost first flew on 16 June 1954 and the type was adopted by the RAF as its basic jet trainer (its first jet trainer), deliveries starting in August 1955. In Aden in the summer of 1958, the RAF carried out trials to see whether the Hunter, the Gnat or the Jet Provost was best suited to replace the Venom in the ground attack rôle in that theatre. The trials showed that the standard fighter, the Hunter, with small modifications, could adapt itself most satisfactorily to the difficult local conditions, and so the RAF began introducing Hunters into squadron service in the Arabian Peninsula Command.

BAC (who absorbed Hunting) fitted a more powerful engine to the Provost T5 to produce the Strikemaster - a trainer/tactical multi-role aircraft suitable for third world and smaller countries. Outfitted with an up-rated engine, wing-hardpoints, a strengthened airframe and new electronics as well as being able to operate from rough airstrips, it is capable of carrying a wide variety of ordnance, although the majority were used as advanced trainers.

It was successfully flown in combat including the Oman-Yemeni wars. The Sultan of Oman’s Air Force (SOAF) acquired eight BAC Strikemasters in the late 1960s. In view of the growing number of incursions into Omani territory from South Yemen. it was decided to attack guerrilla bases there with all available SOAF strike aircraft. The raids, began on 17 October 1975 and lasted into December. Some twenty-three SA-7 launches were seen during the campaign, but only three hit their targets; one Strikemaster was shot down, and another Strikemaster and a Hunter were damaged. The number of RAF pilots on loan to Oman capable of flying the Strikemaster varied between seven and nine at any one time in the early 1970s. It was the policy of Her Majesty's Government to consider sales of defence equipment to any friendly country subject to political, military, security and financial considerations, and obligations to allies.

By 1984 the UK had two contracts that were managed directly by the Ministry of Defence on behalf of the Saudi Arabian Government. These were the contract with the British Aircraft Corporation Limited for the support of Lightening and Strikemaster aircraft operated by the Royal Saudi Air568W Force, and with Cable and Wireless Limited for the provision and maintenance of a nation-wide telecommunications system for the Saudi Arabian national guard.

It continued to compete with the Macchi MB. 326, Sud Magister, and Canadair CL-41, for sales to smaller less developed countries. The unit cost of these aircraft—usually under $500,000 — tended to offset their performance limitations. The Strikemaster gained popularity with third-world countries. It had considerable export success all over the world and established a world record for the number of repeat orders placed by its export customers. It is a very tough aircraft: it has an armored cockpit, a single robust Rolls Royce Viper engine and manual flying controls. The Strikemaster line was very profitable — over 100 units have been sold to a number of air forces. By 1975 The Strikemaster had orders of between £50 million and £60 million, with tens of millions of pounds' worth of future orders in the pipeline. The plane was exported to Ecuador, Kenya, Kuwait (9 of which later went to Botswana), New Zealand, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan and South Yemen. In 1969, Saudi Arabia used it against Yemen.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2014 18:46:53 ZULU