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Kuwaiti Air Force

Kuwaiti Air Force - Not In UseAir Force has been reorganized and fundamentally rebuilt since 1991. The air force headquarters at Kuwait City is also responsible for air defense. These forces do not represent, in themselves, a significant threat to Kuwait's neighbors but will be used to support ground operations.

The air force complement in 1990 before the gulf war was estimated at 2,200, excluding foreign personnel. Its inventory included about eighty combat aircraft, mainly Mirage F1s from France and A-4 Skyhawks from the United States, and more than forty helicopters of French manufacture, some fitted for assault missions with antitank missiles. Ground-based air defense was structured around the United States improved Hawk (I-Hawk) missile system, tied into Saudi air defense to receive data transmitted by United States and Saudi AWACS aircraft that had been operating in the area since the start of the Iran-Iraq War.

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had launched an invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, and refused to submit to international outcries and economic sanctions. Iraqi armor and mechanized infantry units troops had moved across the Kuwait border, occupying strategic posts throughout the country, historical documents show. They quickly overwhelmed the Kuwaiti army, but the Kuwaiti air force managed to flee to Saudi Arabia.

On 02 August 1990, the weather in Kuwait was perfect for air operations, but weather at some western Iraqi airfields delayed take-offs for more than an hour. The delay allowed the small Kuwaiti Air Force to get airborne, just as the Iraqi Republican Guard officers had feared it would. Moreover, coordinating take-off times and in-flight link-up procedures for aircraft departing from multiple Iraqi airfieldsresulted in significant confusion and a number of accidents. Kuwaiti A-4 crews surprised many Iraqi commanders during the opening hours of the invasion. Between 0500 and 0600, the Kuwaiti A-4s attacked the two of the Republican Guard divisions still moving toward Kuwait City.

If not for the quick thinking of some Kuwaiti airmen, most of the early Kuwaiti sorties would not have happened. The initial Iraqi attack on al-Jaber Airbase closed the runways with air scattered mines. The returning Kuwaiti Mirage F-1 and A-4 Skyhawk jets landed and were serviced on the perimeter fence road. The only way sorties stopped flying from Kuwait’s Ahmed al Jaber airbase had nothing to do with the IAF but because the Iraqi troops were right next to it.

Kuwait contributed the most sorties out of the Gulf states, with its A-4 and F-1 aircraft. Kuwaiti A-4s did not have radar warning gear and although fitted with air refueling probes, their pilots were not comfortable in that skill and requested missions not requiring it. That country‘s F-1s had experienced maintenance problems and relatively poor support from their French suppliers. The F-1‘s air-to-air radar was considered unreliable, relegating it like the A-4 to a dayonly air-to-ground role. F/A-18s on order were not scheduled for delivery until July 1992 due to US congressional restrictions.

During the first Gulf War avoiding fratricide was a major determinant in air-to-air Rules of Engagement [ROE]. Most coalition aircraft carried IFF transponders which enabled USAF F-15s and AWACS to discriminate between coalition and Iraqi aircraft. Friendly aircraft not so equipped relied on visual identification to prevent inadvertent engagements. French, Kuwaiti, and Qatari Air Force F-1s presented a unique problem as the Iraqis flew the same aircraft. This identification problem was compounded by the intelligence assessment that the best Iraqi pilots were assigned to F-1 units. Initially, coalition F-1s were kept on the ground so that friendly fighters knew any F-1s in the air were Iraqi.As the Iraqi air threat diminished, allied F-1s were allowed to fly missions. Because a slight Iraqi air threat existed throughout the war, F-1s were constrained in their employment.

Its two air bases, at Ahmad al Jabir and Ali as Salim, badly damaged in the 1991 war, were repaired. The military infrastructure, particularly Air Force and Navy facilities, had been heavily damaged by the Iraqi soldiers who occupied them and by coalition "smart bombs" intended to deny the Iraqi military the use of these facilities. The Ministry of Defence identified three installations-Ali Al-Salem Air Base, Ahmed Al-Jaber Air Base, and Ras Al-Qalayah Navy Base-as irnmediate priorities. The air bases, constructed by Yugoslavians in the mid-1970s, consisted of 3,000-meter runways, concrete aircraft shelters, maintenance hangars, and other structures.

Coalition forces had heavily bombed the two air bases during the war to drive out Iraqi forces, reducing most of the facilities to rubble. Often the mangled metal "skins" of buildings could be found up to half a mile away, even though the structural frames remained intact. The bombing had destroyed nearly all of the 50 hardened aircraft shelters, despite their 15-foot-thick earthen and reinforced concrete shells . Coalition cluster bombs had cratered the taxiways, and the Iraqis had run a ripper across the runways every 200 feet to make them unusable. Barracks, administrative facilities, and medical facilities, though structurally intact, had been heavily vandalized by Iraqi troops.

Kuwaiti officials indicated that the air bases would have to be repaired by August 1991 so they could bring back aircraft currently housed in neighboring countries and accommodate the F-18 aircraft that they had purchased from the United States. The first phase of work at the air bases would focus on making emergency repairs to allow minimal operations at each facility. Specifically, it would involve clearing and cleaning the facilities, repairing runways and taxiways, and building temporary shelters for the airplanes.

Despite repeated urgings from Ambassador Gnehm and Secretary Stone throughout the summer of 1992, Kuwaiti officials ultimately decided to handle the contracting for the extensive permanent recon struction of the air bases themselves. They never signed the foreign military sales case for phase II. The struggle in the defense work had strained the relationship between the U.S. military and the Ministry of Defence. The differences between American and Kuwaiti business philosophies, which had become increasingly apparent by the summer of 1992, created more problems with the defense work than with the civil reconstruction . The Corps' business philosophy of "fair and reasonable" pay for work ran counter to the Middle Eastern philosophy of keeping contractor costs as low as possible and not paying the contractor for changes that the user made.

Decisive Storm

Kuwait took part in the military operation dubbed Decisive Storm against Houthi militias in Yemen. Saudi Arabia led a coalition of more than ten countries to protect the Yemeni people and their legitimate government from the Houthis at the request of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi. The operation in Yemen sought stability for that country and was in defense of Saudi Arabia

National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim chaired a closed-door meeting at the Parliament 01 April 2015, in presence of a number of MPs and Ministers, to discuss the recent developments in Yemen and the participation of Kuwaiti air forces in military operations to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

During the meeting, Ministers gave an explanation on the latest political, military, and security developments in the region, while attending senior military commanders provided a briefing on the latest military developments in Yemen and the extent of defensive military operations being carried out by Kuwaiti air force, Al-Ghanim said in a press statement. The meeting also stressed the importance of home front protection, national unity on political and social levels, and standing as one behind the directions of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, he added.

The meeting was attended by First Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, and Minister of Oil and State Minister for National Assembly Affairs Dr. Ali Al-Omair.

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Page last modified: 08-04-2015 20:22:27 ZULU