The history of the Egyptian Air Force goes back to the Second World War when the RAF based many squadrons in Egypt to fight the Germans. During and after the war Egyptian squadrons were established. The first major conflict for the Egyptians came in 1947 and 1948 when they got involved in the war of Independence for a free Israel. Egyptian Spitfires and C-47 Dakotas were involved in fighter and bomber missions over Israel. A coup against King Farouk of Egypt led Egypt into a republic and General Nasser becoming the first President. One of his first acts was the declaration of ownership of the Suez canal. This lead to a war with England and France, this prompted the Israelis to take actions together with Britain and France (the only time Israel fought a war with direct involved allies). On October 29, 1956, Israeli troops invaded Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and quickly overcame opposition as they raced for Suez. The next day, Britain and France, following their part of the script, offered to temporarily occupy the Canal Zone and suggested a 10 mile buffer on either side which would separate the Egyptian forces from the Israelis. Nasser of course refused, and on October 31, 1956 Egypt was attacked and invaded by the military forces of Britain and France.
Photo: Daniel Abela
During the 1967 war the Egypt Air Force was unable to act properly, the results being the complete loss of the Sinai desert and Israeli troops crossing the Suez canal into Egypt. In the years that followed Egypt had to rebuild its complete Air Force, Russia being the most important country to deliver new aircraft and more important advisers and training. This lead to a much more effective air force. This was clearly visible during the October War (Yom Kippur) of 1973 when the air force was able to pinpoint attacks on the Israeli ground forces. Egypt lost more than 200 aircraft during those 18 days of fighting.
Following this President Saddat asked the Russians for more sophisticated weapons which were constantly being delayed. Because of these delays Egypt turned to France and the USA for the badly needed modernisations of the air force. France jumped in with the delivery of Mirage 5s followed by American F-4Es. This was the start which resulted in Mirage 2000s and F-16s being delivered from the early 80s. Despite the French and American deliveries, the Egyptians kept looking further and found more and cheap sollutions in China. This resulted in large orders for the Chinese F-7 (upgraded MiG-21s) and K-8 trainers.
Current Air Force
The Egyptian Air Force has been modernized and will be further equipped with the acquisition of sophisticated and advanced equipment from Russia (MiG-29M, Ka-52, Mi-17Vs, Il-76, An-74T-200), from France (Rafale), US (F-16D block 52, AH-64E, CH-47F, S-70, SH-2G, E-2C), Spain (Casa C295M), Italy (WA139, AW149. AW189) and Germany (Grob 120). The EAF is organized in five Air Divisions. Each Air Division consists of several Air Wings. The helicopters (Mi-17s, S-70s, Commandos, SH-2G, AW139/149/189, CH-47s) are operating in 119 Air Division for troop transport and assault, (combat) search and rescue in 544, 545, 546 and 547 Air Wings. The attack and close support helicopters (AH-64Ds, Ka-52s, SA243Ls) are operating in 129 Air Division in 548, 549 and 550 Air Wings. The combat element of the EAF are split into 139 Air Division (North and West Egypt) and 149 Air Division (East and South Egypt). The Nortwestern part is being defended by 203 TFW (Rafale), 252 TFW (Mirage 2000), 232, 272 and 292 TFW (F-16C/Ds) and 308 TW (Alpha Jet). The Southeastern part of Egypt is being defended by 102 TAW (EMB312, AT-802), 104 TFW (MiG-29M2) and 242, 262 and 282 TFW (F-16C/D's). The transport aircraft are operating in 159 Air Division with 516 Air Wing (C-130Hs, Il-76) and 533 Air Wing (C295M, An-74T-200). The Egyptian Air Academy has three Flying Wings: 101 Air Brigade (Grob 120), 201 Air Wing (K-8E) and 301 Air Wing (SA342L).
Silver Stars and Horus
The Egypt Air Force has two operational demonstration teams: “Silver Stars” and "Horus". The Silver Stars are flying with K-8E trainers from 201 Air Wing based at Bilbays. Horus is a demonstration team from 548 Air Wing, flying SA342L Gazelles and are based at Kibrit.
Photo: Andrew Jewson
In 2023, a new batch of 36 Rafales are on order, even as the F-15EX fighters for longrange interceptor missions. All AH-64D Apaches will be upgraded to AH-64E, and the CH-47D Chinooks will be replaced by the CH-47F.