Congolese Air Force

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Congolese Air Force
Roundel of the Congolese Air Force.svg
Congolese Air Force roundel
Founded 29 July 1959 - present
Country  Ghana
Branch Air Force
Part of Congolese Armed Forces
Aircraft flown
Fighter Mirage F1
Helicopter Mil Mi-35, Mil Mi-17
Transport An-32, CN235

The Congolese Air Force (1990–2000) is the air branch of the Armed Forces of the Republic of the Congo, in the Republic of the Congo (aka Congo-Brazzaville). Political tensions have now declined with the fall of the Cold War in Africa and most of its fighter aircraft were scrapped in 2001.

Former Cold War air force[edit]

After achieving independence from France in 1960, the Congolese air force (Force Aerienne Congolaise) was started with equipment such as the Douglas C-47s, Broussards and Bell 47Gs, these were followed by Nord Noratlas tactical transports and Sud Alouette helicopter. In the 1970s the air force switched to Soviet equipment. This included five Ilyushin IL-14 and six turboprop Antonov An-24 transports and an An-26 in return for providing bases for Cuban MiG-17 operations over Angola. These fighters and a few MiG-15UTI combat trainers were transferred to the FAC. In 1990 these fighter were replaced by 16 USSR supplied MiG-21MF/bis Fishbeds plus a couple of MiG-21US trainers. Together with a Soviet training mission which stayed until late 1991, during that time there were numerous accidents that involved both Soviet and Congolese personnel. After the Soviets left there was only limited funding for MiG operations and they were withdrawn. Six Mi-8 helicopters were delivered from Ukraine in mid-1997 before the Cobra rebel takeover.

Aircraft used between 1988 and 2000[edit]

The Cold War air force consisted of.[1][2]-

Former personnel and budget[edit]

A small, but adequate budget and personnel. Financial aid also came from the former USSR and some personnel were either Soviets or Cubans.

Political and combat role[edit]

Its role was as a Communist bastion in central Africa and to counter the politically unstable,[3] pro-Western regime in Zaire[3] (the then former name of the DRC). Its role is now one of countering cross-border smuggling operations, intermittent counterinsurgency actions in the northern provinces and successfully containing the crisis in the DRC along its border. Its first batch of aircraft, the MiG-15s and some of the MiG-17s, arrived in the early 1960s just after the Congo's independence from France and Zaire's independence from Belgium.

It was organised into fighter, counterinsurgency, transport and support wings.

Arms suppliers and personnel training[edit]

France, China and the Soviet Union supplied arms and aircraft. The Soviets and Cubans trained the air force as a whole, but France also trained some of its officers.

The Congolese Air Force after 2000[edit]

Today's aircraft inventory[edit]

The Congo's 10 military aircraft, including 3 helicopters, are operated by the Air Force.

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[4] Notes
Dassault Mirage F1  France Fighter Mirage F1 4
CASA CN-235  Spain transport CN-235 1
Mil Mi-17  Russia utility helicopter Mi-17 6
Mil Mi-24  Russia attack helicopter Mi-35 3

Arms suppliers and personnel training[edit]

Both France, China and the Ukraine supplied the arms and aircraft. France and China also trained the air-force as a whole, but France has also trained most of its air-force officers.

Present personnel and budget[edit]

A small, but adequate budget and personnel.

See also[edit]

Armed Forces of the Republic of the Congo for other armed services.



  • Dorling Kinnersley World reference atlas for 1994
  • Tri-service pocketbook- Soviet and East European Major Combat Aircraft for 1990,
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2003 edition".
  • Tri-service pocketbook- NATO Major Combat Aircraft for 1990,
  • A news clipping on the helicopter and transport plane of about the same date.
  • Prentice Hall/Salamander Books book- An Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Markings (1989).
  • Aircraft information files Bright star publishing File 358 sheet 2

Further reading[edit]

  • Cooper, Tom & Weinert, Peter (2010). African MiGs: Volume I: Angola to Ivory Coast. Harpia Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-0-9825539-5-4.