Lebanese Air Force
|Lebanese Air Force|
Seal of the lebanese air force
|Active||1 June 1949 – present
(65 years, 5 months)
|Size||1200 active personnel
|Part of||Lebanese Ministry of Defense|
|Headquarters||Ministry of Defense|
|Motto||"Here I am, Lebanon's sky."|
|Anniversaries||The 1st of August|
|Engagements||Lebanese Civil War
2006 Lebanon War
2008 fighting in Lebanon
Battle of Arsal
Battle of Sidon (2013)
|Lebanese Air Force flag|
|Lebanese Air Force symbol|
|Attack helicopter||Aerospatiale Gazelle|
|Multirole helicopter||UH-1N, UH-1H Huey, Aérospatiale SA-330 Puma|
|Trainer helicopter||Robinson R44|
|Reconnaissance||Cessna 208, RQ-11B Raven|
|Trainer||Scottish Aviation Bulldog|
The Lebanese Air Force (LAF) (Arabic: القوات الجوية اللبنانية Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Lubnaniyya) is the aerial warfare branch of the Lebanese Armed Forces. The seal of the air force is a Roundel with two wings and a Lebanese Cedar tree, surrounded by two laurel leaves on a blue background.
- 1 History
- 2 Combat history
- 3 Air Bases
- 4 Squadrons
- 5 Aircraft Inventory
- 6 Non-Fatal Crashes and Accidents
- 7 Fatal Crashes and Accidents
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Lebanese Air Force was established in 1949 under the command of then-Lieutenant Colonel Emile Boustany who later became commander of the army. Soon after its establishment, a number of planes were donated by the British, French, and Italian governments, with additional planes donated by Britain and Italy later that same year. Britain donated 4 Percival Prentices and 2 World War II-era Percival Proctors, while Italy donated 4 Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 bombers which were mainly used for transportation. In 1953, jet fighters were introduced when 16 de Havilland Vampire jets were received. The first Hawker Hunters arrived in 1959 and were followed by additional fighters through 1977. In 1968, 12 Mirage IIIELs were delivered from France but were grounded in the late 1970s due to lack of funds. In 2000, the grounded Mirages were sold to Pakistan.
The air force, in the absence of advanced fixed wing aircraft, currently relies on a helicopter force and Hawker Hunter jets that wre put back in service in late 2008. The Lebanese Air Force consists of six squadrons distributed between three air bases.
The Lebanese Air Force has a long history operating Hawker Hunter jets since 1958. A Lebanese Hawker Hunter shot down an Israeli jet over Kfirmishki in early sixties, its pilot was captured by the Lebanese Armed Forces. One Lebanese Hawker Hunter was shot down on the first day of the Six-Day War by the Israeli Air Force. The Hawker Hunters have not flown any combat sorties since September 17, 1983. This was at a time when the French and Americans were rebuilding the Lebanese army. Three F.Mk.70s were made airworthy, and resumed combat operations on September 15. Because the main airfield, Rayak Air Base, had been shelled by Syrian forces, the Hunters had to operate from an airfield in Byblos. The Hunters were finally grounded in 1994 after a minor accident with one of the T.66 trainers during landing and the remaining 8 were stored in Rayak. The last loss took place in 1989 near Batroun during routine training, when the undercarriage failed to lower, leading the jet to crash. The pilot ejected safely from the doomed jet and landed in the sea, where he was promptly rescued by the Syrian army, which then handed him over to Suleiman Frangieh, who in turn handed him over to the Lebanese Army at the al-Madfoun crossing.
During operations in the Nahr el-Bared camp in North Lebanon, lacking any airworthy fixed-wing strike aircraft, the Lebanese army modified several UH-1H helicopters to permit the carrying of 500 pound Mark 82 and 1000 pound Mark 83 bombs (all unguided iron bombs, also known as dumb bombs) as well as Matra SNEB 68 mm rocket pods (taken from stored Hawker Hunters). Special mounting pads engineered by the Lebanese army were attached to each UH-1 Huey on the sides and belly to carry the bombs. The air force, in collaboration with the engineering regiment, developed and used two dumb bombs variants, the 250 kg LAF-GS-ER2 and the 400 kg LAF-GS-ER3. Usually, helicopters cannot bomb in this method as compared to ground attack aircraft, this became one of the rare moments in history during which helicopters were used in such a way. The Lebanese army also made extensive use of Aérospatiale Gazelles equipped with the Euromissile HOT missile and machine guns pods.
The Lebanese Air Force has three bases
- Beirut Air Base, Beirut International Airport (OLBA)
- Rayak Air Base (OLRA)
- Kleyate Air Base, Rene Mouawad Airport (OLKA)
- Wujah Al Hajar Air Base
- Newly established still not fully operational. Includes Lebanese army special forces school.
Employs: Hunter Mk66C, Hunter Mk70A, and AC-208B Combat Caravan
Employs: Aerospastiale SA-342 Gazelle
Employs: IAR-330 SM Puma
The helicopters of this squadron are on loan from the squadrons at Kleyate Air Base.
Employs: Sikorsky S-61N MkII
|Hawker Hunter||United Kingdom||Subsonic Fighter||4||Active||Designed in early 1950s.|
|Scottish Bulldog||United Kingdom||Trainer||3||Active||Back into service in 2010.|
|Cessna 208||United States||Close Air Support, Border Surveillance and Trainer||2/1||Active/TBD||Equipped with MX-15D Camera and 1 armed with Hellfire missiles. 2 delivered and 1 TBD.|
|A-29 Super Tucano||Brazil||Counter Insurgency, Reconnaissance and Trainer||8||TBD||The Lebanese Army will receive 8 Super Tucanos from the Saudi Grant.|
|AH-1 Cobra||United States||Attack||Pending||A US military delegation is expected to visit Beirut soon to finalize the deal. According to initial reports, the helicopters will fly to Lebanon via Jordan.|
|OH-58 Kiowa||United States||Scout and Light Attack||12||TBD||Lebanon and the US are in the process of transferring 12 of ex-US army OH-58 light attack and scout helicopters to the Lebanese Air Force using the Saudi grant.|
|Huey II||United States||Utility, Bomber and Light Attack||6/18||Active/TBD||Some with local modifications to carry SNEB Matra 68mm rocket launchers. Lebanon requests another 18 Huey II helicopters on order.|
|Huey||United States||Utility, Bomber and Light Attack||16/7||Active/Grounded||Some with local modifications to carry 250 kg and 400 kg bombs or SNEB Matra 68mm rocket launchers. 23 Huey will be replaced by 24 Huey II|
|Sikorsky S-61||United States||Fire Fighting and Rescue||3||Active||On behalf of the Ministry of Interior.|
|Robinson R44||United States||Trainer and Light Utility||6||Active|
|Aérospatiale SA-330 Puma||France||Attack, Utility and Transport||7/7||Active/TBD||7 donated by UAE/ 7 under Saudi grant.|
|Aerospatiale Gazelle||France||Naval Patrol, Battlefield Scout and Anti-Tank||9/7||Active/TBD||9 were donated by the UAE in 2007. Lebanon is set to get 7 Gazelle helicopters that are used, but armed using the Saudi grant.|
|AgustaWestland AW139||Italy||VIP Transport||1||Active||Cedar 1 Presidential Helicopter.|
|RQ-11B Raven||United States||Night Vision and Day Time Surveillance||12||Active||Received as a free donation from the United States in 2009.|
|SAGEM Sperwer||France||Reconnaissance||TBD||France has stated it will deliver Lebanon a certain number of drones and will most likely choose the SAGEM Sperwer.|
Non-Fatal Crashes and Accidents
- On November 20, 2010, a Robinson R44 helicopter (L-1502) made an emergency landing on Jal el-Dib highway when its engine stopped working during a drill for Lebanon Independence Day parade. Both pilots and helicopter were unharmed.
- On December 3, 2010, a Gazelle helicopter made a crash landing in Afqa. The two pilot were unharmed, although the helicopter sustained some damage.
Fatal Crashes and Accidents
- On May 12, 2006, a Huey helicopter crashed in the Neiha mountains. Four air force personnel, including the 2 pilots, were killed.
- Mitilian, Vatche. "Lebanese Air Force - History 1". Vatche Mitilian's Independent Guide To The Lebanese Air Force. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- "Air Force". Lebanese Army.
- Mitilian, Vatche. "Hawker Hunter 50 Years". Vatche Mitilian's Independent Guide To The Lebanese Air Force. Vatche Mitilian's Independent Guide To The Lebanese Air Force. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
- Njeim, Colonel Antoine; Rima Dumet (October 2007). القوات الجوية (in Arabic). Lebanese Army. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
- "Lebanese Air Force - Order of Battle". Scramble. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- "Aircraft Inventory".
- "تسلم القوات الجوية طائرة نوع Cessna caravan 208 B" (in Arabic). Lebanese Armed Forces. April 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- "Lebanon gets Raven mini UAV from U.S.". United Press International. March 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-24.[dead link]
- "Heavy U.S. Military Aid to Lebanon Arrives ahead of Elections". Naharnet Newsdesk. April 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- "France promises equipment to Lebanese Air Force".
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