Yemeni Air Force

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Yemeni Air Force
Emblem of the Yemeni Air Force.svg
Emblem of the Yemeni Air Force
Active 1990 - present
Country Yemen
Colors Red, White, and Black
Engagements Sa'dah Conflict
Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen
Yemeni Revolution
Roundel Roundel yemen.svg
Air Force Ensign Flag of the Yemeni Air Force.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Northrop F-5
Mikoyan MiG-29
Bomber Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
Sukhoi Su-22
Fighter Northrop F-5
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
Helicopter Mil Mi-17
Agusta-Bell AB204/AB205
Mil Mi-24
Interceptor Northrop F-5
Reconnaissance Northrop F-5
Trainer Aero L-39 Albatros
Yakovlev Yak-11
Zlin Z 142
Transport Antonov An-12
Antonov An-24
Antonov An-26
Yakovlev Yak-40

The Yemeni Air Force (Arabic: القوات الجوية اليمنية‎; transliterated: al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Yamaniya) is the air operations branch of the Yemeni Armed Forces. It is equipped with both eastern and western types of aircraft. Numbers of aircraft can not be confirmed but servicibility of these aircraft is low. Aircraft have been acquired by donations from other countries or either supporting both the Soviet Union or the United States during the Cold War. However, most of the air force was destroyed by airstrikes conducted by a coalition of Arab states during the 2015 military intervention in Yemen.

North and South Yemen[edit]

The Yemen Air Force, known as al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Yamaniya, was established in 1926. During the mid-1950s, the Imam of Yemen established a private fleet that was run by the military. Later, the Soviets delivered MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters, followed by MiG-21s to the South Yemen Air Force. The northern Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) had ties with Western-oriented countries, and they supported a new air force. In the 1970s, Saudi Arabia donated F-5E and F-5B fighters, and two Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport aircraft. The Yemen Arab Republic Air Force (YARAF) aircraft markings are the basis of the current roundel and flag, which come from the North Yemen's support of the United Arab Republic between 1958 and 1961.

The South Arabian Air Force (as an air corps of the Federation of South Arabia under British protection) was supported by the British and received BAC Strikemaster Mk 81s, De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beavers, Jet Provost Mk52As and Bell 47G helicopters. The PRSY/PDRY AF (as an air corps of the independent Southern Yemen after Nov. 1967) aircraft markings were a light blue triangle with a dark outer part and a red star in the center while the fin-flash consisted of a flag in the national tricolour with a blue triangle bearing a red star. This was used as the fin-flash until the unification of Yemen in 1990.

Unified Air Force[edit]

The Yemeni air force was created in conjunction with the unification of southern - and northern Yemen in 1990. Many of the aircraft used by Yemen are from South Yemen and only a small percentage from North Yemen due to the fact that South Yemen was an ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War and the Soviets supplied them with military hardware. After the fall of the Soviet Union, South Yemen stopped receiving Soviet made fighters. Yemen has used fighters and bombers, mainly in the 1994 civil war to bomb the city of Aden. There were also reports of the use English Electric Lightning fighters in the North Yemen Civil War. They were used by Saudi Arabia since Yemen never owned any Lightnings.

The first MiG-29SMT was delivered in October 2004.[1] Two MiG-29UBs are possibly also modified to SMT-standard as MiG-29UBT. A second batch of 6 MiG-29SMTs and 2 MiG-29UBTs was ordered in 2003 and delivered in 2004-05. The MiG-29s are armed with R-27 (AA-10 Alamo), R-73 (AA-11 Archer) and R-77 (AA-12 Adder) air-to-air missiles, as well as Kh-29 (AS-14 Kedge) air-to-surface missiles. In the first quarter of 2007 another 34 MiG-29SMTs were ordered from Russia.[2] They are used for air defence alongside the antiquated Northrop F-5B/E/F, the MiG-21 and Sukhoi Su-20/-22s. Ukraine delivered 21 second-hand MiG-21bis and 12 Su-22s in the period 2005-07.[3][4] Yemen plans to buy more MiG-29s from Russia.[5]

War in Sadah[edit]

Yemeni Air Force has been used extensively in the Sadah War. The Yemeni Air Force has been proven effective destroying enemy positions and buildings. Most enemy casualties were attributed to air raids. A number of accidents have occurred, including one in which a fighter plane accidentally fired a missile and killed more than 80 civilians. During Operation Scorched Earth on 2 and 5 October and on 8 November 2009, three fighter jets reported as a MiG-21, a Su-22 and another Sukhoi-type of aircraft respectively crashed during military missions. The government claimed the crashes were due to technical malfunctions, while the rebels claimed they shot them down with MANPADS.[6]

War on Terror[edit]

As part of the Yemeni al-Qaeda crackdown, the Yemeni Air Force have launched air raids on terrorist bases throughout Yemen to kill important terrorist leaders. The raids were confronted with antiaircraft fire.[7]

2011 Yemeni uprising[edit]

The Yemeni Air Force performed air strikes against opposition forces to the Saleh government during the 2011 Yemeni uprising. On 28 September 2011, a Su-22 was shot down during a bombing mission north of Sanaa by rebel soldiers using a MANPAD.[8] The pilot ejected and was captured.

On 30 October, the al-Daylami air base near Sanaa was attacked by uprising forces. Different official sources reported two or three fighter jets destroyed on the ground either by mortar shells or with planted explosive charges.[9] The aircraft were loaded with ammunition and combat ready for strikes on the next day. Among the destroyed aircraft it was reported at least one MiG-29.[10]


Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Antonov An-12  Soviet Union tactical transport An-12BP 1
Antonov An-24  Soviet Union tactical transport An-24RV 6
Antonov An-26  Soviet Union tactical transport An-26 6
Yakovlev Yak-40  Soviet Union tactical transport 2
Aero L-39 Albatros  Czechoslovakia jet training/light attack L-39C 12
Agusta-Bell AB204/AB205  Italy utility AB204B 2
Agusta-Bell AB206  Italy utility AB206B 5
Agusta-Bell AB212 Twin Huey  Italy utility AB212 5
Agusta-Bell AB214  Italy utility AB214 6
Ilyushin Il-76  Soviet Union transport 3
Mil Mi-17  Soviet Union transport Mi-17
Lockheed C-130 Hercules  United States tactical transport C-130H 3
Mil Mi-8  Soviet Union transport/attack Mi-8T 10
Mil Mi-14  Soviet Union transport/anti-submarine 2
Mil Mi-24  Soviet Union attack Mi-24D
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21  Soviet Union fighter MiG-21bis/MF
Mikoyan MiG-29  Russia multirole fighter MiG-29SMT
Northrop F-5  United States fighter/advanced trainer F-5E
Sukhoi Su-22  Soviet Union ground attack Su-22M-2
30 in service

3 in service
Yakovlev Yak-11  Soviet Union trainer 14
Zlin Z 142  Czechoslovakia trainer Z 142 12
Cessna 208 Caravan  United States reconnaissance 2 Can be armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles[11]
Beechcraft Super King Air  United States surveillance Airking-350ER 4 [12]
Boeing Insitu ScanEagle  United States recon UAV 12 9 equipped for day, 3 equipped for night[13]
Total : 249

Air Defence[edit]

Up to more than six hundred SAM vehicles in service. 12 Tor missile systems were ordered and tested in 2007.[14]


See also[edit]




  1. ^ "MiG-29 Fulcrum Fighter Bomber - Airforce Technology". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "MiG Takes a Heading to Yemen". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  4. ^ MiG-29SMTs to Yemen, Aviapedia (5-9-2006)
  5. ^ "Yemen plans to buy more MiG-29 fighters from Russia". 26 February 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "BBC NEWS - Middle East - Yemen rebels 'down fighter jet'". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "BBC News - Yemen 'bombs house of suspected al-Qaeda militant'". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Yemen rebels 'shoot down' government jet fighter". 28 September 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Press Room". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Yemen; AF incepts C208 Caravan reconnaissance aircraft -, 26 September 2013
  12. ^ Yemen; US delivers 4 Air King 350 ISR aircraft -, 5 June 2014
  13. ^ Yemen; ScanEagle UAV order -, 8 October 2014
  14. ^ John Pike. "Yemen Air Force". Retrieved 24 January 2015.