Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta

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Armed Forces of Malta Air Wing
Skwadra tal-Ajru tal-Forzi Armati ta' Malta
Malta Air Wing emblem.svg
Maltese Air Wing emblem
Active 1973–Present
Country  Malta
Branch Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta
Size 14 aircraft
Roundel Roundel of Malta.svg
Fin flash Rudder of Malta.svg
Aircraft flown
Patrol Beechcraft Super King Air, AgustaWestland AW139, Agusta-Bell AB 212
Reconnaissance Aérospatiale Alouette III, Agusta-Bell AB 212
Trainer Scottish Aviation Bulldog
Transport Britten-Norman Islander, Beechcraft Super King Air

The Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta is the aerial component of the current Maltese military. The Air Wing has responsibility for the security of Maltese airspace, conducts maritime patrol and Search and Rescue duties, and provides military assistance to other government departments of Malta.

The Air Wing of the Armed Forces is based at the AFM terminal at the Malta International Airport.


Main articles: RAF Luqa, RAF Hal Far, and RAF Ta' Qali

While Malta has a rather long tradition of military aviation within its territory, including the housing of Royal Air Force bases and squadrons during World War Two, the nation had no official military aviation of its own until gaining independence in 1964 (and the building of an independent national military that followed).

The Air Wing was founded as an operational branch of the Armed Forces of Malta in the early 1970s. The Air Wing serves primarily as a support branch of the ground forces and Maritime Squadron of the AFM and has so far never operated combat aircraft. The Air Wing's current Commanding Officer is Lieutenant Colonel Clinton O'Neill.

In a bilateral agreement with Italy, the Italian Air Force provided two AB 212 helicopters to perform SAR duties with Maltese rescuers on board.[1] This was operated under the name of Italian Military in Malta which was initially intended to help the Maltese Government establish and maintain a modern military force as well operate a SAR detachment. This lasted more than 40 years with the Italian AB212's and their predecessors the AB 204 logging over 15,000 flight hours in both training and SAR missions whilst saving over 270 people. By 2015 the intended role of this mission had been fulfilled with the Maltese Air Wing able to operate a modern SAR force and due to budget cuts the mission started to wind down, until eventually the final chapter of service was closed in 2016 with the Italian AB212's going home.[2]

Current structure[edit]

The main divisions of the Air Wing are :

  • The Air Wing Headquarters - Tasked with command, control, and coordination of the air wing's divisions and sub-units, in order to ensure unit readiness for responding to various operational requirements, both locally and overseas.
  • The Headquarters Squadron - Provides logistical and service support to the other sub-units of the AFM Air Wing. It is responsible for transport management, logistics procurement, and human resources administration required for the air wing's daily duties and commitments. The Integrated Logistics Division within the Headquarters Squadron is tasked with ensuring of the stocking up of all aircraft parts and aircraft maintenance documenation.
  • The Operations Squadron - The main operations element of the AFM's Air Wing, in charge of utilizing the aircraft inventory. It consists of three subdivisions :
    • The Fixed Wing Flight - In charge of coastal and offshore patrolling, sighting and reporting of irregular migration at sea and interdiction, fisheries patrols, and several other varied flight duties.
    • The Rotary Wing Flight - Handles all helicopter operations, ranging from offshore casualty evacuation and rescue to air ambulance as well as patient transfer between the Islands' two main hospitals. It also provides assistance to other government entities as required.
    • The Rescue Section - A small unit of soldiers and rescue personnel specially trained for rescue operations on land and at sea. Each rescue-swimmer is qualified in first aid, life saving, and other specialist skills. Membership in the unit requires a high level of physical fitness.
  • The Support Squadron - By far the largest of the Air Wing's divisions, the Support Squadron is in charge of the maintenance of the aircraft inventory. The ground crew personnel are also responsible for aircraft and equipment handling on the ground, emergency fire fighting, aircraft marshalling, aircraft towing, aircraft refuelling, and other essential line duties.[3]


Below is a list of aircraft currently operated by the Armed Forces of Malta Air Wing. The Air Wing operates a total of 8 fixed-wing aircraft and 5 helicopters. Since its founding, the Air Wing has never operated any jet-powered or combat aircraft.

Current inventory[edit]

Aircraft Image Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Maritime Patrol
BN-2 Islander Armed Forces of Malta Air Wing Islander Zammit-2.jpg  United Kingdom Maritime patrol BN-2B/T[4] 2[5][6] One BN-2B was bought in 1995 and another BN-2T in 1998.[7]
King Air AS1126-Malta-KingAir-0645.jpg  United States Maritime patrol 200 2(+1)[5] Two in service, a third to be delivered in 2017. Fitted with a maritime surveillance and imaging radar.[8][9]
AW139 Malta - Armed Forces AgustaWestland AW139.jpg  Italy SAR / Maritime patrol 3[5][10] Delivered in June 2014, December 2014 and December 2016 respectively.[9][11][12]
Alouette III Armed Forces of Malta Air Wing Aerospatiale SA-316B Alouette III Zammit-2.jpg  France SAR / Utility SA316B 3[5] Initially 3 were left over by the Libyan Air Force in 1980 and officially handed over to the Air Wing in 1991. These were overhauled and an additional 2 were bought from the Royal Netherlands Air Force in 1996 to ease the workload on the other examples. They are expected to be phased out by 2017.[13][14]
Trainer Aircraft
Bulldog T1 Maltese Air Force Scottish Aviation Bulldog T1 JPTA.jpg  United Kingdom Basic trainer 4[15] A first batch of 4 were bought in 2000 to replace the older Cessna 0-1. An additional example was donated by the Royal Air Force in 2001 to bring the total number in service to 5.[16]


An Agusta-Bell 47G-2 over Malta Int'l airport
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Maritime Patrol
CASA C-212  Spain SAR / maritime patrol 1[17] Leased for 3 months from CAE Aviation of Luxemburg.
Cessna 0-1  United States observation 0-1E 5[18] 4 were sold to private owners in the US with another on display at the Malta Aviation Museum.
Agusta-Bell 47  Italy maritime patrol 47G2/G 3/1[18] Three G2’s were former West German Army aircraft.
Agusta-Bell 206  Italy SAR / utility Agusta-206A 1[18] Donated by the Libyan Air Force in 1973.
MD 500  Italy SAR / utility NH-500M 2[18] Licensed built Hugher 500 by Breda Nardi.


  1. ^ "AGUSTA BELL 212". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Italian Military Mission in Malta to wind down". 
  3. ^ "Official AFM website - Overview of the AFM Air Wing's operational structure, divisions and subdivisions". Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  4. ^ "BRITTEN NORMAN BN-2B ISLANDER". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 22". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "BRITTEN NORMAN BN-2T". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Aviation in Malta". 
  8. ^ "New AFM patrol aircraft rolled out". Retrieved 30 March 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2016 pg. 24". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  10. ^ "Malta takes delivery of second AW139". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "AFM Aerospatiale SA.316B Alouette III". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Italian Military Mission in Malta's Helicopter Presence Nearing an End". 
  15. ^ World Air Forces 2014 "WAF 2014" Check |url= value (help) (PDF). Flightglobal Insight. 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "The Malta Air Wing". 
  17. ^ "AFM gets maritime patrol aircraft". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  18. ^ a b c d "World Air Forces 1994 pg. 48". Flightglobal Insight. 1994. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 

External links[edit]