Globally, many people believe U.S.A, Russia, and China are the leading nations in terms of military strength. In point of fact, these nations maintain their immense military powers with the help of numerous armaments such as fighter jets, nuclear devices, and armoured vehicles. So one tends to ask which country holds the spot for the best airforce in Africa.
If you are reading this post then you probably already know the importance of an Air-force to a country’s defense and protection. That includes Air support for ground troops who may have been outmaneuvered by a clever enemy, Reconnaissance and border patrol duties, Intelligence gathering and Surveillance operations, Air defense- including air to air combat, Military Transport, Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief, and so on.
Most African countries have Air-forces, but what countries on the continent have the best Air-forces? That question can be rephrased as to what countries have the most populated, equipped, motivated, and prepared Air-force on the continent?
In this article, we highlight the Top 10 Most Powerful Air-force in Africa. We talk a little about what makes them tick – the personnel strength, aircraft fleet, budget, as well as highlight a few missions that they have undertaken, by which they might have earned themselves some reputation as Air-forces to reckon with on the continent and beyond. Without any further time-wasting, we give you the Top 10 Best Air-forces in Africa.
Top 10 Best Air Forces In Africa 2020
The Egyptian Air-force ranks in the premier position on this list, not only because of the sheer size of their fleet, but also for the following reasons: They have Quality Fighter Jets in their fleet, they also have Sufficient numbers of both air-crafts and personnel, Combat experience to boast of, and to overawe potential aggressors.
The Egyptian Air-force has about 1,200 air-crafts in their fleet, and 764 of these are classified as combat air-crafts. In the transport department, they have 266 air-crafts, in the Training department, they have 384 air-crafts.
The Egyptian Air-force has 30,000 active servicemen, and another 20,000 in reserve, bringing their total personnel strength to 50,000.
They have attack helicopters such as AH-64 Apache, Mil Mi-28 Havoc, Aerospatial Gazelle. They also have other highly rated Helicopters as Kamov Ka-50 from Russia, and Boeing CH-47 Chinook from America. There are also SH-2G Super Seasprite, Sikorsky UH-60, AgustaWestland AW109, AW139.
In the area of Fighter Jets, they have some fearsome death-dealing machines such as the following fifth-generation fighter jets Lockheed Martins F-16 from America, Dassault Rafale from France, and Chengdu F-7 from China. There are also Mikoyan Gurevich Mig-21, F-4 Phantom, CAIG Wing Loong UCAV, CH-4B, and Mirage 2000.
They also have the capacity to engage in remote warfare through highly advanced remote pilot technology. Some of their air-crafts in this category include E-2HE2K, Beechcraft 1900, C-130, Commando MK.2E, Mil Mi-8, CAIG Wing Loong, and CH-4B.
In 2014, the Egyptian government spent 4.4 billion U.S Dollars (which is about 3% of its total GDP) on defense. They spent a further 1.2 Billion Dollars which was received as defense assistance from the United States of America.
They have proven themselves in combat with the following engagements: 1948 Arab Israeli War, Suez Crises, North Yemen Civil War, Nigerian Civil War, Libyan-Egyptian Civil War to name a few.
The Algerian Air-force comes in next on our list. It is worthy of mention that the Algerian Air-force has over the years increased its capabilities by acquiring many fighter jets as well as Surface to air missile systems to secure their skies. Their strengths include Modern aerial equipment -including fighter jets and transport aircraft, they have a robust defense budget, as well as a High aircraft maintenance culture.
The Algerian Air-force has a total of 502 air crafts, and 187 of these numbers are categorized as Fighter or Attack aircraft. They have 266 air crafts in the Transport division, 68 Air-crafts in the Training department, and 257 units of Helicopters serving various uses.
Helicopters: They have in their fleet include the fearsome Kamov Ka-27 from Russia, Eurocopter AS355 from Britain, and the Agusta Westland AS355. They also have the AW139, Mil Mi-26, and the PZL Mi-2.
The Egyptian Airforce has a personnel strength of 14,000 Airmen which seems a little small for a country of this size.
In 2012 Algeria spent 9 billion dollars on their defense budget and that amounts to 4.5 percent of their Gross Domestic Product.
They have tasted action in the following engagements: Algerian War, FFS Rebellion, Sand War, October War as well as Insurgency in the Maghreb. None of these are considered major wars.
3. South African Airforce
The South African Air-force is one of the oldest Air-forces on the continent, having been founded in 1920. The South African Air force has 226 air-crafts in its fleet, and 47 of them a classified as Attack crafts, the majority being SAAB JAS 39 Gripen, while there are also (British made) BAE Hawks in their fleet.
The South African Air-force has 11,000 active personnel, as well as 1,000 Reserve men on standby. It is worthy of mention that the SA Air-force boasts one of the best Fighter Training routines, and has laudable combat experience.
In the area of Helicopters, they have 95 operational units which include Rooivalk, Oryx, Agusta A109, and Lynx 300 (s). There are 109 air-crafts in the transport department, and 88 air-crafts used for personnel training, and retraining. The South African Airforce is thought to be building its remote pilot air-craft division, but currently, there are Oryx EW and C-47TP (s) in their fleet. The defense budget for 2012 was 4.7 billion dollars which accounts for 1.1 percent of its total Gross Domestic Product.
They have proven themselves in combat, have been involved in the following engagements: World War I, World War II, Korean War, Rhodesian Bush War, Mozambican War, South African Border War, as well as the M23 Rebellion and the ADF Insurgency.
By recalling past events, South Africa once had 6 nuclear weapons under its military control. However, the country agreed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1991 and this agreement resulted in the destruction of nuclear weapons.
The Moroccan Air-Force comes in next on our list of the best Air forces in Africa, as one of Africa’s most prepared Air-forces. They are focused on the defense of their territory rather than attack, and it is for this reason that their F-16 fighter jets are specially configured for long-range combat.
They have a total of 278 air-crafts, and 96 of them are classified as attack air-crafts. Helicopters in their fleet: the official figure given as 128 operational helicopters. They include Aerospatial SA 342 Gazelle, Aerospatial SA 330 Puma, as well as Bell AB 205 helicopters and Boeing CH -47 Chinook. There are 158 air-crafts on transport duties as well as 80 air-crafts being used for training and retraining purposes.
Morocco spent 3.5 billion U.S dollars on defense in the year 2012, and that figure amounted to 3.5 percent of their total Gross Domestic Product.
The main attacking fleet of the Moroccan Air-force comprise of the terrifying Lockheed F-16 fighter jets (from America), as well as (French) Dassault Mirage F-1, and Dassault Alpha Jet (s), as well as F-5 Tiger(s)
They have been tested and marked as capable in the following engagements: the Sand War, Six-Day War, Yom Kippur War, Western Sahara War, Anti ISIS War, and the War in Yemen. As you can see from the engagements above, Morocco is an ally of America.
The Sudanese Airforce comes in next on our list. Unfortunately, much of the required information is withheld by the Sudanese authorities, but for the fact that Sudan already have in their fleet a lot of monster machines, and the fact that many more even more powerful weapons of death are about to be introduced, the Sudanese Airforce makes the top 10.
They have 246 operational aircraft in their fleet, and 138 of them are classified as attack air-crafts.
Helicopters: They have 108 operational helicopters, which include Mil Mi-24, Mil Mi-8, IAR 330, PZL MI-2 (s), and they also have Bell 212 and Bell UH-1 helicopters.
They have 52 transport air-crafts as well as 12 air-crafts used for training and retraining of personnel.
The attack division of the Sudanese Airforce is 138 air-crafts strong and comprises fourth and fifth-generation fighter jets such as Mikoyan Mig-23, Mig-21, and Mig-29. There are (Russian made) Sukhoi Su-35, and Su-24, while they also have (Chinese made) Nanchang Q-5, Chengdu J-7, Shenyang J-5, and HongduJL-9 helicopters in their fleet.
They have been very recently active in the Darfur War, War in Yemen, Sudanese Civil War.
The Angolan Airforce is a regional power, which threatens to overshadow much more popular Air-forces around Africa. Angola has been a long-standing ally of Russia and Cuba, and so it should be no surprise when you see Russian names in its fleet.
There are 348 air-crafts in the Angolan Airforce, and 138 of these are classified as attack air-crafts.
Helicopters in their fleet number 118 air-crafts, including Agusta Westland AW 139, and AW 109, they also have Aerospatiale Gazelle, Mil Mi-24 Hind, Mi-8, Bell 212, Alouette III helicopters.
The Angolan Airforce has 128 aircraft in the transport division and 48 Air-crafts which serve for training and retraining of personnel.
Their main attacking division is 138 air-crafts strong, and they are mostly Russian made killing machines such as Sukhoi Su-30k, Su-27, and Su-22. They also have Mikoyan Mig-23, as well as Mig-21.
Angola spent 3.8 billion U.S dollars for defense in the year 2012, and that figure amounts to 3.5 percent of their total Gross Domestic Product.
The Ugandan Airforce comes in next on our list with a reputation of having acquired some fearsome killing machines in recent years. They have 53 air-crafts, and 23 of these are classified as attack air-crafts, 21 helicopters and they include Bell 206, Huey II, Mil Mi-24, Mil Mi -17. They have a few transport units: 52 in number, while they have 10 Air-crafts been used for personnel training and retraining.
There is 50,000 active personnel in the Ugandan Air-force, making it a very robust air-force indeed. Angola spent 250 million dollars for defense in the year 2012.
Their main attacking force comprises of Russian made MiG-21 and Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets.
The Nigerian Airforce has a shadow of human rights violations but also has very good troop motivation and welfare to boast of. They have about 110 aircraft in their fleet, and 31 of these are classified as attack air-crafts.
Helicopters in their fleets are 39, and they include Mil Mi-24/35 Hind, Mil Mi-17sh, Agusta Westland AS 332, AW 101, AW 139, AW 109.
There are 53 transport air-crafts in the Nigerian Airforce, 40 air-crafts serve for training and retraining of personnel. The Nigerian Airforce has 25,000 active personnel on its payroll.
The main attack division of the Nigerian Airforce is 31 units strong. They comprise of (French made) Dassault Alpha Jet, Aero L-39, CH-3 UCAV, and (Chinese) Chengdu F-7 (s).
The Nigerian Airforce has undertaken the following engagements: Nigerian Civil War, Liberian Civil War, Sierra Leone Civil War, and the Niger Delta Conflict. They were involved in the Northern Mali War, and are currently involved in the Boko Haram War.
It is always fascinating to find out the position Nigeria holds amongst Africa’s best air forces. Undoubtedly, Nigeria is the most dominant African country in terms of population and economic potential. However, the country has failed to claim the first spot among the best air forces in Africa. In reality, Nigeria could have ranked better than this if its military had been able to curb the Boko Haram insurgency which is undoubtedly one of the current problems facing Nigeria.
Nevertheless, Nigeria’s air force is regarded as one of the strongest military units Africa boasts of. Although Nigeria has a high rate of corruption, its government has managed to spend some considerable amount on the military sector.
Within and beyond North Africa, Tunisia possesses one of the best air forces. The country has strengthened its air force with quite a number of UAVs and aircraft. Besides that, the country has more sophisticated armaments in its arsenal. Tunisia’s air force is best known for its vibrant operations aimed at safeguarding the country’s internal and external territories.
The Tunisian Airforce comes in next with 148 air-crafts in their fleet. Although for objectivity sake it should be said that this peaceful country has not had a lot of engagements to speak of. Out of the 148 air-crafts, 30 units are classified as attack units.
Helicopters in their fleet are 83 units. They include SA-341, HH-3, SA-313, and SA 316 helicopters, while there are also Agusta Bell AB-412 and UH-1H, and UH-1N helicopters in their fleet.
Transport aircraft in their fleet are 89 units, while 40 other air-crafts are used for training and retraining of personnel. The Tunisian Air-force has a personnel strength of 3,000 persons in service.
Tunisia spent 746 million dollars on defense in the year 2012, and that figure amounted to 3 percent of their total Gross Domestic Product.
This is one of the most experienced Air-forces on this list of strongest air forces in Africa; the recent war with Eritrea has given the Ethiopian Air-force sufficient combat experience in the air to ground and air to air manoeuvres. They have a total of 80 functional aircraft, and of that number 48 are classified as attack air-crafts.
Helicopters are 34, and they include Mil Mi-24 Hind (s) Mil Mi-8, Mil-Mi-6(s).
They have a personnel strength of 3,000 servicemen on active duty, 34 transport air-crafts, 14 air-crafts for training, and retraining purposes.
In the year 2012, Ethiopia spent 340 million dollars on defense, and that figure amounts to 0.8 percent of her Gross Domestic Product.
Their main attack force is 48 air-crafts strong and comprises of Su-25 Frogfoot (s), and MiG-21, and also Mig-23, with Su-27(s) also available.
The Ethiopian Air-force has been involved in the following engagements: the Ethiopian Civil War, Ethiopian-Somali War, Ethiopian -Eritrean War.
That’s all about the countries with the best airforces in Africa 2020, the new update will be added as soon as we are able to get more information on them. Thanks for reading
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