Arab Air Forces (Aircraft Specials series 6066)
By Charles Stafrace
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1994 52 Pages
PDF 19 MB
Algeria won independence from France on 3 July 1962 after a long and violent struggle for freedom which had started in 1954. At the peak of the Algerian war. France had deployed no less than 800 aircraft and a million troops to the colony.
On independence, Algeria established an air arm with the assistance of Egypt which donated eighteen Gomhouria primary trainers. Owing to President Ben Bella's socialist tendencies, the Soviet Bloc agreed to Algeria's requests and East European technicians arrived in November of 1962 to set up an embryo air force consisting of Five MiG-l5UTl jet trainers, six 11-14 transports and ten Mi-4 helicopters donated by the USSR. Two Beech D 18S light transports were purchased for the personal use of President Ben Bella.
During 1963, a brief border war with Morocco, over an iron ore-rich territory, reminded Algeria of its vulnerability. The following year a program for the procurement of more military hardware and the re-activation of ex-French airfields was started.. Aircraft supplied from the Soviet Union during 1964/65 included four 11-18 transports, eight Il-I4s. seven An-I2 transports, twenty MiG-15bis fighters, thirty MiG-17F fighters, twelve 11-28 bombers and three Mi-1 helicopters. Training of Algerian air crews was undertaken in Egypt and China, while Egyptian instructors trained Algerian crews on the newly activated air bases.
In 1965, a military coup resulted in the replacement of Ben Bella's regime by a more moderate government. Over time, the former ties with the USSR were renewed. The Soviets, eager to balance the strong U.S. presence at Wheelus Air Base in Libya, agreed to the new Algerian government's requests for additional military aircraft. During 1966 the Soviets delivered more MiG-17Fs and Il-28s, along with the first six of thirty-seven MiG-21F Fishbed C fighters and twenty Mi-4 helicopters, half of which were equipped with armament for the ground attack role. Most aircraft within the Algerian Air Force were, however, still being flown by foreign pilots, due to a shortage of trained Algerian personnel.