Military Wiki
Active 1990 - present
Country Yemen
Colors red, white, and black
Engagements War in Sadah, War on terror, 2011 Yemeni uprising
Commander of the Air Force Saleh al-Ahmar
Roundel Roundel yemen.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Northrop F-5 Mikoyan MiG-29
Bomber Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23Sukhoi Su-22
Fighter Northrop F-5Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
Helicopter Mil Mi-17 Hip-E Agusta-Bell AB204/AB205Mil Mi-24 Hind
Interceptor Northrop F-5
Reconnaissance Northrop F-5
Trainer Aero L-39 AlbatrosYakovlev Yak-11 MooseZlin Z 142
Transport Antonov An-12 CubAntonov An-24 CokeAntonov An-26 CurlYakovlev Yak-40 Codling

The Yemeni Air Force (Arabic language: 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 USA during the cold war.

North and South Yemen

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 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 167 Strikemaster Mk81s, 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

Yemen's air force was created in 1990 when the south and north unified in 1990. Yemen is planning to buy more MiG-29s. Yemen's new MiG-29s were modified by Yemen to also attack air and land units. They have been proven effective and have powerful payloads. The new MiGs have been used against terrorists and has also proven to be effective in the Sah'da conflict. Many of the aircraft used by Yemen are from South Yemen and only a small percentage from North Yemen due to the fact South Yemen was allies with the Soviets in the Cold War. 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 EEG (English Electric Lightning) fighters in the North Yemen civil war. They were used by Saudi Arabia since Yemen never owned EEG fighters.

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 defending the Yemeni skies alongside the Northrop F-5B/F and the aging MiG-21 Fishbed and Sukhoi Su-20/-22 Fitters. Ukraine delivered 21 second-hand MiG-21bis Fishbed-Ns and 12 Su-22 Fitters in the period 2005-07.[3][4] Yemen plans to buy more MiG-29s from Russia.[5]

War in Sadah

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 a Sukhoi respectively crashed during military missions. The government claimed the crashes were due to technical problems malfunctions, while the rebels claimed they shot them down with MANPADS.[6]

War on terror

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

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 so called "advanced air defenses", possibly a MANPADS.[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 Cub  Soviet Union tactical transport An-12BP 1
Antonov An-24 Coke  Soviet Union tactical transport An-24RV 6
Antonov An-26 Curl  Soviet Union tactical transport An-26 6
Yakovlev Yak-40 Codling  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 Hip-E  Soviet Union transport Mi-17
Lockheed C-130 Hercules United States tactical transport C-130H 3
Mil Mi-8 Hip  Soviet Union transport/attack Mi-8T 10
Mil Mi-14 Haze  Soviet Union transport/anti-submarine 2
Mil Mi-24 Hind  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
Unknown[Note 1][Note 2]
30 in service

3 in service
Yakovlev Yak-11 Moose  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]
Total : 249

Air Defence

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


See also



  1. One lost on 19 February 2013. Air Forces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. April 2013. pp. 31. 
  2. One lost on 13 May 2013. Air Forces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. July 2013. pp. 29. 


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