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Portfolio: Algerian Air Force thru History
By Tom Cooper & R.H.
Aug 5, 2004, 04:03

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Algeria received a total of 24 Il-28s, and these appear to have been in service for a relatively short period of time. Only few photographs are available, and all are from the mid-1960s. Exact desigantion of the unit that flew them and their base remain unknown. (All artworks by Tom Cooper unless otherwise stated)

In the mid-1960s a number of Algerian Air Force aircraft have got unit insignia applied. In the case of this MiG-17F it is a black and yellow snake - and insignia reportedly developed under "Egyptian influence".

The Egyptian influence was very strong within the QJJ through 1960s and in the early 1970s, so that Algerian aircraft frequently wore markings or even camouflage patterns developed from those used by the Egyptian Air Force. Such was the case with this and several other MiG-17Fs, all of which were camouflaged in "Nile Valley" pattern.

The QJJ received around a dozen of MiG-15UTIs between November 1962 and 1965. Additional examples should have been supplied at later stages.

The first six MiG-21F-13s arrived in Algeria only in 1965. By 1967 a sufficient number of these as well as MiG-21PFs was supplied for at least 30 to be passed to Egypt as replacements for the losses the UARAF sustained during the Six Day War. Only a handfull of these aircraft were returned.

The first MiG-21bis should have arrived in Algeria around 1978, and eventually around 50 entered service with the No.19 Wing, at Bou Sfer AB.

Together with MiG-21MFs and MiG-21bis, through the 1970s and 1980s Algeria received up to 30 MiG-21U/UM two-seaters, which entered service with several different units.

The first 40 MiG-23s arrived in Algeria in 1979, and included batches of MiG-23BNs (as shown here), MiG-23MFs and few MiG-23UBs.

Eventually, at least 70 MiG-23BNs entered service with the Algerian Air Force. Survivors are being refurbished locally in the recent years and get this desert camouflage pattern - as well as new serials, along a system introduced in the early 1990s.

The first 12 MiG-25Ps and MiG-25RBs reached Algeria in early 1979, and were swiftly brought into operational condition, so that - contrary to usual reports in the West - pilots of the No.120 Squadon could fly them during a military parade over Algiers in November 1979. Ever since they are based at Ain Oussera AB.

Algerian MiG-25RBs became operational simultaneously with MiG-25Ps and were subsequently very active, flying numerous reconnaissance sorties along (and sometimes beyond) Moroccan and other borders. In the recent years they were frequently deployed also in anti-terror operations, searching for terrorist bases in southern Algeria, as well as over Mali.

The 3rd Fighter Wing Algerian Air Force is operating MiG-29s since the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, all aircraft of this unit are proudly showing the unit insignia (a black scorpion of the 3rd Wing): this practice meanwhile became pretty widespread, and unit insignia was also noticed on Algerian MiG-25s.

The Algerian Gendarmerie operates six Mi-2s and these are activelly involved in fighting Islamic terrorists around the country already since early 1990s. This example was seen wearing not only the Algerian national colours, but also the symbol of the Algerian Gendarmerie. Algerian National Police, on the contrary, is equipped only with AS.355s. (Artwork by R.H.)

This Mi-2 is one of several helicopters used by the Helicopter Flying School of the Algerian Air Force, based in Ain Arnat (Sétif) AB. (Artwork by R. H.)

Algeria purchased around a dozen of AS.350 Ecueruils from France, in 1995. Several of these helicopters are equipped with FLIR-turrets and used intensivelly as scouts in anti-terror operations. (Artwork by R.H.)

Except the air force also a unit of the Gendermerie Nationale is flying AS.350s for liaison and scout tasks. (Artwork by R.H.)

One of the main weapons of the Algerian Air Force in the anti-terror war are Mi-24 Mk.III - the so-called "Super Hinds". These helicopters are former Mi-24s, Mi-25s, and Mi-35s all of which were upgraded with a completely new navigation and attack system, FLIR-turrets and a 20mm gun, developed by the South African company ATE.

Above and bellow: For many years six Beech T-34C Turbo-Mentors were basic trainer aircraft in the QJJ. They were supplied from the USA in 1981, together with six C-130H Hercules transports and three Beech 200 trainers, as reward for Algerian help in gaining release of US hostages held in Tehran. Later during their career these aircraft were camouflaged in the now standard camouflage pattern of Sand and Light Earth (see AS.350, MIG-23BN and MIG-21UM above), and serialled in the MA-6x range. Today, the main basic trainer in the QJJ is Zlin, some of which are operated in "white overall" and wear civilian serials, like the example bellow, while others wear camouflage. (both artworks by R.H.)

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