After many years of hesitation, the US this week gave the green light for the sale of fighter jets to Kuwait and Qatar – although it may very well be too late. Since requesting the jets, both countries have decided to buy Eurofighter Typhoons and Dassault Rafales respectively. Their response to the green light from Washington remains unclear at this time.
Kuwait in 2015 requested to buy up at least F-18 Super Hornets to replace ageing older model F-18s, while Qatar’s request to purchase up to 72 Boeing F-15s goes even further back. Washington since has kept both countries in the dark about their request right until this week, when the White House notified US Congress that it approves the sale of the fighter jets.
The decision should be seen in light of the recent multi-billion military aid deal between the US and Israel, the biggest ever between those two countries. Probably to keep things in balance, the White House now decided to favour Kuwait’s and Qatar’s requests as well – doing the US economy a big favour on the side. Both contracts would be worth billions and billions of dollars (in fact, 20 billion in total), much of which will go into Boeing’s pocket. The aircraft manufacturer produces both the F-15 and F-18.
That’s a lot of money to pay already. It may be the same money that Kuwait and Qater waved in front of the US before. Time will tell if there is any money left for Washington and Boeing to grab. If not, then Washington may hope to sell brand new F-16s to Bahrain – another pending deal that was okayed this week by Washington.
The Indian made Tejas fighter jet is all set for its international airshow debut these days during the Bahrain International Airshow starting Thursday 21 January. The type is engaged in a fierce battle with the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, albeit a virtual one thanks to the virtues of social media. Both sides have battling it out for weeks already.
Two Tejas jets arrived at Bahrain’s Sakhir airbase on 14 January and started orientation flights. The Tejas – powered by a GE F404-IN20 turbofan – was designed and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) but even after decades of development and testing fails to meet Indian Air Force expectations. An improved ‘Mark 2’ version – featuring the more powerful F414 engine – will probably never see the light of day.
It’s appearance in Bahrain most likely is the result of Pakistan’s recent success in selling it’s JF-17 Thunder abroad. Nigeria is expecting three to be delivered this year and Myanmar is also a rumoured customer. No JF-17 is scheduled to appear in Bahrain, however. Powering the Thunder is the Russian designed Klimov RD-93 engine.
More recently, a Pakistani campaign to sell JF-17 Thunders to Sri Lanka – that other neighbour to India – infuriated New Delhi. After days of confusing news, Indian media proudly reported New Delhi has prevented the deal from happening and also stated the Tejas was now on offer to Sri Lanka.
It is safe to say Sri Lanka would prefer the JF-17 Thunder, a joint undertaking by Pakistan and China that has resulted in a reasonably advanced, capable and affordable alternative to expensive Western and Russian fighter aircraft. It could very likely sell to other customers as well.
Any foreign sale of Tejas jets however is as unlikely as…. well, India buying the JF-17. The program is too troubled for any foreign nation to be interested in. Displaying the aircraft in Bahrain is a matter of politics and prestige, not economics.
A F-16 fighter jet of the Royal Bahraini Air Force went down in southern Saudi Arabia while being involved in the air operations against Huthi ground forces in Yemen.
According to a statement from the Saudi-led coalition forces that fight in Yemen, the Lockheed Martin jet suffered a technical error. The pilot is said to have ejected the plane before the jet hit the ground in the Jazan region of Saudi Arabia. Although his status is called “safe” no details of his whereabouts have been released.
With the loss of the jet today, the RBAF’s combat strength is down to 24 fighter aircraft: 24 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 40s and eight Northrop F-5E/F Tigers. The Bahraini fighter wing operates from Isa Airbase, with 1st and 2nd Fighter Squadron flying the F-16s, and 6th Fighter Squadron operating the Tiger.
Aging Bahraini F-16s
Just in August this year the Royal Bahraini Air Force filed for follow-on support from the US. “The RBAF’s F-16s are aging and periodic maintenance is becoming increasingly expensive,” the US Ministry of Defense wrote to the US Senate while commenting on the proposed deal worth US$ 150 million.
UPDATED 21APRIL 2015 | The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) led air strikes on Houthi rebel positions in neighbouring Yemen has got a broad military support from many other Arab nations. As Airheadsfly.com got new data the RSAF F-15S (Strike) Eagles and EF2000 Typhoons didn’t fly into combat alone at all.
If our sources are correct the United Arab Emirates Air Force sent 30 of its fighter jets, mainly Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Desert Falcons and possibly a number of Dassault Mirage 2000s. The Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) and Kuwait Air Force both said to have contributed about 15 combat jets each. If true, the relatively large RBAF contribution is remarkable, since the country has only about 15 to 17 operational F-16Cs and eight remaining and aging Northrop F-5Es.
The Kuwait Air Force used almost half of its 35 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet. The Qatar Emiri Air Force scrambled up to ten of its Mirage 2000s, while the Royal Jordanian Air Force flew six of its Lockheed Martin F-16s into combat in the Yemen.
Air Assets Operation Restoring Hope (known as Decisive Storm until the end of April 2015)
Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF):
100 aircraft, including Boeing F-15C Eagle air-superiority fighters, Boeing F-15S (Strike) Eagles, Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon multi-role fighters, Panavia Tornado interdictor / strike aircraft, Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters (unconfirmed), Aérospatiale (Airbus Helicopter) AS532M Cougar CSAR helicopters
United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF):
30 fighter jets of Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Desert Falcon and Dassault Mirage 2000 type
Kuwait Air Force (KAF):
15 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet multirole fighters. Some or all operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia.
Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF):
15 aircraft of the Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon and Northrop F-5 type
Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF):
10 Mirage 2000-5 fighters. Some or all operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia.
Royal Jordanian Air Force (RDAF):
6 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16A/B Fighting Falcon multirole fighters
Royal Moroccan Air Force:
6 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multirole fighters
Sudanese Air Force:
3 to 6 Sukhoi Su-24 strike aircraft. Operating from King Khalid Airbase (Khamis Mushayt) in Saudi Arabia. Moreover the Sudanese Air Force has likely deployed some of its four C-130 Hercules and possible its two Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft in support
Egyptian Air Force:
US Air Force (USAF):
Boeing KC-135 Stratofortress upon Saudi request. First refuelling mission flown on 8 April 2015.
The air strikes are focusing on Houthi rebel positions, air defence sites, air bases and Sanaa international airport, command-and-control locations and army camps in Sanaa, Saada and Taiz. The first strikes were launched on 25 or 26 March 2015, with ground forces engaged as well in what has been dubbed Operation Decisive Storm. Officially it takes place under the flag of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf or Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the members.
Footage posted by AlAribya on YouTube
Saudi Arabia has said to have committed a 100 aircraft, as well as 150,000 ground forces. The six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons that the Royal Moroccan Air Force already had in the United Arab Emirates to fight ISIS in Iraq have also been retasked with supporting the Saudi-led operations in Yemen. Sudan committed three combat aircraft, Sukhoi Su-24s (“Fencer”) sources say. Egypt pledged its support as well, but there is no information yet on how many and which aircraft it will sent.
The conflict in Yemen is between loyalist forces that support fled president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Houthi / Zaidi Shia rebels. Main focus is the western part of the country. There the loyalist forces have the most support in the Sunnis south – with Aden as the principal city. Whoever control Aden, controls the sea lanes to/from the Red Sea – a main supply route for oil and other goods. The Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia is said to be pushing towards Aden with a ground force of about 5,000 troops.
The Houthi forces have a strong control of the northern part of the west, mainly north of the capital of Sanaa. They easily took control of the capital last September and are known to be an effective fighting force, meaning the Arab coalition will very likely deploy combat aircraft and maybe helicopters in the close air-support role. In fact, the Saudis deployed armed helicopters (likely Apaches, but this is unconfirmed) on the border when its ground forces clased with Houthi forces.
Footage posted by AlAribya on YouTube
During a large part of the 20th century there were two Yemens. North Yemen became a state in 1918, while South Yemen freed itself from colonizer Britain. The two united on 22 May 1990, but unrest has plagued the country since 1993. In the current conflict Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia support the loyalist forces – including military ground and air ops since this week. Iran is opposing the use of weapons by its Arab neighbours, but has so far stayed out of the conflict militarily.
Houthi rebel combat planes
Officially at least, since some sources indicate that Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force pilots are flying combat planes of Yemeni Air Force units who sided or were overrun by Houthi rebels. One or more Iranian ships have also docket in Hudaidah with military equipment and ammunition on board earlier this March.
But with the Royal Saudi Air Force controlling Yemeni air space since Thursday 26 March, it is unlikely that Houthi planes with Yemeni or Iranian pilots will stand much of a change. In fact, according to several sources on 30 March 2015 the Saudi-led air strikes have destroyed at least 11 fighter jets of the Houthi rebels. The rebels got quite a prize in the third week of March, capturing Yemeni Air Force Al Anad Airbase with apparently up to 21 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jets. Some sources say that the Houthis never had more than 16 combat aircraft in total, so the exact details are somewhat sketchy.
STATUS MID 2015. LATEST UPDATE 24 JULY 2015 | The so-called Islamic State forces – numbering as many as 30,000 – have taken control over parts of Syria and Iraq since 2014. The forces known in short as ISIS or ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) pushed local populations to flee by the hundreds of thousands. ISIS also assassinated several Western journalists and other nationals, causing furious reactions in those countries.
Fearing more instability in and maybe even at home by fellow countrymen supporting the Syrian uprising, many Western countries first enrolled in a humanitarian aid mission to refugees in Northern Iraq in Summer 2014. After much discussion this turned into a full-out air campaign led by the United States of America, with the first US air strikes on ISIS positions in Iraq on 8 August 2014 and the first US/international air strikes in Syria on 23 September 2014.
Although ISIS has a strong foothold on the ground and making the governments of Iraq and Syria quite nervous because of the advances ISIS makes, the group has no air assets. While Iraq fully supports the US led bombing campaign, Washington kind of just informed the Syrian government that they would start bombing. Being uncertain of the Syrian reaction, the US deployed its very advanced and stealthy F-22 Raptors for the first time in combat and had aircraft tasked with countering Syrian air defences in case they would interfere.
During the course of several weeks many countries outside Southwest Asia promised military contributions to the air strikes and air support missions against ISIS. We at Airheadsfly.com tried to make an as complete as possible overview of the air assets deployed, based mainly on official sources. We’ll update the overview frequently.
Rockwell B-1B Lancers, bomb / strike. Operating from a.o. facilities Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors, bomb / strike
Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles, attack /CAS
Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcons, attack/CAS. One F-16 was lost in an accident over Jordan on 30 November 2014, killing its pilot.
Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Fighting Falcons, anti-radar & anti-SAM
Fairchild A-10C Thunderbolts, close-air support / attack. Operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait (confirmed November 2014)
Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, in-flight refuelling
McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extenders, in-flight refuelling
Lockheed C-130 Hercules / Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, airdrop of weapons, ammunitions and medical supplies near / in Kobane to Kurdish fighters 2014.10.20
General Atomics MQ-1 Predators, attack / recon drone
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, attack / recon drone
Operating from several bases in the region, as well as the mainland USA. Since the end of July 2015 / beginning of August 2015 US forces also started to operate from Incirlik Airbase in Turkey, after that country gave up on an earlier blocking of such operations from its soil. US name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.
US Navy (USN)
Since 2014.08.08. 60 to 70 aircraft:
12 Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets, strike / attack (part of CVW-1; and earlier CVW-8 and successor CVW-17; confirmed involvement)
22 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, strike / attack (part of CVW-1; earlire 10 to 12 were part part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17; confirmed involvement)
20 to 24 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets, strike / attack (till April 2015; part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
5 Grumman EA-18G Growlers, anti-radar & anti-SAM (part of CVW-1 and 4 or 5 were part of CVW-17; since Mid-October)
4 or 5 Grumman EA-6B Prowlers, anti-radar & anti-SAM (part of CVW-8; relieved Mid-October)
4 Grumman E-2D Hakweye, AWACS (part of CVW-1; first cruise of E-2D version)
3 or 4 Grumman E-2C Hakweye, AWACS (till April 2015; part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk, support (till Mid-October; part of CVW-8)
7 Sikorsky SH-60F Seahawk, support (part of CVW-1)
10 to 11 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk, support (part of CVW-1; earlier part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17, some placed on other ships)
2 Grumman C-2A Greyhound, transport (part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
Mid-October 2014 the CVN 70 USS Carl Vinson and that carrier’s Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17) with 67 aircraft relieved Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8) on board the CVN 77 USS George H.W. Bush (and escort ships) in the northern Arabian Gulf. The Carl Vinson was relieved by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) with Carrier Air Wing 1. US named the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.
US Marines (USMC)
Since 2014.09.28. Although the involvement of the US Marine Corps in the bombing campaign is very small (unknown at this point), the Marines do fight ISIS targets on the ground and support the operations of the other branches of the US military with shipborne aircraft of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf). Moreover, the Marines provide ground based air assets.
At least 6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18, fighter / attack / CAS; land-based from February/March 2015; replaces AV-8Bs deployed
10 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C(N), fighter / attack / CAS; part of US Navy CVW-1 operating from the Persian Gulf as of April 2015
6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) AV-8B Harriers, attack / CAS, shipborne
4 or more Bell AH-1Z Super Cobras, attack / CAS, shipborne
3 or more Bell UH-1Y Hueys, attack / CAS / utility / medevac, shipborne
3 or 4 Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions, transport / assault, shipborne
Operating from the amphibious assault ship LHD 8 USS Makin Island and the amphibious transport dock ship LPD 22 USS San Diego. The dock landing ship LSD 45 USS Comstock sails along with them in the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf). US name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.
Iraqi Air Force (Al Quwwa al Jawwiya al Iraqiya; IQAF) and Iraqi Army Aviation (IQAR)
15 Sukhoi Su-25 (“Frogfoot”) attack and close-air support aircraft. Since Autumn 2014.
Up to 6 Mil Mi-35M (“Hind”) attack helicopters. One or two Mi-35s have been lost due to hostile fire.
Up to 15 Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters are planned to have made its debut before the end of the year 2014, but no firm confirmation yet
Up to 19 Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) EC635 (IQAR) armed scout and ground support helicopters. Date of first combat action unknown. A twentieth EC635 was shot down in December 2014 by ISIS militants.
Up to 23 Bell 407 JetRanger armed scout and utility helicopters. A 24th Bell was lost due to hostile fire.
6 Aérospatiale SA342 Gazelle scout helicopters
Armée de l’Air (AdlA) & Aéronautique Navale
9 Dassault Rafales, reconnaissance / attack / CAS
6 Dassault Mirage 2000D, attack / CAS. Announced 2014.11.19.
Initially the French contingency, made up of the Rafales, Boeing C135FR and Atlantique 2, only operated from the United Arab Emirates, Al Dhafra Airbase, since 2014.09.17. The Mirage 2000Ds announced in Mid-November fly from an airbase in Jordan. French name for the entire contribution is Operation Chammal.
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
6 to 8 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, strike / attack
1 Boeing E-7A Wedgetail, AWACS
1 Airbus KC-30A, in-flight refuelling
1 Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, transport of supplies and ammunition to Kurdish forces. Flew at least once between Tirana (Albania) and Erbil (Northern Iraq) in September 2014, before returning to the RAAF Forward Operation Location at Al Minhad Airbase in the UAE
Operating from the United Arab Emirates, Al Minhad Airbase, since 2014.10.01. The Australians have given the missions the name Operation Okra.
Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) CF-188 Hornets, strike / attack
Commencing operations in 3rd or 4th week of October 2014. Operating from a base in Kuwait, possible Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase where the Danish F-16s also fly from (see below). Canadians name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Impact.
Royal Air Force (RAF)
8 Panavia Tornados, strike / attack; operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus, since 2014.09.27.
Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint, surveillance; possibly be operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus. Announced 2014.10.21. To be relieved by Sentinals.
Raytheon/Bombardier Sentinal, surveillance; possibly be operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus. Announced 2015.03.26
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, surveillance; relocation to Iraq announced 2014.10.16. Arrival date or base not known yet.
British name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Shader.
Flyvevåbnet (Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF))
7 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs from Skrydstrup AB. Since 2014.10.05, but grounded until 16 October due to diplomatic clearance blunder
1 Lockheed C-130J Hercules, transport of supplies and ammunition to Kurdish forces. Was based at RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus from 28 October to Mid-September. Continued support for the Iraqi operations even into 2015.
The F-16s are operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait since 2014.10.04.
Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force (AMI))
4 Panavia Tornados, tactical recon; operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait. Since 2014.11.22
1 Boeing KC-767A, in-flight refuelling; operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait since 2014.10.26
2 General Atomics MQ-1 Predators, attack / recon drone
Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF)
4 or more Panavia Tornado IDS and/or Boeing F-15S Strike Eagles; during start bombing campaign on targets in Syria in Summer 2014
Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon multi-role fighters; according to some sources using Paveway IV precision guided weapons in February 2015, marking the combat debut of the weapon on this aircraft type
Other air forces (in order of appearance during the campaign)
United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF); at least 6 Lockheed Martin F-16s and/or Dassault Mirage 2000s; during start of bombing campaign on targets in Syria and continuing strikes afterwards. The UAE suspended its contribution in December 2014 after a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot was captured, but resumed ops from a Jordanian airbase with at least 6 F-16E/Fs from February 2015.
Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF); at least 3 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds; during start of bombing campaign on targets in Syria
Belgian Air Component (BAC); 6 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs from Florennes AB; operating from Jordan, likely As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq; since 2014.10.01. The Belgians named their involvement Operation Desert Falcon.
Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF / KLu); 8 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs (4 from Volkel AB, 4 from Leeuwarden AB); operating from Jordan, likely As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq, since 2014.10.03
US Army (USAR): Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) AH-64D Apache; operating out of Baghdad International Airport officially as additional protection for the US Embassy. Might have carried out strikes against ISIS in the 2nd week of October 2014
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF): possible 4-8 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs and maybe up to five Sukhoi Su-24MKs (Fencer); semi-confirmed by Teheran and operating apparently on request by the Iraqi government. NOT part of US-led operation Inherent Resolve. At least one operation on 2014.11.24. IRIAF pilots are also involved on operating Iraqi Air Force Su-25s.
Royal Moroccon Air Force: 6 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters, based in the United Arab Emirates. Since 2014.11.26.
Turkish Air Force: 3 Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters, operating out of Diyarbakir Airbase. First strike 2014.07.24, target in Syria.