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Royal Bahraini Air Force
Flag of the Royal Bahraini Air Force
Flag of the Royal Bahraini Air Force
Country Flag of Bahrain.svg Bahrain
Branch Air Force
Service history
Active 1977 – Present
Size 1,500 active personnel (2009)
100 aircraft (2009).
Part of Ministry of Defense
Bahrain Defense Force
Nickname RBAF
Battles Invasion of Kuwait
Gulf War
Commanders
Commanders Maj Gen Hamad bin Abdullah Al Khalifa
Insignia

The Royal Bahraini Air Force (abbreviated as RBAF, formerly known as Bahrain Amiri Air Force) is the aerial warfare branch of the Bahrain Defense Force. The air force had 650 personnel in 1992[1] and 1,500 in 2009.[2]

HistoryEdit

Agusta-Bell 212 Bahrain Air Force 1991

A Bahrain Air Force Agusta-Bell 212 Twin Huey in flight over the Persian Gulf during a training mission in 1991

The air branch of the Bahrain Defence Force was organized in 1977 and began flying helicopters. In 1986, F5 fighter jets were acquired from the United States.

In 1987, the Bahrain Defense Force was reorganized into separate Army, Navy and Air force branches with the Air Wing becoming the Bahrain Amiri Air Force (BAAF). The delivery of a squadron of F-16s from 1990 marked a further increase in the capabilities of the air arm. The new F-16 unit was based at Sheik Isa Air Base alongside the F-5s. On 2 August 1990 several aircraft from the Kuwait Air Force were evacuated to Bahrain during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. During the subsequent Gulf War, BAAF carried out the first F-5s and F-16s defensive missions on 25 January 1991 and began offensive operations the following day. The Gulf War ended on 28 February 1991.

A second batch of F-16s commenced delivery in 2000. The new aircraft were equipped to carry the AMRAAM missile, first used by the USAF in 1992. In July 2000, Bahrain signed a deal with BAE Systems to establish a pilot academy based around the Hawk Trainer, similar to the NFTC in Canada. Subsequently, orders were placed for Slingsby T67 Firefly and BAE Hawk trainers. The first trainers were delivered in October 2006.[3] After the elections on 14 February 2002, the state changed from an emirate to a kingdom resulting in the renaming of the Armed Forces. Since then the air force was called the RBAF rather than BAAF. According to Sikorsky’s announcement in June 2007, Bahrain confirmed the purchase of nine UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The helicopters will be used in a variety of roles, including combat search and rescue.

The British government is in early talks with Bahrain over a potential order for the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter.[4] Bahrain is considering buying the Eurofighter Typhoon, the JAS 39 Gripen, the Dassault Rafale, or the F-35 Lightning II.[5]

Incidents and accidentsEdit

One F-16 was lost on 27 September 2003 when it crashed in the Persian Gulf, 75 km (47 mi) north of Bahrain.[6]

FleetEdit

Aircraft Photo Origin Role Version Quantity Note
Fighter Aircraft
Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon 110px United States Fighter Aircraft F16C
F16D
17[6]
4[7]
18 delivered between 1990 and 2000.[8] One F-16 was lost on 27 September 2003 when it crashed in the Persian Gulf, 75 km (47 mi) north of Bahrain[6]
Based at Isa Air Base
Northrop F-5 Northrop F-5E Tiger II - Bahrain Amiri Air Force United States Fighter Aircraft F5E
F5F
12
4
Based at Isa Air Base
Trainer Aircraft
BAE Hawk 110px Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom Trainer 129 6 Based at Isa Air Base
Slingsby T67 Firefly 110px Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom Trainer T67M-260 3 Based at Isa Air Base
Transport Aircraft
BAe 146 Bahrain Air Force RJ85 KvW Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom Transport 1
Attack helicopters
Bell AH-1 Cobra 110px United States Attack helicopter AH-1E
AH-1P
TAH-1P
10
6
6
Based at Riffa Air Base
Utility helicopters
Bell 212 Twin Huey Agusta-Bell 212 Bahrain Air Force 1991 Flag of Italy.svg Italy Utility helicopter 11 Based at Riffa Air Base
MBB BO-105 Bahraini BO-105 helicopter Flag of Germany.png Germany Utility helicopter 3 Based at Riffa Air Base
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk 110px United States Utility helicopter UH-60L
UH-60M
2
14
VIP Transport
Bahrain ordered 9 UH-60Ms in 2007.[9][10] 7 more on order as of December 2011[7]
Bell 412 110px United States Utility helicopter 2 Currently in use by the Bahraini Police
Bell 427 110px United States Utility helicopter 1 Currently in use by the Bahraini Police

Order of battleEdit

1st Fighter Wing (Isa Air Base)Edit

Helicopter Wing (Riffa Air Base)Edit

BasesEdit

Base Location Runway Notes
Isa Air Base 9.7 kilometres (6.0 mi) south of Jaww Single 3,790 metres (12,430 ft) Home to 1st Fighter Wing
Sakhir Air Base West of Mountain of Smoke Helipad and short runway Built in 1976.
Riffa Air Base 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) south east of Riffa Single 175 metres (574 ft) runway and multiple helipads Home to the Helicopter Wing
Muharraq Air Base Located within BIA   Was once an Royal Air Force station; now used by the USAF called Aviation Support Unit (ASU) Bahrain.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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