The Algerian air force, as of 1993 under the command of Colonel
Mohamed Mokhtar Boutamine, has responsibility for defending the
country's air space, supporting ground forces, supplying military
transportation and cargo airlift, and carrying out land and maritime
reconnaissance. In late 1993, the air force was equipped with
some 193 combat aircraft and more than fifty attack helicopters,
flying from about fifteen air bases. The service has expanded
steadily since its inception in 1962, when Egypt donated five
MiG-15 jet fighters and supplied a training mission. As more MiGs
arrived, Algerian pilots were sent to Syria and Egypt and later
to the Soviet Union for flight training. Others received flight
training and technical schooling in France. With the help of Soviet
advisers, a pilot training school was eventually established at
Tafraoua near Oran. The Air Force Academy and a technical training
school are also located at the Tafraoua complex.
According to The Military Balance, 1993-1994, in 1993
air force combat capabilities were built around three fighter/ground-attack
squadrons and eight interceptor squadrons equipped exclusively
with Soviet aircraft. The most advanced of these, although they
had been in the inventory for more than a decade, were fourteen
MiG-25s and three MiG-25Rs in a reconnaissance configuration.
The fighter squadrons also included ninety-five MiG-21s and twenty
MiG-23s. The fighter/ground-attack squadrons included forty MiG-23s
and ten older Su-24s (see
table 8, Appendix). The basic weapon of the fighter aircraft
was the Soviet AA-2 (Atoll) and AA-6 air-to-air missiles.
The main pillar of the air force's transport capability in late
1993 was the fleet of sixteen Lockheed C-130 Hercules purchased
from the United States. These were supplemented by six Soviet
An-12s of comparable load capacity. Two Super King B-200s were
outfitted for maritime reconnaissance.
The helicopter fleet in late 1993 comprised five squadrons of
heavy- and medium-attack helicopters of Soviet manufacture, as
well as a small number of transport helicopters. Air defense was
under a separate command. It consisted of three brigades equipped
with 85mm, 100mm, and 130mm (KS-12, KS-19, and KS-30) Soviet antiaircraft
guns; and three SAM regiments, one equipped with Soviet SA-3,
SA-6, and SA-8 SAMs.
Data as of December 1993