Congolese Air Force

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Congolese Air Force
Roundel of the Congolese Air Force.svg
Congolese Air Force roundel
Founded 29 July 1959 - present
Country  Republic of the Congo
Branch Air Force
Part of Congolese Armed Forces
Former roundel Roundel of Congo 1970.svg
Aircraft flown
Fighter Mirage F1
Helicopter Mil Mi-35, Mil Mi-17
Transport An-32, CN235

The Congolese Air Force (1990–2000) is the air branch of the Armed Forces of the Republic of the Congo, in the Republic of the Congo (aka Congo-Brazzaville). Political tensions have now declined with the fall of the Cold War in Africa and most of its fighter aircraft were scrapped in 2001.

Former Cold War air force

After achieving independence from France in 1960, the Congolese air force (Force Aerienne Congolaise) was started with equipment such as the Douglas C-47s, Broussards and Bell 47Gs, these were followed by Nord Noratlas tactical transports and Sud Alouette helicopter. In the 1970s the air force switched to Soviet equipment. This included five Ilyushin IL-14 and six turboprop Antonov An-24 transports and an An-26 in return for providing bases for Cuban MiG-17 operations over Angola. These fighters and a few MiG-15UTI combat trainers were transferred to the FAC. In 1990 these fighter were replaced by 16 USSR supplied MiG-21MF/bis Fishbeds plus a couple of MiG-21US trainers. Together with a Soviet training mission which stayed until late 1991, during that time there were numerous accidents that involved both Soviet and Congolese personnel. After the Soviets left there was only limited funding for MiG operations and they were withdrawn. Six Mi-8 helicopters were delivered from Ukraine in mid-1997 before the Cobra rebel takeover.

Former personnel and budget

A small, but adequate budget and personnel. Financial aid also came from the former USSR and some personnel were either Soviets or Cubans.

Political and combat role

Its role was as a Communist bastion in central Africa and to counter the politically unstable,[1] pro-Western regime in Zaire[1] (the then former name of the DRC). Its role is now one of countering cross-border smuggling operations, intermittent counterinsurgency actions in the northern provinces and successfully containing the crisis in the DRC along its border. Its first batch of aircraft, the MiG-15s and some of the MiG-17s, arrived in the early 1960s just after the Congo's independence from France and Zaire's independence from Belgium.

It was organised into fighter, counterinsurgency, transport and support wings.

Arms suppliers and personnel training

France, China and the Soviet Union supplied arms and aircraft. The Soviets and Cubans trained the air force as a whole, but France also trained some of its officers.


Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Mirage F1 France fighter 4[2]
CASA C-295 Spain utility / transport 1[2]
An-32 Ukraine transport 2[2]
Mil Mi-8 Russia utility / transport Mi-8/17 6[2]
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack Mi-35 3[2]

Retired aircraft

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-21 USSR fighter / interceptor 14[3] placed in storage[4]
MiG-17 USSR fighter MiG-17F 8[3] placed in storage[4]
SN.601 Corvette France VIP 1[3]
An-24/An-26 USSR transport 7/1[3]
N.2501F Noratlas France transport 2[3]
C-47 Dakota USA transport 2[3]
Ilyushin Il-14 USSR transport 2[3]
AS365 Dauphin France VIP SA365C 1[3]
Alouette II France liaison 2[3]
Alouette III France liaison 2[3]
Trainer Aircraft
MiG-15 USSR jet trainer MiG-15UTi [3] placed in storage[4]

Arms suppliers and personnel training

Both France, China and the Ukraine supplied the arms and aircraft. France and China also trained the air-force as a whole, but France has also trained most of its air-force officers.

See also

Armed Forces of the Republic of the Congo for other armed services.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Heart of Darkness: the Tragedy of the Congo, 1960-67". Retrieved 2015-08-17. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 14". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 "World Air Forces 1994 pg. 38". Flightglobal Insight. 1994. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "World Air Forces 2004 pg. 38". Flightglobal Insight. 1994. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 


  • Dorling Kinnersley World reference atlas for 1994
  • Tri-service pocketbook- Soviet and East European Major Combat Aircraft for 1990,
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document "2003 edition".
  • Tri-service pocketbook- NATO Major Combat Aircraft for 1990,
  • A news clipping on the helicopter and transport plane of about the same date.
  • Prentice Hall/Salamander Books book- An Illustrated Guide to Aircraft Markings (1989).
  • Aircraft information files Bright star publishing File 358 sheet 2

Further reading

  • Cooper, Tom & Weinert, Peter (2010). African MiGs: Volume I: Angola to Ivory Coast. Harpia Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-0-9825539-5-4.