Kuwait Air Force

Kuwait Air Force
al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya

Kuwait Air Force roundel
Active 1953 (1953)
Country  Kuwait
Branch Kuwait Armed Forces
Type Air Force
Size Approx. 5,000 personnel
Garrison/HQ Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base

الله والوطن والامير

God, Country & The Emir
Colors Green & Red
Anniversaries National and Liberation Day (25 and 26 February)
Assistant Chief Combat Commander of Kuwait Air Force Kuwait Air Force Commander
Aircraft flown
Attack McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, Boeing AH-64 Apache
Fighter F/A-18 Hornet
Patrol Aerospatiale SA-342 Gazelle
Trainer Short Tucano, BAE Hawk, SA-342
Transport Lockheed L-100 Hercules
Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma
Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma
Lockheed Martin KC-130J

The Kuwait Air Force (Arabic: القوات الجوية الكويتية Trans: al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya) is the air arm of the State of Kuwait. The Air Force headquarters is located at Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base, with the remaining forces stationed at Air Defense Brigades, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base. The Kuwait Air Force numbers approximately 5,000 officers and enlisted personnel.


The Kuwait Air Force was founded in 1953 by Field Marshal Sheikh Abdullah Mubarak Al-Sabah when the Directorate of Public Security Force split from the Kuwaiti Army; the new force was equipped with a number of Austers in different configurations and two de Havilland DH.104 Doves.|reason=Date of foundation has to be considered suspect, found a reliable source stating the first Kuwaiti pilot had his first solo flight while learning to fly, in 1954. Another source states that four Austers were delivered to the Kuwait Aero Club in March 1954, with no mention of military deliveries.

The Kuwait Air Force was expanded concurrently with the course of the British intervention during Operation Vantage that deterred Iraq from annexing Kuwait as one of its provinces. The first aircraft to enter KAF service were four Whirlwind helicopters and six BAC/Hunting Jet Provost T.51s. This support from the UK would remain in place for a long time and 1964 was known for the arrival of the first Hawker Hunters. These would later be joined by more examples in 1969. Two de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou transports arrived in 1963. The transport capacity would later be improved by the acquisition of an ex-RAF Armstrong Whitworth AW.660 Argosy in 1969 and later, in 1971, by two Lockheed L-100-20 Hercules.

Kuwait Air Force English Electric Lightning F.53 before delivery in June 1969

In the meantime the fighter force was given a boost by the procurement of 14 English Electric Lightnings that were delivered in the late 1960s. Twelve BAC Strikemasters were delivered in 1969.

Between 1968 and 1977 two Bell 206s operated in KAF service and from November 1969, eight Augusta Bell 205s were delivered, replacing the aging Whirlwinds. Only five years after the delivery of the Lightnings, the KAF decided it needed an aircraft with better serviceability; it had been using the Hunters and the Strikemasters in the interceptor and ground strike role, rather than the Lightnings. Finally in 1974 the Mirage F1 was selected as the new air defence fighter and a total of 27 Mirage F1CKs and seven Mirage F1BKs were ordered and delivered in two separate batches until 1983. The ground strike role would be filled in by the total of 36 Douglas (T)A-4KU Skyhawks that were ordered in 1974 and delivered during 1977. In addition, 24 SNIAS SA-342K Gazelles were delivered during the mid-1970s and 4 were subsequently passed on to the Police Air Wing. Four L-100-30 Hercules transport aircraft were delivered in 1983, replacing the shorter L-100-20 version of which only one survived (the other crashed in France). Also in 1983, twelve Hawk T64s were ordered to fill the gap that the KAF had in training capacity. In 1988 the Air Force was named al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya (Kuwait Air Force). The lead-in-fighter-trainer that was selected, the Shorts Tucano T.52, would only be delivered in 1995. They were earmarked for delivery in 1990 but due to the outbreak of the Gulf War, deliveries were postponed.

Post Gulf War

After the Gulf War, the KAF underwent a reorganization; and the Douglas A-4 Skyhawks and Dassault Mirage F1s were soon phased out in favour of the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. Forty Hornets, consisting of 32 F/A-18Cs and 8 F/A-18Ds, are flying with the 9th Squadron and 25th Squadron from Ahmed al Jaber. The first six of sixteen AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters were handed over to the Kuwait Air Force on 3 February 2006. The remaining ten aircraft were delivered thereafter. All the helicopters are pre-configured to carry the AN/APG-78 Longbow radar kits.


Lockheed Martin has received a $245 million contract from the U.S. Government for the Foreign Military Sale of 3 KC-130J tanker aircraft to Kuwait. The program will be managed by the U.S. Navy. The Kuwait Air Force's new KC-130Js will provide aerial refueling for its F/A-18 fleet and augment its current airlift fleet of three Lockheed Martin L-100s. Kuwait's KC-130Js also will perform air mobility, disaster relief and humanitarian missions throughout the world. Kuwait's first KC-130J delivery is scheduled for late 2013, with deliveries completed in early 2014. Using only wing and external tanks.[1] In September 2010, Kuwait requested to purchase one Boeing C-17.[2] The USA is to sell 60 Patriot (PAC-3) missiles, 20 launching stations, four radar systems and control stations, personnel training and training equipment, and spare parts to Kuwait in a deal worth an estimated $4.2 billion, The Department of Defense of the U.S. awarded Raytheon a $655.4 million, took the form of a firm-fixed-price, sole-source, foreign military sales contract to supply to the Kuwaiti military two PATRIOT fire units, plus associated spare parts. Delivery of the units is expected to take place by April 30, 2018, in June 23, 2016 Raytheon Co was awarded a $523 million fixed-price-incentive contract to modernize six Patriot fire units in Kuwait, the U.S. Defense Department said on Thursdays

On September 12, 2015, the Eurofighter consortium revealed that the Eurofighter Typhoon had been selected by Kuwait to update its fleet with 28 new fighter jets.

In September 2016 it was announced that the sale of up to 40 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet had been submitted to the US Congress for approval.[3] Deal for 40 planes valued at USD10.1 billion was signed off on November 2016.[4]


Base NameFunction Subsidiary ComponentsNote
Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base 41st Transport Sqd L-100-30 Hercules
Ali Al Salem Air Base Flying School
Air Search and Rescue Combat Wing
12th Training Sqd BAE Hawk MK.64
19th Training Sqd Shorts Tucano MK.52
88th Training Sqd SA-342K Gazelle
62nd Helicopter Sqd SA-330H Puma
32nd Helicopter Sqd AS-332M Super Puma
33rd Helicopter Sqd SA-342K Gazelle
17th Attack Sqd″Night Wolf″ AH-64D Longbow Apache
20th "The Dark Knights" Attack Sqd AH-64D Longbow Apache
Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base Air Combat Squadrons 9th Fighter Sqd F/A-18 Hornet C/D
25th Fighter Sqd F/A-18 Hornet C/D

61st Training Sqd F/A-18 Hornet C/D

Air Defense Brigades Air Combat


Current inventory

A Kuwaiti F/A-18C Hornet in 1993
Kuwait Air Force Lockheed Hercules transport aircraft in 1999
A Tucano Mk.52 at the Farnborough Air Show 1992
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Boeing F/A-18 Hornet United States multirole F/A-18C 32[5]
Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet United States multirole F/A-18E/F block II up to 40 on order [4]
Eurofighter Typhoon European Union multirole Tranche 3A 28 on order[6]
KC-130 Hercules United States aerial refueling / transport KC-130J 3[5]
Boeing C-17A United States heavy transport 2[5]
L-100 Hercules United States tactical transport L-100-30 3[5]
Sikorsky S-92 United States VIP 3[5]
Boeing AH-64 United States attack AH-64D 16[5]
Eurocopter AS332 France transport / utility 4[5]
Aérospatiale SA330 France transport / utility 6[5]
Aérospatiale SA342 France scout / anti-armor 14[5]
Airbus H225M France utility / transport 30 on order, 6 to the National guard[7]
Trainer Aircraft
F/A-18 United States conversion trainer F/A-18D 7[5]
BAE Hawk United Kingdom primary trainer Hawk 64 10[5]
Short Tucano United Kingdom trainer Tucano 52 12[5] licence-built variant of the EMB-312.

Air Defence

Name Origin Type In service[8] Notes
Air Defence Systems
MIM-104 Patriot United States SAM system 40 18 purchased 1992 - 12 upgraded to Patriot PAC-3 SAM/ABM system / in 2012 Kuwait purchased 20 PAC-3 missiles Launchers, in 2014 Kuwait has bought two PAC-3 launchers, in June 23, 2016 Kuwait signed a deal to upgrade 6 PAC-2 to PAC-3
MIM-23 Hawk United States SAM system 24
Skyguard Germany/


SAM system 12 three 4-cell missile launchers and two twin-barrel 35mm guns. Skyguard battery fires Sparrow/Aspide missiles
KLASS aerostat United States air surveilance system 1 Kuwait uses a specially modified TCOM Strategic Class of aerostat system named KLASS
Starburst United Kingdom SAM system 42
GDF-005 amoun Germany/


anti-aircraft gun 12

Part of Munitions

Name Type Versions Notes
AGM-65 Maverick Air-to-surface missile Precision-guided munition AGM-65G in service
AGM-88 HARM Air-to-surface missile Anti-radiation missile in service
AGM-84 Air-to-surface missile Anti-ship missile in service
Mark 80 series General-purpose bomb / Laser-guided bomb fitted with JDAM and Paveway KITS
AIM-9 Sidewinder Short-range Air-to-air missile AIM-9L / AIM-9M / AIM-9X-2 in service
AIM-7 Sparrow Medium-range Air-to-air missile AIM-7F in service
AIM-120 AMRAAM Long-range Air-to-air missile AIM-120C-7 in service
HOT (missile) Guided Anti-tank missile HOT / HOT-2 in service
AGM-114 Hellfire Guided Anti-tank missile in service
Exocet Anti-ship missile AM39 8 in service, more on order
Meteor (missile) Long-range Air-to-air missile on order ( Typhoon Package )
IRIS-T Short-range Air-to-air missile on order ( Typhoon Package )
Paveway IV Precision-guided munition on order ( Typhoon Package )
Brimstone (missile) Air-to-surface missile Precision-guided munition on order ( Typhoon Package )
Sea Killer Anti-ship missile Marte-ERP on order ( Typhoon Package )

Ranks of the Kuwait Air Force

Air Officer Corps

Company-grade officers Field-grade officers General officers
First Lieutenant
(1st LT)
Lieutenant Colonel
Brigadier general
Major general
Lieutenant general
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10
One Star
(Arabic: ملازم)
Two Stars
(Arabic: ملازم أول)
Three Stars
(Arabic: نقيب)
(Arabic: رائد)
Crown & Star
(Arabic: مقدم)
Crown & Two Stars
(Arabic: عقيد)
Crown & Three Stars
(Arabic: عميد)
Crown & Two Crossed Arabian Swords
(Arabic: لواء)
Crown, Star & Two Crossed Arabian Swords
(Arabic: فريق)
Crown, Two Stars & Two Crossed Arabian Swords
(Arabic: فريق أول)

Air Enlisted Corps

Junior enlisted Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) Warrant Officers (WOs)
Private first class
Staff Sergeant
Warrant Officer
Chief Warrant Officer
E-1 E-2 E-3 E-4 E-5 WO CWO
No Chevron
Regular Airman
One Chevron
(Arabic: وكيل عريف )
Two Chevrons
(Arabic: عريف)
Three Chevrons
(Arabic: رقيب)
Three Chevrons with circle closing stripe
(Arabic: رقيب أول)
One Star centered with Coat of Arms of the Emir of Kuwait
(Arabic: وكيل ضابط )
Two Stars centered with Coat of Arms of the Emir of Kuwait
(Arabic: وكيل أول ضابط)

See also


  1. http://defpro.com/news/details/15576/
  2. Trimble, Stephen (28 September 2010). "Kuwait requests possible C-17 buy". Flight International. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  3. "Fighter Jet Sales to Gulf Allies Backed by U.S. After a Wait". Bloomberg. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Qatar and Kuwait fighter deals signed off". Combat Aircraft. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 "World Air Forces 2016 pg. 22". Flightglobal Insight. 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  6. "Kuwait places order for 28 Typhoons". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  7. "France, Kuwait strike $2.8bn military deals". presstv.ir. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  8. "Arms Transfers Database". Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
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