Royal Air Force of Oman

The Royal Air Force of Oman (Arabic: سلاح الجو السلطاني عمان, romanized: Silāḥ al-Jaww as-Sulṭāniy ‘Umān or RAFO) is the air arm of the Armed Forces of Oman.

Air warfare branch of Oman’s military
“RAFO” redirects here. For a Romanian oil refinery, see RAFO Oneşti.

Royal Air Force of Oman
  • سلاح الجو السلطاني عمان
  • Silāḥ al-Jaww as-Sulṭāniy ‘Umān

Badge of the Royal Air Force of Oman
Founded 1959; 62 years ago (1959)
Country  Oman
Type Air force
Role Aerial warfare
Part of Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces
Commander-in-Chief SultanHaitham bin Tariq
Commander of the Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Khamis bin Hammad Al-Ghafri
Fin flash
Aircraft flown
Fighter F-16 Fighting Falcon, Eurofighter Typhoon
Trainer BAe Hawk 103, Pilatus PC-9, PAC Super MFI-17 Mushshak
Transport C-130 Hercules, Airbus A320, Dornier 228
Military unit

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The Sultan of Oman’s Air Force (SOAF) was formed with British personnel and aircraft in March 1959. The first aircraft were two Scottish Aviation Pioneers transferred from the Royal Air Force. The first armed aircraft was the Percival Provost T52.[1]

In 1968 the SOAF received the first of 24 BAC Strikemaster jet trainer and light strike aircraft for operation against insurgents in the Dhofar region. In 1974 the SOAF was expanded with orders for the Britten Norman Defender, BAC One-Eleven, BAC VC10 and 32 Hawker Hunter ground attack aircraft. In 1977 Jaguar International joined the SOAF, followed in the 1980s by the BAe Hawk.[1]

A Royal Air Force of Oman Jaguar intercepting an Il-38 in 1987

In 1990 the SOAF was renamed the Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO).[1] In 1993 and 1994 the RAFO replaced its Hawker Hunters with four BAE Hawk Mk 103 fighter-trainers and 12 single-seat Hawk Mk 203, equipped with Westinghouse APG-66H radar, as light ground attack/interceptors. In September 1997 after the evaluation of new combat aircraft the RAFO decided to upgrade and extend the service lives of its remaining 17 SEPECAT Jaguar ground attack fighters until the second decade of the 21st century. A contract was placed with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence to upgrade the avionics of the Jaguar aircraft for $40 million. In 2005 deliveries started of the F-16, equipped with improved GPS/INS. The aircraft can carry a further batch of advanced missiles; the AGM-88 HARM missile, JDAM, JSOW and WCMD. Block 50 aircraft are powered by the F110-GE-129 while the Block 52 jets use the F100-PW-229.

On 3 August 2010 the USA Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the Congress of a possible sale of 18 F-16 Block 50/52 to Oman in a contract worth US$3.5 Billion. In addition to the new fighters, the contract included upgrading existing 12 F-16 C/D in the RAFO inventory.[2] On 14 December 2011 it was announced that Oman had agreed to buy an additional 12 F-16C/D Block 50s to join the 12 F-16s C/Ds already in service.[3]

Oman was considering the purchase of either Eurofighter Typhoon or JAS 39 Gripen aircraft,[4] but on 21 December 2012 a £2.5 billion deal was signed in Muscat to supply RAFO with 12 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets and eight BAE Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft, the delivery was complete in 2018.[5]

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