ة / al-Jamhūrīyah al-`Arabīyah al-Yamanīyah / Yemen Arab Republic Air Force
al-Jumhūriyyah al-Yamaniyyah / Republic of Yemen Air Force

                                        Last update 11-07-2017


           Credit:  Roundels of the world
Roundel Arab Republic  Fin flash Arab Republic          Roundel Republic of Yemen  Fin Flash Republic of Yemen.



   Yemen was divided in two countries: the Arab Republic  (Northern part, backed by Royalist forces) and Peaple's Democratic Republic (Southern        part, backed by socialists). These two were amalgamated to the Republic of  Yemen on 22-05-90. But in-country clashes led in 1994 to an           attempted secession by the Southern part, put down by loyalist (Northern) troops. Continous fighting between the various opponents continue       till today, rendering the Air Force non-existant.
                                  Photo: Northrop
             Northrop F-5E 50609 (formerly foreseen for Egypt), 70772 and (probably) 70773 before delivery, old nationality markings.
             Of note two different camouflage of first oar second batch.

Until 1978 both Air Forces had limited their purchases to Soviet Union equipment. In March 1979 an USD 390 millions deal (financed by Saudi  Arbaia) was granted to the Yemen Arab Republic enabling the acquisition of 12 Northrop F-5E (North Yemen). Delivery was very fast (the same year, unusual in Western cuntries) in order to boost air defence against the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen Air Force (Southern Yemen) new Mig-21s and Sukhoi Su-22s received in batches, as well as returned to flying status, old MiG-15s, MiG-17s and Il-28s. 
Eight Tigers, formerly destined to Egypt, were readely available and delivered. Four ex Saudi Northrop F-5B trainers were also obtained in 1978 and Yemenite personnell was sent to Williams AFB
for training. The fighter went to the 112th Squadron stationed at Sahna'a/al Dailami AB, known as "Desert Squadron". Another source state it was the 115th Squadron (this last possibly not exact as this last unit was reported to be equipped with transport aircrafts) as well as 302 air-to-air missiles AIM-9 Sidewinder, in the form of either AIM-9B or AIM-9E (less credible: more recent AIM-9J).
All 16 aircrafts had been delivered by the end of 1979, they arrived before local people were in a position to fly and maintain them. Alternatives were then searched, see below.

                        Peace Bell programm
A
classified agreement was also reached in the USA to hire ca 80 pilots and ground crews from the Republic of  China (Taiwan); Saudi Arabia financed  the  costs. Nine Chinese inspectors were sent in March 1979 to Yemen in order to assess the situation. The contract  started shortly after, in April 1979, and was renovable every year, foreseen till the end in 1985. The contingent of 80 pilots and ground personnel was under command of the Saudi Arabian Assistance Mission. Initial foreseen deployment for personnell was one year, officially declared as being retiree personnell without support by the Taiwan's government. Taiwanese made up the main number of personnell of the 112 Squadron till 1985, when enough local people had been trained to operate the Tigers. They still helped converting to the type, fly and maintain the fighters.

It seems that an lower priced offer from South Korea was rejected.

                                                                                         The only known Yemeni/Chinese pilot's photo in 1979.
Saudi support was also expressed by maintening the aircrafts: 2 Tigers were in Saudi Arabia in February 1983; by July 1986 two of the Northrop F-5B trainers were seen at Dhahran (Saudi Arabia) on overhaul, plus one each in April and July 1986.

During a flare-up of fightings in 1979 Chinese pilots possibly saw air-combat and kills against South Yemenese aircrafts, said to be piloted by Soviets.

The Yemen Arab Republic Air Force was still mainly equipped with Soviet fighter aircrafts: Mikoyan-Gurevitch MiG-21s and Sukhoi Su-22 equipped 2 or Squadrons. A significant number of pilots were lost due to accidents during the 1980's due to lack of training, including 1 Northrop F-5E Tiger being flown to Saudia Arabia for maintenace.


On 22-05-90 North and South Yemen were united to form a single state: the Republic of Yemen, though both had very different political systems. The Northern part was  dominated by tribes, the Southern part was more developed and followed a marxist doctrime.

An UN embargo on supplies of military items to Yemen was put in place the same year, due to the support given to Iraq during the first Gulf war. Relations with Saudi Arabia and the Western world worsened due to the support of the Yemenite government of Iraq.
Saudi Arabia withdraw its finanncial support and Taiwanese personnell left therefore the country by May 1990, a total of 700 people having served in Yemen.

In 1994 an open war erupted again between the two sides (North and South Yemen); one Northrop F-5E crashed, hit by anti-aircraft artillery, on 28-05-94; the North claiming 2 Mikoyan-Gurevitch were shot down by a Tiger on 05-05-94 with AIM-9 Sidewinder.
Northrop F-5E were only used for air defence. One of two Tigers patrolling Anad AB could shoot down an Southern MiG-21 on 20-06-94. Another encounter was on 29-06-74 between two Northrop f-5 and one Mikoyan-Gurevitch MIg-29, the three ignoring eatch other. After the end of the war 
a photo shows 6 Northrop F-5E on parade at Sahna'a.

The results of vaious air and ground fightings in 1974 (ended about 07-05-74) was the victory of Northern Yemen and the reunification (again) of the two countries but there were still
local conflits going on for a long time.


Northrop F-5E serial 1775 at Sahna'a, of note modified colours/serial display

                                   Photo: unknown
                                          Northrop F-5B on take-off. See new nationality markings.

A request for quotation for F-5 ejection parts was received by American International Logistics on 03-06-97, request repeated 26-09-97, in support of their pending contract to support and maintain 14 Northrop F-5s. Quotation USD 525,586.38 was given on 28-10-97, delivery three months after receipt of funds. This had no follow-up but a dispute was born and transmitted to a US Armed Service Court that dismissed it.


One single-seater crashed on 16-04-01 on take-off from al Dailami AB, Sahna'a, followed on 03-04-05 also from the same basis. Images from Google earth (year 2006) show 6 Northrop F-5 at al Dailami AB.


US security assistance was restarted in 2007 following Yemeni help to combat Al Qaida fighters;
security assistance had totalled USD 326m between 2007 and 2011, mainly used to maintain helicopters and transport aircrafts but also partially to  sustain the remaining (3) Northrop F-5s. At least five were inoperable, their engines being cannibalised for parts.
Important accusations were expressed in 2012 by an officer, claiming that most Tigers were grounded to keep the others operational. Those in the air were badly maintained, suffering mechanical problems, the cartidges that power the ejection seats were expired, counterfait parts were used, USA Foreign Military Financing aid was detourned to privates. The Yemeni government denied all this.

Stored in USA by 2007 were 200 parcels of 
unpaid forward freighting FMF equipment, among which lowgrade explosives for aircraft ejection seats. Since 2012 US military transportation was involved to ship equipment in order to avoid similar problems.

Next open war started on 25-03-15 against a nine countries coalition (Saudi Arabian led) with the bombardment of the airport (Air Base) and the city of Sahna'a. On 15-04-15 and 30-04-15 videos show the destruction and damage at Sahn'a of one Northrop fighter each. Possibly there were additional, non operational, aircrafts. All this surely conducting to the end of Tiger operations.