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Air War Over Africa 1999

Updated on September 21, 2012

 The African continent has had few, if any, modern battles with sophisticated weapons in its many wars. Usually, the African nations fight their wars with weapons on the cheap from old 50-60 yr old surplus stocks. Just as deadly, just old. In 1999, the Ethiopian-Eritrean War entered into a WW1 like phase using weapons from the 60s over an invisible border dispute centering around the Badme area. So, obscure is this boundary, first laid out by the Italians in 1903, that even the UN could not exactly 100% say where it was in the Badme area. Yet, the two countries slugged it out and over 10,000 men and women were killed in combat. Sigh.

Flushed with modern Russian aircraft purchased on the arms circuit, Africa soon would experience its first really modern fighter air war between Mig29 A and SU-27S aircraft some flown by paid Ukrainian mercenary pilots as well as some trained African pilots (both men and women).  Some of the air battles engaged even the Su-25, as well as the older Mig 23 and Mig 21.

The first encounter was on February 25, when two Ethiopian SU-27s were on patrol and jumped on by four Eritrean Mig 29A's. Bothsides fired their air to air missiles, both sides successfully evaded, however, on SU27 managed to roll and being faster, got into position and fired, downing one Mig 29. On the 26th, an Ethiopian Su27 flown by a woman, was escorting two MiG 21s on attack. This group was jumped by a Eritrean MiG 29. The MiG 29 was flown by a Russian flight instructor who had been the woman's trainer sometime ago, she warned him that she would have to fire and told him to land. He did not. She shot him down.

In general, the Ethiopian AF prevailed most of the time over the Eritrean AF, even though, their aircraft and trainers came from the Ukraine. Ethiopia had the benefit of over 300 Russian support and trainers. The Eritreans had eight MiG 29A's, each costing $25,000,000. While both countries are poor, Eritrean was worse off and spending this kind of money on aircraft instead of its own basic needs for its people seems insane.


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    • eovery profile image

      eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Interesting. I did not know any of thie.

      Keep on hubbing!