Lebanese Air Force




History Page 4




Sud Aviation Alouette II


From its first day of formation in 1949 and only in a period of 10 years, Lebanon had succeeded in building a formidable air force, with different types in different roles, as described in the previous pages.  And with the beginning of the 60s, the air force went ahead with the introduction of helicopters to its already diverse fleet.  For the first time, Lebanon was buying French equipment for its air force, the Sud Aviation Sa-316/SA-318 Alouette II light helicopter.  The Lebanese Air Force bought 4 examples of the type between 1959 and 1960 which remained in service to the early 80s.












Above right: An SA-319 Alouette III of the Lebanese Air Force(L-225) resting at the site of the ruins of the Roman Temple in Baalbek, northern Bekaa Valley.  Note the famous giant columns on the left of the photo.
Photo copyright George Trussell.





Above left:  The Alouette II light helicopter was first manufactured by Sud Aviation and later by Aerospatiale.  It was famous with many armies, police and air forces around the world.  The Lebanese Air Force received the SA-318 in the early 60s serving for around two decades.  It is still operational with small police forces and private operators.  Photo courtesy of the Lebanese Air Force.








Sud Aviation Alouette III


Only a year after the introduction of the Sud Aviation SA-318 Aloutte II helicopters, the Lebanese Air Force received a number of the more capable and more advanced Aerospatiale SA-319 Alouette III helicopters.  These helicopters were based at the Beirut AB and were used for a variety of missions, including the light ground attack role.  The second batch of SA-319 Alouette III helicopters were received in 1969 bringing the total number to 12.  A small number of Alouette IIIs were still in service with the air force till the late 80s.







Above right:  A rare and an amazing shot of the Alouette III (L-329) at the Beirut AB taken in 1986.  Beirut has been the home of the Alouette IIs and Alouette IIIs from the early 6s0, shortly after their introduction to the Lebanese Air Force.  An MEA-Air Liban Boeing 707 sports the classic (now also referred to as retro) colours in the background, with the smaller titles and the fantastic cheat line.
Photo copyright Derek Gaynor.



Above left:  SA-319 Alouette helicopters were the main utility helicopters of the Lebanese Air Force throughout the 60s and the early 70s when some of its roles were taken over by the more capable Agusta Bell 212.  Search and rescue missions have always been a major role played by these helicopters due to Lebanon's mountainous terrain, as seen by the snow landing pads installed on the main gear.  In this snapshot, the Alouette III is enjoying a nice sunny day outdoors in Baalbek.
Photo copyright George Trussell.








Potez Fouga Magister


By the early 60s, the Lebanese Air Force's inventory already had a large number of propeller driven early trainers and with the introduction of the faster Vampire and Hunter jets, the need for an advanced trainer became one of the priorities.  These would greatly help the new pilots transition from the early trainers to fighter jets.  The Fouga Magister CM-170 was chosen and the first 5 were delivered in 1966.  Further 5 Fougas were bought from the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) in 1972.  The Fouga Magisters were the only advanced trainers even operated by the Lebanese Air Force and few were believed to be in service till the early 90s.





           A rare shot of a Lebanese Air Force Fouga Magister displaying its arms

           right after its delivery.











The differences in the colour schemes between the photo (courtesy of the Lebanese Air Force) and the drawing of the Fouga Magister.  The drawing clearly shows the all silver Fouga while the photo shows the original paint of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) with the Lebanese flag and the roundel applied in the same pattern as the early batch.




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