Chad Table of Contents
The small Chadian air force, which in 1987 had fewer than 200 men assigned to it, was a branch of the army. When activated in the early 1960s, its inventory consisted of one C-47 transport aircraft, together with five observation aircraft and helicopters, all flown by French pilots. By the mid-1960s, the air force had a number of Chadian pilots. Within a decade, an additional thirteen C-47s were acquired, as well as several French-built utility aircraft and helicopters. The capabilities of the air force remained limited to transport, communications, and liaison, however. The air force was used extensively in support of French and Chadian units operating against rebel activity in the north. French fighter aircraft were regularly rotated into the country from neighboring bases for rapid deployment exercises. After the withdrawal of French forces from Chad in 1975, the government reached an agreement with France, which provided for continued French logistical support and training of pilots and mechanics.
In 1976 the air force began to acquire a modest combat capability in the form of seven propeller-driven Douglas AD-4 Skyraiders obtained from France. Flown primarily by French and other contract pilots, these aircraft were used for several years in support of antiguerrilla campaigns in the north. As of 1987, the surviving Skyraiders were no longer operable. In 1985 Chad acquired from France two Swiss-built Pilatus PC-7 turboprop trainers, armed with 20mm guns. These aircraft were suitable for counterinsurgency operations, but as of late 1987 they had been used only for reconnaissance or liaison duties.
The United States had supplied Chad with four C-130 Hercules transport and cargo aircraft in the mid-1980s, of which two remained in operation in 1987. Three of the C-47s and one DC-4 were also still in use. Seven L-39 Albatros jet fighter-trainers of Czechoslovak manufacture captured from Libya were not in operating condition; in any event, the air force did not have jet-qualified pilots. Several of the Italian SF-260 Marchetti turboprop trainer aircraft captured at Ouadi Doum and Fada were reportedly being flown on reconnaissance missions. Armed with 20mm cannons, these light aircraft brought new ground support and counterinsurgency potential to the air force. None of the helicopters previously supplied by France remained in the inventory as of 1987 (see table 10, Appendix A).
As of late 1987, Lieutenant Mornadji Mbaissanabe was serving as acting commander of the air force. Pilots and crews were of Chadian, French, and Zairian nationalities. France had undertaken responsibility for repair and maintenance of the aircraft, although the actual maintenance teams were of diverse origins. Spare parts and major overhauls for the C-130s were being provided by the United States; France provided service depot visits, crew training, and fuel.
Data as of December 1988