Angola Table of Contents
The People's Air and Air Defense Force of Angola (Força Aérea Popular de Angola/Defesa Aérea y Antiaérea--FAPA/DAA), officially established on January 21, 1976, was the largest air force in subSaharan Africa. Colonel Alberto Correia Neto became vice minister of defense and FAPA/DAA commander in September 1986. He succeeded Colonel Carreira, who had held that post since 1983. The 7,000- member FAPA/DAA included about 180 fixed-wing combat attack and interceptor aircraft; an equal number of helicopters; several maritime patrol, reconnaissance, trainer, and transport aircraft; five air defense battalions; and ten SAM battalions (see table 13, Appendix A). Seeking voluntary enlistment was initially the sole form of recruitment, but in the 1980s conscription was increasingly employed until volunteerism was restored in 1988.
Angola's army had about fifteen years to develop an organization and gain combat experience prior to independence. In contrast, FAPA/DAA had to acquire personnel, experience, and equipment immediately, and in the context of a civil war. These unusual circumstances affected both recruitment and force development. FAPA/DAA's pilots, mostly in their mid-twenties, got combat experience immediately. Moreover, given FAPA/DAA's virtually instantaneous creation, its long-term dependence on external assistance was inevitable. Soviet, Cuban, and other communist forces provided pilots and technicians to fly and maintain FAPA/DAA's growing, diversified, and increasingly complex air fleet. The principal tasks of this new branch of the Angolan military were to protect the capital, guard major cities and military installations in the south against South African air raids, and extend the air defense network and combat operations southward to confront UNITA forces and South African invaders.
According to a 1987 press report, FAPA/DAA was reorganized into three regiments: a fighter-bomber regiment headquartered in Lubango, a transport regiment in Luanda, and a helicopter regiment in Huambo. In addition, FAPA/DAA aircraft and air defense units were deployed in strategic locations throughout the country. Of Angola's 229 usable airfields, 25 had permanent-surface runways, 13 of which exceeded 2,440 meters.
The capabilities and effectiveness of FAPA/DAA have increased markedly following its creation. FAPA/DAA's expanded capacity to provide air cover and supply to forward ground forces, strike at UNITA bases and interdict South African aircraft, evacuate wounded personnel, and perform reconnaissance and liaison missions became particularly apparent during combined offensives after 1985. Like the army, FAPA/DAA developed modern facilities to repair and service both military and civilian aircraft for Angola and other African states.
Data as of February 1989