Aid to Arab Forces – Yom Kippur


Iraqi Hunter-fleet took part in the war against Israel, in 1973, as well. This time the No.1 Sqn was deployed to Egypt, while No.702 OCU was deployed to Syria. Both units suffered considerable losses: the No.1 Sqn should have lost all of its aircraft by the second week of the fighting.


In total, Arab countries added up to 100,000 troops to Egypt and Syria’s frontline ranks. Besides Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, several other Arab states were also involved in this war, providing additional weapons and financing.

However, nearly all Arab reinforcements came with no logistical plan or support, expecting their hosts to supply them, and in several cases causing logistical problems. On the Syrian front, a lack of coordination between Arab forces led to several instances of friendly fire.

Algeria sent a squadron each of MiG-21s and Su-7s to Egypt, which arrived at the front between October 9 and October 11. It also sent an armored brigade of 150 tanks, the advance elements of which began to arrive on October 17, but reached the front only on October 24, too late to participate in the fighting. After the war, during the first days of November, Algeria deposited around US$200 million with the Soviet Union to finance arms purchases for Egypt and Syria.

Libya, which had forces stationed in Egypt before the outbreak of the war, provided one armored brigade and two squadrons of Mirage V fighters, of which one squadron was to be piloted by the Egyptian Air Force and the other by Libyan pilots. Libya also sent financial aid. Morocco sent one infantry brigade to Egypt and one armored regiment to Syria. An infantry brigade composed of Palestinians was in Egypt before the outbreak of the war. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each sent 3,000 soldiers to Syria. These arrived with additional Jordanian and Iraqi reinforcements in time for a new Syrian offensive scheduled for October 23, which was later cancelled. Kuwaiti troops were also sent to Egypt. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait also provided financial aid. Tunisia sent 1,000–2,000 soldiers to Egypt, where they were stationed in the Nile Delta and some of them were stationed to defend Port Said. Lebanon sent radar units to Syria for air defense. Sudan deployed a 3,500-strong infantry brigade to Egypt. It arrived on October 28, too late to participate in the war.

In addition to its forces in Syria, Iraq sent a single Hawker Hunter squadron to Egypt. The squadron quickly gained a reputation amongst Egyptian field commanders for its skill in air support, particularly in anti-armor strikes.

Cuba sent approximately 4,000 troops, including tank and helicopter crews to Syria, and they reportedly engaged in combat operations against the IDF. North Korea sent 20 pilots and 19 non-combat personnel to Egypt. The unit had four to six encounters with the Israelis from August through the end of the war. According to Shlomo Aloni, the last aerial engagement on the Egyptian front, which took place on December 6, saw Israeli F-4s engage North Korean-piloted MiG-21s. The Israelis shot down one MiG, and another was mistakenly shot down by Egyptian air defenses. Egyptian sources said that the North Koreans suffered no losses but claimed no aerial victories in their engagements.

Pakistan Air Force pilots flew combat missions in Syrian aircraft, and shot down one Israeli fighter.

During the Yom Kippur War, the Algerian Air Force participated in the conflict under the unified Egyptian military commandement. Mikoyan Guryevich MiG-21F-13s and newer MiG-21PFs were mainly used to protect the Cairo region. Mikoyan Guryevich MiG-17F and Sukhoi Su-7BMK aircraft also participated in the war, mostly in strafing and bombing missions. In October 1973 two Su-7BMK, one MiG-21 and a number of MiG-17Fs were lost.

Iraqi participation in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 took the part of a 60,000 strong Iraqi Army expeditionary force which operated on the Syrian front. However, the force did not perform very well, and the Iraqi Air Force did not do well either, losing 26 of the 101 fighter aircraft sent to Syria without shooting down any Israeli aircraft.

The October War influenced the evolution of aerial warfare. It was the first post-Vietnam conflict that relied heavily upon electronic warfare, especially SAM suppression. It led to a critical diplomatic confrontation between the United States and Soviet Union, linking regional tactical warfare with global strategic dynamics. It created the mistaken image of the importance of global aerial resupply, as the vaunted U. S. airlift to Israel did not even begin until 14 October, the day after the Israelis had reversed the tide of battle. The war ultimately damaged the reputation of the IAF as invincible, which contributed to Syria’s willingness to fight Israel again in 1982.

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