Primed and ready Ethiopian Air Force (EAF) scrambled multiple fighter jets in response to an incursion by Sudanese ground troops in the border region.
Over the weekend, Sudan and Ethiopia forces clashed at the disputed al-Fashaga border after the attack that killed seven soldiers.
On Tuesday, Sudan said that it had fired heavy artillery and recaptured several of its territories that were being held by the Ethiopian army. “Sudan’s army fired long-distance artillery from Monday morning until Tuesday afternoon, but nobody was injured”, said Assefa Ashege, a senior security official in Ethiopia’s Amhara region.
The unrest is caused by a quarrel over al-Fashaqa, where the northwest of Ethiopia’s Amhara region meets Sudan’s Gedaref state which has been settled by Ethiopian farmers for decades.
Addis Ababa has insisted and accused Sudanese soldiers of encroaching into its territory.
Tensions escalated in recent years over Ethiopia’s construction of a hydropower dam, and negotiations with Cairo over the Grand Renaissance Dam (GRED) project; (which it considers of great importance to its national development) nearly crumbled.
Ethiopia which was gearing up for a major confrontation with Egypt -Africa’s major military power over the GERD dam project, now has to contend with Sudan’s assault on its territory.
The battle-hardened Ethiopian Air Force is not worried about the prospect of a direct conflict with Egypt, with the commander of the Ethiopian Air Force, Major General Yilma Merdasa, saying that the air force is on high alert to defend Ethiopia.
“The Air Force is currently undergoing reforms, reorganizing and modernizing itself with modern equipment and trained manpower,” Merdasa revealed during the graduation ceremony for members of the Air Force.
He added that the air force was ready to protect Ethiopia “from any internal or external enemies”.
The EAF has seen it’s fair share of rigorous combat, few months ago, the force carries out a comprehensive aerial campaign against the Tigray Defence Force (TDF).
However, the Sudanese military is significantly more capable than the Tigrayan militia, and will likely challenge Ethiopia in both air and land.
In contrast to the Tigrayans having no air power, the Sudanese air force on the other hand flies a mix of MiG-29, MiG-23, MiG-21, Chengdu J-7, and Shenyang J-6 for air to air missions, and Su-24, Su-25, Nanchang Q-5 for ground attack and strike.
On it’s own, the EAF files the MiG-21, MiG-23, and Su-27 armed with beyond visual range (BVR) missiles for air supremacy, and Su-25, Mil Mi-24, Mil Mi-35 for ground attacks.
Ethiopia recently aacquired drone warfare capabilities, comprising of Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey, and Mohajer-6 drones from Iran. Both drones are armed.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Ethiopia can effectively handle the local Tigrayan unrest, and a possible conflict from either Sudan or/and Egypt.