On April 15, 2023, Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, became the battleground for armed clashes between the Sudanese army, commanded by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, popularly known as Hemetti.
This confrontation saw both sides employing heavy weaponry, resulting in intense street fighting in the city. Notably, the Sudan Air Force suffered substantial losses, including several combat, transport, and presidential aircraft.
Under Hemetti’s leadership, the Rapid Support Forces have significantly bolstered their forces, amassing around 100,000 fighters equipped with light weapons, artillery, and armored vehicles. This well-equipped and trained force has proven to be particularly adept at urban warfare, showcasing their proficiency in street fighting within cities like Khartoum.
While the Sudanese army possesses a larger fleet of tanks and aircraft compared to the RSF, these advantages lose their effectiveness in the context of street fighting. Tanks and aircraft are better suited for open battlefields rather than the narrow and congested urban landscapes where the RSF excels. This disparity in combat environments has presented challenges for the Sudanese army in their engagements against the RSF.
The Sudanese Air Force relies greatly on Chinese and Soviet era aircraft. Other aircraft in it’s inventory includes MiG-21s, MIG-23s, Nanchang Q-5, Shenyang J-6, Chengdu J-7, Sukhoi Su-24, and Sukhoi Su-25.
Sudan acquired the MiG-29s from 2003-2004, and is one of five African countries to operate the MiG-29, with neighbouring Eritrea, Egypt and Libya as well as nearby Algeria.
In 2016, the Sudanese Government placed an order for six FTC-2000 Shanying (Mountain Eagle)jet trainer. Subsequently, The Chinese Guizhou Aircraft Industries Corporation (GAIC) recently rolled out the first FTC-2000 aircraft, the FTC-2000 is the export model for the JL-9 jet trainer. The FTC-2000 was unveiled in the company’s Anshur production facility in Guizhou pronvice China on June 5, 2017 painted in Desert camouflage scheme.
Last month, Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) claimed control of Jabal Awliya air force base Saturday afternoon. The airport in the village of Jabal Awliya — which is about 35 kilometers (roughly 20 miles) south of the capital Khartoum — serves as a base for the Sudanese Air Force. A recent video recording published by the Rapid Support Forces taking control of the “Marawi” military airport, which is controlled by the Sudanese army in the north of the country. In the video, which appears to have been recorded on Saturday of April, fighters from the Rapid Support Forces appear next to warplanes bearing the Egyptian flag.
The RSF also captured Egyptian military personnel are from the El-Sa’ka special force’s group, but they have been returned home.
Recent satellite imagery shows multiple aircraft were badly damaged and some others totally destroyed.
Several military aircraft parked at the Merowe Air Base in Sudan were destroyed as a result of ongoing fighting between the Sudanese military and the Rapid Support Force (RSF) militia. The exact number and types of aircraft damaged or destroyed have now been confirmed, and they include at least one helicopter and several fixed-wing aircraft. A number of advanced MiG-29s belonging to the Egyptian Air Force that were captured by Sudanese RSF militia forces at Merowe Air Base outside the country’s capital of Khartoum.
Some of Sudan’s relatively new Chinese-built FTC-2000 light combat aircraft/jet trainers were also destroyed in the attacks. Sudan fields only half dozen of these aircraft.
Subsequently, the Sudanese Air Force deployed its MiG-29 fighter jets in support of the Army’s ongoing military operations against the ‘Rapid Support Forces’ (RSF) militia in several parts of the country.
The MiG-29 is a modern and highly capable fighter jet, equipped with advanced avionics, weapons, and sensors. Its deployment in the conflict zone is a clear indication of the Sudanese Air Force’s commitment to providing air support to ground forces in the fight against the RSF.
In 25 May, Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) shot down a Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jet over Khartoum, the capital city. The downing of the MiG-29 demonstrates the RSF’s ability to confront sophisticated aerial threats, a development that may influence the dynamics of the conflict.
The ongoing conflict in Sudan has resulted in a deadlock, with both sides making limited progress. While the RSF controls a significant portion of the capital, it has been unable to secure complete dominance. However, Sudan’s military has initiated a forceful offensive against the paramilitary Rapid Support Force (RSF).
This offensive aims to retake key areas that were under the control of the RSF, a powerful and controversial paramilitary group in the country. With massive artillery strikes and air raids targeting strategic RSF installations and troop clusters, the military’s actions mark a crucial turning point in Sudan’s ongoing political landscape.
Sudan Air Force aircraft Losses:
The Sudan Air Force suffered significant losses during the clashes in Khartoum, with both combat and transport aircraft falling victim to the conflict. The extent of these losses is as follows:
- Three MiG-29s multirole aircraft with one destroyed at Merowe, one damaged, and one shot down over Khatoum.
- Four Su-25 close air support aircraft were destroyed, with three of them destroyed at al-Ubayyid and one additional aircraft destroyed elsewhere.
- Three FTC-2000 advanced jet trainer/light combat aircraft were lost, one destroyed at Merowe, two destroyed elsewhere, and one damaged at Merowe.
- One Il-62M presidential aircraft was destroyed at Khartoum International Airport (IAP).
- One An-72 presidential aircraft was also destroyed at Khartoum IAP.
- Four An-12 transport aircraft were destroyed at Khartoum IAP.
- One An-26 transport aircraft was damaged at Merowe.
- Three An-26/30/32 transport aircraft were destroyed at Khartoum IAP.
- One An-72/74 transport aircraft was destroyed at Khartoum IAP.
- Four Mi-24P/Mi-35P attack helicopters were lost, with two destroyed at Jabal Awlia, one destroyed elsewhere, and one damaged and forced down over Khartoum.
- Three Mi-24P/35P or Mi-8/17 attack helicopters were destroyed at Jabal Awlia.
- One Mi-8/17 attack helicopter was damaged at Khartoum IAP.
- One Mi-17 helicopter was damaged at Merowe.
Despite this significant loss, the Sudanese Air Force still possess sufficient capabilities to carry out it’s responsibility. There are still several other combat capable aircraft; mostly of Soviet and Chinese-build in it’s inventory, however, their serviceability and airworthiness may be in question.
Sudan Air Force aircraft
Sudan Air Force helicopters
Sudan Air Force transport
Sudan Air Force trainer