The Royal Air Force of Oman’s Evolution

Since the 1980s, with the support of the Royal Air Force, the Royal Air Force of Oman has become a powerful regional air force.

Omani and British Pilots of No. 20 Squadron of the Sultan of Oman's Air Force

 

The 1980s and 1990s saw significant investment in the Royal Air Force of Oman’s capabilities. This was supported by the process of Omanisation, which has seen many Omanis take on key roles in the air force.

From the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force to the Royal Air Force of Oman

After the end of the Dhofar War, the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force continued to modernise and re-equip. Noticeable additions were the gift of 32 Hawker Hunter FGA9s from King Hussein of Jordan in 1975. More significant was the purchase of the SEPECAT Jaguar in 1977, which provided an important step change in operational capability.

SEPECAT Jaguars of the Sultan of Oman's Air Force

On 1 August 1990, the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force officially changed its name to the Royal Air Force of Oman. The Royal Air Force of Oman’s capabilities now span the range of control of the air, attack, air mobility and situational awareness and intelligence. This is encapsulated in Royal Air Force of Oman’s motto, ‘Strike and Support’.

Darren Priday (centre), Manager of the RAF Museum’s Michael Beetham Conservation Centre, while serving in Oman in May 2000 when he supported the RAFO Jaguar Upgrade Project.

Omanisation

Since the 1980s, Omanis have increasingly staffed the Royal Air Force of Oman with a reduction in the number of RAF loan officers. In June 1990, Air Vice-Marshal Talib bin Meran bin Zaman Al-Raeesi became the first Omani to be Commander of the Royal Air Force of Oman. This has mirrored broader trends in Oman and was formalised in the policy of Omanisation in 1988. Omanisation has sought to replace expatriate workers in skilled jobs with highly trained Omanis. The Royal Air Force continues to support the training of Royal Air Force of Oman personnel with key loan officers serving in training positions.

Training and Teamwork

Sultan Qaboos visiting the Technical Training Institute circa late 1970sAfter the Dhofar War, the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force recognised the need to recruit and train in country. Aspiring recruits went through the Sultan’s Armed Forces Training Regiment for basic training before undergoing further training. Opened at RAFO Masirah in 1986, the Sultan Qaboos Air Academy now provides initial officer, flying and ground training for the Royal Air Force of Oman.

In 1973, Airworks set up the Technical Training School to train Omani recruits as mechanics. In 1974, this became the Technical Training Institute at RAFO Seeb and was finally renamed the Air Force Technical College, which now provides trained airmen in the many trades required to operate a modern air force. As well as attending staff courses abroad, RAFO officers also attend the Joint Command and Staff Course at Bayt al Falaj.