Air Forces in the Persian/Arabian Gulf

Saudi Arabia has the third largest defense budget in the world. A lot of that has gone to aircraft. Their air force currently consists of 844 aircraft and 81,000 personnel. Combat aircraft include:

61 F-15Cs

87 F-15E

53 Typhoons

81 Tornado

Lots of support aircraft. See Royal Saudi Air Force

Everyone else’s air force is notably smaller, except for the UAE.

Country…..Personnel…..Aircraft…..F-16C…..F-16D….F-18C…Mirage 2000….Rafale…..F16 E/F

Iraq………….5,000…………….289……………27………..9

Kuwait………5,000…………………………………………………….27

Qatar………………………………………………………………………………….30………………..1

Bahrain……..1,500……………129……………17

UAE…………………………………573………………………………………………67……………….30………….78

Oman……………………………………………….18…………………………………………………….9 Typhoon

 

……………………………………………….Other

……………..Su-25………AH-64……..Ground Attack

Iraq………….21…………………………..18

Kuwait………………………16

Qatar………………………….1…………..6

Bahrain……………………..22

UAE……………………………………………6

Oman……………………………………….10

 

Between these seven nations, this is something like 595 air superiority and multi-role modern aircraft, plus another 100 or more ground attack aircraft. Certainly enough to patrol the Persian/Arabian Gulf, which is about the size of the state of Wyoming.

On the north side of the Gulf is Iran. It has an air force of 37,000 (2011 estimate) consisting of:

MiG-29:……………20

F-7………………….17 (a Chinese MiG-21)

F-5E………………..25

F-4 Phantom II…….47

F-14…………………24

Mirage F1……………9

Su-22……………….10

Su-24……………….23

 

So, 142 air superiority and multi-role Iranian jets compared to 595 controlled by the seven Arab states lining the Gulf. In most cases, the Arab nations have better quality aircraft…and 33 Ground Attack aircraft vice 100+. No question who will be able to establish air superiority if there is a hot war.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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2 Comments

  1. SIPRI 2019 report. See previous post. Now….we don’t really know. We have not carefully researched everyone’s defense budget nor would we have time to do so. Now, if you use a PPP-type calculation, you will certainly end up with different figures, especially when looking at defense budgets of countries like China and India.

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