Malian Air Force
Armée de l'air du Mali
Malian Armed Forces emblem
Founded1961; 63 years ago (1961)
Country Mali
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Part ofMalian Armed Forces
Chief of Air StaffGeneral Alou Boi Diarra[1]
Deputy Chief of Air StaffLieutenant Colonel Adama Bagayoko[2]
Alternate roundel
Aircraft flown
AttackAero L-39
HelicopterH215, Mi-8, Mi-17
Attack helicopterMi-24, Mi-35
ReconnaissanceCessna 208
TrainerEMB-314, SF.260
TransportAn-26, BT-67, C-295, Y-12

The Mali Air Force (French: Armée de l'air du Mali), established in 1961, serves as the primary aerial warfare branch of Mali's armed forces.[3] The force was initially created with the assistance of the French military, which provided training and equipment to establish the air force's initial capabilities.[4] In the following years, the Mali Air Force received significant support from the Soviet Union, which provided both equipment and training to the force.[5]


The Mali Air Force (French: Armée de l'air du Mali) was founded in 1961 with French-supplied military aid. This included MH.1521 Broussard utility monoplane followed by two C-47 transports until replaced by Soviet aid starting in 1962 with four Antonov AN-2 Colt biplane transports and four Mi-4 light helicopters.[6]

In the mid-1960s the Soviets delivered five MiG-17F fighters and a single MiG-15UTI fighter trainer to equip a squadron based at Bamako–Sénou initially with Soviet pilots. Two Ilyushin Il-14 transports and a Mil Mi-8 helicopter were delivered in 1971 followed by two Antonov An-24 transports.

In 1974, 12 MiG-21Bis were obtained from the Soviet Union, with a pair of two-seat MiG-21UMs to follow a couple of years later. These initial Fishbeds served alongside the four remaining MiG-17Fs and saw combat on two occasions during the Agacher Strip War in 1974 against Upper Volta, and again in 1985 with the same country, now renamed Burkina Faso. In 2005, another three MiG-21MFs were delivered from the Czech Republic, reinforcing the surviving jets. By 2010, the Fishbeds were only flown on ceremonial occasions. By January 2012, only one MiG-21MF and one MiG-21UM remained operational until they were grounded for lack of spare parts, ammunition, and pilots a few months later. In January 2013, the Nigerian Air Force sent a technical team to Bamako–Sénou International, with the aim of refurbishing the MiG-21s, but the project was abandoned. Other jets withdrawn from service were six L-29 Delfins, which were used for training.[7]

In June 2015 the Malian government ordered Super Tucano light attack aircraft from the Brazilian company Embraer.[8] Four were paid for and were delivered in 2018.[9] One of these crashed in Sévaré two years later, killing both pilots.[10]

In December 2020, the Malian government ordered 4 Mi-171 helicopters. They were delivered by Russia on 30 September 2021.[11]

In September 2023, the Malian government has lost their last Su-25 due to a crash caused by missile launched by Azawad rebels. However the pilot safely ejected.[12]


Aircraft Origin In service Type Variant Notes
Combat aircraft
Aero L-39 Albatros Czech Republic 12 Attack / Jet trainer L-39C [13]
MiG-21 Soviet Union 9 Fighter [13]
Reconnaissance aircraft
Cessna 208 United States 1 Reconnaissance [13]
Antonov An-26 Soviet Union 1 Transport [13]
Basler BT-67 United States 1 Utility [13]
CASA C-295 Spain 2 Transport [13]
Harbin Y-12 China 2 Utility [13]
Airbus Helicopters H215 France 2 Utility H215M [13]
Mil Mi-8 Russia 1 Utility [13]
Mil Mi-17 Russia 4 Utility Mi-171Sh [14]
Mil Mi-24 Russia 7 Attack Mi-24D
1 on order.[13]
Trainer aircraft
Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano Brazil 3 Trainer [13]
SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 Italy 1 Trainer [13]
Unmanned aerial vehicle
Bayraktar TB2 Turkey 6 UCAV [15]


Main article: Military ranks of Mali

Commissioned officer ranks

The rank insignia of commissioned officers.

Rank group General / flag officers Senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
 Malian Air Force[16]
Général d'armée Général de corps d'armée Général de division Général de brigade Colonel-major Colonel Lieutenant-colonel Commandant Capitaine Lieutenant Sous-lieutenant

Other ranks

The rank insignia of non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel.

Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
 Malian Air Force[16]
Major Adjudant-chef Adjudant Sergent-chef Sergent Caporal-chef Caporal Soldat de première classe Soldat


  1. ^ "Участники встречи с Президентом переходного периода Республики Мали А.Гойтой".
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Mali Air Force". Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  4. ^ "French Air Force (2023)". Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  5. ^ "Here's what we know about the military aircraft delivered to Mali Air Force - AeroTime". 2022-08-10. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  6. ^ World Aircraft Information Files. Brightstar Publishing, London. Files 337, Sheet 04.
  7. ^ Sands, Glenn (February 2018). "Mali's Air Force". Air Forces Monthly (359): 84–86.
  8. ^ Hoyle, Craig (June 15, 2015). "T"PARIS: Mali to boost defences with Super Tucano"". Flightglobal. Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
  9. ^, "Mali : les nouveaux avions de chasse d’IBK seraient inutilisables (Exclusif)",
  10. ^ Aviation Safety Network, April 7, 2020,
  11. ^ "Mali receives 4 helicopters, weapons from Russia: Defense Minister". Devdiscourse. ANI — Sputnik. 1 October 2021.
  12. ^ Abdul, Kazim (September 11, 2023). "Last remaining Malian air force Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft crash". Archived from the original on October 3, 2023.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hoyle, Craig (December 2023). World Air Forces 2024. FlightGlobal (Report). London: Flight Global Insight. p. 24. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  14. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (15 February 2023). The Military Balance 2023. Taylor & Francis. p. 463. ISBN 978-1-000-91070-4.
  15. ^ "Mali receives more TB2, L-39 aircraft". Retrieved 2024-01-04.
  16. ^ a b "2011 - Plaquette sur les insignes et blasons des Forces Armées du Mali" (in French). 23 April 2011. Archived from the original on 21 January 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2020.