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Angolan Armed Forces


Angolan Armed Forces

Angolan Armed Forces
Forças Armadas Angolanas
Service branches Angolan Army
Angolan Navy
National Air Force of Angola
Headquarters Ministry of Defence, Rua 17 de Setembro, Luanada, Angola[1]
President of Angola, Commander-in-Chief José Eduardo dos Santos
Minister of Defence João Lourenço
Chief of General Staff General Geraldo Nunda [2]
Conscription Universal compulsory service for 24 months plus training
Active personnel 87,000[3]
Reserve personnel 30,000[3]
Deployed personnel Small numbers
Budget est. 4.784 billion USD
Percent of GDP 3.63 (2012)[4]
Related articles
History South African Border War
Angolan War of Independence
Angolan Civil War
First Congo War
Republic of the Congo Civil War
Second Congo War
2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d'état

The Angolan Armed Forces (Portuguese: Forças Armadas Angolanas) are the military in Angola that succeeded the Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) following the abortive Bicesse Accord with the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in 1991. As part of the peace agreement, troops from both armies were to be demilitarized and then integrated. Integration was never completed as UNITA went back to war in 1992. Later, consequences for UNITA members in Luanda were harsh with FAPLA veterans persecuting their erstwhile opponents in certain areas and reports of vigilantism.

The FAA is headed by Chief of Staff Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda since 2010, who reports to the Minister of Defense, currently João Lourenço.

There are three components, the Army (Forças Armadas), Navy (Marinha de Guerra) and Air Force Força Aérea Nacional Angolana. Reported total manpower in 2013 was about 107,000.[5]


  • Angolan Army 1
    • Army Equipment 1.1
      • Infantry Weapons 1.1.1
      • Main Battle Tanks 1.1.2
      • Armoured Vehicles 1.1.3
      • Artillery 1.1.4
      • Anti-Aircraft weaponry 1.1.5
      • Other Vehicles 1.1.6
  • Angolan Air Force 2
  • Angolan Navy (Marinha de Guerra) 3
  • Foreign deployments 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Angolan Army

On August 1, 1974 a few months after a military coup d'état had overthrown the Lisbon regime and proclaimed its intention of granting independence to Angola, the MPLA announced the formation of FAPLA, which replaced the EPLA. By 1976 FAPLA had been transformed from lightly armed guerrilla units into a national army capable of sustained field operations.[6]

In 1990-91, the Army had ten military regions and an estimated 73+ 'brigades', each with a mean strength of 1,000 and comprising inf, tank, APC, artillery, and AA units as required.[7] The Cabinda Province, the area around the capital, and the southern provinces where UNITA and South African forces operated.'

It was reported in 2011 that the army was by far the largest of the services with about 120,000 men and women.[8] The Angolan Army has around 29,000 "ghost workers" who remain enrolled in the ranks of the FAA and therefore receive a salary.[9]

In 2013, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported that the FAA had six divisions, the 1st, 5th, and 6th with two or three infantry brigades, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th with five to six infantry brigades. The 4th Division included a tank regiment. A separate tank brigade and special forces brigade were also reported.[10]

As of 2011, the IISS reported the ground forces had 42 armoured/infantry regiments ('detachments/groups - strength varies') and 16 infantry 'brigades'.[11] These probably comprised infantry, tanks, APC, artillery, and AA units as required. Major equipment included over 140 main battle tanks, 600 reconnaissance vehicles, over 920 AFVs, infantry fighting vehicles, 298 howitzers.[3]

It was reported on May 3, 2007, that the Special Forces Brigade of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) located at Cabo Ledo region, northern Bengo Province, would host a 29th anniversary celebration for the entire armed forces. The brigade was reportedly formed on 5 May 1978 and under the command at the time of Colonel Paulo Falcao.[12]

Army Equipment

The Army operates a large amount of Russian, Soviet and ex-Warsaw pact hardware. A large amount of its equipment was acquired in the 1980s and 1990s most likely because of hostilities with neighbouring countries and its civil war which lasted from November 1975 until 2002. There is an interest from the Angolan Army for the Brazilian ASTROS II multiple rocket launcher.[13]

Infantry Weapons

Many of Angola's weapons are of Portuguese colonial and Warsaw Pact origin. Jane's Information Group lists the following as in service:

Main Battle Tanks

Armoured Vehicles


Anti-Aircraft weaponry

Other Vehicles

Angolan Air Force

The Angolan Air Force's personnel total about 8,000; its equipment includes transport aircraft and six Russian-manufactured Sukhoi Su-27 fighter aircraft.[20] In 2002 one was lost during the civil war with UNITA forces.[21]

In 1991, the Air Force/Air Defense Forces had 8,000 personnel and 90 combat-capable aircraft, including 22 fighters, 59 fighter ground attack aircraft and 16 attack helicopters.

Angolan Navy (Marinha de Guerra)

The Navy numbers about 1,000 personnel and operates only a handful of small patrol craft and barges.

The Angolan Navy (MGA) has been neglected and ignored as a military arm mainly due to the guerrilla struggle against the Portuguese and the nature of the civil war. From the early 1990s to the present the Angolan Navy has shrunk from around 4,200 personnel to around 1,000, resulting in the loss of skills and expertise needed to maintain equipment. In order to protect Angola’s 1 600 km long coastline, the Angolan Navy is undergoing modernisation but is still lacking in many ways. Portugal has been providing training through its Technical Military Cooperation (CTM) programme. The Navy is requesting procurement of a frigate, three corvettes, three offshore patrol vessel and additional fast patrol boats.

Most of the vessels in the navy's inventory dates back from the 1980s or earlier, and many of its ships are inoperable due to age and lack of maintenance. However the navy acquired new boats from Spain and France in the 1990s. Germany has delivered several Fast Attack Craft for border protection in 2011.

In September 2014 it was reported that the Angolan Navy would acquire seven Macaé-class patrol vessels from Brazil as part of a Technical Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering the production of the vessels as part of Angola’s Naval Power Development Programme (Pronaval).[22] The military of Angola aims to modernize its naval capability, presumably due to a rise in maritime piracy within the Gulf of Guinea which may have an adverse effect on the country's economy.

The navy's current known inventory includes the following:

  • Fast attack craft
    • 4 Mandume class craft (Bazan Cormoran type, refurbished in 2009)
  • Patrol Boats
  • Fisheries Patrol Boats
    • Ngola Kiluange and Nzinga Mbandi (delivered in September and October 2012 from Damen Shipyards)(Operated by Navy personnel under the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries)
    • 28 metre FRV 2810 (Pensador) (Operated by Navy personnel under the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries)[24]
  • Landing craft
    • LDM-400 - 1 or 3 (reportedly has serviceability issues)
  • Coastal defense equipment (CRTOC)
    • SS-C1 Sepal radar system

The navy also has several aircraft for maritime patrol:

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[25] Notes
Fokker F27 Netherlands Medium transport 1
EMB 111 Brazil Maritime patrol 2
Boeing 707 USA Maritime patrol 1

Foreign deployments

The FAPLA's main counterinsurgency effort was directed against UNITA in the southeast, and its conventional capabilities were demonstrated principally in the undeclared South African Border War.[6] The FAPLA first performed its external assistance mission with the dispatch of 1,000 to 1,500 troops to São Tomé and Príncipe in 1977 to bolster the socialist regime of President Manuel Pinto da Costa. During the next several years, Angolan forces conducted joint exercises with their counterparts and exchanged technical operational visits. The Angolan expeditionary force was reduced to about 500 in early 1985.

The Angolan Armed Forces were controversially involved in training the armed forces of fellow Lusophone states Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. In the case of the latter, the 2012 Guinea-Bissau coup d'état was cited by the coup leaders as due to Angola's involvement in trying to "reform" the military in connivance with the civilian leadership.

A small number of FAA personnel are stationed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa) and the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville). A presence during the unrest in Ivory Coast, 2010–2011, were not officially confirmed. However, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing Jeune Afrique, said that among President Gbagbo's guards were 92 personnel of President Dos Santos's Presidential Guard Unit.[26] Angola is basically interested in the participation of the FAA operations of the African Union and has formed special units for this purpose.


  1. ^ Military Technology, World Defence Almanac, Vol. XXXII, Issue 1, 2008, p.301
  2. ^ Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda is a former UNITA general. See
  3. ^ a b c, Angola, February 2013.
  4. ^ [1] retrieved April 29, 2014 (en)
  5. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2013, 493.
  6. ^ a b Library of Congress Country Studies
  7. ^ IISS Military Balance 1990 or 1991
  8. ^ Global Angolan Armed Forces retrieved August 21, 2011 (de)
  9. ^ Rádio Ecclesia: 18 anos das Forças Armadas Angolanas retrieved August 22, 2011 (pt)
  10. ^ IISS 2013, 493.
  11. ^ IISS Military Balance 2011, 410.
  12. ^ Army Special Forces Celebrate Years, May 3, 2007.
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h
  16. ^ Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^ IISS Military Balance 2013, 494
  21. ^ Angolan Armed Forces retrieved August 22, 2011 (de)
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  26. ^ Gbagbos letzte Trumpfkarte: als Märtyrer sterben, 7 April 2011

Further reading

  • Human Rights Watch, Angola Unravels: The Rise and Fall of the Lusaka Peace Process, October 1999
  • Utz Ebertz and Marie Müller, Legacy of a resource-fueled war: The role of generals in Angola’s mining sector, BICC Focus, June 2013
  • Area Handbook for Angola, August 1967, Angola, A Country Study (1979 and 1991)
  • Rocky Williams, "National defence reform and the African Union." SIPRI Yearbook 2004: 231-249.
  • Weigert, Stephen L. Angola: a modern military history, 1961-2002. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • Martin Rupiya et al., 'Angola', in Evolutions and Revolutions
  • The Twenty-Seventh of May: An Historical Note on the Abortive 1977 "coup" in Angola

David Birmingham, African Affairs, Vol. 77, No. 309 (Oct., 1978), pp. 554–564 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal African Society

External links

  • Official site of the Angolan Ministry of National Defence
  • World Navies
  • Brinkman, Inge "Language, Names, and War: The Case of Angola", African Studies Review
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