RAF Salalah

RAF Salalah, was a staging post in the Sultanate of Muscat in the south western Dhofar province within 75 miles of the border with Yemen and 550 miles distant from the capital Muscat. The airfield had been constructed in 1928 and had been in constant use ever since as a military and civilian staging post. It was a refuelling staging post for the regular Valetta flights from Khormaksar to Mauripur just after WW2. In the 1960s, Salalah provided refuelling and replenishment facilities for  Valetta,   Beverley,   Argosy,   Dakota and other aircraft operating on the Aden-Masirah-Sharjah-Bahrain route. The runway was limited to a grit surface until tarmac was laid in early 1972.

RAF Salalah was the so called “Salalah Hook”. The British were on the “hook” and were obliged to maintain and operate RAF Salalah in return for the use of RAF Masirah, an essential link in the route to the Far East. The sultanate and the British both benefited. The newly forming SOAF (Sultan of Oman’s Airforce) had a base where it could fly both its fixed winged and rotating wing aircraft in pursuit of the rapidly escalating war against the dissidents crossing the border from Yemen. The British had their transit base on Masirah Island.

SOAF (Sultan Oman’s Air Force) conducted the war in Dhofar from Salalah with aircraft that had originally been  first flown twenty or more years before;  Bell Huey (1956),   Jet Provost (1955),   Beaver (1947),    C-130s from the RAF (1954) and the more modern  Skyvan (1963).  A far cry from  F-35 Lightnings,   Tornados  and   Predator drones  of today.

55 FST was located within the confines of RAF Salalah simply because basing it near BATT, who it was intended to support, at Umm Al Guariff would have had none of the advantages of a well administered RAF airfield.

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