The Tonga Defence Force was first established in 1939, as a reaction to the deteriorating international situation. After World War Two spread to the Pacific region, New Zealand was invited to train Tongan soldiers. Two units of the TDF subsequently saw action in the Solomon Islands campaign.
The TDF was disbanded at the end of the war, only to be reactivated in 1946. Tonga gained independence in 1970 and the TDF remained a land-based force. On 10 March 1973 the Tongan Maritime Force was established, and the former TDF renamed the Tongan Land Force. Both services became branches of the newly established Tonga Defence Services (TDS) under the Ministry of Defence of Tonga.
The first attempt to create an Air Wing for the TDS occured in 1986 when a Victa Airtourer light aircraft was obtained, but this aircraft never flew in Tongan service and was quickly re-sold. On 4 May 1996 a second attempt to create an Air Wing was more successful. A Beech 18 was taken into service for Maritime Patrol and Search & Rescue duties. The Air Wing operates in close cooperation with the Maritime Force and is sometimes referred to as the Maritime Force Air Wing. In 1999 a Citabria was aquired to help with pilot training of the tailwheel configured Beech 18.
In a controversial move the TDS was renamed His Majesty’s Armed Forces on 12 September 2013. The removal of the word ‘Tonga’ from the title and the assumption of a personal association with the king, resulted in a generic title that could apply to any monarchy from Norway to Swaziland.
||Tonga Defence Force (TDF) first established.
||TDF ground units trained for action in the Solomons Campaign of WW2.
||TDF renamed Tonga Defence Services.
||First aircraft delivered – not used.
|4 May 1996
||Air Wing formally established.
||TDS renamed His Majesty’s Armed Forces.
The current status of the aircraft of the HMAF is unclear, as the official TDS website no longer works. The Citabria was seen in an aircraft shelter at at Fua’amotu on 16 January 2014. The Beech 18 has not been seen for a while.
No plans known. A replacement for the ancient Beech 18 must be an increasingly urgent requirement.
Current — Historical
Aircraft Serial Numbers
Aircraft operating with TDS carried two-digit serial numbers prefixed by AW, e.g. Beech 18 AW-01, but after the name change to HMAF aircraft now carry Tongan civil registrations, e.g. Citabria A3-AWB, where the ‘AW’ presumably stands for Air Wing. There is no confirmation that the Beech 18 received A3-AWA.
Coding system not used.
None – Manufacturers designations used
Current Aircraft Inventory
All-Time Aircraft Used List
Aircraft NOT Used
False Reports of Aircraft in Service
Aircraft Losses and Incidents
His Majesty’s Armed Forces, Vilai Barracks, Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
No subordinate units.
Current Order of Battle
No subordinate units.
Historical Orders of Battle
All-Time Flying Units List
Current Air Bases
The aircraft are based at Tongatapu-Fua’amoto Airport.
All-Time Air Bases Used List
To be added
wikipedia: His Majesty’s Armed Forces (Tonga)
Pacific Islands Report
Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.