Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force
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Air Force

Current Title: (Laotian title not known)
Title in English: Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force
Abbreviation: LPLAAF


Narrative History:
The present-day LPLAAF is decended from the Aviation Laotienne, which was established by the French and later became the Royal Lao Air Force. Pathet Lao guerrilla forces began to operate a few aircraft from 1960, as did another rebel group led by Kong Le. Kong Le forces were later re-incorporated into the Royal Lao Air Force. The communist take-over in late 1975 resulted in the adoption of the present title.

Detailed Narrative History

Narrative History of the Kong Le Air Force

Key Dates:
28 January 1955    Aviation Laotienne first established
1960    Pathet Lao begins to operate aircraft
August 1960    Failed coup attempt by Kong Le
August 1960    Aviation Laotienne renamed Royal Lao Air Force (RLAF)
Spring 1963    Kong Le air arm re-integrated into RLAF
early 1976    Royal Lao Air Force renamed Lao People's Liberation Army Air Force (LPLAAF)

Current Status:
The age of the current equipment as well as a lack of training has turned the Lao People's Air Force into a force in decline. The capabilities of the armed forces, including its air component, are limited. The limited resources available are spent on maintaining the transport and helicopter fleet. As Laos currently has no clearly defined threat against its territorial borders, an increase in defence spending is seen as unlikely.

With the grounding of the MiG-21 fleet, the LPLAAF is currently limited to transport and liaison operations. The state airline, Lao Airlines (previously known as Lao Aviation), also operates as a transport arm of the air force. Some LPLAAF transport helicopters operate under 'Lao Air' titles.

Future Plans:
The only recent procurement as been 3 Ilyushin Il-103 light aircraft.


National Insignia:
Current --- Historical

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
Front-line LPLAAF aircraft carry a simple numerical individual number, eg: '12' for a MiG-21UM. However, the majority of the air forces's strength is made up of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters used in the transport role. These carry civil registrations in the RDPL-xxxxx sequence.

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Not used.


Aircraft Designation System(s):
None used.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:

Aviation National Laotienne
Royal Lao Air Force
Kong Le
Pathet Lao

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service

Aircraft Losses and Incidents:
No information.


Main Headquarters:
Ministry of National Defence and Armed Forces, Vientiane.

Current Organisational Structure:
The LPLAAF organisation follows the structure of the Army, which is organised into four Military Regions (with Headquarters at Vientiane) - 1 Luang Prabang in Luang Prabang province; 2 Muang Phonsavan in Xieng Khouang province; 3 Xeno in Savannakhet province and 4 Pakse, in Champassak province. Aircraft or helicopters are detached to each of these locations. Administration is via the classic Russian/Chinese pattern of role-specific regiments comprising 2 or 3 squadrons each. The steady decline in serviceability of LPLAAF aircraft has meant that many transport tasks are now undertaken by the state-owned airline Lao Airlines.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
Table of Orders of Battle

All-Time Flying Units List:
Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
The LPLAAF operates from two main bases - Vientiane and Phonsavanh - with another three bases supported by detachments from the main units. See listing below for details.

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
Apart from the main military air bases, there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are frequently used by the Air Force and the semi-military airline Lao Airlines. In 1961 Laos had 25 airstrips capable of taking a C-47.
Military Air Bases Listing

More Information


Sources Used


World Air Power Journal Vo.8 p.145-146


Futura DTP: Laos Laos

World Air Forces Laos

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First Created: 7 February 2004 - Last Revised: 15 April 2007
Copyright 2004 Jan Forsgren.    e-mail: