Eritrean Defence Forces

1. Order of battle
2. Overview
3. Defence economics
4. State of military forces
5. Country threat report

1. Order of Battle

Total force strength Army: 200 000 (45 000 in peacetime and 200 000 under mobilization)
Air Force: 350
Navy: 1 400
Armour 270: T-55
Reconnaissance 40: BRDM-1/2
AIFV 15: BMP-1
APC 25: BTR-152/60
10: MT-LB
Self-propelled artillery 32: 2S1 Carnation 122 mm
13: 2S5 152 mm
Towed artillery 19: D-30 122 mm
39: M-46 130 mm
Multiple Rocket Launcher 35: BM-21 122 mm
9: BM-22
9: BM-27 220 mm
Mortar 100: 120 mm
Anti-armour 200: AT-3/5 Sagger/Spandrel
80: AT-15 Kornet-E
Recoilless rifle ?: D-44 85 mm
Rocket launcher ?: RPG-7 Knout 73 mm
Air defence gun 9: ZSU-23-4 23 mm
61: ZU-23 23 mm
Air defence missile 50: SA–7 Grail
50: SA-18
Air Force
Combat aircraft 6: MiG–21 Fishbed (Reportedly non-operational)
4: MiG–23 Flogger
10: MiG-29 Fulcrum
10: Su-27 Flanker
Trainer aircraft 8: L-90TP Redigo
4: MB-339
Transport aircraft 1: IAI-1125 Astra
4: Y-12
Combat helicopter 1: Mi-24 Hind
Transport helicopter 4: Mi-17 Hip
4: Bell 412 Twin Huey
Navy 1: Chamo class landing craft
1: Ashdod class landing ship
4: Super Dvora patrol boats
3: Swiftship cruisers
1: Petya corvette
2: Osa missile fast attack craft
4: Turya torpedo boats
2: Polnocny LSMs
2: T-4 class landing craft
15-20 small launches

2. Overview
Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces: President Isaias Afewerki

Defence Minister: General Sebhat Ephrem
Commander of the Navy: Admiral Hummed Ahmed Karikare
Commander of the Air Force: Major General Teklai Habtesellassi
Member of: UN, AU, ICAO, Seabeds Committee

3. Defence economics

The defence budget was estimated at $290 million in 2006, or 6.3% of GDP.
Defence budget percentage per GDP

2000 2001 2002 2003
DB% per GDP  32.7  22.1 20.7 20.9


Defence budget per US$ Mil

2000 2001 2002 2003
DB per US$ Mil 756 559  534   522


Defence budget percentage growth

2000 2001 2002
DB% growth -26.1 -4.5  -2.2


4. State of military forces

Eritrea is divided into four military regions. The commanders of these four regions report directly to the President as commander-in-chief, leaving the Defence Minister with little more than ceremonial duties.

Eritrea’s armed forces are built from the liberation army that won independence. The official tasks of the armed forces include strengthening the country against external attack, maintaining border security and developing social cohesion.

Since independence in 1993, the Eritrean Defence Forces have fought a number of border conflicts with Eritrea’s neighbours, most notably the 1998-2000 Border War with Ethiopia. There have also been clashes with Djibouti.

Much of Eritrea’s military strength comes from conscription but this has resulted in large numbers of deserters and draft dodgers as conscripts often end up working in government offices or even businesses owned by the ruling party.
5. Country threat report

Threat type Overview
External • There is continued military tension between Eritrea and neighboring Ethiopia.
• Maritime piracy is a persistent problem along Eritrea’s coastline.
Internal • Incidents of bandidtry and terrorism have been reported on the country’s western border with Sudan.
Regional • Instability in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia may affect the country’s foreign security policy making.
Political • Eritrea is currently considered to be politically stable.
Economic • Eritrea’s economy has shown considerable growth in recent years due to increased agricultural output and the expansion of the country’s mining industry.
• Eritrea’s previous war with Ethiopia has severely dampened the country’s economic aspects in the past and any flare up in the current stalemate will again negatively affect Eritrea’s economy.


Note: The information presented here is as accurate as possible but errors and omissions may occur.