An Airforce in Miniature

History of the Air Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta

1972 - 1997

Historical Background

Malta's 180-year (1799-1979) connection with Britain and its armed forces is only too well known and there is no need to go into superfluous detail as far as this history is concerned.

The Island's traditional role as one of the Med's main strategic naval and since more modern times, air bases finally came to an end on the 31st March 1979 when the last Union Jack was replaced by the Maltese flat in front of HMS Fort St. Angelo, former Headquarters of Her Majesty's forces.

The signing of the Independence Declaration on 21st September 1964 by the Nationalist Administration of the time and H.M. Government started the final association (which was eventually to last 15 years) with the British Armed Forces. A defence agreement provided for British and NATO forces to remain in Malta for ten years.

This agreement bound Britain to provide Malta with Lm50m during the whole period, a quarter of which was in the form of a loan and to defend Malta from aggression. Little or no effort was made in the seven years leading up to the election of a Labour Government in 1971 to provide Malta's own Armed Forces with their own SAR and coastal survellaince capabilities, as these facilities were readily available on request from the British Forces.

When the Labour Party took office in June 1971, it took immediate steps to renegotiate the Defence Agreement with Britain and to re-organise and upgrade the Island's national armed forces (which then only consisted of a Land Force) in expectation of the final withdrawal of the British. After strenuous and protracted negotiations, as agreement was finally signed with Mr. Heath's Government on the 26 March 1972, which was to provide Britain with the base facilities for a further seven years in return for £14m per annum. Paradoxically the new agreement did not bind Britain to defend Malta.

This article (History of the Air Squadron) was adapted from the works of Mr. John Visanich and the Luqa Aviation Year Book to whom go our special thanks.

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last modified: July 2007