Unita, the Angolan rebel movement, has obtained up to six MiG-23 fighter bombers and six Mil Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters, South African sources say.

The acquisition ends the Angolan Government's monopoly on air power and alters the balance of power in the country. More importantly it offers Unita the capability to threaten offshore oil installations, the Angolan government's primary source of revenue.

Richard Cornwall, an analyst at the South African Institute for Security Studies, says the aircraft were believed to have originated in Ukraine. They based in the south of Angola in the Mavinga/Jamba area, he says. The aircraft are believed to have come into the country through Zambia.

The claims have been greeted with scepticism by other analysts who question Unita's ability to support the aircraft. But Cornwall says: "We've spoken to people who've seen the aircraft."

Source: Flight International