Madagascar People's Armed Forces

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Madagascar Armed Forces
French: Forces armées de Madagascar
Malagasy: Tafika Malagasy
Service branchesMalagasy Army
Malagasy Air Force
Malagasy Navy
National Gendarmerie
Commander-in-chiefCabinet (acting)[1]
Minister of DefenseLeon Jean Richard Rakotonirina[2]
Chief of StaffDivision General Lala Monja Delphin Sahivelo[3]
Conscription18 months (military and non-military service)
Available for
military service
4,900,729 males, age 16-49 (2010 est.),
4,909,061 females, age 16-49 (2010 est.)
Fit for
military service
3,390,071 males, age 16-49 (2010 est.),
3,682,180 females, age 16-49 (2010 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
248,184 males (2010 est.),
246,769 females (2010 est.)
Active personnel13,500 (military)
8,100 (National Gendarmerie)[4]
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks of Madagascar

The Madagascar Armed Forces (French: Forces armées de Madagascar, Malagasy: Tafika Malagasy) is the national military of Madagascar. The IISS detailed the armed forces in 2012 as including an Army of 12,500+, a Navy of 500, and a 500-strong Air Force.[4]

The armed forces were involved in the 2009 Malagasy political crisis. During World War II, Malagasy troops fought in France, Morocco, and Syria.


Malagasy soldiers in 1895, at the time of the Second Madagascar expedition.
A flintlock gun seized in Madagascar by France in 1898, now displayed at the Muséum d'Histoire naturelle de La Rochelle.

The rise of centralized kingdoms among the Sakalava, Merina and other ethnic groups produced the island's first standing armies, first equipped with spears, but later with muskets, cannons and other firearms. King Ralambo (1575–1612) raised the first standing army in the highland Kingdom of Imerina with a handful of guns, although for at least two centuries the armies of the Sakalava were much larger and better equipped, possessing thousands of muskets obtained principally through trade with European partners.[5] By the early 19th century, however, the army of the Kingdom of Imerina was able to bring much of the island under Merina control.

Merina Queen Ranavalona, like her predecessors, utilized the tradition of fanampoana (service due to the sovereign in lieu of taxes) to conscript a large portion of the population of Imerina into military service, enabling the queen to raise a standing army that was estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers.[6] By the late 19th century French plans to colonize Madagascar were gaining momentum, leading British mercenaries to provide training to the queen's army in an unsuccessful bid to repel the French troops. Madagascar was colonized in 1896, and during World War II over 46,000 Malagasy soldiers were drafted to fight with the Allies, over 2,000 of whom died fighting for France.[7]

MiG-21 of the Malagasy Air Force.

Madagascar gained political independence and sovereignty over its military in 1960. Since this time Madagascar has never engaged in an armed conflict, whether against another state or within its own borders. As such the armed forces of Madagascar have primarily served a peacekeeping role. However, the military has occasionally intervened to restore order during periods of political unrest. When President Philibert Tsiranana was forced to step down in 1972, a military directorate ensured an interim government before appointing one of its own, Admiral Didier Ratsiraka, to lead the country into its socialist Second Republic. He launched a strategy of obligatory national armed or civil service for all young citizens regardless of gender. The majority were channeled into civil service, including agriculture and education programs for rural development based on the socialist Soviet model.[8] Ratsiraka would also mobilize elements of the military to pacify unarmed protesters, occasionally using violent means. His order to fire upon unarmed protesters in 1989 was the catalyst for transition to the democratic Third Republic in 1992. The military remained largely neutral during the protracted standoff between incumbent Ratsiraka and challenger Marc Ravalomanana in the disputed 2001 presidential elections. By contrast, in 2009 a segment of the army defected to the side of Andry Rajoelina, then-mayor of Antananarivo, in support of his attempt to force President Ravalomanana from power. It is widely believed that payoffs were involved in persuading these military personnel to change camps in support of the coup d'état.[7]

As of 2010, the military of Madagascar is composed of the 8,100 paramilitary of the National Gendarmerie and the 13,500 members of the Armed Forces. According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies' Military Balance 2010, the latter includes an Army of 12,500, a Navy of 500 and a 500-strong Air Force,[9] while the CIA Factbook describes the Armed Forces as consisting of the Intervention Force, Aeronaval Force (navy and air) and the Development Force. Military service is voluntary and limited to males aged 18 to 25; every citizen of either gender is required to have perform either military or civil service for a minimum of 18 months. However, because of a lack of up-to-date census data, this requirement is not currently enforced. The Gendarmerie recruits Malagasy citizens between the ages of 20 and 30 (or 35 if the recruit has prior military service). Military expenses constituted just over one percent of GDP.[10] Under Ravalomanana, military expenditure doubled from 54 million USD in 2006 to 103 million USD in 2008.[11]


Small arms[edit]

Name Image Caliber Type Origin Notes
TT-33[12] 7.62×25mm Semi-automatic pistol  Soviet Union
Makarov PM[12] 9×18mm Semi-automatic pistol  Soviet Union
MAC 50[12] 9×19mm Semi-automatic pistol  France
Walther PP[12] .25 ACP Semi-automatic pistol  Germany
M1911[12] .45 ACP Semi-automatic pistol  United States
Submachine guns
Uzi 9×19mm Submachine gun  Israel
MAT-49[12] 9×19mm Submachine gun  France
SKS[12] 7.62×39mm Semi-automatic rifle  Soviet Union
AKM[12] 7.62×39mm Assault rifle  Soviet Union
AK-74[12] 5.45×39mm Assault rifle  Soviet Union
MPi-KM[12] 7.62×39mm Assault rifle  East Germany
Type 63[12] 7.62×39mm Assault rifle  China
Type 56[12] 7.62×39mm Assault rifle  China
MAS-36[13] 7.5×54mm Bolt-action rifle  France
MAS-49[14] 7.5×54mm Semi-automatic rifle  France
Machine guns
KPV 14.5×114mm Heavy machine gun  Soviet Union
DShK[12] 12.7×108mm Heavy machine gun  Soviet Union
AA-52[12] 7.5×54mm General-purpose machine gun  France
Browning M1919 7.62×51mm Medium machine gun  United States
Browning M2[12] .50 BMG Heavy machine gun  United States
Rocket propelled grenade launchers
RPG-2 40mm Rocket-propelled grenade  Soviet Union
RPG-7[12] 40mm Rocket-propelled grenade  Soviet Union
LRAC F1[15] 89mm Shoulder-launched missile weapon  France

Anti-tank weapons[edit]

Name Image Type Origin Caliber Notes
M40A1[16] Recoilless rifle  United States 106mm

Anti-aircraft weapons[edit]

Name Image Type Origin Quantity Status Notes
ZPU[16] Anti-aircraft gun  Soviet Union 50 INS
Type 55[16] Anti-aircraft gun  Soviet Union
20 INS


Name Image Type Origin Quantity Status Notes
M-37[16] Mortar  Soviet Union Unknown INS
PM-43[16] Mortar  Soviet Union 8 INS
Towed artillery
M101[16] Howitzer  United States 5 INS
D-30[16] Howitzer  Soviet Union 12 INS


Name Image Type Origin Quantity Status Notes
PT-76[16] Amphibious Light tank  Soviet Union 12 INS

Armored vehicles[edit]

Name Image Type Origin Quantity Status Notes
BRDM-2[16] Amphibious armored scout car  Soviet Union 35 INS
Ferret Mk.1/1[16] Armored car Scout car  United Kingdom 10 INS
UR-416[16] Armoured personnel carrier  West Germany 5 INS
M8 Greyhound[16] Armored car  United States 8 INS


Bridge of the offshore patrol vessel RC Trozona
Madagascar boarding party trains by boarding Le Floreal, a French naval vessel, during Operation Cutlass Express 2016


The AAM's roundel is based on the Flag of Madagascar.

Madagascar has a small air force (Armée de l'Air Malgache). A number of MiG-21s, MI-8, C-47 Dakota and An-26 were scrapped around 2012.[18]

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Cessna 172 Skyhawk United States Primary trainer 172M 4[4]
Cessna 337 Skymaster United States Utility aircraft 2[4]
Aero Synergie J300 Joker FRA Trainer 2[4]
Humbert Tétras FRA 1[4]
Piper Aztec United States Communications PA-23-250 Aztec D 1[4]
Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil France Multi-purpose helicopter AS350B2 5 [19]
MBB/Kawasaki BK 117 Germany/Japan Multi-purpose helicopter 1 [19]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Indian envoy meets Madagascar defence minister, discusses issues of mutual interest". ANI News. 2021-08-03. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
  3. ^ "DEFENSE NATIONALE – le général Lala Monja Delphin Sahivelo remplace le général Jean Claude Rabenaivoarivelo à la tête de". 17 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j IISS (2012), p. 442
  5. ^ Barendse, R. J. (2002). The Arabian seas: the Indian Ocean world of the seventeenth century. Berlin: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 259–274. ISBN 978-0-7656-0729-4. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  6. ^ Freeman, Joseph John; Johns, David (1840). A narrative of the persecution of the Christians in Madagascar: with details of the escape of six Christian refugees now in England. Berlin: J. Snow. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Bradt (2010), pp. 7-10
  8. ^ Strakes, Jason (2006), "Armed Forces of the People", in Leonard, Thomas M. (ed.), Encyclopedia of the developing world, vol. 1, New York: Taylor & Francis, p. 86, ISBN 978-1-57958-388-0, retrieved April 1, 2011
  9. ^ IISS Military Balance 2010, p.314-315
  10. ^ Central Intelligence Agency (April 1, 2011). "The World Factbook: Madagascar". Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  11. ^ IISS Military Balance 2010, p.467
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Jane's World Armies online edition (19 May 2011)
  13. ^ "Post-WWII use of the MAS-36 rifle: Part II (export users)". 2015-08-23. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  14. ^ Scarlata, Paul (December 2012). "Military rifle cartridges of Madagascar isolated but well armed!". Shotgun News.
  15. ^ Strakes, Jason (2006), "Armed Forces of the People", in Leonard, Thomas M. (ed.), Encyclopedia of the developing world, vol. 1, New York: Taylor & Francis, p. 86, ISBN 978-1-57958-388-0, retrieved April 1, 2011
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l International Institute for Strategic Studies (2021). The Military Balance. p. 473. ISBN 9781032012278.
  17. ^ L'Express: 2 Patrouilleurs nouvaux
  18. ^ Defenseweb: Madagascar receives new aircraft
  19. ^ a b Martin, Guy (September 2019). "Madagascar's military receives more aircraft". Air International. Vol. 97, no. 3. p. 9. ISSN 0306-5634.


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from The World Factbook (2023 ed.). CIA. (Archived 2006 edition)

External links[edit]