Egyptian Field Marshal Mohammed Ali Fahmy, 77, who commanded his country's air defenses during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and went on to become army chief of staff and personal military adviser to President Hosni Mubarak, died of kidney failure Sept. 12 at a hospital in London.
Field Marshal Fahmy told a reporter for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine that he had been "in the air defense business since the second World War." In that conflict, he served with British antiaircraft units in the Western Desert and personally shot down a German Ju-88.
He had commanded antiaircraft regiments before the disastrous 1967 Arab-Israeli War, in which Israeli jets seemed to roam the battlefields, and later the skies of Egypt, at will.
Field Marshal Fahmy was named Air Defense chief of staff in 1968, and commander in chief of Air Defense Forces in 1969, a post he held until 1975.
In 1973, the Israeli air force lost its reputation of invincibility. Field Marshal Fahmy gained fame for the "impenetrable wall" of missiles, artillery, radar and interceptors he threw against the Israelis.
He and his soldiers seemed ahead of the Israelis in the chesslike use of airborne electronic countermeasures. Field Marshal Fahmy pioneered systems that resulted in the rapid repair of damaged Egyptian weaponry, furnished his ground-pounding infantry with new antiaircraft missiles and became an Egyptian pioneer in the use of attack helicopters.
After the war, he continued to work on systems that would increase the mobility of air defense systems and came to feel that tanks were losing their supremacy on the Middle East battlefield to skilled infantry and sophisticated artillery.
From 1975 to 1978, he served as Armed Forces commander-in-chief. He also served as a personal adviser to his friend, Mubarek. He also had been a close adviser to presidents Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Anwar Sadat.
In the 1980s, Field Marshal Fahmy participated in business ventures. He also was the author of books on military history, strategy and tactics. He lived in Cairo.
Field Marshal Fahmy, who was born in Cairo, was an engineering graduate of Cairo University. He also was a graduate of the Egyptian Military Academy and the Staff College, as well as the Air Defense Academy in Kalinin in what was then the Soviet Union.
In addition to commanding antiaircraft units, he had taught at the Senior Officers' Studies Institute and served with the army's Operations Department.
Survivors include his wife, the former Nadia Abaza, whom he married in 1959 and who lives in Cairo; and three children.