Azerbaijani Air Forces

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Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force
Azərbaycan Hərbi Hava Qüvvələri
Azerbaijani Air Forces emblem.svg
Azerbaijani Air Forces emblem
Active 14 February 1919– present
Country  Azerbaijan
Size 7,900 personnel, 312+ aircraft
Headquarters Nasosnaya air base (in proximity of Sumqayit)
Engagements Nagorno-Karabakh War
Commanders
Current
commander
Major General Altay Mehdiyev[1]
Insignia
Roundel Azerbaijan Air Force roundel.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Su-24, Su-25, Mi-24, Mi-35M
Bomber Su-24
Fighter MiG-29
Interceptor MiG-25[2]
Reconnaissance Orbiter UAV, Aerostar, Elbit Hermes 450, IAI Searcher, IAI Heron
Trainer L-39
Transport Il-76, Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-171

The Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force often referred to as the Azerbaijani Air Force (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan hərbi hava qüvvələri) is the air force and air defence force of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.

The roots of the current organisation go back to June 26, 1918, when the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic bought its first military aircraft. After independence in 1991, the presence of former Soviet air bases in Azerbaijan helped the Air and Air Defence Force develop.[3]

Current organization[edit]

The MiG-29 has been designated as the standard aircraft for the AzAF.[4]

Brinkster.net reported in October 2004 that the Azeri Air and Air Defence Force comprised a fighter squadron at Nasosnaya Air Base with МiG-25PDs and training variants, a bomber aviation regiment at Kyurdamir with Su-17/24/25, MiG-21s, and L-29/39s, a transport aviation squadron at Ganja Airport with Il-76s(?), Аn-12/24, and Тu-134s, a helicopter squadron at Baku Kala Air Base with Мi-2/8/24s, two aircraft repair factories, and two air defence missile units. Other air bases include Dollyar Air Base (which Jane's Sentinel says is reported to be non-operational)[1] Nakhichevan Airport in the Nakhichevan exclave, Sanqacal Air Base, and Sitalcay Air Base.

Azeri pilots are trained at the Azerbaijan Air Force School and then develop their skills further within their units. Azerbaijan has an experience exchange with Turkey, the United States, Ukraine, and a number of other NATO countries. Turkish Air Force School plays a great role in the training of military pilots. The Azerbaijani pilots are also trained in Ukraine’s Pilot Training School.[5]

Recent events[edit]

On February 11, 2009, the commanding officer of the Air Force, General Lieutenant Rail Rzayev was assassinated outside his home.[6] Rzayev had been reportedly negotiating closer ties with the United States regarding air force modernisation before his death, possibly including the acquisition of US fighter aircraft.[7] The post was vacant until another officer, Mehtiev, was appointed in December 2009.[8]

On March 3, 2010, an Azerbaijani Air Force Su-25 crashed in the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan[9] killing the pilot, Famil Mammadli. An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the crash.

On February 3, 2011, an Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force Su-25UB crashed in the Kurdamir region of Azerbaijan. Both crew members were not injured.[citation needed]

Modernization[edit]

Jane's said in 2009 that 'efforts to acquire more modern hardware are understood to have been underway for several years, but funding constraints proved to be a stumbling block. Until quite recently, only limited success was achieved, with the most significant addition to the inventory being a handful of Su-25s that were obtained from Georgia in 2002. In 2007, however, Azerbaijan took delivery of the first of a substantial number of MiG-29 'Fulcrum' fighters. These are understood to have originated from disparate sources, including Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, with at least some having been overhauled at Odessa in Ukraine prior to delivery.[10]

The United States is the most active participant in the modernisation of Air Force airfields.[5] Airfields in Gala and the Nasosnaya Air Base near Haji Zeynalabidin settlement have been modernised with US support as part of the Azerbaijan-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan. Special equipment were installed there to provide flight security. The starting command points, engineering control systems and engineering air force service were provided with new buildings. Negotiations over the modernisation of Kurdamir airfield are currently under way. An advanced Flight Control System has been installed at Dollyar Air Base with support from the United States.

Since September 2008, Turkey has helped to modernise the Air Force central command headquarters. According to a Turkish-Azeri agreement, a NATO standard central command management center will be installed there. A great number of projects such as joint manufacture of unmanned aircraft will be implemented with Turkey in the near future.[11][12]

Air Defence Force[edit]

Azeri air bases (not all shown).

The Air Defence Force is a component of the Air and Air Defence Force of Azerbaijan.[1] There are some installations of the Cold War era left by the Soviets in 1990.

The Gabala OTH Radar in Azerbaijan is operated by the Russian Space Forces. The radar station has a range of up to 6,000 kilometres (3,728 mi), and was designed to detect missile launches as far as from the Indian Ocean. It is not known whether Russia shares any of the radar's data with Azerbaijan.

In 2006, the US provided Azerbaijani military with additional radar installations. Plans were announced for the US to modernize one radar station near the Iranian border at Lerik and another near the border with Georgia at Agstafa. Joint work also commenced on two radar stations on the Russia-Azerbaijani border and Iran-Azerbaijani border to monitor Caspian Sea traffic.[13]

Azerbaijan has also a number of missile systems covering Azeri airspace. The NATO designated SA-2 Guideline (original name S-75 Dvina) has been installed around Baku and additional installations are near the border with Iran and Dagestan. Some are installed to defend against Armenian aircraft. In terms of numbers, the IISS reported in 2002 that Azerbaijan had 100 S-75 Dvina, S-125 Neva/Pechora, and S-200 systems.[14] Among them are the medium range SA-4, for short range the SA-8 and the SA-13 mobile SAM and the ZSU23 Shilka vehicles to cover the armored forces against airstrikes. Azerbaijan has also lighter AA guns and shoulder launched SAMs varying quality.

In 2009 Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry signed a contract with Russia's Rosoboronexport company to buy two battalions of S-300 PMU-2 “Favorit”.[15][16]

In January 2012, Azerbaijan and Israel signed a $1.6 billion deal that includes anti-aircraft and missile defense systems.[17]

Vehicle Origin Versions Number Notes
Barak 8  Israel Barak-8 1 75 missiles
S-300 (missile)  Russia S-300PMU2 Favorit 2 systems[18] part of a $300 million deal[19]
S-200 Angara/Vega/Dubna  Soviet Union S-200 Angara
S-125 Neva/Pechora  Belarus Pechora-2TM 27 systems Upgraded by Belarus
Tor missile system  Russia Tor-2ME Several batteries[20]
Buk missile system  Russia/ Belarus Buk-MB 1[21]
9K33 Osa  Belarus Osa-1T 80 Upgraded by Belarus
9K35 Strela-10  Soviet Union 9K35 54
9K38 Igla  Russia SA-24 Igla-S 300 launchers with 1500 missiles[22][23]

Aircraft inventory[edit]

In September–October 2010, Azerbaijan purchased 24 Mi-35M from Rostvertol.[24][25][26] 8 of them have been delivered in the end of the first quarter of 2012 and four more in August 2012.[27]

With the arrival of the MiG-29s, the Air Force appears to have retired the MiG-25 aircraft that it used to fly from Nasosnaya Air Base.[28] IISS estimates in 2007 reported 26 as still in service; other figures previously placed the total as high as 38.[29][30]

The Air Force retains in store L-29 and L-39 fighter training aircraft produced in the Czech Republic and Ukraine.[5]

Azerbaijan also manufactures Israeli-designed spy planes. Among the licensed UAVs is the Orbiter-2M and the Aerostar. Both are manufactured at the government-owned Azad Systems Company plant near Baku.[31][32][33] The head of the Defense Industry, Yaver Jamalov, said that by the end of 2011 a total of 60 UAVs will be produced.[34][35]

Aircraft[edit]

Current inventory[edit]

Azerbaijani Air Force Su-25’s preform a fly-by on Army Day 2011
Air Force Mil Mi-24's fly over during an army parade
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-21  Russia fighter MiG-21bis 0[36]
MiG-25  Russia interceptor MiG-25PD/RB 10[37]
MiG-29  Russia multirole MiG-29S 16[36]
Su-25  Russia attack Su-25K 24[36]
Transport
Il-76  Russia transport II-76MD 3[36]
Helicopters
Ka-27  Russia utility Ka-32 4[36]
Mil Mi-17  Russia utility / transport 50[36] 15 on order[36]
Mil Mi-24  Russia attack Mi-35 50[36]
Trainer Aircraft
L-39  Czech Republic jet trainer L-39C 12[36]
Mil Mi-2  Russia trainer 7[36]
UAV
Hermes 450  Israel surveillance 10[38]
IAI Heron  Israel surveillance 5[38]
IAI Searcher  Israel surveillance 5[38]
Orbiter  Israel surveillance 14[39] produced in Azerbaijan
Aerostar  Israel surveillance produced in Azerbaijan[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Jane's Sentinel Security Assessments – Russia and the CIS: Air Force, dated 18 June 2009
  2. ^ "Azerbaijan to modernize MiG-25 foxbats included in Air Forces’s inventory". en.apa.az. Azeri-Press Agency (APA) LLC. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Military Balance 2013"., March 14, 2013.
  4. ^ "Azerbaijan shows 4th generation MiG-29 multirole fighter jets". Today.az. 2007-03-29. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  5. ^ a b c Azerbaijani Press Agency, Azerbaijan's military aviation opportunities, February 14, 2009
  6. ^ New York Times, Head of Azerbaijan's Air Force Shot Dead, February 11, 2009
  7. ^ Eurasia Critic, Only Bridge Between West and Caspian Falling Apart
  8. ^ "Azerbaijan: Commander of Air and Defense Force appointed – aysor.am – Hot news from Armenia". Aisor.am. 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  9. ^ "Military aircraft crashed in Azerbaijan". Today.az. 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  10. ^ Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, Russia and CIS, June 18, 2009, http://www.janes.com/extracts/extract/cissu/azers120.html
  11. ^ "Turkish company Global Teknik offers joint production of unmanned aircraft to Azerbaijan". Defpro.com. 2010-06-04. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  12. ^ "Turkey to propose joint production of drones with Azerbaijan". News.az. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  13. ^ Azerbaijan & U.S. joint installations and U.S. radars in Azerbaijan
  14. ^ IISS Military Balance 2002, via Brinkster.net
  15. ^ "Russian press: Azerbaijan signed a contract to buy S-300 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia – UPDATED". En.apa.az. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  16. ^ "Russian press: Azerbaijan signed a contract to buy S-300 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia". Milaz.info. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  17. ^ "Israel signs $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan". Haaretz.com. 26 February 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "-". Vedomosti.ru. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  22. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "APA - List of weapons and military vehicles sold by Russia to Azerbaijan last year publicized". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  24. ^ "Azerbaijan buys 24 Russian attack helicopters". News.Az. 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  25. ^ ""Роствертол" увеличил в прошлом году чистую прибыль в 3 раза". "1News". February 23, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Azerbaijan purchased from Russia 24 Mi-35M". "Arms-Tass". February 24, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  27. ^ "В Азербайджан доставлена очередная партия вертолетов Ми-35М". "1News". August 17, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  28. ^ Flight Global World Air Forces 2014 December 10, 2013
  29. ^ "Defence Statistics 2013" August 1, 2013
  30. ^ "Defence Statistics 2014" May 15, 2014
  31. ^ "Azerbaijan's Spying Carpets". Eurasianet.org. 2011-03-04. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  32. ^ "Azad Systems starts UAV production". "Flightglobal". April 8, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2011. 
  33. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "Aeronautics strengthening Israel-Azerbaijan links". Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  34. ^ "Azərbaycan ilin sonuna qədər 60 ədəd pilotsuz təyyarə istehsal edəcək". "ANS Press". May 11, 2011. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 
  35. ^ "До конца года Азербайджан произведет 60 беспилотников". Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 11". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  37. ^ World Air Forces 2014 "World Air Forces 2014". Flightglobal. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  38. ^ a b c "Trade Registers: “Israel to Azerbaijan”". sipri.org. 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.