Ukrainian Air Force
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (December 2012)|
|Ukrainian Air Force
Повітряні Сили України
Povitriani Syly Ukrayiny
Emblem of Ukrainian Air Force
|Battle honours||Ukrainian–Soviet War
War in Donbass
|Commander||Sergii Ivanovich Onishchenko|
|Air Force flag|
|Transport||Il-76, An-24, An-26, An-30, Mi-8|
The Ukrainian Air Force (Ukrainian: Повітряні Сили України, Povitryani Syly Ukrayiny) is a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Ukrainian Air Force headquarters is located in the city of Vinnytsia. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, a large number of aircraft were left on Ukrainian territory. Ever since, the Ukrainian air force has been downsizing and upgrading its forces. In spite of these efforts, the main inventory of the air force consists of Soviet-made aircraft. Currently 36,300 personnel and 187 aircraft are in service in the Ukrainian air force and air defense forces  but approximately only eighty aircraft are airworthy. All ICBMs and strategic bombers have been taken out of service (some however were given to Russia).
The tasks of the Air Force of Ukraine are: winning operational air superiority, delivering air strikes against enemy units and facilities, covering troops against enemy air strikes, providing air support to the Land Force and the Navy, disrupting enemy military and state management, damaging and destroying enemy communication, and providing support by air in the form of reconnaissance, air drops, troops and cargo transportation.
The major mission of the Air Force is to protect the air space of Ukraine. In peace-time, this is carried out by flying air-space control missions over the entire territory of Ukraine (603,700 square km), and by preventing air space intrusion along the aerial borders (totaling almost 7,000 km, including 5,600 km of land and 1,400 km of sea). Every single day, more than 2,200 service personnel and civilian employees of the Air Force, employing 400 items of weapons and equipment, are summoned to perform defense duties. On average, the Ukrainian radar forces detect and track more than 1,000 targets daily. As a result, in 2006 two illegal crossings of the state border were prevented and 28 violations of Ukrainian air space were prevented. Due to such increased strengthening of air space control, the number of air space violations decreased by 35% compared to the previous year, even though the amount of air traffic increased by 30%.
Collapse of the USSR
The Ukrainian Air Force was established on March 17, 1992, in accordance with a Directive of the General Staff Chief of the Armed Forces. The headquarters of the 24th Air Army of the Soviet Air Force in Vinnytsia served as the basis to create Air Force headquarters. Also present on Ukrainian soil were units of the former Soviet 5th, 14th, and 17th Air Armies, plus five regiments (185th, 251st, 260th, 341st Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiments and 199th Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment) of the 46th Air Army, Long Range Aviation. In addition, the 161st Maritime Fighter Aviation Regiment, at Limanskoye in Odessa Oblast, came under Ukrainian control. It had formerly been part of the 119th Maritime Fighter Aviation Division of the Black Sea Fleet.
The new Air Force inherited the 184th Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment (Полтавсько-Берлінський_полк_дальньої_авіації) (201st Heavy Bomber Aviation Division) of Tupolev Tu-160 'Blackjack' which were based at Pryluky. Discussions with Russia concerning their return bogged down. The main bone of contention was the price. While Russian experts, who examined the aircraft at Pryluky in 1993 and 1996, assessed their technical condition as good, the price of $3 billion demanded by Ukraine was unacceptable. The negotiations led to nowhere and in April 1998, Ukraine decided to commence scrapping the aircraft under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement. In November, the first Tu-160 was ostentatiously chopped up at Pryluky. In April 1999, immediately after NATO began air attacks against Serbia, Russia resumed talks with Ukraine about the strategic bombers. This time they proposed buying back eight Tu-160s and three Tu-95MS models manufactured in 1991 (those in the best technical condition), as well as 575 Kh-55MS missiles. An agreement was finally reached and a contract valued at $285 million was signed. That figure was to be deducted from Ukraine's debt for natural gas. A group of Russian military experts went to Ukraine on 20 October 1999 to prepare the aircraft for the trip to Engels-2 air base. Between November 1999 and February 2001 the aircraft were transferred to Engels. One Tu-160 remains on display in Poltava.
Ukraine also had Tupolev Tu-22s, Tupolev Tu-22Ms and Tupolev Tu-95s for a period after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 106th Heavy Bomber Aviation Division, part of the 37th Air Army operated some of them. However, these have all been scrapped, apart from a handful displayed in museums. TU-16 and TU-22M bombers were among the aircraft destroyed under the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. It is reported that Tu-16s based with the 251st Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment at Belaya Tserkov were dismantled in 1993. By 1995, the IISS Military Balance 1995/96 listed no Tu-22 Blinders in service, though a listing for one division HQ and two regiments of Tu-22M Backfires remained in the Military Balance from 1995/96 to 2000/01.
From January 24, 1992, after the collapse of the USSR, 28th Air Defense Corps, previously subordinate to 2nd Air Defence Army was transferred under the 8th Air Defence Army of Ukraine. Units stationed in Moldova were transferred to the Moldovan Armed Forces (275th Guards Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade, battalions and companies from the 14th Radio-Technical Brigade). There were about 67,000 air defense troops in 1992. The headquarters of the Ukrainian Air Defence Force was formed on the basis of HQ 8th Air Defence Army. There were also three air defence corps: the 28th (Lvov), 49th (Odessa), and 60th (Dnepropetrovsk). Holm reports that all three air defence corps were taken over by Ukraine on 1 February 1992, and that the 28th ADC became the Western AD Region on 1 June 1992. The first issue of the Military Balance after the Soviet collapse, 1992–93, listed one Air Defence army, 270 combat aircraft, and seven regiments of Su-15s (80), MiG-23s (110) and MiG-25s (80). By March 1994 Air Forces Monthly reported three air defence regions: the Southern with the 62nd and 737th Fighter Aviation Regiments, the Western with the 92nd (transferred from 14th Air Army and based at Mukachevo), 179th, and 894th Fighter Aviation Regiments (from 28th AD Corps/2nd Air Defence Army), and the Central with the 146th (Vasilkov), 636th (Kramatorsk, seemingly disbanded 1996 and its Su-15s broken up for scrap), and 933rd Fighter Aviation Regiments. The Military Balance 95/96 said that six fighter regiments had been disbanded. (p. 71)
On 18 March 1994 the 5th Air Army was redesignated the 5th Air Corps. By 1996 there were two air corps: the 14th in the Carpathian MD and the 5th in the Odessa MD, which by that time incorporated the former Kiev MD area. The long range bomber division at Poltava was still operational, reporting directly to Air Force headquarters.
Chronic underinvestment period
The structural reorganization of the Air Force had set as goals for itself the sufficiently reducing the total number of command and control levels, and increasing the efficiency of command and control processes. The reorganization of command and control elements of the air force is still underway. The first step of this organization was to transition from the existing air commands to the Command and Control and warning center systems. This will not only help eliminate duplications at the command and control levels, but will also contribute to an increased centralization of the command and control system, the multi-functionality of the command and control elements, and effectiveness of response to the change of air conditions. 2006 saw the definition of the functions and tasks, organization and work of the C2 and Warning Center as well as the mechanism of interaction with the establishment of the Air Operations Center and Joint Operational Command. During the command and staff exercise one of the Air Force Commands has in effect performed control of "C2 and Warning Center – formation (unit)" level.
The An-24 and An-26 aircraft, as well as the anti-aircraft artillery systems S-300 and "Buk M1", have been continually modernized, and their service life has been extended. An organizational basis and technological means for modernizing MiG-29, Su-24, Su-25, Su-27, L-39 has been produced. Given sufficient funding from the Verkhovna Rada, the Defense Industrial Complex of Ukraine, in cooperation with foreign companies and manufacturers, is capable of fully renewing the aircraft arsenal of the Ukrainian armed forces.
In 2005, the UAF was planning to restructure in an effort to improve efficiency. Moreover, Ukraine was planning to put more advanced jet aircraft into service in upcoming years. Possibly buying newer SU-27s and MiG-29s from Russia. The plans were that from approximately 2012, Ukraine would have to either take bold steps to create a new combat aircraft or purchase a large number of existing combat aircraft. Due to the lack of funding however, technical modernization was continually postponed. The Ukrainian air-force continued to use armament and military equipment which functioned mainly thanks to so-called ‘cannibalization’ (obtaining spare parts from other units), thus gradually depleting their total capabilities. Faced with the threat of losing military capability, initiating the process of technical modernization became a necessity.
In 2006, a large number of aging weapons and equipment were decommissioned from combat service by the Air Force. This presented an opportunity to use the released funds to the modernization of various items of aviation and anti-aircraft artillery weapons and equipment, radio communication equipment, and flight maintenance equipment, as well as an improvement of Air Force personnel training.
In 2011 International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that Ukraine's Air Force includes one Sukhoi Su-24M regiment, 5 regiments with Mikoyan MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-27, one regiment with Sukhoi Su-25, two squadrons with Sukhoi Su-24MR, three transport regiments, some support helicopter squadrons, one helicopter training regiment, and some air training squadrons with L-39 Albatros. They are grouped into the 5th and 14th Aviation Corps, the 35th Aviation Group, which is a multi-role rapid reaction formation, and a training aviation command. The IISS assesses the overall force size as 817 aircraft of all types and 43,100 personnel. Russian sources disagree and list three aviation groups (West, South, and Center).
The automated systems of collection, processing and transmission of radio information have been adopted as a component part of the Automated Command and Control System for aviation and air defense. Operational service testing of the circular surveillance radar station has also been completed. Prototypes of high-precision weapons systems, electronic warfare devices, and navigation equipment have been created and developed for state testing. 
Role in the 2014 Crimean crisis and the War in Donbass
Following the March 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and the following violence and insurgency in east Ukraine, Ukraine tried to increase its defence spending - with returning equipment to service being a key part of the spending drive.
During the 2014 Crimean crisis the air force did not fight but lost several aircraft to Russia; most were returned to Ukraine. The air force is currently taking part in the conflict against the 2014 insurgency in Donbass. During this conflict it has lost several planes and helicopters.
In 2014, the air force announced that it will be bringing back 68 aircraft that have been in reserve since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including the Tupolev Tu-141 reconnaissance drone.
Since 12 July 2014 the Ukrainian Air Force has been put on full combat alert. Around this date the Air Forces started restoring its former military airfields in Voznesensk, Buyalyk and Chervonohlynske (both in Odessa Oblast). Wall Street Journal published USA embassy in Kiev report that Ukraine lost 19 planes and helicopters in the period 22 April - 22 July 2014.
Training activities have taken on a qualitatively new character due to their complexity, including the simultaneous employment of all branches of the Air Force aviation, anti-aircraft artillery and radar troops in close teamwork with units of other armed services of the Armed Forces. Operational and combat training has included the following activities:
- aviation units have performed more than 6,000 tasks in combat scenarios (including more than 1,500 air battles and interceptions, 629 firing at land-based targets, 530 bombings, 21 launches of air missiles, 454 tasks in aerial surveillance, 454 airborne landings, 740 airlifts, 575 flight shifts for a total of 10,553 flying hours);
- five tactical flying missions in a squadron, 14 in a pair and 5 in a flight organization have been carried out to perform the assigned combat tasks, and 54 pilots have been trained to perform specific tasks in difficult meteorological conditions;
- the number of flight crews being trained to defend the air space of the country and counter-terrorism air operations has almost doubled from 46 in 2005 to 90 in 2006; the units of anti-aircraft artillery and radar troops carried out 50 maneuvers involving redeployment, with each operator tracking 70 and 140 real and simulated targets, respectively.
In early September 2007, the Ukrainian Air Force conducted the most large-scale training of its aircraft to date. As the Defense Minister of Ukraine, Anatoliy Hrytsenko stated, "The most large-scale, during the whole 16 years of the Ukrainian independence, training of fighting aircraft, which defends our air space, was carried out during September 4–5". According to him, they fulfilled 45 battle launches of “air-air” missiles, out of them 22 during the day and 23- at night. 35 pilots confirmed their high skills during the training. Hrytsenko stressed that 100% of air targets were hit. 
The combined training of the Air Force of Ukraine and the Russian Air Force in the practical control of their air defense Stand-by Forces has become more systematic. Moreover, interoperability has been achieved between the forces of Ukraine and the command and control elements of the Air defense of the Russian Federation during the detecting, tracking, and neutralizing of air targets during simulated terrorist attacks.
Air Defense Forces
The Air Defense Force is a relatively new service within the Armed Forces, established in 2004–2005, through the merging of the Air Force and the Air Defense Force. It allowed the Armed Forces of Ukraine to adopt the tri-service structure, common to most modern armies.
The Air Defense of Ukraine performs key tasks in the protection of Ukraine's sovereignty and the inviolability of its borders and air space. It has clearly defined functions in both peacetime and wartime, is intended to prevent any enemy air and missile strikes, to defend the most important administrative, political and industrial centers, to aid in the concentration of Army and Navy units, to intercept enemy aircraft and other military objects, and to protect against enemy air and cruise missile strikes.
During the 2014 Crimean crisis the Ukrainian Air Force equipment in Crimea was seized by Russia during its annexation of Crimea. On 8 April 2014 an agreement had been reached between Russia and Ukraine "for the withdrawal of an undisclosed number of Ukrainian aircraft seized in Crimea". It should be noted that the numbers below may not reflect actual inventory, due to combat losses during the current conflict in eastern Ukraine. Wall Street Journal on July 22 has published USA embassy report from Kiev that rebels during the period 22 April - 22 July destroyed 19 Ukrainian aircraft and helicopters
|Aero L-39 Albatros||CSK||Training||L-39/L-39M1||34||3 L-39M1 Ukrainian upgrade (1 in 2011, 2 in June 2012). In 2012 12 additional aircraft were repaired.|
|Yakovlev Yak-52||USSR||Training||Yak-52M||20||80 delivered.|
|Sukhoi Su-27||USSR||Air Superiority Fighter||Su-27
|Mikoyan MiG-29||USSR||Multirole Aircraft||MiG-29
|70||80 in service in 2013, 45 MiG-29s aircraft were captured by the Russian Armed Forces on Belbek Air Base during the 2014 Crimean crisis, 3 MiG-29S and one MiG-29UB. 37 MiG-29s were handed back to Ukraine by late May 2014. Five MiG-29MU1 Ukrainian upgrade (1 in 2011). Additional two were renovated in 2012. Initially mothballed, the fleet of MiG-29s was in April 2014 restored to active service as a result of the unrest in Ukraine,|
|Sukhoi Su-24||USSR||Tactical Bomber||Su-24M||24||120 delivered.|
|Sukhoi Su-24||USSR||Reconnaissance||Su-24MR||11||23 delivered.|
|Sukhoi Su-25||USSR||Close air support||Su-25
|36||46 delivered. Four Su-25M1 and one Su-25UBM1 were upgraded in 2010-2011.|
|Antonov An-2|| USSR
|Antonov An-26||USSR||Transport||An-26||19||Several upgraded as An-26 "Vita" flying hospitals. One An-26 was destroyed near the village of Izvaryne on July 14, 2014.|
|Tupolev TU-134||USSR||VIP Transport||2|
|Mil Mi-8/17||USSR||Transport helicopter||Mi-17
|19||Around 100 delivered. By the beginning of the 2014 combat in southeastern Ukraine had 14-16 operational Mi-17.|
|Mi-8MSB1 Mi-8MSB-B|| USSR
|Transport helicopter||Mi-8MT||Ordered||Modernized by the Ukrainian Air Force, was due to enter the serial modernization/production in late 2011.|
|Mil Mi-24||USSR||Attack/Transport helicopter||Mi-24P
|Light Transport helicopter||Mi-2||Ordered||Modernized by the Ukrainian Air Force, was due to enter the serial modernization/production in late 2011.|
|Tu-141||USSR||Reconnaissance drone/UAV||Tu-141||68||In 2014, the air force announced that it will be bringing back 68 aircraft that have been in reserve since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including the Tu-141 reconnaissance drone.|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21||Soviet Union||Fighter||MiG-21||Former|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23||Soviet Union||Fighter||MiG-23||Former|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25||Soviet Union||Interceptor||MiG-25||Former|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-27||Soviet Union||Attack||MiG-27||Former|
|Sukhoi Su-17||Soviet Union||Fighter-bomber||Su-17||Former|
|Sukhoi Su-15||Soviet Union||Interceptor||Su-15||Former|
|Yakovlev Yak-28||Soviet Union||Medium bomber||Yak-28||Former|
|Tupolev Tu-160||Soviet Union||Strategic bomber||Tu-160||Former|
|Tupolev Tu-95||Soviet Union||Strategic bomber||Tu-95||Former|
|Tupolev Tu-22M3||Soviet Union||Strategic bomber||Tu-22M3||Former|
|Tupolev Tu-22||Soviet Union||Medium bomber||Tu-22||Former|
|Tupolev Tu-16||Soviet Union||Bomber||Tu-16||Former|
|Tupolev Tu-154||Soviet Union||VIP transport||Tu-154||Former|
An incomplete structure of the Ukrainian air force.
- National Aerospace University "Kharkiv Aviation University" – 203rd training Aviation Brigade Chuhuiv, Kharkiv oblast. L-39, An-26.
- National Aviation University – Faculty of Military Preparation, Kyiv College of the Air Force, Vasylkiv, Kyiv oblast.
- Joint Training Center – a regiment of remote-controlled aerial vehicles (UAV Reconnaissance)
- Air Command West
- 1st radio brigade. Lypnyky, Lviv oblast.
- 76th single regiment communication and management, Lviv
- 114th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Kolomyia, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. 32 MiG-29)
- 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Starokostiantyniv, Khmelnytskyi Oblast. 28 Su-24M, 12 Su-24MR).
- 456th Assault Regiment (456 ShAP) (Chortkiv, Ternopil oblast. Su-25) – airbase was closed
- 223rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Stryi, Lviv oblast. Buk-M1)
- 11th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Shepetivka, Khmelnytskyi oblast. Buk-M1)
- 540th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Kamianka-Buzka, Lviv oblast. S-200, S-300)
- "LDARZ" state aviation maintenance plant (Lviv)
- Air Command Centre
- 31st separate regiment command and communication
- ?? separate radio Brigade (Vasylkiv, Kyiv oblast.)
- 40th separate radio Brigade (Kharkiv)
- 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Vasylkiv, Kyiv oblast.) 16 MiG-29)
- 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade (Myrhorod, Poltava oblast. 42 Su-27)
- 9th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Ozerne, Zhytomyr oblast. MiG-29) – airbase was closed
- 25th Transport Aviation Brigade (Melitopol, Zaporizhia. Il-76/78)
- 15th Transport Aviation Brigade (Boryspil, Kyiv oblast. An-30, Tu-134, An-24/26, Mi-8)
- 456th Transport Aviation Brigade (Havryshivka, Vinnytsia oblast. An-26 and Mi-8)
- 96th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Danylivka, Kyiv oblast. S-200. S-300)
- 137th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Uman, Cherkasy oblast. S-300)
- 120th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Kharkiv. S-300)
- 302nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Kharkiv. S-300)
- 108th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Zolotonosha. Cherkasy oblast. Buk-M1)
- 138th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Dnipropetrovsk. S-300)
- 156th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Donetsk and Luhansk oblast. Buk-M1)
- 3rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Pervomaisk, Mykolaiv oblast. S-300)
- "ChARZ" Aviation Repair Plant (Chuhuiv, Kharkiv oblast)
- "Aviakon" Aviation Repair Plant (Konotop, Sumy oblast)
- Air Command South
- 43rd separate regiment communication and management (Odesa)
- 14th separate radio team (Odesa)
- 299th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Kulbakino, Mykolaiv oblast. 36 Su-25)
- 28th Separate Mixed Aviation Squadron (Kulbakino, Mykolaiv oblast. Su-24M, Su-25, L-39)
- 160th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Odesa. S-300, S-200)
- 208th Guards Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Kherson. S-300, S-200)
- 301st Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk oblast. S-300)
- "MARP" aircraft repair plant (Mykolaiv)
- Task Force of Crimea peninsula is under the control of the Russian Armed Forces. On April 8, 2014 an agreement had been reached between Russia and Ukraine "for the withdrawal of an undisclosed number of Ukrainian aircraft seized in Crimea".
- Separate radio team (Liubymivka near Sevastopol)
- 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Belbek, near Sevastopol). Former 62nd Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO. From March 1, 2014 Belbek Air Base and its 45 MiG-29s and 4 L-39s are under the control of the Russian Armed Forces.
- 174th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Derhachi near Sevastopol. S-300)
- 50th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Feodosiya. S-300, S-200)
- 55th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Yevpatoriya. Buk-M1)
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