Abkhazian Air Force
|Abkhazian Air Force|
|Size||250 personnel (2001)
15+ aircraft (2011)
|Anniversaries||Aviation Day, 27 August|
|Engagements||Abkhaz-Georgian War, 2008 South Ossetia war|
The Abkhazian Air Force is a small air force operating from Abkhazia. Few details are available on its formation, but it is reported to have been established by Viyacheslav Eshba based upon several Yak-52 trainer aircraft armed with machine guns. Its first combat mission was conducted on 27 August 1992, which has come to be celebrated in Abkhazia as "Aviation Day." The Abkhaz Air Force claims to have made 400 operational flights during the 1992-1993 Abkhaz-Georgian war. Abkhaz combat losses during the civil war are uncertain, but include a Yak-52 on a reconnaissance mission near Sukhumi on 4 July 1993.
Besides the Yak-52, aircraft operated by the Abkhaz Air Force during the war reportedly included at least a pair each of Sukhoi Su-25 and Su-27 fighters and five L-39 Albatros jet trainers, as well as a few Mil Mi-8 helicopters and several other unidentified light aircraft. However, the Russians flew numerous sorties in support of the Abkhazians and it is unclear which of these aircraft were truly Abkhazian-operated. (There are also claims that Russian aircrew were instructed to cover up the national insignia on their aircraft and then flew raids against Georgian positions.) The sophisticated Su-27s in particular appear to have been operated only by the Russians, not the Abkhazians. The Russians flew Su-27s from Gudauta Airbase, and during the attack on Sukhumi, one of them was shot down by an S-75 Dvina (NATO reporting name: SA-2 "Guideline") surface-to-air missile on 19 March 1993 (although it remains unknown who fired the missile). It is unclear whether Su-25s said to have been in Abkhazian service during the civil war were actually theirs or Russian Air Force aircraft, although at least two seem to have been obtained prior to the withdrawal of Russian combat aircraft from Gudauta AB in 2001.
In the autumn of 2001, Abkhazia's air force was reported to comprise 250 personnel, 1 Su-25, 2 L-39, 1 Yak-52, and 2 Mi-8. The display of three L-39s at a parade in 2004 suggests a possible recent acquisition. In February 2007 a Russian website reported that Abkhazia has 2 Su-27 fighters, 1 Yak-52, 2 Su-25 attack aircraft, 2 L-39 combat trainers, 1 An-2 light transport, 7 Mi-8 helicopters and 3 Mi-24 helicopters. However, an undated 2007 Abkhaz source gave the inventory for the Abkhazian Air Force as 1 MiG-21, 1 Su-25, 2 L-39, 1 Yak-52, and 2 Mi-8. In March 2008, a military aviation enthusiast website repeated this inventory but added 9 Mi-24/35 attack helicopters, but a photo from December 2009 of an Abkhazian Airbase confirms 2 Mi-24/35 attack helicopters, 1 Mi-8 helicopter (Also Present A Mi-8 with UN Markings and an other with no markings), 4 L-39 Combat Trainers, and 2 An-2 light transports along with the single Yak-52 (With a Russian Civil Aircraft Tail Number) there are also photos showing a second Mi-17.
An accounting of exact types, quantities, and service dates for aircraft serving in the Abkhazian Air Force is difficult to accurately provide due to a number of factors including Abkhazia's disputed status, a lack of official available information, multiple conflicts over the course of its existence, and the regular involvement of Russian aircraft and pilots in the conflicts and region. In general, the air force has relied on aircraft inherited from the former Soviet forces based in Abkhazia with possible reinforcement in recent years by Russia with second-hand aircraft. No traditional contracts for aircraft purchases by Abkhazia have been reported.
|Sukhoi Su-27||USSR / Russia||jet||fighter||6||Two reported but most likely operated by Russia|
|Sukhoi Su-25||USSR / Russia||jet||attack||3||Reported in service from 1992|
|Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21||USSR||jet||fighter||1||Reported in service from 2001 to 2007|
|Aero L-39||Czechoslovakia||jet||trainer/attack||5||Reported in service from 1992|
|Yakovlev Yak-52||USSR||propeller||trainer||1||Initial equipment in 1991/2. Single example reported since 2001|
|Antonov An-12||USSR||propeller||transport||2||Reported since 2007|
|Mil Mi-24/35||USSR / Russia||helicopter||attack||3||Reported in service from 2007|
|Mil Mi-8||USSR / Russia||Helicopter||transport||3||Reported in service since 1992. Up to 7 reported in 2007|
- Slavic & East European Collections at UC Berkeley (June 1998). . Army & Society in Georgia: Military Chronicle – Miscellany. Drawn from an entry published in 7 Dge, No. 72, June 22–23, p.3 (reprinted from "Abkhazia" No. 5, a periodical issued in Russia). Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- Cooper, Tom. (September 29, 2003). Georgia and Abkhazia, 1992-1993: the War of Datchas. Air Combat Information Group (ACIG). Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- "World Air Forces". Abkhazian Air Force. Archived from the original on 15 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
- Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology, and Policy (24 October 2001). . The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review – Caucasus: Georgia, Vol. VI, No. 17. Drawn from an entry published in "Moskovskiye Novosti" 22 October 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- Slavic & East European Collections at UC Berkeley (September–October 2001). . Army & Society in Georgia: Military Chronicle – Armed forces of Abkhazia. Drawn from an entry published in "Kviris Palitra" No. 44, October 29-November 4, 2001, p.9. Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- Почему Грузия проиграет будущую войну (in Russian). Sedognia.ru. 2007-02-27. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
- Abkhaz.org. (Undated; 2007 copyright). Abkhazian Army Archived December 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- MilAvia Press. Order of Battle - Abkhazia (as updated March 2008). Retrieved 12 April 2008.