Macedonian Air Force
|Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence
Воздухопловна Бригада на Република Македонија
Macedonian Air Force emblem
|Active||June 10, 1992 –|
|Part of||Army of the Republic of Macedonia|
|Garrison/HQ||Aleksandar Makedonski, Skopje|
|Engagements||2001 insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia|
|Air Force Commander||Colonel Kire Kolevski|
|Helicopter||Bell 206, Mi-17, UH-1
The development of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces started from scratch in 1992.
The UTVA-66 and UTVA-75 were the first types to be introduced into the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces. Upon its creation, the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces could count on one UTVA-66 and four UTVA-75 A21 two-seat trainers, all leased from the Makedonski Vozduhoploven Sojuz (Macedonian Aeronautical Union).
After the full-scale conflict began in 1991 in the newly independent republics of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution, requesting the immediate UN arms embargo to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Slovenia. This resolution was seen by Macedonia as unfair, because Macedonia was the only one of the former Yugoslav Republics that has gained its independence as a state by peaceful means. In 1994, the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces acquired four biplanes built in the 1920s from Ukraine. Because of the arms embargo they were delivered to the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces with civil registrations. In 1996, the Security Council excluded Macedonia from the UN arms embargo. Shortly after this all four Mi-17s of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces were painted in camouflage schemes and they received military serials.
Four Zlin 242L two-seat trainers were acquired from the Czech Republic in 1995. They are suitable for basic, aerobatic, navigation, instrument and night flying, for formation flying and combat maneuvers. One Zlin 242L was lost on April 7, 1999 when it crashed about 1 km west of Mantovo Accumulation Lake, near Radovish, the pilot escaping with minor injuries.
The last few years a number of rumours have surfaced about possible acquisitions by the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces. Unfortunately all of these rumours appeared either to be untrue or the acquisitions failed to materialise. The Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces will not take delivery of new build L-59, second-hand Turkish F-5, second-hand Bulgarian MiG-21bis and Mi-24D. The delivery of 16 ex-German Army Bo-105M helicopters will also not take place.
During the Kosovo crisis, the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces relocated all its aircraft to safe places, deep within Macedonian territory, from where it was actively involved in monitoring the troubled borders with Kosovo and Albania, as well as supplying a number of Kosovar Albanian refugee camps with food, water, and medical care.
After the withdrawal of Yugoslav Army from Kosovo and entering KFOR in Kosovo, UN decided to disarm Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Since spring 2000, Albanian fighter launched a large scale of frontal assaults on police stations, check-points and border-points in southern Serbia and Macedonia. All these events indicate that a large part of already disbanded KLA was still active in a form of two new liberation armies: The Liberation Army of Preshevo, Medvedja, Bujanovac in southern Serbia and National Liberation Army in Macedonia.
The crisis between Albanian Fighters and the Macedonian Government forces broke out in March 2001. During the fightings the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces has rapidly expanded itself receiving additional 20 aircraft. The first big-quantity delivery of new aircraft to the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces was made on March 23. That day, Ukraine donated to Macedonia four Mi-8MT combat helicopters, that served with Ukrainian contingent of KFOR on Kosovo, and as a part of old agreement delivered additional two Mi-24V Hind-E combat helicopters. Solidarity of Greece with the Macedonian Government was also shown that day with the delivery of two UH-1H Huey helicopters to the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces. On April 15 two more, and on June 15 four more and on September 4 two more Mi-24's followed from Ukraine. In June 2001 four Su-25 (three Su-25 and one Su-25UB) arrived, marking them the first combat fighters for the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces. In December 2001 Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces received two Mi-24K Hind-G2 (photo-reconnaissance and artillery spotting version of Mi-24) helicopters from Ukraine.
As a response on brutal assaults of Albanian Fighters on the town of Tetovo, in the dawn of March 25, Macedonian security forces launch a full scale offensive in order to neutralize and eliminate them. In this operation, Macedonian Security forces used Mi-17 transport helicopters and recently acquired Mi-8MT combat helicopters. This was the first time that Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces aircraft was involved in combat. On June 23, one Su-25 took off from Petrovec Air Force base and was involved in observing the scene over Arachinovo village where heavy fighting were underway. This was the first time in the history of Macedonia that a fixed wing Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces combat aircraft had operated from a Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces base.
According to the Macedonian Ministry of Interior affairs, Albanian Fighters in Macedonia poses big quantity of anti-aircraft weapon that includes a number of FIM-92 Stinger and Strela-2M (NATO: SA-7b Grail) man-portable low-altitude SAM systems, 100+ anti-aircraft cannons and 500+ anti-aircraft heavy guns. Despite this quantity of anti-aircraft weapon in the hands of the Albanian Fighters, no one aircraft of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces was lost as a result of anti-aircraft fire. The only lose of equipment that Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces has during the fightings was the crash of the Mi-17 helicopter on March 17, which occurred because the helicopters rotor blade struck a flag pool during takeoff at a hotel in the Popova Shapka ski resort.
During the fightings, as in any other war, a number of rumours have surfaced about possible acquisitions by the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces. This includes the reports that Macedonia is attempting to acquire six J-21 Jastreb ground attack aircraft from Yugoslavia and ten Pilatus Britten-Norman BN2T-4S Defender 4000 multi-sensor surveillance from unnamed country. In few occasions there were also reports that Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces for some time was operating two Kamov Ka-50 Hokum close-support helicopters that were acquired from Russia. The Macedonian Ministry of Defence demanded all this information. Another disinformation comes during June, when Macedonian media reported that the country is negotiating with Ukraine to buy six MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters. This was followed in early August by Greek medias reports that Turkey is offering Macedonia leasing of two squadron with 24 F-16C/D Fighting Falcon fighters. The last rumours come on August 2, when Sunday Times reported that Macedonia will purchase Su-25KM Scorpion, a new "retrofit" version of the Frogfoot, complete with Israeli avionics fitted in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
As a part of succession of property and equipment of the former Yugoslav Peoples Army, on October 18, Yugoslavia offers Macedonia a long list of weapons and equipment that this country is ready to deliver to the Macedonian Army. According to the initial reports of the Macedonian media, the country among others will receive four G-4 Super Galeb jets, one An-26 transport aircraft, one Yak-40 transport aircraft, cabinets for pilots education for the Macedonian Military Academy "General Mihailo Apostolski" and surface-to-air missile systems. Until today there was no update regarding the possibility for delivering Yugoslav weapons and equipment to Macedonia which put the realization of this project under big mark of question.
During December 2001, the new organizational structure of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces were put on strength. Until then,the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces Airborne Brigade (Avio Brigada) were organized in three squadrons: 101. Avijaciska Eskadrila (or 101. AE, 101 Aviation Squadron), 201. Protiv Oklopna Helikopterska Eskadrila (or 201. POHE, 201 Anti Armour Helicopter Squadron) and 301. Transportna Helikopterska Eskadrila (or 301. TRHE, 301 Transport Helicopter Squadron). With the latest changes in the organization of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces, Avio Brigada (Airborne Brigade) became Avio Bataljon (Airborne Battalion), and Eskadrila (Squadron) became Cheta (Company), and AE became 101. Avijaciska Cheta (or 101. ACh, 101 Aviation Company), 201. POHE became 201. Protiv Oklopna Helikopterska Cheta (or 201. POHCh, 201 Anti Armour Helicopter Company) and 301. TRHE became 301. Transportna Helikopterska Cheta (or 301. TRHCh, 301 Transport Helicopter Company). As part of this reorganization of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces, new companies were also established. Named as 401, Shkolsko Trenazna Cheta (or 401. ShTCh, 401 Training Company), this company now operates four Zlin 242Ls, a single Zlin 143L and two UH-1Hs. Before coming part of the 401. ShTCh, the four original Zlin 242L two-seat trainers were part of the 101. AE and UH-1H helicopters were part of the 301. TRHE. In 2003 a four-seat Zlin 143L and one more two-seat Zlin 242L were acquired from the Macedonian Authority for Civil Aeronautical Transport and Traffic. Training on the new Zlins will start early 2004 when the original three Zlin 242s will go to Moravan Aeroplanes in the Czech Republic for overhaul.
The Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces elite 501 parachute diversion detachment (501. Padobransko Diverzantski Odred) called "Falcons" (Sokoli) was officially promoted during the big military exercise that took place at Cojlija military range, near Petrovec Air Force base, on May 28, 2002. The exercise activities of this unit encompassed technical presentation of the equipment and the weaponry, search and rescue (SAR) operations, combat search and rescue (CSAR) of the pilot on hostile territory with the tactic operation called "small diamond." The "Falkons" also demonstrated leading Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces aircraft towards enemy positions (FOC - Forward Air Controllers), opening rifle fire from Mi-8MT and Mi-24V helicopters, parachute jumps and High-Altitude Low-Opening () parachute jumps. In peacetime the 501. PDO is under the command of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces and its main task is search, rescue and medical evacuation of the flying staff. In case of natural disasters its aim is assisting the population. Members of the 501. PDO are all experienced professional soldiers who had participated in the missions of NATO and Partnership for Peace program. According to Major Goran Grujovski, the 501. PDO aim is to become the most elite unit of the Macedonian Army. The creation of 501. PDO leads to need for equipping the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces with transport aircraft. Macedonian media reported that Macedonian Government, on its session held on April 2, 2002, decided to refuse the initiative for buying one An-74 Coaler transport aircraft from Ukraine for a price of approximately US $6 million. In December 2002 the Russian government proposed to pay off some old debts to Yugoslavia that were inherited by Macedonia with a transport aircraft (An-74?). Because of uncertainty regarding Macedonian acquisition of An-74, Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces acquired one An-2 transport aircraft from Macedonian aviation club "Kumanovo" in 2003. The An-2 will be used for parachute training of the 501. PDO until new An-74 or other transport aircraft becomes part of the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces. PDO uses also Mi-24V, Mi-8MT and sometimes UH-1H helicopters.
Macedonia is one of nine Central and Eastern European countries that are actively seeking membership in NATO. In wish to meet all obligations for full integration and membership in NATO, Macedonia already equipped its Air Force and Air Defence Forces fighters and helicopters with NATO compatible communication systems. For better protection of its borders with Kosovo and Albania, especially at night, Macedonia plans to equip few Air Force and Air Defence Forces helicopters with FLIR equipment. Priority in acquisitions for the Macedonian Air Force and Air Defence Forces in the future will be equipping utility helicopters. The four Su-25 Frogfoots are withdrawn from use in 2004. Macedonia has no intention of operating jet fighters in the future and will depend on its NATO allies for air cover.
|Mil Mi-24||Russia||attack / anti-armor||4|
|Mil Mi-17||Russia||utility / transport||6|
|Bell UH-1||United States||utility||UH-1H||2|
|Bell 206||United States||trainer||4|
Pervious aircraft operated by the Air Force consisted of types like the Sukhoi Su-25, Antonov An-2, Zlín Z 42, UTVA 75, and the Bell 412 helicopter. Some Su-25 Frogfoots were returned to Ukraine which arose from the uprising of Albanian separatists in 2001. Other fixed wing assets were sold off for lack of funds and spare parts to maintain them
- Army of the Republic of Macedonia
- SFR Yugoslav Air Force
- 2008 Macedonian Armed Forces Mil Mi-17 crash
- Special Forces Battalion
- The Rangers Battalion
- Army of the Republic of Macedonia
- Military Service for Security and Intelligence
- The Macedonian Air Force - A New Dawn
- "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 22". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- "World Air Forces 2004 pg. 73". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- "Macedonia and Ukraine in jets-for-transport swap deal". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air force of the Republic of Macedonia.|
- Voeno vozduhoplovstvo na Armijata na Republika Makedonija at Ex Yu Aiur forces
- Macedonia Air Force at Aeroflight
- Macedonian Air Arms at Scramble
- Protiv Vozdusna Odbrana i VoenoVozduhoplovstvo na Armijata na Republika Makedonija at Dragans aviation corner
- The Macedonian Air Force - A New Dawn at Fence Check