Latvian Air Force

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Latvian Air Force
Latvijas Gaisa spēki
Latvian Air Force emblem.svg
Emblem of the Latvian Air Force
Active1918–1940, 1992–present
Country Latvia
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size251 personnel
5 aircraft
Part ofLatvian National Armed Forces
Motto(s)Latvian: Visu par Latviju
"All for Latvia"
Lieutenant Colonel Viesturs Masulis [1]
RoundelRoundel of Latvia.svg
Fin flashFlag of Latvia.svg
Aircraft flown
HelicopterMil Mi-2, Mil Mi-8
TransportAn-2, L-410

Latvian Air Force (Latvian: Latvijas Gaisa spēki) is the aviation branch of the National Armed Forces.[2] The first Air Force (AF) units were established 1992. It has no air combat capability, thus the defense of Latvian air space is maintained by NATO, with rotating detachments of four aircraft to Lithuania at four-monthly intervals (see Baltic Air Policing).


Variant and old identification of Latvia's aircraft:A - National Guard aviation component (1993–2000); B - Latvian Air Force (1918-1940, sometimes inverted);[3] C - Aviation Regiment of the Aizsargi organization (1937-1940)[4][5]

The Latvian Air Force was first founded during the Latvian War of Independence. On 7 June 1919 an Air Group was formed, commanded by Lt. Alfrēds Valleika. The first aircraft were former Bolshevik Nieuport 24bis and Sopwith 1½ Strutter, both seized from German forces. They first flew on 5 August 1919, and accomplished the first bombing mission on 26 August 1919.[6] From September the air force had three aircraft, and took part in fighting against the Germans and White Russians. Another 7–8 aircraft were seized and repaired after defeating of Russo-German forces, and 7 Sopwith Camels and 3 Sopwith 1½ Strutters were received from the British in December 1919.[6] The Latvian air force flew 69 missions during the war of independence.[6] In the years to follow many more aircraft were added to the inventory and the Air Group was eventually renamed the Aviation Regiment in 1926. An interesting feat of the Latvian naval aviation was a 6000-km trip to England and back, by three Fairey Seal floatplanes, in 1936.[7]

In 1939, the Aviation Regiment consisted of three fighter squadrons, armed with 24 Gloster Gladiator and 6 Bristol Bulldog (a fourth squadron was in organization), three reconnaissance squadrons, armed with up to 12 Letov Š-16LS, 2 Hawker Hind and 10 Stampe SV.5, and a naval reconnaissance squadron with 4 Fairey Seal and two other planes.[6] The Soviet occupation in 1940 ended the activities of the Air Force. At that time there were almost 130 aircraft in service.[citation needed]

A separate, mostly light aircraft Aviation Regiment of the Aizsargi organization also existed parallel to the Air Force until the Soviet occupation.[4][8][9]

The post-Soviet Latvian Air Force was formed on 24 February 1992 at Spilve Airport. In August 1994 the airforce moved to an ex-soviet Lielvārde Air Base. In the beginning of the new century two new and more heavy Mi-8MTV Hip helicopters were bought. Both helicopters are fitted with search and rescue equipment, but are also used for transportation of troops, evacuation and support of the Special Forces. In 2000, the aviation component of the Latvian National Guard was merged into the Air Force.[10]

In 2004 the Ministry of Defense bought two more Mi-8MTV's at the Russian Ulan Ude helicopter (rework) factory. These two might replace the first two, because of the limited flying time left on the first two examples. One Mi-8MTV is normally at SAR stand-by in Riga, which is closer to the sea than Lielvārde. In 2004, the Air Force has commenced the modernization of the surface air defense capabilities by signing a contract regarding procurement of RBS-70 missiles.

In 2005, soldiers of the Air Force Air Defense Wing started the respective training course. One Air Defense Battery will be supplied with the armament; and the personnel training of the Air Defense Wing will be completed by the end of 2007.

It is planned to accommodate all the Air Force units at the Lielvārde military base in the near future. AF Air Operations Center was opened in 2009. Renovation of the air base was planned to be finished by 2014.

In July 2018, it was reported that the Ministry of Defence was planning to buy four helicopters to perform search and rescue, evacuation, and firefighting operations.[11] On August 3, 2018, the US State Department issued a news release, which stated that it had approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Latvia.[12] On September 11, 2018, an intergovernmental agreement with the United States for the acquisition of four UH-60M helicopters was concluded by the Cabinet of Ministers.[13] The first deliveries would take place at the end of 2020.[14]

In May 2020, Ministry of Defence announced plans to renovate three of four An-2. One aircraft is already in use, which was completely refurbished in 2016.[14] The second refurbished An-2 was received in August 2020.[15]


The Air Force carries out Latvian airspace surveillance, control and defense, provides air defense support to the Land Forces units and participates in search and rescue operations over the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Riga and dry land. They also transport NAF soldiers and cargo, provide transport for the State President, as well as other high-level Latvian and foreign officials during their visits to Latvia and abroad. AF aircraft also assist other NAF units, the Interior Ministry and the Crisis Medicine Centre. The Air Force carries out the national airspace surveillance by military radars included in its armament.

One of the key priorities for the development of the AF is their integration into the NATO Air Defense System. The modernization of air defense equipment and the training of personnel is carried out with this purpose in mind. Enhancing the Air Space Surveillance System, developing a search and rescue helicopter subdivision and personnel training are also included on this list of priorities. Air Force helicopters in co-operation with the Disaster Medicine Center also transport patients in grave condition, persons injured in accidents and persons injured in traffic accidents from rural regions to Riga hospitals.

Development of the Lielvārde military base will ensure centralization of Air Force units and establishment of an efficient command and control system, which will result in a reduction of the maintenance costs of the Air Force units.

The main mission of Air Force is to:

  • Provide for the control and defense of the national air space;
  • Provide combat and mobilization readiness for units;
  • Participate in people and object search and rescue operations;
  • Perform air transportation duties and air defense.

Structure of Air Force[edit]

Latvian Air Force locations 2018:
Green pog.svg Air Base Orange pog.svg AN/TPS-77(V) Radar Station
  • Air Force Headquarters, at Lielvārde Air Base
    • Aviation Squadron, at Lielvārde Air Base
      • Squadron Staff
      • Helicopter Section (Mi-17 helicopters)
      • Transport Plane Section (L-410 and An-2 planes)
      • Training Section (Mi-2 helicopters)
      • Rescue Section (Mi-17 helicopters)
      • Aircraft Maintenance Section
    • Air Surveillance Squadron, at Lielvārde Air Base[16]
    • Air Defense Division, at Lielvārde Air Base
      • Staff and Supply Battery
      • 1st Air Defense Battery[a] (PS-70 radar and RBS 70 missile systems)
      • 2nd Air Defense Battery (PS-70 radar and RBS 70 missile systems)
      • 3rd Air Defense Battery (PS-70 radar and RBS 70 missile systems)
    • Signal and Flight Support Section, at Lielvārde Air Base
    • Air Force Training Center, at Lielvārde Air Base

Current inventory[edit]


A Latvian Mil Mi-17 helicopter
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Antonov An-2 Soviet Union transport 2[15]
Mil Mi-17 Soviet Union SAR / utility MTV 4[17]
Sikorsky UH-60 United States utility UH-60M 4 on order[17]

Air Defense[edit]

Name Origin Type In service Notes
Anti-aircraft artillery
RBS-70 Sweden MANPADS 18 [18]

Ranks and insignia[edit]

Commissioned officers[edit]

The rank insignia for commissioned officers for the air force.

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Latvia Latvian Air Force[19]
17.LVAF-LG.svg 16.LVAF-MG.svg 15-LVAF-BG.svg 14.LVAF-COL.svg 13.LVAF-LTC.svg 12.LVAF-MAJ.svg 11.LVAF-CPT.svg 10.LVAF-1LT.svg 9.LVAF-2LT.svg
Ģenerālleitnants Ģenerālmajors Brigādes ģenerālis Pulkvedis Pulkvežleitnants Majors Kapteinis Virsleitnants Leitnants

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer


The rank insignia for enlisted personnel for the air force.

NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Latvia Latvian Air Force[19]
8.LVAF-SGM.svg 7.LVAF-MSG.svg 6.LVAF-SFC.svg 5.LVAF-SSC.svg 4.LVAF-SGT.svg 3.LVAF-CPL.svg 2.LVAF-PFC.svg 1.LVAF-PV.svg
Augstākais virsseržants Galvenais virsseržants Štāba virsseržants Virsseržants Seržants Kaprālis Dižkareivis Kareivis
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Each Air Defense Battery consists of the following: 1x Radar Platoon, 3x Air Defense Platoons, 1x Support Platoon, and 1x Signal Unit).


  1. ^ "Gaisa spēku komandiera amatā stāsies pulkvežleitnants Viesturs Masulis". (in Latvian). 21 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Contact". Archived from the original on 2015-10-18. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  3. ^ File:Roundel of the Latvian Air Force 1919 border.svg — Wikimedia Commons, retrieved 2020-11-15
  4. ^ a b "Latvian National Guard Pre-WW2". Aeroflight. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  5. ^ "VEF IRBITIS I-12 - Latvian Aviation". Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  6. ^ a b c d Latvian Air Force 1918–1940, "Insignia Air Force Special", London:Blue Rider Publishing, 2000, ISBN 1-902851-04-8
  7. ^ Indans' Great Amok, "Insignia" Issue 11, Volume 3, Number 3, Spring 1999, ISSN 1360-4848, p.76-82
  8. ^ "Organization of the Aizsargi". Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  9. ^ "MILITARY AIRCRAFT - National Guard (Aizsargi) - Latvian Aviation". Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  10. ^ admin. "Latvian National Guard (Post-WW2)". Aeroflight. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  11. ^ "Latvia planning to buy six helicopters in coming years". 30 July 2018. Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  12. ^ "Latvia – UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters". Washington. 3 August 2018. Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  13. ^ "Ministru kabinets atbalsta četru helikopteru UH-60M "Black Hawk" iegādi starpvaldību līguma ietvaros". (in Latvian). 11 September 2018. Archived from the original on 17 September 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Aizsardzības ministrija plāno atjaunot trīs padomju laikā ražotos divplākšņus". (in Latvian). 16 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Gaisa spēki saņem otru atjaunoto An – 2 lidmašīnu". (in Latvian). 25 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Latvia receives its first TPS-77 MRR air surveillance radar". Latvian Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  17. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2021". FlightGlobal. 4 December 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  18. ^ "Raķešu sistēma RBS-70". Nacionālie bruņotie spēki (in Latvian). Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  19. ^ a b "Pakāpju iedalījums". (in Latvian). Latvian National Armed Forces. Retrieved 26 May 2021.

External links[edit]