Russian Aerospace Defence Forces

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"VKO" redirects here. For the airport, see Vnukovo International Airport.
Russian Aerospace Defence Forces
Medium emblem of the Космические войска Российской Федерации.svg
Aerospace Defence Forces medium emblem
Большая эмблема Космических войск России.png
Aerospace Defence Forces great emblem
Active 1 December 2011–1 August 2015
Country Russia
Allegiance Ministry of Defence
Type Air/Missile Defence
Anniversaries 4 October (Space Forces Day),
August 12 (Air Force Day) (starting 2015)
Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Golovko[1]

The Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (Russian: Войска воздушно-космической обороны, tr. Voyska Vozdushno-Kosmicheskoy Oborony [2] or VKO[3] (ВКО) was the branch of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation responsible for air and missile defence, and the operation of Russian military satellites and the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Formed on 1 December 2011, it replaced the Space Forces.[4] The VKO was first commanded by former Space Forces commander Col Gen Oleg Ostapenko, who was promoted to Deputy Minister of Defence in November 2012.[5][6] On 24 December 2012, Aleksandr Golovko was appointed the new commander.[1] Although it is officially translated as aerospace in English,[7] it covers both attacks from the air and from (outer) space, and some Russian writers translate it as "air and space" instead.[5][8]

In August 2015, the Russian Aerospace Forces[9] was created, and includes both the Russian Air Force, and the Aerospace Defence Forces, with HQ in Moscow, on the recommendations of the Defense Ministry.[10] Its full name in Russian is the Vozdushno-Kosmicheskiye Sily VS RF (Воздушно-космические силы BC РФ, Aerospace Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation).


The Aerospace Defence Forces trace their heritage to the Space Operations Section, Strategic Operations Branch of the Supreme High Command Reserve Artillery, formed in 1955, and transformed into the Space Services Central Administration of the Strategic Missile Troops in 1964 (and later the Chief Space Operations Directoriate in 1972).

In 1967 the Anti-Missile and Space Defence Forces were formed (Russian: войска противоракетной и противокосмической обороны [ПРО и ПКО], tr. Voyska Protivoraketnoy i Protivokosmicheskoy Oborony [PRO i PKO]) under Artillery Lieutenant General Yu. Votintsev.[11] They were reorganised as the Ministry of Defence Space Service Units in 1982, and were expanded to include the Chief Space Operations Directorate in 1986. In 1991 the Soviet Union was broken up. The Russian Armed Forces were established on 7 May 1992, enabling the creation of Russian Space Forces later that year on 10 August. They were merged with the Strategic Missile Troops in 1996, but were reformed in 2001.

In 2006 President Vladimir Putin agreed with the idea of a new "Air and Space Defence Concept" from 2016, but without the implication that it would be a separate service. In 2008 Aleksandr Zelin argued that the missile defence and space defence forces should be merged into the Air Force.[8]

On 30 November 2010 President Dmitry Medvedev said that air and space defence services would be under a single strategic command and the General Staff and Ministry of Defence had decided it would be on the basis of the Space Forces. In April 2011 the then Space Forces commander Oleg Ostapenko said that concept for the future system had been approved. The service was created by the presidential decree “On changes to the composition of the Russian Armed Forces until January 1, 2016” which has not been published.[8]

Thus, on December 1, 2011, the Space Forces became the Aerospace Defence Forces, fusing all space and some air defence components into one joint service.

Starting August 1, 2015, the ADF now includes, by orders of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and upon the recommendation of the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu:


Until 2015 the ADF was organized into 2 commands: the Air and Space Defence Command; and the Space Command. The structure is as follows:[5][7][8]

It is led by Oleg Maydanovich, former head of the Titov Centre.[8]

It is headed up by Sergey Popov who was formerly in charge of air defence in the Air Force.[8]

In early March 2014, spokesman of the forces said the aerospace defences will include a space- and ground-based intelligence-gathering and missile early warning network, an air and space defence command, a VKO command-and-control structure, and a logistics support branch. Deputy Defence Minister Yury Borisov said on that month that the military will invest 2 trillion rubles ($55.3 billion) in building up its aerospace defence weapons over the next six years to ensure they are capable of thwarting existing and future types of air and space attacks.

The Aerospace Defence Forces are located across Russia and have bases in some Commonwealth of Independent States countries such as early warning radars in Azerbaijan (until December 2012), Kazakhstan and Belarus, and the Okno facility in Tajikistan.

With the reformation of the ADF by the fusion of the Russian Air Force and its component units in August 2015, the following units now report to ADF headquarters in Moscow:

Followed by their respective subordinate units:

Air Forces of Russia

Russian Empire

Air Force (1909–1917)

Soviet Union

Red Air Force (1918–1991)

Naval Aviation (1918–1991)

Air Defence (1948–1991)

Strategic Rocket Forces (1959–1991)

Russian Federation

Air Force (1991–present)

Naval Aviation (1991–present)

Strategic Rocket Forces (1991–present)

Forces of central subordination of the Russian Air Force 2008

  • 8th Air Division for Special Purposes — Chkalovsky Airport
  • 929th State Flight Test Centre — Akhtubinsk
  • 4th Centre for Combat Training and Flight Personnel Training — Lipetsk Air Base - Su-34, Su-24M2, Su-30, Su-27SM, MiG-29, L-39C.
  • 344th Centre for Combat Training and Flight Personnel Training — Torzhok — ground forces helicopters.
    • 696th Research and Instruction Helicopter Regiment — TorzhokKa-50, Ka-52, Mi-35M, Mi-8AMTSh, Mi-24PN, Mi-26, has used Mi-28N.
    • 92nd Research and Instruction Helicopter Squadron — Sokol-Vladimir — Mi-8TM(MTV-5) and Mi-24PN
  • 2881st Reserve Helicopter Base — TotskoyeMi-24P
  • 924th Centre for Combat Training and Flight Personnel Training — Yegoryevsk — UAVs
  • Russian State Scientific-Research Institute Centre for Cosmonaut Training — Star City (Zvyozdniy Gorodok)
  • 2457th Air Base of Long Range Radiolocation Detection Aircraft — Ivanovo Severny — A-50(U)
  • 1st Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment — Lebyazhye — Su-24
  • 764th Fighter Aviation Regiment — Bolshoye Savino Airport (Sokol) — MiG-31 and MiG-25PU
  • 5th Independent Long Range Reconnaissance Aviation Detachment — Voronezh (CFE and INF verification)
  • 185th Centre for Combat Training and Flight Personnel Training — Astrakhan
  • 118th Independent Helicopter Squadron — Chebenki(Dmitriyevka), Orenburg Oblast.
  • 4020th Base for Reserve Aircraft — Lipetsk
  • 4215th Base for Reserve Aircraft — Chebenki
  • 15th Army Aviation Brigade of the Western Military District at the airport Ostrov, Pskov Oblast

Training Units

  • Krasnodar Military Aviation Institute — L-39C
  • Syzran Military Aviation Institute — Syzran — Mi-2, Mi-8T and Mi-24V, Ansat, Ka-226T[13]
  • 783rd Training Centre — Armavir — MiG-29UB and L-39C
  • 786th Training Centre — Borisoglebsk - Yak-130

For a more detailed list of air bases now used by the ADF after the merger of the Air Force as a part of the service in 2015, see List of Soviet Air Force bases


Until 2015 the ADF operated the following facilities for aerospace defence operations, with the merger of the Air Force it also now handles the operations of Russia's hundreds of active air bases and air training centres.

Early warning of missile attack:

Voronezh radar at Lekhtusi, Armavir, Kaliningrad, Mileshevka, Yeniseysk, Barnaul[14]
Daryal radar at Pechora
Volga radar at Hantsavichy
Dnepr radar at Balkhash, Irkutsk and Olenegorsk
Oko early warning satellites

Space surveillance:

Okno in Tajikistan
Krona in Zelenchukskaya and Nakhodka
RT-70 in Yevpatoria and Galenki (together with Roscosmos)

Missile defence:

A-135 anti-ballistic missile system
Don-2N radar

Satellite Systems:

Liana space reconnaissance and target designation system (2 satellites electronic reconnaissance 14F145 "Lotus-C1")[15]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "New commander of the Air and Space Defense Forces". Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. 24 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Войска Воздушно-космической обороны заступают на боевое дежурство в РФ (in Russian). RIA Novosti. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Войска воздушно-космической обороны (in Russian). Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. n.d. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces go on duty to stave off missile threats". RIA Novosti. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c "Russia creates Air and Space Defense Forces". 1 December 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Oleg Ostapenko". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. n.d. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Structure". Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. n.d. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Stukalin, Alexander (May 2012). "Russian Air and Space Defense Troops: Gaping Holes". Moscow Defense Brief (Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) 2012 (2). 
  9. ^ Aerospace Forces
  10. ^
  11. ^ "4 октября - День военно-космических сил России" [October 4 - Day of Military Space Forces in Russia] (in Russian). Prazdnuem. n.d. 
  12. ^ See also Michael Holm,, accessed August 2012.
  13. ^ ""Фотофакт. Новые вертолёты Ансат-У и Ка-226 для ВВС России " в блоге "Фотофакты" - Сделано у нас". Сделано у нас. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  14. ^
  15. ^