Armenian Air Force


Armenian Air Force

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Armenian Air Force
Հայաստանի Ռազմաօդային Ուժեր


caption=Armenian Independence Day air display
dates= August 1992
country= Flag|Armenia
allegiance=
branch=
type=
role=
size=
command_structure=
garrison=
garrison_label=
nickname=
patron=
motto=
colors=
colors_label=
march=
mascot=
equipment=
equipment_label=
battles=Nagorno-Karabakh War
anniversaries=
decorations=
battle_honours=
commander1=
commander1_label=
commander2=
commander2_label=
commander3=
commander3_label=
notable_commanders=
identification_symbol=
identification_symbol_label=Roundel
identification_symbol_2=
identification_symbol_2_label=Roundel (version No.2)
aircraft_attack=Su-25 Mi-24
aircraft_bomber=
aircraft_electronic=
aircraft_fighter=
aircraft_interceptor=MiG-25
aircraft_patrol=
aircraft_recon=
aircraft_trainer=L-39 Yak-52 Mi-2
aircraft_transport=Mi-8 Il-76

The Armenian Air Force ( _hy. Հայաստանի Ռազմաօդային Ուժեր) is a small air arm formed by independent Armenia in 1992 in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is organized and equipped principally to provide Armenian ground forces with tactical air support for ground attack and airlift in mountainous terrain. It provided effective support during the battles with Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region from 1992-1994, albeit without much fanfare. It currently lacks air superiority fighters, but air defense is provided by MiG-29s of the Russian Air Force under a military cooperation treaty.Blagov, Sergei (17 November 2003). “ [http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav111703.shtml Armenia And Russia Reassert Bonds Amid Georgia’s Crisis] ”. Eurasianet.org. Retrieved 6 January 2008.] Since 2003, the Armenian government has been funding a modernization and enlargement of the air fleet.Martirosjan, Samvel; translated by A. Ignatkin (25-31 August 2004). “ [http://groong.usc.edu/news/msg92385.html Armenia Builds Up Its Military Might] ”. "Voyenno-Promyshlenny Kurier". The original link is dead but a copy may be found at [http://hyeforum.com/lofiversion/index.php?t9724.html http://hyeforum.com/lofiversion/index.php?t9724.html] .]

History

Although Armenia began working to establish an independent Armenian armed forces as early as 1989, due to a lack of resources, suitably trained personnel and useful infrastructure, the government delayed formally creating an air force until August 1992, and commenced combat operations in October.Petrosyan, David (June 2002). [http://mdb.cast.ru/mdb/6-2002/dp/fdaaf/ “Formation and Development of Armenian Armed Forces”] . "Moscow Defense Brief". Retrieved 14 December 2007.] Cooper, Tom (29 September 2003). [http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_280.shtml “Air War over Nagorniy-Kharabakh, 1988-1994”] . "Air Combat Information Group (ACIG)". Retrieved 15 December 2007.] (However, this may not represent the first use of armed aircraft by the Armenians; an Azeri report states that the Armenians modified several civilian Mi-8 transport helicopters for dropping bombs against civilian targets in the Geranboi region of Azerbaijan, with the first instance of their use occurring on 9 March 1990. [Matveeva, Anna & Hiscock, Duncan. (April 2003). "The Caucasus: Armed and Divided – Small arms and light weapons proliferation and humanitarian consequences in the Caucasus". Saferworld. ISBN 0 948546 91 3. See “ [http://www.saferworld.org.uk/images/pubdocs/ArmedAzerbaijan.pdf Chapter 2: Azerbaijan: The burden of history – waiting for change] ” by Arif Yunusov. Retrieved 5 January 2008.] The Azeris also claimed Armenian Mi-24 attack helicopters were employed in support of an assault on Shusha in February 1992, but this too appears to have captured the use of Russian aircraft. [Anon. (29 February 1992). “ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE4DB133AF93AA15751C0A964958260 Ex-Soviet Troops to Leave Enclave] ”. "New York Times". Retrieved 5 January 2008.] )

According to its December 1992 declaration for the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, Armenia had inherited only 3 operational combat aircraft and at least 13 armed helicopters from the former Soviet Union and a portion of its air defense network. [Willis, David (Ed.) (1999). “Armenia” entry in "Aerospace Encyclopedia of World Air Forces". London, UK: Aerospace Publishing Ltd. p. 162. ISBN 1-86184-045-4.] These aircraft came from the former 7th Guards Fighter Regiment ["7 Gvardeyskiy Istrebitel’niy Aviatsionniy Polk (7 GvIAP)"] and were taken over in 1991. The identities of the three combat aircraft are uncertain, but may have included 1 MiG-25 interceptor and 2 Su-25 ground-attack aircraft, probably from the former Soviet 80th Bomber-Instructor Aviation Regiment ["80 Instruktorskiy Bombardirovochniy Aviatsionniy Polk (80 IBAP)"] at Sital Tchay Air Base in Azerbaijan; the helicopter force comprised Mi-8 transport and Mi-24 attack versions that had been based near Yerevan, Armenia. Other aircraft the Armenians reportedly took over in 1991 include 6 An-2, 1 An-24 and 1 An-32 transports, as well as 10 Yak-52 trainers. [Jackson, Paul; Munson, Kenneth; & Peacock, Lindsay (Eds.) (13 June 2007). "Jane’s World Air Forces". Coulsdon, Surrey, UK: Jane's Information Group Limited. ISBN 0710626843.]

Territorial conflicts with Azerbaijan instigated a major expansion of Armenia’s air and air defense forces in 1993-1994. The bulk of Armenia’s aviation-related investment, however, went to greatly strengthening the Armenian Air Defense organization. With Russian technical assistance and generous contributions of anti-aircraft weapons and equipment, within a year Armenia was able to integrate most of the Soviet radars and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) left in its territory into a coherent and effective air defense system which it officially declared operational in April 1994. Aircraft additions were few, but by the end of 1994 the Armenia Air Force’s inventory had reached an estimated 5-6 operational Su-25 (one has long been non-operational) and possibly 1 MiG-25 combat aircraft; 2 L-39 and 10 Yak-52 trainers; 6 An-2, 2 An-72, 1 Tu-134, 1 Tu-154 transport aircraft, and 2 Mi-2, 7 Mi-8/17, 15 Mi-24 helicopters.

To help redress its relative military weaknesses "vis-à-vis" Azerbaijan and Turkey, on 16 March 1995, Armenia signed a treaty with Russia giving the latter a 25-year-long military presence in Armenia. A follow-on agreement defining terms and conditions signed 27 September 1996 authorizing Russian bases at Gyumri and Yerevan. Russian aviation forces in Armenia comprise 18 MiG-29 fighters of the 426th Fighter Squadron ["426 Istrebitel’naya Aviatsionnaya Eskadril’ya (426 IAE)"] [Warfare.ru (Undated). [http://warfare.ru/?catid=255&linkid=1600 MIG-29/MIG-35 Fulcrum Counter-Air Fighter] . Retrieved 16 February 2008.] and the 700th Air Traffic Control Center, both at the 3624th Air Base ["3624 Aviatsionnaya Baza (3624 AB)"] in Yerevan. [Anon. (22 May 2007). “ [http://www.kommersant.com/p766827/Russia,_military_bases/ Russian Military Bases] ”. "Kommersant Vlast". Retrieved 29 December 2007.] The MiG-29s arrived in four separate batches: five on 16 December 1998, five on 26 February 1999, four more on 18 June and the final four on 22 October 1999. [Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the People’s Republic of China. (Undated). " [http://www.azerbembassy.org.cn/eng/back_chron.html Chronology of the Armenian aggression] ". Retrieved 29 December 2007.] This serial deployment of Russian aircraft to their Armenian base was initially misinterpreted as deliveries to the Armenian Air Force. The Russian MiG-29s may have supplanted an earlier deployment of MiG-23 fighters, as there have been unconfirmed reports of the latter being in service around that time, with the combined number of MiG-23s and MiG-29s at Yerevan possibly reaching as many as 30 aircraft. (There have also been unsubstantiated rumors of Armenian MiG-23 receipts.)

The Armenian Air Force experienced a major expansion and modernization in 2004-2005. It tripled its fixed-wing combat arm through the procurement of ten surplus Su-25 from Slovakia for a total of $1 million in August 2004. [Anon. (30 June 2004). [http://www.sita.sk/vzorky/same.pdf “Defense”] entry under the Corporate & Finance section, p. 3. "SITA Slovak News Agency". Retrieved 31 December 2007. SITA further reports that according to Markiza TV, the aircraft were sold to Wiper, a Bratislava-based company acting as a broker for the Armenian Defense Ministry. The sale price was SKK 8 million, although Armenia was reportedly willing to spend up to SKK 34 million for the aircraft (probably including refurbishment costs). At that time, the SKK ran 32.844 to the US$, rendering the final cost to the Armenian government as roughly $1 million.] [http://disarmament.un.org/UN_REGISTER.nsf "United Nations Register of Conventional Arms"] , entries for Calendar Year 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2007] [Anon. (7 September 2004). “Armenia purchases 10 SU-25 fighters from Slovakia”. "Noyan Tapan News Agency".] These twenty-year-old aircraft – which had not been flown for a decade and required work to re-certify their flightworthiness – were delivered in September 2005. [Anon. (9 September 2005). “Armenia Bolsters Air Force With 10 Russian Fighters”. "Agence France-Presse".] The Su-25 receipt was also originally mis-reported as an acquisition of ten Su-27 air superiority fighters,Anon. (3 October 2005). “Armenia Buys War Planes From Russia”. "Turan News Agency" (Azerbaijan).] [Ghazinyan, Aris (21 October 2005). [http://www.armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&IID=1052&CID=1348&AID=1167&lng=eng&PHPSESSID=0f2c6b8e1 “Fit for a Fight?: Armenia and Azerbaijan flex military muscles, vow to not be overcome”] . "ArmeniaNow". Retrieved 31 December 2007.] an aircraft the Slovak Air Force never operated. Also in 2004, Armenia received a pair of L-39C trainers from each of Russia and the Ukraine, as well as two Il-76 transports from Russia in May. [Anon. (21 May 2004). [http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/?nid=10579&date=2004-05-21 “Armenia Purchased Two Il-76 Russian Transport Warplanes”] . "PanARMENIAN.Net". Retrieved 14 December 2007.]

Recently, there have been unverified reports that Armenia received up to ten Su-27 from Russia in 2006. This may have been presaged by an Azeri source which reported in October 2005 that Armenia had bought “10 fighter jets”, but that, according to Azeri military sources, only 2-3 of the aircraft were Su-27; the remainder were purportedly Su-25 jets and Mi-24 attack helicopters. Ostensibly, these would have been procured on preferential terms under the provisions of the 2002 Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) agreement. To date, however, there has been no confirmation of the receipt of any of these aircraft, and it is possible that any appearance of Su-27s in Armenia may have been a deployment of Russia’s own aircraft to its airbase at Yerevan. (It has also been pointed out that the Soviets never based Su-27s in Transcaucasia because it was too difficult an environment for them to operate in. gain altitude and maneuver them in. Furthermore, Armenia’s small size limits operational maneuver room and makes it difficult for them to climb to sufficient altitude. [Anon. (4 October 2005). “ [http://www.demaz.org/cgi-bin/e-cms/vis/vis.pl?s=001&p=0056&n=000760&g= Where From Fighters SU-27 Appeared in Armenia?] ”. 525-ci gazet (via ПРАВО еыбора). Retrieved 5 January 2008.] )

Major operations

Nagorno-Karabakh War

Although Armenia began taking over Soviet weapons shortly following the collapse of the USSR in 1991, it would not be until October 1992 that its nascent air force was able to conduct offensive combat operations. Until then, Armenia was entirely reliant on the Russian Air Force for all air support in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Armenia suffered its first combat loss on 12 November 1992 when an Mi-24 gunship operating in support of the Armenians’ Martuni Offensive was shot down near the village of Kazakh. On 23 November two Mi-8 transports were hit by groundfire, downing one and seriously damaging another; another Mi-8 was lost on 30 December.

The Azeris initiated a new offensive on 1 January 1993 which was successful in cutting the Lachin corridor the following day, thereby isolating Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh from resupply from Armenia proper. The Armenian Air Force helped bring up reinforcements for a counterattack that began 7 January. The first day of this action, the Armenian Air Force suffered its worst single-day losses with an Mi-8, Mi-24 and a (possibly Russian) Su-25 shot down; the Su-25 may have been brought down by friendly fire. By which time the Azeri attack had been defeated at the end of the month, another three helicopters and possibly another fighter – reportedly a MiG-21 (and therefore probably Russian) – would be lost.

In late March 1993, the Armenians kicked off a new offensive in the north aimed at opening a second supply route from Armenia. Operation Kelbajar involved a four-prong attack which was successful in routing Azerbaijan’s 2nd Army Corps and securing control of the region. Armenian Air Force losses for amounted to 1 Mi-8 helicopter (on 16 April). No aircraft losses were suffered during the subsequent summer offensives of 1993 or in the next year’s actions preceding the ceasefire of 16 May 1994.

Organization

Little information has been made public about the Armenian Air Force’s organization. It is known that the Air Force operates within a joint Air and Air Defense Force structure, and in 2004 the Air Force comprised four functional units: the 121 Ground Attack Aviation Squadron ["121 Shturmovoy Aviatsionnaya Eskadril’ya (121 ShAE)"] , based at Gyumri; 15th Mixed Aviation Regiment ["15 Smeshanniy Aviatsionniy Polk (15 SAP)"] , a composite helicopter squadron based at Yerevan; a VIP transport unit probably based at Yerevan; and the 60th Aviation Training Squadron ["60 Uchebniy Aviatsionnaya Eskadril’ya (60 UAE)"] , a training center at Arzni. [Cornell, Svante E.; McDermott, Roger; O’Malley, William; Socor, Vladimir; and Starr; S. Frederick (2004). " [http://www.silkroadstudies.org/docs/publications/2004/nato.pdf “Regional Security in the South Caucasus: The Role of NATO”] ". Central Asia-Caucasus Institute. ISBN 91-85031-00-3.]

As a result of a series of defense cooperation treaties beginning with the Commonwealth of Independent States’ (CIS) 1992 “Tashkent” Collective Security Treaty (CST) treaty (which was expanded into the CSTO in 2002) and the Russian-Armenian treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance signed 29 August 1997, Armenian and Russian air and air defense forces are closely integrated. In 1997 friendship treaty, in particular, provides mutual assistance in the event of a military threat to either party – which goes further than the CSTO security pact – and also allows Russian border guards to patrol Armenia’s frontiers with Turkey and Iran. Armenia regularly participates in bilateral military exercises with forces from Russia’s Group of Forces in the Transcaucasus (GRVZ), and the Armenian Air Force also participates in the CSTO’s annual air defense exercises. [Socor, Vladimir (16 September 2005). “ [http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2370230 Russian-Armenian Military Exercise Anachronistic] ”. Retrieved 6 January 2008.]

Airbases

Armenia’s main airbases are Yerevan and Gyumri, and it has a training base at Arzni.

Equipment

The Conventional Forces Europe (CFE) treaty limits Armenia to 100 fixed-wing combat aircraft and 50 attack helicopters.Jackson, Paul; Munson, Kenneth; & Peacock, Lindsay (Eds.) (13 June 2007). "Jane’s World Air Forces". Coulsdon, Surrey, UK: Jane's Information Group Limited. ISBN 0710626843.] Current inventories are believed to be 15-16 and 12, respectively.

Nicknames in single quotation marks are NATO reporting names.

Fixed-wing aircraft

! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Aircraft! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Type! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|In Service! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"| Variants ! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Acquired! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|ActiveAnon. (15 January 2007). "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007. "Aviation Week & Space Technology".] ! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Notes
-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Fighter Aircraft
-----
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 'Foxbat'
Interceptor aircraft
1991–date
MiG-25PD
1
1?
May have become unserviceable by circa 2004.
-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Ground-Attack Aircraft
-----
Sukhoi Su-25 'Frogfoot'
Close air support aircraft
1991–date
total
Su-25
Su-25UB
Su-25K
Su-25UBK
16
5
1
9
1
15
4
1
9
1
Ten aircraft acquired from Slovakia in September 2005 are sometimes mis-reported as Su-27 fighters.
-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Transport and Liaison Aircraft
-----
Antonov An-2 'Colt'
Utility transport
1991–date
An-2TD
6-10
6
Three are used for paratroop drop training.
-----
Antonov An-24 'Coke'
Light military transport
1991–date|
1
1

-----
Antonov An-32 'Cline'
Medium military transport
1991–date|
2
1

-----
Antonov An-72 'Coaler'
VIP transport
1991–??|
2
0
Actual out-of-service date is unknown.
-----
Ilyushin Il-76 'Candid'
Strategic airlifter
2004–date|
2
2

-----
Tu-134 'Crusty'
VIP transport
1991–??|
1
0
Actual out-of-service date is unknown.
-----
Tu-154 'Careless'
VIP transport
1991–??|
1
0
Actual out-of-service date is unknown.
-----
Yakovlev Yak-18 'Max'
Liaison aircraft
??–date
Yak-18T
1
1
In-service date unreported but prior to 2005.
-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Trainer Aircraft
-----
Aero L-29 "Delfin" ('Maya')
Advanced jet trainer aircraft
1991–1996?

1
0
Inoperable by no later than 1996.
-----
Aero L-39 "Albatros"
Advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft
1991–date
L-39C
6
4
Some have been armed with machine gun pods.
-----
Yakovlev Yak-52
Basic/primary trainer
1991–date

10–16
9-10
No more than ten in service at any given time.
-----
Yakovlev Yak-55
Aerobatic trainer
??–date

1
1
In-service date unreported but prior to 2005.

Note: Several other aircraft types have been reported from time to time as in Armenian service, but their actual use has been unconfirmed to date by reliable independent sources.

* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 'Flogger': Some 4-12 MiG-23 fighters have been reportedly supplied to Armenia, but these claims appear to capture Russian aircraft sometimes reported to have been based at – or temporarily deployed to – the Russians’ 3624th Air Base airbase at Yerevan until they were replaced by the current MiG-29s.

* Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 'Fulcrum': Reports of 10-18 MiG-29 fighters being delivered to Armenia in 1998-1999 are contemporaneous with – and probably confused with – the known Russian deployment of 18 MiG-29s to their base at Yerevan.

* Sukhoi Su-17/22 ‘Fitter’: Some reports during the early years of Armenian independence indicate that the country took control over an unknown number of Su-17/22 fighter-bombers, but there is no firm evidence that Armenia actually ever placed these elderly aircraft into service.

* Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker': A few recent reports claim Armenia purchased 2-3, 4 or 10 Su-27 air superiority fighters in 2005 and that these were delivered the following year. If accurate, this ten-aircraft order covered not only 4 Su-27, but also a few additional Su-25 and several Mi-24 attack helicopters; however, there has been no clear evidence to date that any of these aircraft have yet been added to the Armenian Air Force’s fleet.

* Yakovlev Yak-40 'Codling': An Azeri source reports that an Armenian Yak-40 utility transport was shot down by Azeri forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. [Tsyganok, Anatoly (9 February 2007, Issue No. 5). “The Powder-Keg of Eurasia: Militarization in the Greater Caucasus could have dangerous consequences”. "Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie", p. 2. [http://www.gab-ibn.com/IMG/pdf/Re11-_The_Power_Keg_Of_Eurasia_Militarization_In_The_Greater_Caucasus_Could_Have_Dangerous_Consequences.pdf English translation by Elena Leonova] (14 February 2007). Retrieved 5 January 2008.] There is no other confirmation of the Yak-40 as being in Armenian service, so it was more likely a Russian aircraft.

Helicopters

! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Aircraft! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Type! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|In Service! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"| Variants ! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Acquired! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Active! style="text-align: center; background: lightsteelblue;"|Notes
-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Attack Helicopters
-----
Mil Mi-24 'Hind'
Attack helicopter
1991–date
total
Mi-24K
Mi-24P
Mi-24R
16
6
8
2
11
2
7
2

-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Airborne Early Warning and Control Helicopters
-
-----
Mil Mi-9 'Hip-G'
Airborne command post helicopter
??–date
Mi-9
2
2
The Mi-9 is an airborne command post variant of the Mil Mi-8 'Hip' transport helicopter; their acquisition date is unknown.
-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Transport and Utility Helicopters
-----
Mil Mi-8/-9/-17 'Hip'
Medium transport helicopter
1991–date
total
Mi-8T
Mi-8MT/17
18?
11
7?
11
8-9
2-3
The 2 Mi-9 'Hip-G' airborne command post variants are sometimes reported as Mi-8s.
-! style="align: center; background: lavender;" colspan="7" | Training Helicopters
-----
Mil Mi-2 'Hoplite'
Light utility helicopter
1991–date

9-16
6
Only 2-3 are kept in flyable condition, for training purposes.

Recruitment, training and military education

In the summer of 1993, the Armenian Air Force had a personnel strength of 2000; this had grown to 3000 by 2004. Originally dependent on small numbers of returning experienced Armenian military personnel, reservists, conscripts, and contract foreign nationals, during 1993-1994 Armenia established its own military institutions from scratch, among which were its own aviation vocational institute at Yerevan and related training facilities. It remains reliant on conscripts, who serve for 24 months, but also employs volunteers on a contract basis with terms of 3-15 years.

Pilots and technical personnel begin their training at the Military Aviation Institute in Yerevan, which was established in 1993. Pilot candidates undertake a basic and primary flying training course which includes 80 hours on the Yak-52 and is followed by 60 hours of jet conversion and advanced training on the L-39. This training is conducted at the airbase at Arzni (sometimes mis-identified as Areni), a former Soviet DOSAAF base located 30 km (18 miles) northeast of Yerevan. The facility also operates a single Yak-55 aerobatic trainer and three An-2 transports for drop training of paratroopers. A pair of Mi-2 helicopters are also kept available for training helicopter aircrews. Type conversion and advanced tactical training are conducted at operational units. [Viroli, Elio & Bacciocchi, Stenio (August 2005, Issue 209). “Postcard from Armenia”. "Air Force Monthly".]

Gallery

See also

*Armenian Army
*Armed Forces of Armenia
*Military history of Armenia
*Armenian Air Defense

References

European topic
title = Air Forces in Europe
suffix = _Air_Force
countries_only=yes |UK_only=yes


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