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The Ukrainian Air Force (Ukrainian: Повітряні Сили України, Povitryani Syly Ukrayiny) is a part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Ukrainian Air Force Command and headquarters are located in the city of Vinnytsia. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, a large number of aircraft were left on Ukrainian territory. Ever since, the Ukrainian air force has been downsizing and upgrading its forces. But in spite of these efforts, the main inventory of the air force consists of Soviet-made aircraft. Currently 100,000 personnel and 817 aircraft are in service in the Ukrainian air force and air defense forces.[1][2] All ICBMs and strategic bombers have been taken out of service (some however were given back to Russia).



Ukrainian Air Corps patch

The primary tasks of the Air Force of Ukraine are: winning operational air superiority, delivering air strikes against enemy units and facilities, covering troops against enemy air strikes, providing air support to the Land Force and the Navy, disrupting enemy military and state management, damaging and destroying enemy communication, and providing support by air in the form of reconnaissance, air drops, troops and cargo transportation.

The major mission of the Air Force is to protect the air space of Ukraine. During peace-time, this is carried out by flying air-space control missions over the entire territory of Ukraine (603,700 square km), and by preventing air space intrusion along the aerial borders (totaling almost 7,000 km, including 5,600 km of land and 1,400 km of sea). Every single day, more than 2,200 service personnel and civilian employees of the Air Force, employing 400 items of weapons and equipment, are summoned to perform defense duties. On average, the Ukrainian radar forces detect and track more than 1,000 targets daily. As a result, in 2006 two illegal crossings of the state border were prevented and 28 violations of Ukrainian air space were prevented. Due to such increased strengthening of air space control, the number of air space violations decreased by 35% compared to the previous year, even though the amount of air traffic increased by 30%.[3]


Ukrainian Air Force
Повітряні Сили України
Povitriani Syly Ukrayiny
Emblem of the Ukrainian Air Force.svg
Emblem of Ukrainian Air Force
Founded 17 March 1992 -
Country Ukraine
Size 55,000 personnel
817 aircraft [2]
PS Command Vinnytsia
Commander Lieutenant General Toropchyn [2]
Air Force flag Flag of the Ukrainian Air Force.jpg
Roundel Roundel of the Ukrainian Air Force.svg
Fin flash Lesser Coat of Arms of Ukraine.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Su-24, Su-25, Mi-24
Bomber Su-24MK/M
Fighter Su-27, MiG-29
Reconnaissance An-30, Su-24MR
Trainer L-39, Yak-52
Transport Il-76, Antonov An-124, An-12, An-24, An-26, An-32, An-30, An-72, Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-26, Mi-6

Collapse of the USSR

The Ukrainian Air Force was established on March 17, 1992, in accordance with a Directive of the General Staff Chief of the Armed Forces. The headquarters of the 24th Air Army of the Soviet Air Force in Vinnytsia served as the basis to create the Air Force Command. The new Air Force inherrited a number of Tupolev Tu-160 'Blackjack' which were based at Pryluky but have now been returned to Russia or broken up, except for one aircraft that remains on display in Poltava. Ukraine also operated Tupolev Tu-22Ms and as well as Tupolev Tu-95s for a period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but these have all been scrapped, apart from a handful displayed in museums.

Current Air Force

The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates that Ukraine's Air Force includes three Sukhoi Su-24 regiments, 7 regiments with Mikoyan MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-27, two regiments with Sukhoi Su-25, two regiments with 29 Su-24MR, three transport regiments, some support helicopter squadrons, one helicopter training regiment, and five air training regiments with 120 L-39 Albatros. They are grouped into the 5th and 14th Aviation Corps, the 35th Aviation Group, which is a multi-role rapid reaction formation, and a training aviation command. The IISS assesses the overall force size as 817 aircraft of all types and 49,100 personnel. Russian sources disagree and list three aviation groups (West, South, and Center).[4] Unfortunately some of the aircraft are now aging, most remember the late 1980s, and the airforces offensive/defensive potential is slowly decreasing.

Developments and reforms

In 2006, a large number of aging weapons and equipment were decommissioned from combat service by the Air Force. This presented an opportunity to use the released funds to the modernization of various items of aviation and anti-aircraft artillery weapons and equipment, radio communication equipment, and flight maintenance equipment, as well as an improvement of Air Force personnel training.

The automated systems of collection, processing and transmission of radio information have been adopted as a component part of the Automated Command and Control System for aviation and air defense. Operational service testing of the circular surveillance radar station has also been completed. Prototypes of high-precision weapons systems, electronic warfare devices, and navigation equipment have been created and developed for state testing.

The AN-24 and AN-26 aircraft, as well as the anti-aircraft artillery systems S-300 and “Buk M1”, have been continually modernized, and their service life has been extended. An organizational basis and technological means for modernizing MiG-29, Su-24, Su-25, Su-27, L-39 has been produced. Given sufficient funding from the Verkhovna Rada, the Defense Industrial Complex of Ukraine, in cooperation with foreign companies and manufacturers, is capable of fully renewing the aircraft arsenal of the Ukrainian armed forces.

The structural reorganization of the Air Force had set as goals for itself the sufficiently reducing the total number of command and control levels, and increasing the efficiency of command and control processes. The reorganization of command and control elements of the air force is still underway. The first step of this organization was to transition from the existing air commands to the Command and Control (C2) and warning center systems.

This will not only help eliminate duplications at the command and control levels, but will also contribute to an increased centralization of the command and control system, the multi-functionality of the command and control elements, and effectiveness of response to the change of air conditions. 2006 saw the definition of the functions and tasks, organization and work of the C2 and Warning Center as well as the mechanism of interaction with the establishment of the Air Operations Center and Joint Operational Command. During the command and staff exercise one of the Air Force Commands has in effect performed control of “C2 and Warning Center – formation (unit)” level.

Future Plans

In 2005, the UAF was planning to restructure in an effort to improve efficiency. Moreover, Ukraine is planning to put more advanced jet aircraft into service in upcoming years. Even upgraded aircraft will be able to fly no longer than up to the year 2015. This means that from approximately 2012, Ukraine will have to either take bold steps to create a new combat aircraft or purchase a large number of existing combat aircraft.



Ukrainian MiG-29
Ukrainian Su-25UB

Training activities have taken on a qualitatively new character due to their complexity, including the simultaneous employment of all branches of the Air Force aviation, anti-aircraft artillery and radar troops in close teamwork with units of other armed services of the Armed Forces. Operational and combat training has included the following activities:

  • aviation units have performed more than 6,000 tasks in combat scenarios (including more than 1,500 air battles and interceptions, 629 firing at land-based targets, 530 bombings, 21 launches of air missiles, 454 tasks in aerial surveillance, 454 airborne landings, 740 airlifts, 575 flight shifts for a total of 10,553 flying hours);
  • five tactical flying missions in a squadron, 14 in a pair and 5 in a flight organization have been carried out to perform the assigned combat tasks, and 54 pilots have been trained to perform specific tasks in difficult meteorological conditions;
  • the number of flight crews being trained to defend the air space of the country and counter-terrorism air operations has almost doubled from 46 in 2005 to 90 in 2006; the units of anti-aircraft artillery and radar troops carried out 50 maneuvers involving redeployment, with each operator tracking 70 and 140 real and simulated targets, respectively.

In early September of 2007, the Ukrainian Air Force conducted the most large-scale training of its aircraft to date. As the Defense Minister of Ukraine, Anatoliy Hrytsenko stated, "The most large-scale, during the whole 16 years of the Ukrainian independence, training of fighting aircraft, which defends our air space, was carried out during September 4–5". According to him, they fulfilled 45 battle launches of “air-air” missiles, out of them 22 during the day and 23- at night. 35 pilots confirmed their high skills during the training. Hrytsenko stressed that 100% of air targets were hit. [3][5]

Joint Training

The joint training of the Air Force of Ukraine and the air force of the Russian Federation in the practical control of their air defense Stand-by Forces has become more systematic. Moreover, interoperability has been achieved between the forces of Ukraine and the command and control elements of the Air defense of the Russian Federation during the detecting, tracking, and neutralizing of air targets during simulated terrorist attacks.

Air Defense Forces

The Air Defense Force is a relatively new service within the Armed Forces, established in 2004-2005, through the merging of the Air Force and the Air Defense Force. It allowed the Armed Forces of Ukraine to adopt the tri-service structure, common to most modern armies.

The Air Defense of Ukraine performs key tasks in the protection of Ukraine’s sovereignty and the inviolability of its borders and air space. It has clearly defined functions in both peacetime and wartime, is intended to prevent any enemy air and missile strikes, to defend the most important administrative, political and industrial centers, to aid in the concentration of Army and Navy units, to intercept enemy aircraft and other military objects, and to protect against enemy air and cruise missile strikes.


Ukrainian Air Commands:
      Air Command West       Air Command Center       Air Command South

An incomplete structure of the Ukrainian air force.

  • Training
    • National Aerospace University "Kharkiv Aviation University" - 203rd training Aviation Brigade Chuguyiv, Kharkiv oblast. L-39, An-26.
    • National Aviation University - Faculty of Military Preparation, Kiev - College of the Air Force, Vasilkov, Kiev.
    • Joint Training Center - a regiment of remote-controlled aerial vehicles (UAV Reconnaissance)
  • Air Command West
    • 1st radio brigade. Lipnik, Lviv oblast.
    • 76th single regiment communication and management, Lviv
    • 114th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Ivano-Frankivsk. MIG-29)
    • 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Starokostyantiniv, Khmelnitsky oblast. Su-24m, Su24MR).
    • 456th Assault Regiment (456 ShAP) (Chortkiv, Ternopil oblast. Su-25)
    • 223rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Stryi, Lviv oblast. Buk-M1)
    • 11th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Shepetivka, Khmelnitsky oblast. Buk-M1)
    • 540th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Kamenka-Buzskaya, Lviv oblast. S-200, S-300)
    • “LDARZ” state aviation maintenance plant (Lviv)
  • Air Command Centre
    • 31st separate regiment command and communication
    • ?? separate radio Brigade (Vasilkov, Kiev.)
    • 40th separate radio Brigade (Kharkiv)
    • 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Vasilkov, Kiev. MiG-29)
    • 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade (Mirgorod, Poltava oblast. Su-27)
    • 9th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Ozerne, Zhytomyr oblast. MiG-29)
    • 25th Transport Aviation Brigade (Melitopol, Zaporozhye. Il-76/78)
    • 15th Transport Aviation Brigade (Borispol, Kiev oblast. An-30, Tu-134, An-24/26, Mi-8)
    • 456th Transport Aviation Brigade (Gavryshevka, Vinnitsa oblast. An-26 and Mi-8)
    • 96th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Danilovka, Kiev. S-200. S-300)
    • 137th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Uman, Cherkasy oblast. S-300)
    • 120th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Kharkiv. S-300)
    • 302nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Kharkiv. S-300)
    • 108th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Zolotonosha. Cherkasy oblast. Buk-M1)
    • 138th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Dnipropetrovsk. S-300)
    • 156th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Donetsk and Luhansk oblast. Buk-M1)
    • 3rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Pervomaysk, Mykolaiv oblast. S-300)
    • “CHARZ” Aviation Repair Plant (Chuhuiv, Kharkiv oblast)
    • “Aviokon” Aviation Repair Plant (Konotop, Sumy oblast)
  • Air Command South
    • 43rd separate regiment communication and management (Odessa)
    • 14th separate radio team (Odessa)
    • 299th Tactical Aviation Brigade(Kulbakino, Mykolaiv oblast. Su-25)
    • 28th Separate Mixed Aviation Squadron (Kulbakino, Mykolaiv oblast. L-39, Su-24M, Su-25)
    • 160th Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Odessa. S-300, S-200)
    • 208th Guards Anti-Aircraft Artillery brigade (Kherson. S-300, S-200)
    • 301st Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk oblast. S-300)
    • “NARP” aircraft repair plant (Mykolaiv)
  • Task Force "Crimea"
    • ??? a separate radio team (Lyubimovka near Sevastopol)
    • 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade (Belbek, near Sevastopol. MIG-29)
    • 174th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Dergachi near Sevastopol. the S-300)
    • 50th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Feodosiya. S-300, S-200)
    • 55th Anti-Aircraft Artillery regiment (Yevpatoriya. Buk-M1)

Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Versions Numbers In Service Comments
Trainer Aircraft
Aero L-39 Albatros  CSK Training L-39/L-39M1 39 [6] L-39M1 Ukrainian upgrade.
Fighter Aircraft
Sukhoi Su-27  USSR Air Superiority Fighter Su-27
36 [6]
Mikoyan MiG-29  USSR Multirole Aircraft MiG-29
80[6] 5 MiG-29MU1 Ukrainian upgrade.
Bomber Aircraft
Sukhoi Su-24  USSR Tactical Bomber Su-24M
Sukhoi Su-25  USSR Close air support Su-25
36[6] Su-25M1 and Su-25UBM1 Ukrainian upgrade.
Transport Aircraft
Ilyushin Il-76  USSR Transport IL-76 20[6]
Antonov An-70  USSR/ UKR Transport An-70 2
Antonov An-12  USSR/ UKR Transport An-12 18? Not in service
Antonov An-24  USSR/ UKR Transport An-22 13
Antonov An-26  USSR/ UKR Transport An-26 28 Several upgraded as An-26 "Vita" flying hospitals
Antonov An-72  USSR/ UKR Transport An-72
Aerial refueling
Ilyushin Il-78  USSR Refueling Tanker IL-78 2[7] Not in service
Sukhoi Su-24  USSR Reconnaissance Su-24MR 23[6]
Antonov An-30  USSR Reconnaissance An-30 12
Tupolev Tu-141  USSR Reconnaissance UAV Tu-141 "Strizh"  ?
Tupolev Tu-143  USSR Reconnaissance UAV Tu-143
Mil Mi-24  USSR Attack helicopter Mi-24
Mil Mi-6  USSR Transport helicopter Mi-6 14
Mil Mi-8  USSR Transport helicopter Mi-8 140
Mil Mi-17  USSR Transport helicopter Mi-17 100
Mil Mi-26  USSR Transport helicopter Mi-26 25

Former Aircraft

Former Ukrainian Tu-22m
Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service[8] Notes
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25  Soviet Union Interceptor MiG-25 Former
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21  Soviet Union fighter MiG-21 Former
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23  Soviet Union Fighter MiG-23 Former
Mikoyan MiG-27  Soviet Union Attack MiG-27 Former
Sukhoi Su-17  Soviet Union Fighter-bomber Su-17 Former
Sukhoi Su-15  Soviet Union Interceptor Su-15 Former
Yakovlev Yak-28  Soviet Union Medium bomber Yak-28 Former
Tupolev Tu-160  Soviet Union Strategic bomber Tu-160 Former
Tupolev Tu-95  Soviet Union Strategic bomber Tu-95 Former
Tupolev Tu-22M3  Soviet Union Strategic bomber Tu-22M3 Former
Tupolev Tu-22  Soviet Union Medium bomber Tu-22 Former
Tupolev Tu-16  Soviet Union Bomber Tu-16 Former

See also


  1. ^ Air Forces Monthly, December 2007 issue, p.64.
  2. ^ a b c Trendafilovski, Vladimir (March 2006). "Ukrainian Reforms". AirForces Monthly (#216): 32–39. 
  3. ^ a b Book_WP_2006_ENG_nver.indd
  4. ^
  5. ^ UNIAN - Ukrainian Air Force carried out the most large-scale training of fighting aircraft
  6. ^ a b c d e f g The Military Balance 2008,International Institute for Strategic Studies. [1]
  7. ^ Ukraine - Air Force Equipment
  8. ^ "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
General Sources

External links


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