Puneet Varma

Abkhazian Air Force

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Allegiance  Abkhazia
Fighter  Sukhoi Su-27
Transports  Mil Mi-8, Antonov An-2
Founded  1992
Trainer  Yakovlev Yak-52
Abkhazian Air Force httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons88
Size  250 personnel (2001) 15+ aircraft (2011)
Anniversaries  Aviation Day, 27 August
Engagements  Russo-Georgian War, Abkhaz–Georgian conflict
Attack aircrafts  Aero L-39 Albatros, Mil Mi-24
Similar  Armenian Air Force, Georgian Air Force, Chadian Air Force, Military of San Marino, Uzbekistan Air and Air Defence

Abkhazian air force


The Abkhazian Air Force is a small air force operating from Abkhazia. Few details are available on its formation, but it is reported to have been established by Viyacheslav Eshba based upon several Yak-52 trainer aircraft armed with machine guns. Its first combat mission was conducted on 27 August 1992, which has come to be celebrated in Abkhazia as "Aviation Day." The Abkhaz Air Force claims to have made 400 operational flights during the 1992-1993 Abkhaz-Georgian war. Abkhaz combat losses during the civil war are uncertain, but include a Yak-52 on a reconnaissance mission near Sukhumi on 4 July 1993.

Contents

Besides the Yak-52, aircraft operated by the Abkhaz Air Force during the war reportedly included at least a pair each of Sukhoi Su-25 and Su-27 fighters and five L-39 Albatros jet trainers, as well as a few Mil Mi-8 helicopters and several other unidentified light aircraft. However, the Russians flew numerous sorties in support of the Abkhazians and it is unclear which of these aircraft were truly Abkhazian-operated. (There are also claims that Russian aircrew were instructed to cover up the national insignia on their aircraft and then flew raids against Georgian positions.) The sophisticated Su-27s in particular appear to have been operated only by the Russians, not the Abkhazians. The Russians flew Su-27s from Gudauta Airbase, and during the attack on Sukhumi, one of them was shot down by an S-75 Dvina (NATO reporting name: SA-2 "Guideline") surface-to-air missile on 19 March 1993 (although it remains unknown who fired the missile). It is unclear whether Su-25s said to have been in Abkhazian service during the civil war were actually theirs or Russian Air Force aircraft, although at least two seem to have been obtained prior to the withdrawal of Russian combat aircraft from Gudauta AB in 2001.

In the autumn of 2001, Abkhazia's air force was reported to comprise 250 personnel, 1 Su-25, 2 L-39, 1 Yak-52, and 2 Mi-8. The display of three L-39s at a parade in 2004 suggests a possible recent acquisition. In February 2007 a Russian website reported that Abkhazia has 2 Su-27 fighters, 1 Yak-52, 2 Su-25 attack aircraft, 2 L-39 combat trainers, 1 An-2 light transport, 7 Mi-8 helicopters and 3 Mi-24 helicopters. However, an undated 2007 Abkhaz source gave the inventory for the Abkhazian Air Force as 1 MiG-21, 1 Su-25, 2 L-39, 1 Yak-52, and 2 Mi-8. In March 2008, a military aviation enthusiast website repeated this inventory but added 9 Mi-24/35 attack helicopters, but a photo from December 2009 of an Abkhazian Airbase confirms 2 Mi-24/35 attack helicopters, 1 Mi-8 helicopter (Also Present A Mi-8 with UN Markings and an other with no markings), 4 L-39 Combat Trainers, and 2 An-2 light transports along with the single Yak-52 (With a Russian Civil Aircraft Tail Number) there are also photos showing a second Mi-17.

Equipment

An accounting of exact types, quantities, and service dates for aircraft serving in the Abkhazian Air Force is difficult to accurately provide due to a number of factors including Abkhazia's disputed status, a lack of official available information, multiple conflicts over the course of its existence, and the regular involvement of Russian aircraft and pilots in the conflicts and region. In general, the air force has relied on aircraft inherited from the former Soviet forces based in Abkhazia with possible reinforcement in recent years by Russia with second-hand aircraft. No traditional contracts for aircraft purchases by Abkhazia have been reported.

References

Abkhazian Air Force Wikipedia


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