Abkhazian Air Force

Abkhazian Air Force

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Abkhazian Air Force

start_date= 1992
allegiance= Abkhazia
size= 250 personnel (2001)
7 aircraft (2001)
battles= Abkhaz-Georgian Civil War, 2008 South Ossetia war
anniversaries= Aviation Day, 27 August
aircraft_attack= Su-25, L-39
aircraft_fighter= MiG-21
aircraft_trainer= Yak-52
aircraft_transport= Mi-8 (all as of 2001)
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.Slavic & East European Collections at UC Berkeley (June 1998). [http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/doemoff/slavic/pdfs/army698.pdf] . "Army & Society in Georgia: Military Chronicle – Miscellany". Drawn from an entry published in "7 Dge", No. 72, June 22-23, p.3 (reprinted from "Abkhazia" No. 5, a periodical issued in Russia). Retrieved 17 January 2007.] 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 civil 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.Cooper, Tom. (Sep. 29, 2003). [http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_282.shtml Georgia and Abkhazia, 1992-1993: the War of Datchas] . "Air Combat Information Group (ACIG)". Retrieved 17 January 2007.]

Besides the Yak-52, aircraft operated by the Abkhaz Air Force during the civil war reportedly included at least a pair each of Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO reporting name: "Frogfoot") and Su-27 ("Flanker") fighters and two or more L-39 Albatros jet trainers, as well as a few Mil Mi-8 ("Hip") helicopters and several other unidentified light aircraft.cite web|url=http://www.worldairforces.com/Countries/abkhazian/abk.html|title=World Air Forces|work=Abkhazian Air Force|accessdate=2007-01-16] 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.Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology, and Policy (24 October 2001). [http://www.bu.edu/iscip/digest/vol6/ed0617.html] . "The NIS Observed: An Analytical Review – Caucasus: Georgia", Vol. VI, No. 17. Drawn from an entry published in "Moskovskiye Novosti" 22 October 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2007.] ) 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 a couple 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 MiG-21 ("Fishbed"), 1 Su-25, 2 L-39, 1 Yak-52, and 2 Mi-8.Slavic & East European Collections at UC Berkeley (September-October 2001). [http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/doemoff/slavic/pdfs/army0901.pdf] . "Army & Society in Georgia: Military Chronicle – Armed forces of Abkhazia". Drawn from an entry published in "Kviris Palitra" No. 44, October 29-November 4, 2001, p.9. Retrieved 17 January 2007.] 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 MiG-21 fighter, 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.cite news | title =Почему Грузия проиграет будущую войну | language = Russian | publisher =Sedognia.ru | date = 2007-02-27 | url =http://segodnia.ru/index.php?pgid=2&partid=45&newsid=3622 | accessdate = 2007-10-14 ] 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. [Abkhaz.org. (Undated; 2007 copyright). [http://abkhazia.e-caucasia.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=123&Itemid=37 Abkhazian Army] . Retrieved 19 November 2007.] In March 2008, a military aviation enthusiast website repeated this inventory but added 9 Mi-24/35 attack helicopters. [MilAvia Press. [http://www.milaviapress.com/orbat/abkhazia/index.php Order of Battle - Abkhazia] (as updated March 2008). Retrieved 12 April 2008.]

See also

*Georgian Air Force


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