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Azerbaijani Air Force

 

Azerbaijani Air Force

Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force
Azərbaycan Hərbi Hava Qüvvələri

Flag of Azerbaijan Air Force
Active c.1991– present
Country  Azerbaijan
Size 7,900 personnel
Headquarters Nasosnaya air base (in proximity of Sumqayit)
Engagements Nagorno-Karabakh War
Commanders
Current
commander
Major General Altay Mehdiyev[1]
Insignia
Roundel
Aircraft flown
Attack Su-24, Su-25, Mi-24, Mi-35M
Bomber Su-24
Fighter MiG-29
Interceptor MiG-29
Reconnaissance Orbiter UAV, Aerostar, Elbit Hermes 450, IAI Searcher, IAI Heron
Trainer L-39
Transport Il-76, Mi-8, Mi-17, Mi-171

The Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force often referred to as the Azerbaijani Air Force (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycan hərbi hava qüvvələri) is the air force and air defence force of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.

The roots of the current organisation go back to June 26, 1918, when the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic bought its first military aircraft. After independence in 1991–92, the presence of former Soviet air bases in Azerbaijan helped the Air and Air Defence Force develop.[2]

Current organization

The MiG-29 has been designated as the standard aircraft for the AzAF.[3]

Brinkster.net reported in October 2004 that the Azeri Air and Air Defence Force comprised a fighter squadron at Nasosnaya Air Base with МiG-25PDs and training variants, a bomber aviation regiment at Kyurdamir with Su-17/24/25, MiG-21s, and L-29/39s, a transport aviation squadron at Ganja Airport with Il-76s(?), Аn-12/24, and Тu-134s, a helicopter squadron at Baku Kala Air Base with Мi-2/8/24s, two aircraft repair factories, and two air defence missile units. Other air bases include Dollyar Air Base (which Jane's Sentinel says is reported to be non-operational)[1] Nakhichevan Airport in the Nakhichevan exclave, Sanqacal Air Base, and Sitalcay Air Base.

Azeri pilots are trained at the Azerbaijan Air Force School and then develop their skills further within their units. Azerbaijan has an experience exchange with Turkey, the United States, Ukraine, and a number of other NATO countries. Turkish Air Force School plays a great role in the training of military pilots. The Azerbaijani pilots are also trained in Ukraine’s Pilot Training School.[4]

Recent events

On February 11, 2009, the commanding officer of the Air Force, General Lieutenant Rail Rzayev was assassinated outside his home.[5] Rzayev had been reportedly negotiating closer ties with the United States regarding air force modernisation before his death, possibly including the acquisition of US fighter aircraft.[6] The post was vacant until another officer, Mehtiev, was appointed in December 2009.[7]

On March 3, 2010, an Azerbaijani Air Force Su-25 crashed in the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan[8] killing the pilot, Famil Mammadli. An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the crash.

On February 3, 2011, an Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force Su-25UB crashed in the Kurdamir region of Azerbaijan. Both crew members were not injured.

Modernization

Jane's said in 2009 that 'efforts to acquire more modern hardware are understood to have been underway for several years, but funding constraints proved to be a stumbling block. Until quite recently, only limited success was achieved, with the most significant addition to the inventory being a handful of Su-25s that were obtained from Georgia in 2002. In 2007, however, Azerbaijan took delivery of the first of a substantial number of MiG-29 'Fulcrum' fighters. These are understood to have originated from disparate sources, including Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, with at least some having been overhauled at Odessa in Ukraine prior to delivery.[9]

The United States is the most active participant in the modernisation of Air Force airfields.[4] Airfields in Gala and the Nasosnaya Air Base near Haji Zeynalabidin settlement have been modernised with US support as part of the Azerbaijan-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan. Special equipment were installed there to provide flight security. The starting command points, engineering control systems and engineering air force service were provided with new buildings. Negotiations over the modernisation of Kurdamir airfield are currently under way. An advanced Flight Control System has been installed at Dollyar Air Base with support from the United States.

Since September 2008, Turkey has helped to modernise the Air Force central command headquarters. According to a Turkish-Azeri agreement, a NATO standard central command management center will be installed there. A great number of projects such as joint manufacture of unmanned aircraft will be implemented with Turkey in the near future.[10][11]

Air Defence Force

The Air Defence Force is a component of the Air and Air Defence Force of Azerbaijan.[1] There are some installations of the Cold War era left by the Soviets in 1990.

The Gabala OTH Radar in Azerbaijan is operated by the Russian Space Forces. The radar station has a range of up to 6,000 kilometres (3,728 mi), and was designed to detect missile launches as far as from the Indian Ocean. It is not known whether Russia shares any of the radar's data with Azerbaijan.

In 2006, the US provided Azerbaijani military with additional radar installations. Plans were announced for the US to modernize one radar station near the Iranian border at Lerik and another near the border with Georgia at Agstafa. Joint work also commenced on two radar stations on the Russia-Azerbaijani border and Iran-Azerbaijani border to monitor Caspian Sea traffic.[12]

Azerbaijan has also a number of missile systems covering Azeri airspace. The NATO designated SA-2 Guideline (original name S-75 Dvina) has been installed around Baku and additional installations are near the border with Iran and Dagestan. Some are installed to defend against Armenian aircraft. In terms of numbers, the IISS reported in 2002 that Azerbaijan had 100 S-75 Dvina, S-125 Neva/Pechora, and S-200 systems.[13] Among them are the medium range SA-4, for short range the SA-8 and the SA-13 mobile SAM and the ZSU23 Shilka vehicles to cover the armored forces against airstrikes. Azerbaijan has also lighter AA guns and shoulder launched SAMs varying quality.

In 2009 Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry signed a contract with Russia's Rosoboronexport company to buy two battalions of S-300 PMU-2 “Favorit”.[14][15]

In January 2012, Azerbaijan and Israel signed a $1.6 billion deal that includes anti-aircraft and missile defense systems.[16]

Vehicle Origin Versions Number Notes
Barak 8  Israel Barak-8 12 launchers,75 missiles
NASAMS 2  Norway NASAMS  ?? [17]
S-300 (missile)  Russia S-300PMU2 Favorit 3 battalions
S-200 Angara/Vega/Dubna  Soviet Union S-200 Angara
S-125 Neva/Pechora  Belarus Pechora-2TM 27 systems Upgraded by Belarus
SPYDER  Israel SPYDER
Tor missile system  Russia Tor-2ME Several batteries[18]
Buk missile system  Russia/ Belarus Buk-M1-2, Buk-M1, Buk-MB 6
9K33 Osa  Belarus Osa-1T 80 Upgraded by Belarus
9K35 Strela-10  Soviet Union 9K35 54
9K38 Igla  Russia SA-24 Igla-S 300 launchers with 1500 missiles[19]

Aircraft inventory

In September–October 2010, Azerbaijan purchased 24 Mi-35M from Rostvertol.[20][21][22] 8 of them have been delivered in the end of the first quarter of 2012 and four more in August 2012.[23]

With the arrival of the MiG-29s, the Air Force appears to have retired the MiG-25 aircraft that it used to fly from Nasosnaya Air Base. IISS estimates in 2007 reported 26 as still in service; other figures previously placed the total as high as 38.[24]

The Air Force retains in store L-29 and L-39 fighter training aircraft produced in the Czech Republic and Ukraine.[4]

Azerbaijan also manufactures Israeli-designed spy planes. Among the licensed UAVs is the Orbiter-2M and the Aerostar. Both are manufactured at the government-owned Azad Systems Company plant near Baku.[25][26][27] The head of the Defense Industry, Yaver Jamalov, said that by the end of 2011 a total of 60 UAVs will be produced.[28][29]

Name Origin Versions Number Notes
Fighter aircraft
Mikoyan MiG-29  Ukraine MiG-29B, MiG-29UB 36
Ground attack aircraft
Sukhoi Su-25  Soviet Union Su-25 Scorpion 33 Upgraded by Israeli Elbit.
jf-17 thunder 24
Trainer aircraft
Aero L-39 Albatros  Czech Republic L-39C 28
Transport aircraft
Ilyushin Il-76  Russia Il-76M 5
Attack helicopter
Mil Mi-24  Russia Mi-35M, Mi-24G Super Hind, Mi-24 Hind 36 Mi-35M + 50 Mi-24
Transport helicopter
Mil Mi-17  Russia Mi-17-V1, Mi-17-V5 100+
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Aeronautics Orbiter  Israel Orbiter-2M Locally produced in Azerbaijan
Aerostar  Israel Aerostar Locally produced in Azerbaijan
IAI Heron  Israel Heron-1
IAI Searcher  Israel Searcher Mk.2
Elbit Hermes 450  Israel Hermes-450

References

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