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Air Defense Force

Ukraine’s acting Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh described the combat readiness of the country’s armed forces as “unsatisfactory” in his 12 March 2014 report to the acting president. Tenyukh said recent exercises demonstrated a “dismal degree of preparedness among servicemen and lack of military specialists, equipment and weapons” in the Ground Forces, the Air Force and the Navy. The country’s air defense troops had received little training because of the 2001 ban on missile launches imposed after the crash of a Russian Tu-154 passenger jet. According to the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee, the plane with 78 people on board was downed by a wayward Ukrainian S-200 surface-to-air missile during military training exercises. The ban was lifted in 2008, but so far only 10 percent of Air Defense Forces servicemen “have mastered the required level of theory and practice,” the report said.

The air force's consolidation with the air defense force was completed in 2004-2005. The Air Force is a new service within the Armed Forces, established in 2004-2005 through the merging of the Air Force and the Air Defence Force. It allowed the Armed Forces of Ukraine to transform to the tri-service structure common to modern armies. Historically, the Ukrainian Fighting Forces inherited from the Soviet Army two branches of aviation forces - the air force and the air defense force. An attempt to consolidate the two branches of the service was made in 1993, as a result of which Ukraine obtained yet another controlling body that proved unable to effectively control either the air force or the air defense force.

An attempt to consolidate the two forces into one was made in 1996, but the attempt was a failure then because of poor performance of the unified control system. The command-and-staff exercise which took place at the West Tactical Command headquarters on March 21 through 24, 2000 was intended to look into the possibility to consolidate the Air Force and Air Defense Force into a single branch of the service, as Russia had already done.

The Air Defense of Ukraine fulfils responsible tasks of protection of the Ukraine's sovereignty and the inviolability of its borders and air space, has well specified functions in peacetime and in case of war and is intended to prevent the beginning of air and missile strikes, to intercept enemy aircraft, to defend the most important administrative, political and industrial centers, concentration of Army and Navy units, other state and military objects against enemy air and cruise missile strikes.

A brand-new training ground, test launches of missiles made in 1979, a plane in the right place at the wrong time, and an under-funded military performing its first missile test-launches in 18 months were among the many elements that set the stage for the apparent downing of a Russian Sibir Airlines Tu-154 passenger jet by a Ukrainian missile on 04 October 2001. All 78 people aboard the plane, en route from Tel Aviv to Novisibirsk, perished. The S-200 missiles involved in the exercises were made in 1979. The rockets have an operational life of 25 years. Oct. 4 was the first of two days slated for missile tests during a planned, two-week military training exercise on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. The exercises were scheduled to run from Sept. 28 to Oct. 12.

The training ground, known as Opuc Cape, is actually operated by Russia. Russia leases the grounds from Ukraine. The autumn exercises marked the first time that Ukraine's military had used the Opuc Cape site. Ukraine had previously held similar exercises annually on Crimea's Chauda Cape, some 40 kilometers away from the new site. But last year's exercises were canceled after Ukraine's military accidentally sent a surface-to-surface Tochka-U rocket through the roof of an apartment building in Brovary, outside Kyiv, killing three people.

The Air Defense Force of Ukraine was developed at the basis of formations, large units ad units, deployed in Ukraine at the moment of its independence's proclamation. The Air Defense Force is designed for notification about air strike and missile attack, enemy aviation counter-warfare, defense of most important administrative, political and economic centers and regions of the state, troops concentrations, naval units, other state and military facilities against enemy aviation and cruise missiles.

Air Defense Missile Troops are designed to support jointly with other Services Air Defense of Ukraine. They are equipped with various types of antiaircraft missile (antiaircraft artillery) complexes featuring high possibilities to injure sophisticated assets of air strike in the wide range of altitudes and its flight speeds in different weathers and times of a day.

Radio-technical Troops are designed to directly execute airspace radio-location reconnaissance and support warfare of missile troops and fighter aviation. They are equipped with sophisticated radars, which allow any time of a year and a day, independently from weather conditions and counter-radar warfare, to detect assets of air attack at long ranges and at all altitudes, to locate their exact coordinates, as well as support targeting for missile troops and operate aviation's guidance.

Special troops, units, establishments and units of technical and logistic support, military educational establishments are aimed at supporting warfare of large units, units and services units .

One fact that differ UKR Air Defense from others is its 24 hours duty function to defend UKR state border in peaceful time. Every day almost 3,000 servicemen, representing more than 120 military specialties. Air Defense units cover state border ranging up to 7,000 km, monitor various agencies aircraft flights in state's airspace as well as border-crossing with 9 neighboring states. Radio-technical units, command posts' teams monitored more than 400 000 aircraft, detected more than 100 border violators during latest 3,5 years. About 3 500 times duty forces were alerted to execute missions assigned and to prevent possible airspace violations.

By the Decree of the President of Ukraine in 1997, the first Sunday of August was celebrated annually as the Air Defense Day.

Ukraine's military is better known for its misfires than its bulls eyes. In the two years alone, the troops have accidentally fired missiles at an apartment complex and a passenger ship. Its most notorious disaster of all, the downing of a Russian airliner over the Black Sea in the fall of 2001, killed 78 people and drew international ridicule and repulsion.

The main feature of The Air Defence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: even in peacetime it carries out combat tasks of Ukraine's airspace border protection - 24-hour combat duty. Every day 3000 servicemen of more than 120 specialties carry out combat duty. Units and elements of the Air Defence protect the state border of distance of over 7000 km, observe and check flights of planes of all national state structures and during state border crossing through the borders of 9 neighboring states.

Every month radar troops, crews of command posts of the Air Defence track more than 9000 aircraft. The crews on combat duty are always ready to prevent any airspace violations and to render assistance for aircraft in case of emergency. The structure of The Air Defence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was created and developed taking into account all experience gained before, coming from the geopolitical position of Ukraine, its military doctrine orientation, existing power and means of the Air Defence and according to the technical and economical abilities.

The integrated system of the Air Defence, which has been created using all power and means of all branches of the Armed Forces, is effective and economical but a strict centralized control system is required. The transfer of main military activity to aerospace, direct relation of results of military conflict on the fact who dominates in aerospace stipulate the essential increase of role of means of air attack and air defense. The confirmation of above mentioned fact is modern military conflicts, operations conducted by multinational forces in Gulf Bay and also operation of combined NATO armed forces in Yugoslavia.

The modern air defense must be multifunctional, capable to fight with not only aircraft and helicopters but cruise missiles and other unmanned means. The effectiveness of combat application of different powers and means of the Air Defence must be achieved by the usage of combat capabilities taking into consideration the specified cooperation and centralized control. Thus, in general the achievement of high effectiveness of The Air Defence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine under today's economical conditions is possible due to creation of the combined air defense system of the respective scale which shall have unified concept, assigned tasks and performance characteristics of its means.

The combined air defense system shall use effective means of reconnaissance, destruction means, electronic countermeasures and automatic control systems. The foundation of such air defense system shall be aviation and anti-aircraft missile means disposed in ranges and altitudes of target destruction.

The UkrOboronService State Enterprise performed work for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to restore combat capabilities of air defense weapons and equipment, as a part of a program of technological modernization of the Air Forces to be conducted through 2017. The program includes in-factory maintenance on four S-300 air defense systems and one Buk-M1 (SA-17 Grizzly) air defense system annually. To date, the company has completed work on six S-300PT air defense systems. A seventh S-300PT is being prepared to enter service, and two more S-300PT systems and one Buk-M1 air defense system are currently in work. UkrOboronService also has contracts with Kazakhstan and Belarus for maintenance and modernization of air defense systems.




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