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Croatian Air Force and Air Defense [HRZ]

Croatian Air Force and Air Defence are service of the Armed Forces. Their aim is securing sovereignty of the air space of the Republic of Croatia and providing air support to other services in implementation of their tasks in joint operations. It is a proponent and organizer of the Croatian air defence integrated system. Croatian Air Force and Air Defence make part of the stand-by forces that are capable of providing a quick and efficient response to military threat and of taking part in implementation of non-traditional tasks. Such purpose requires an appropriate high technological level of weapons and materiel, quality manning, specialist and permanent education and training and an adjusted system of mobilization as well as a balanced and harmonious development of all components of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence. Air defence system is a proponent of its task to protect sovereignty of the air space of the Republic of Croatia. It is being built as a unique, entire and integrated, capable of securing a quality and efficient protection of territory, forces and material goods of the Republic of Croatia against different threats.

This double role of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence is realized with the following main tasks:

  • Inspection and control of the air space security
  • Predominance in Croatian air space, over land and sea, with defence and attacks
  • Providing help in natural, humanitarian and technological disasters
  • Search and rescue operations
  • Support to control of the proliferation of people and material goods

Given the threat assessment set out earlier, Croatia does not need to develop large-scale air defence capabilities. However, given the increased likelihood of terrorist activity, particularly involving aircraft, air policing remains a key CAF national defence obligation. The Air Force will be required to support the operational needs of Land Forces to deploy and sustain. It is also expected to provide the necessary infrastructure that can be available to NATO partners. The Air Force will also contribute to the other military missions by conducting search and rescue operations, as well as providing assistance to civil authorities in the event of natural disasters and emergencies.

As of 2006 the Air Force and Air Defence was equipped with 8 MiG-21 BIS-D aircraft and 4 MiG-21 UMD's that may stay in operational use until 2010 when their lifespan expires. All other aircraft of the same type are reserves intended for the maintenance of operational aircraft's flight capability. Twelve MIG-21 aircraft were upgraded for air policing tasks and were expected to provide the necessary air capability until 2010 at maximum. In the short term, operating capabilities will be enhanced by the purchase of aids to improve reduced visibility in difficult conditions and at night. A replacement weapons platform will be needed in the medium term to assure the continuation of meeting this task. Any replacement aircraft would be obtained only after a full combined operational evaluation and investment appraisal (COIA), which would include all related activity including maintenance of combat readiness, the ability to sustain fast jet training and the need for appropriate modern weapons systems.

The 7 helicopters MI-24Vs are out of operational use and will be written off. Two AN-32B transport aircraft were partially modernized. The completion of their modernization was expected by 2007. The transport helicopter fleet was to be increased by a new helicopter squadron that will be acquired by solving of the clearing house debt, so that the Air Force will have two helicopter squadrons, Mi-8 MTV1 and Mi-171.

For the training of pilots the Air Force and Air Defence had at its disposal 20 PC-9 and PC-9M aircraft, 11 UTVA-75 and 8 Bell-206B helicopters. UTVA-75 aircraft for beginner training are maintained according to a special regime and after the procurement of new aircraft for the same purpose would be written off and withdrawn from service. For participating in forest fire fighting the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence posses 4 Canadair CL-415 aircraft and 1 Air Tractor AT-802. The rest of the aircraft on record are faulty, without flight resources, their maintenance is unaffordable and were to be be written off.

Priorities for further equipping and development of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence are determined in line with a variety of combat and peacetime duties, obligations assumed by accession of the Republic of Croatia into Euro-Atlantic alliances, in conformity with material and financial capabilities. The Croatian Air Force operates a former Yugoslavian Air Force base which shares runways with the Zagreb International Airport.

Marking a first in Croatian Air Force history, nine crewmembers along with their AN-32B aircraft touched down on Ramstein 13 April 2007 for a five-day visit to test their tactical control and navigation procedures prior to flying support missions in Afghanistan. While here, they met with NATO and the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Operations Division to discuss current tactics and multiple TACAN approaches to test recent maintenance upgrades on the aircraft. The United States and Croatia have an acquisition and cross service agreement that fosters mutual use of services and bases which the U.S. has already utilized.

The Croatian Air Force's mission in Kosovo, which started in July 2010, was the first deployment of Croatian Air Force troops outside of their country. The Croatian Air Force significantly bolstered KFOR's operational capabilities in the air and its overall mission readiness. This corps of professionals from Croatia seamlessly worked alongside the other aviation and aviation support battalions in Kosovo since their arrival.

Following transformation, the Air Force and Air Defence will number approximately 1 600 active personnel and up to 200 contract reservists. The reserve component will be used to man the organizational units of the air surveillance and navigation battalion, necessary for establishing a reserve radar network as well as a portion of organizational units responsible for the preparation of aircraft for combat activities (examination, preparation and installing of lethal equipment on the aircraft). The reserve radar network will be established with three S-600 radars, the required number of radars for measuring height and communications systems.

The training of soldier-trainees and members of the active and reserve components for the needs of manning air force and air surveillance and navigation services as well as needs for manning the air- technical field will be conducted by the air force and air defence training centre.

The Air Force and Air Defence Command will develop an air service and surveillance and navigation service as well as an air technical service and will participate in the professional development of their personnel within the overall CAF, as well as in development of the air force and air monitoring and guidance doctrine. The Air Force and Air Defence Command will be responsible for integrating the Air Defence System in the Republic of Croatia. The Air Force and Air Defence Command Company will have a logistic support unit, a signals unit and an MP unit to meet the needs of the Air Force and Air Defence service. Divulje air field will be used for the needs of the transport helicopter squadron from the 93rd air base.







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