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Russian Air Force - History

On July 30 (August 12), 1912 the special body of military control of aviation and aeronautics was established in the Russian Armed Forces. This day is officially designated in the Russian Federation as the Day of the Air Force.

By the beginning of the Great War, Russia had 39 detachments armed with 263 aircraft intended for military use. During the war years the aerial defence started structurally taking shape for covering the most important centres of the country. The aerial defence of the capital of Russia – Petrograd – and its environs was created on December 8, 1914 as one of the first. Organizationally, it included batteries of antiaircraft artillery, aircraft crews, a network of air observation posts. The names of creators of the «Russian school of air combat» P.N. Nesterov, Ye.N. Kruten’, A.A. Kozakov, K.K. Artseulov, N.A. Yatsuk were inscribed in the history of the First World War. By the end of World War I aviation became an independent Arm of the Land Force.

The development of military aviation was accompanied by institutionalization of the Forces of Aerial Defence (from 1928 – the Forces of Air Defence (Russian abb. AD). For aerial defence some anti-aircraft artillery divisions were created, from 1924 – anti-aircraft artillery regiments.

In 1932, the Air Force acquires the status of an independent Arm. The Air Force of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army (WPRA) was organizationally divided into the Military, the Army and the Front Aviation. In 1933, the Heavy Bombardment Aviation (as a means of the Main Command) was structurally organized.

On May 10, 1932 the Administration of Air Defence of the Red Army was created. Some brigades, divisions, corps of air defence were formed. The Communist Party and the Soviet government in the prewar years, paid serious attention to the development of the Air Force. It was started development of new aviation units and formations, Soviet aviation industry began to produce new types of aircraft. In the ongoing exercises and maneuvers skillfully used large masses of aviation.

However, to complete the activities carried out to strengthen the Air Force to the beginning of the war, it failed. Military-theoretical views on the use of air power in war and in the operations were at the level of the requirements of the time. In general, the Soviet Air Force, despite the shortcomings of the available, have great potential to promote its ground troops in defeating the enemy and performing independent tasks.

On November 9, 1941 the Force of Air Defence of the country acquired the status of an independent Arm. In January 1942, in their composition the Aviation of the Air Defence was organizationally formalized. Besides the Fighter Aviation (Russian abb. FA), the Arms of the Air Defence were the Anti-Aircraft Artillery (Russian abb. AAA) and the Troops of Aerial Surveillance, Warning and Signal Communications (Russian abb. TASWSC).

The first period of the Great Patriotic War, which lasted almost 17 months, for the Soviet Armed Forces was extremely complex and difficult. For almost one and a half years of war, Nazi troops carried out two major offensives in an attempt to defeat the Red Army. But all their attempts have not achieved their intended objectives. Ground forces, with the active assistance of the Air Force in the winter of 1941-42 inflicted the first major defeat and the fall of 1942 - the second and set the stage for a radical change in the course of the war.

During the Great Patriotic War the Air Force and the Air Defence Force had operational-strategic formations: Air Armies, Fronts and Air Defence Armies. During the war the Air Force and the Air Defence Force destroyed more than 64 thousand enemy aircraft during air combat, by anti-aircraft fire and on the ground. More than 280,000 airmen and warriors of the Air Defence were awarded orders and medals, and 2,513 people were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, 65 pilots were twice awarded this title, and two – A.I. Pokryshkin and I.N. Kozhedub – thrice.

The Soviet Union began assisting the People's Republic of China in its establishment of a modern air force in 1950, when Soviet Air Force regiments were sent to train local pilots. China's involvement in the Korean War in late October 1950 inevitably drew Soviet pilots into the war, with a total of 52 Soviet pilots scoring five or more victories there flying MiG-15s. The history of these covert actions had been a long-buried secret.

In the postwar years the Air Force implemented transition from piston to jet supersonic aviation, and the Air Defence Force got all-weather fighter-interceptors, antiaircraft missiles and radar systems. And now the Air Force and the Air Defence Force, combined since January 1, 1999 into one Service of the Armed Forces – the Air Force.




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