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Troops of National Air Defense (PVO)

The Troops of National Air Defense (PVO) became a separate armed service in 1948 and were given the mission of defending the Soviet industrial, military, and administrative centers and the armed forces against strategic bombing. Air Defense Forces were known as Voyska PVO Strany [National Air Defense Forces - Voiska Protivovozdushnoi Oborony Strany] from 1941 to 1982.

The Air Defence Air Force (PVO Strany) became an independent branch in the area of air defence and antiaircraft systems in 1948. United under its command were interceptor aviation; antiaircraft artillery (AAA); and the Ground Observation Service, which included radar units, ground observers, searchlight units, barrage balloon units, and other specialized forces. The entire country was divided into border and interior regions. In this period, the conduct of air defense actions in particular regions came under the direction of the commanders of the various military districts.

The air defense forces, charged with defense against enemy air attack, include missile, air force, and radio-technical units. The strategic air defense operation focuses on defending friendly forces and contributing to air superiority.

Defensive tasks, in order of priority, include--

  • Protecting administrative-political, military-industrial, and communications centers;
  • Providing cover for air bases, missile troops, and major headquarters;
  • Defending concentrations and deployments of major ground forces groupings, especially on main axes, and then of second echelons or reserves.

The Troops of National Air Defense (PVO) combined ground-based air defense assets with fixed-wing aircraft forces to provide an integrated air defense umbrella. Conflicting pressures for centralization and decentralization affected air defense control relationships. Factors favoring centralized control include the greater efficiency and effectiveness of centralized target detection systems and the increased ranges of modern SAMs. Decentralized control provides flexibility and shorter response times for supporting fast-paced operations by ground maneuver units.

The Soviet Air Force of the Anti-Aircraft Defence of the Homeland (Protivo-Vozduschniya Obarona-Strany or PVO Strany) ranked third in order of precedence in the Soviet armed forces after the Strategic Rocket Forces and the Ground Forces and became an independent arm in 1954. After Air Defense of Ground Forces was formed in 1958, the National Air Defense Forces focused on strategic aerospace and theater air defense.

The Commander-in-Chief of the PVO Strany, who operated directly under the Ministry of Defence in Moscow, had four main elements under his command. These comprised:

  • Anti-Aircraft Artillery Troops (Zenit-naya Artilleriya)
  • Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops (Zenitno-Raketmye Voiska)
  • Fighter Aviation of the Air Force (Istrebitel'naya Aviatsiya)
  • Radar Troops (Radioteknicheskie Voiska)

A major reorganization of Soviet Air and Air Defence Forces took place between 1978 and 1980, including Frontal Aviation, Long-Range Aviation, interceptor aircraft of the National Air Defence (IA-PVO) and Ground Force Troops of the Anti-Aircraft Defence (PVO Voysk). Since 1978 PVO [or P-VO] (Protivo-Vozdushnoi Oborony = National [Homeland] Air-Defense Forces) combined PVO-Strany (Strategic ADF) and PVO-Voysk (Ground Forces ADF). At the beginning of 1981 the name of the air defense force component was changed from "Troops of National Air Defense" (Voyska PVO strany) to simply "Troops of Air Defense" (Voyska PVO), but it maintained its status as an independent branch, and the main body of army air defence troops, including the military schools, were annexed to it. Voyska PVO gained responsibility for theater anti-aircraft systems of the Air Defense of Ground Forces. The Voyska PVO lost its separate command and control system in the reorganization and about half of the fighters and the majority of the flying training system was transferred to the Air Force.

In 1989 the Air Defense Forces had more than 500,000 personnel and operated the world's most extensive strategic air defense network. By the mid-1990s the air defense forces had a total of about 200,000 troops, of whom 60,000 were conscripts, with about 850 combat aircraft, including 100 MiG-23, 425 MiG-31, and 325 Su-27 aircraft. Training of personnel for military air defense is carried out in the Military Academy of the Armed Forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation named after Marshal of the Soviet Union AM Vasilevsky. Today, the Military Academy of the Armed Air Defense of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is a single educational and research center carrying out multilevel training of air defense officers with the highest operational and tactical training and full military special training for air defense troops of the Ground Forces, Airborne Forces, coastal naval forces, and other ministries and departments of the Russian Federation, as well as leading scientific research, training of scientific and scientific and pedagogical personnel. The Academy has 17 departments, five faculties and a research and development center. The training of military specialists in the academy is carried out in 38 specialties. In addition, the training of officers for military air defense is carried out at five military departments and two military training centers at civilian universities.

The training of junior specialists is carried out in two training centers of the Air Defense Forces of the Ground Forces and two training centers for the training of air defense specialists from the OCT for 4-month training programs (1 month of combined training and 3 months for training in the specialty).

Annually more than 4,500 specialists are trained in 25 military registration specialties. Since 2014, for the air defense forces of the Ground Forces, the training of soldiers and reserve sergeants is carried out at military departments and training military centers of 5 general education institutions of higher professional education in 20 military registration specialties. Currently, more than 1,300 people are trained, and from August 2016, the number of students grew to 2,000.




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