Latvian Air Force
Latvijas Gaisa spēki
Latvian Air Force emblem.svg
Emblem of the Latvian Air Force
Active1918–1940
1992 – present
Country Latvia
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size
  • 251 personnel
  • 5 aircraft
Part ofLatvian National Armed Forces
Motto(s)
  • Visu par Latviju
  • (English: "All for Latvia")
Commanders
Current
commander
Lieutenant Colonel Viesturs Masulis[1]
Insignia
Roundel
Roundel of Latvia.svg
Fin flash
Flag of Latvia.svg
Aircraft flown
HelicopterMil Mi-8
TransportAn-2

Latvian Air Force (Latvian: Latvijas Gaisa spēki) is the aviation branch of the National Armed Forces.[2] The first air force (AF) units were established 1992. It has no air combat capability, thus the defense of Latvian air space is maintained by NATO, with rotating detachments of four aircraft to Lithuania at four-monthly intervals (see Baltic Air Policing).

History

Latvian IVL A.22 Hansa
Latvian IVL A.22 Hansa
Former variant aircraft insignia's: A - National Guard (1993–2000)  B - Latvian Air Force (1918–1940);[3]  C - Aizsargi organization (1937-1940)[4][5]
Former variant aircraft insignia's:
A - National Guard (1993–2000) B - Latvian Air Force (1918–1940);[3] C - Aizsargi organization (1937-1940)[4][5]

1919–1940

The Latvian Air Force was first founded during the Latvian War of Independence. On 7 June 1919 an Air Group was formed, commanded by Lt. Alfrēds Valleika. The first aircraft were former Bolshevik Nieuport 24bis and Sopwith 1½ Strutter, both seized from German forces. They first flew on 5 August 1919, and accomplished the first bombing mission on 26 August 1919.[6] From September the air force had three aircraft, and took part in fighting against the Germans and White Russians. Another 7–8 aircraft were seized and repaired after defeating of Russo-German forces, and 7 Sopwith Camels and 3 Sopwith 1½ Strutters were received from the British in December 1919.[6] The Latvian air force flew 69 missions during the war of independence.[6] In the years to follow many more aircraft were added to the inventory and the Air Group was eventually renamed the Aviation Regiment in 1926. An interesting feat of the Latvian naval aviation was a 6000-km trip to England and back, by three Fairey Seal floatplanes, in 1936.[7]

In 1939, the Aviation Regiment consisted of three fighter squadrons, armed with 24 Gloster Gladiator and 6 Bristol Bulldog (a fourth squadron was in organization), three reconnaissance squadrons, armed with up to 12 Letov Š-16LS, 2 Hawker Hind and 10 Stampe SV.5, and a naval reconnaissance squadron with 4 Fairey Seal and two other planes.[6] In 1939, Latvia ordered and paid for 30 British Hawker Hurricane fighters, but due to the country being overrun, they were never delivered.[8] By 1940, there were almost 130 aircraft in service.[citation needed]

A separate, mostly light aircraft Aviation Regiment of the Aizsargi organization also existed parallel to the air force until the Soviet occupation.[4][9][10] In addition to biplanes, it also purchased planes locally-produced by the VEF factory, e.g. at least four I-12 trainers in 1938.[11]

In 1940, the Aviation Regiment and the Latvian armed forces were dissolved after the Soviet occupation of Latvia.

Since 1992

The post-Soviet Latvian Air Force was formed on 24 February 1992 at Spilve Airport. In August 1994 the air force moved to the ex-Soviet Lielvārde Air Base. As the withdrawing Soviet Air Force did not leave any aircraft in Latvia, the first aircraft operated by the air force were four Polish PZL Mi-2U helicopters that were received from civilian aviation in 1992.[12][13][14][15] These were supplemented with two Let L-410UVP utility planes donated by Germany in 1993, however, one was lost in a 1995 accident in Lielvārde.[16][17][18] Six PZL-104 Wilga-35A trainer aircraft from ex-DOSAAF stocks were mostly used by the Aviation Component of the Latvian National Guard since 1993.[19][20][21][22] Similarly, the component acquired around 20 LET L-13 Blaník, three SZD-48-3 Jantar Standard 3 and three LAK-12 gliders.[19]

In the beginning of the 21st century two new and heavier Mi-8MTV Hip helicopters were bought. Both helicopters are fitted with search and rescue equipment, but are also used for transportation of troops, evacuation and support of the Special Forces. In 2000, the Aviation Component of the National Guard was merged into the air force.[23]

In 2004 the Ministry of Defense bought two more Mi-8MTV's at the Russian Ulan Ude helicopter (rework) factory. These two might replace the first two, because of the limited flying time left on the first two examples. One Mi-8MTV is normally at SAR stand-by in Riga, which is closer to the sea than Lielvārde. In 2004, the air force has commenced the modernization of the surface air defense capabilities by signing a contract regarding procurement of RBS-70 missiles.

In 2005, soldiers of the Air Force Air Defense Wing started the respective training course. One Air Defense Battery was to be supplied with the armament; and the personnel training of the Air Defense Wing was completed by the end of 2007.

It was planned to accommodate all the air force units at the Lielvārde military base in the near future. AF Air Operations Center was opened in 2009. Renovation of the air base was finished by 2014.

In July 2018, it was reported that the Ministry of Defence was planning to buy four helicopters to perform search and rescue, evacuation, and firefighting operations.[24] On August 3, 2018, the US State Department issued a news release, which stated that it had approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Latvia.[25] On September 11, 2018, an intergovernmental agreement with the United States for the acquisition of four UH-60M helicopters was concluded by the Cabinet of Ministers.[26] The first deliveries would take place at the end of 2022.[27]

In May 2020, Ministry of Defence announced plans to renovate three of four An-2. One aircraft is already in use, which was completely refurbished in 2016.[27] The second refurbished An-2 was received in August 2020 and the third in December 2021, with plans to modernize the fourth An-2 within two years.[28] In September 2021, the air force signed a contract for the purchase of two locally made ultralight Pelegrin Tarragons with delivery planned in 2022 and 2023.[28]

Mission

The air force carries out Latvian airspace surveillance, control and defense, provides air defense support to the Land Forces units and participates in search and rescue operations over the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Riga and dry land. They also transport NAF soldiers and cargo, provide transport for the State President, as well as other high-level Latvian and foreign officials during their visits to Latvia and abroad. AF aircraft also assist other NAF units, the Interior Ministry and the Crisis Medicine Centre. The air force carries out the national airspace surveillance by military radars included in its armament.

One of the key priorities for the development of the AF is their integration into the NATO Air Defense System. The modernization of air defense equipment and the training of personnel is carried out with this purpose in mind. Enhancing the Air Space Surveillance System, developing a search and rescue helicopter subdivision and personnel training are also included on this list of priorities. air force helicopters in co-operation with the Disaster Medicine Center also transport patients in grave condition, persons injured in accidents and persons injured in traffic accidents from rural regions to Riga hospitals.

Development of the Lielvārde military base will ensure centralization of air force units and establishment of an efficient command and control system, which will result in a reduction of the maintenance costs of the air force units.

The main mission of air force is to:

Structure

Latvian Air Force is located in Latvia
Latvian Air Force locations 2018:
Green pog.svg
Air Base
Orange pog.svg
AN/TPS-77(V) Radar Station

Inventory

Current

A Latvian Mil Mi-17 helicopter
A Latvian Mil Mi-17 helicopter
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Transport
Antonov An-2 Soviet Union transport 3[28]
Helicopters
Mil Mi-17 Soviet Union SAR / utility MTV 2[30][31]
UH-60 Black Hawk United States utility UH-60M 4 on order[30]
Trainer Aircraft
Pelegrin Tarragon Latvia basic trainer 2 on order[28]

Retired

Previous aircraft flown were the Let L-410 Turbolet, PZL-104 Wilga, and the PZL Mi-2 helicopter.[32][33] A number of glider/trainer aircraft were used by the Air Component of the Latvian National Guard from 1993 to 2000, when it was merged into the Air Force.

The Bofors 40 mm L/70 anti-aircraft gun
The Bofors 40 mm L/70 anti-aircraft gun

Air Defense

Name Origin Type In service Notes
Anti-aircraft weapons
RBS-70 Sweden MANPADS [34]
Bofors 40 mm L/70 Sweden towed anti-aircraft gun 18 L60 and L70 variants[35][36][37]
FIM-92 Stinger United States MANPADS n/a [38][39]

Ranks and insignia

Commissioned officers

The rank insignia for commissioned officers.

NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Latvia Latvian Air Force[40]
17.LVAF-LG.svg
16.LVAF-MG.svg
15-LVAF-BG.svg
14.LVAF-COL.svg
13.LVAF-LTC.svg
12.LVAF-MAJ.svg
11.LVAF-CPT.svg
10.LVAF-1LT.svg
9.LVAF-2LT.svg
Ģenerālleitnants Ģenerālmajors Brigādes ģenerālis Pulkvedis Pulkvežleitnants Majors Kapteinis Virsleitnants Leitnants


NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer

es gejs

Enlisted

The rank insignia for enlisted personnel.

NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Latvia Latvian Air Force[40]
8.LVAF-SGM.svg
7.LVAF-MSG.svg
6.LVAF-SFC.svg
5.LVAF-SSC.svg
4.LVAF-SGT.svg
3.LVAF-CPL.svg
2.LVAF-PFC.svg
1.LVAF-PV.svg
Augstākais virsseržants Galvenais virsseržants Štāba virsseržants Virsseržants Seržants Kaprālis Dižkareivis Kareivis
NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Each Air Defense Battery consists of the following: 1x Radar Platoon, 3x Air Defense Platoons, 1x Support Platoon, and 1x Signal Unit).

References


  1. ^ "Gaisa spēku komandiera amatā stāsies pulkvežleitnants Viesturs Masulis". mil.lv (in Latvian). 21 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Contact". Archived from the original on 2015-10-18. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  3. ^ File:Roundel of the Latvian Air Force 1919 border.svg — Wikimedia Commons, retrieved 2020-11-15
  4. ^ a b "Latvian National Guard Pre-WW2". Aeroflight. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  5. ^ "VEF IRBITIS I-12 - Latvian Aviation". latvianaviation.com. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  6. ^ a b c d "Latvian Air Force 1918–1940". Insignia Air Force Special. London: Blue Rider Publishing. 2000. ISBN 1-902851-04-8.
  7. ^ "Indans' Great Amok". Insignia. Vol. 3, no. 11. Spring. 1999. pp. 76–82. ISSN 1360-4848.
  8. ^ Ilmārs. "Latavio". lffb.lv (in Latvian). Archived from the original on 18 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Organization of the Aizsargi". aizsargi.org. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  10. ^ "MILITARY AIRCRAFT - National Guard (Aizsargi) - Latvian Aviation". latvianaviation.com. Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  11. ^ "VEF Irbitis I-12". Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Latvijas Republikas Gaisa spēki" [Air Force of the Republic of Latvia]. Latvian National Encyclopedia (in Latvian). National Library of Latvia. Retrieved 2022-01-18.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Flight International 16-12 November 2004". Flightglobal. p. 72. Archived from the original on 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2022-01-18.
  14. ^ "World Air Forces 2020". Flightglobal Insight. 2020. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  15. ^ "Helikopters Mi-2 "Hoplite" | Nacionālie bruņotie spēki" [Helicopter Mi-2 Hoplite | National Armed Forces]. www.mil.lv (in Latvian). Retrieved 2022-01-18.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  22. ^ "Aviation Photo #0495830: PZL-Okecie PZL-104 Wilga-35A - Latvia - Air Force". Airliners.net. Retrieved 2022-01-18.
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  24. ^ "Latvia planning to buy six helicopters in coming years". eng.lsm.lv. 30 July 2018. Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Latvia – UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters". www.dcsa.mil. Washington. 3 August 2018. Archived from the original on 6 August 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Ministru kabinets atbalsta četru helikopteru UH-60M "Black Hawk" iegādi starpvaldību līguma ietvaros" [Cabinet of Ministers approves the purchase of four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters through an intergovernmental contract]. www.sargs.lv (in Latvian). 11 September 2018. Archived from the original on 17 September 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  27. ^ a b "Aizsardzības ministrija plāno atjaunot trīs padomju laikā ražotos divplākšņus" [Ministry of Defence plans to refurbish three Soviet-made biplanes]. sargs.lv (in Latvian). 16 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ a b c d "Gaisa spēki saņem trešo atjaunoto "An-2" lidmašīnu" [Air Force receives the third refurbished An-2 aeroplane]. Sargs.lv (in Latvian). 2021-12-10. Retrieved 2022-01-18.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ "Latvia receives its first TPS-77 MRR air surveillance radar". Latvian Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  30. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal Insight. 2022. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Latvia donates helicopters and howitzers to Ukraine". eng.lsm.lv. Retrieved 2022-09-06.
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  35. ^ Gander, Terry (2013-04-30). The Bofors Gun. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-4738-3504-7.
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  39. ^ "Latvia receives Stinger air-defence systems | Aizsardzības ministrija". Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Latvia. 2018-11-04. Retrieved 2022-01-18.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  40. ^ a b "Pakāpju iedalījums". mil.lv/lv (in Latvian). Latvian National Armed Forces. Retrieved 26 May 2021.