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Sevastopol International Airport "Belbek"

Міжнародний аеропорт Севастополь "Бельбек"
Summary
Airport typeMilitary
OperatorRussian military control
Location9 km (5.6 mi) N of Sevastopol city center, Crimea
Built1941
Coordinates44°41′N 33°35′E / 44.683°N 33.583°E / 44.683; 33.583
Map
UKFB is located in Sevastopol
UKFB
UKFB
Location of the Sevastopol International Airport within Sevastopol.
UKFB is located in Crimea
UKFB
UKFB
UKFB (Crimea)
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
07L/25R 10,337 3,150 Concrete
Map

A military airfield in Belbek, a village near Sevastopol, Crimea, was also used for civil aviation, named Sevastopol International Airport Belbek[citation needed][a] (IATA: UKS, ICAO: UKFB), for six years from 2002 to 2007 under Ukrainian administration.

Since 2014, following the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, the base has been operated by the Russian Ministry of Defence. In 2017 plans were published under Russian administration to restore the airfield into an international airport by 2020, but this did not happen.

The base was home to the 38th Fighter Aviation Regiment which flies the Sukhoi Su-27 and Sukhoi Su-30 under the 27th Composite Aviation Division part of the 4th Air and Air Defence Forces Army.[1] After a series of explosions, the unit was withdrawn from the airport at the end of 2022

History

Military airfield since 1941

MiG-29s stationed at Belbek

The airfield is located next to the coast, in the Nakhimovsky area of Sevastopol, north of the city center, close to the adjacent neighborhood Lyubimovka.

The Belbek airfield was built as an operational airfield in 1938 - in the summer of that year, the 3rd and 4th aviation squadrons of the 32nd Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force landed on it for the first time on I-15bis aircraft. In the summer of 1939, one squadron of fighters was on duty at the airfield.

In 1940, experiments were carried out on the suspension of I-16 fighters on the TB-3 aircraft, the so-called Zveno project. The TB-3 carrier bomber, in theory, delivered to the target thr attached I-16 fighters, on which bombs were suspended. I-16s acted in this case as dive bombers. Work continued until January 1941. The base airfield of the “SPB link” was the Evpatoria airfield, and the 2nd Squadron of the 32nd IAP, which took part in these experiments, was at that time stationed at Belbek airfield. Also located here was the 3rd Squadron on I-153 and the regiment's command and control unit.

Constructed without a hardened runway, a concrete runway was constructed after the war.

In 1947 the Black Sea Fleet's 62nd Fighter Aviation Regiment arrived at the base. In 1960 the regiment was transferred from the Soviet Navy to the Soviet Air Defence Forces.[2]

During the second half of the 1980s, after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, the airfield was significantly increased and improved, as the airfield was to be used by him when travelling to the presidential dacha on the southern coast of the Crimea, near the cape of Foros. The name of the airport comes from the Belbek river, in the south-west of Crimea.

After Ukrainian independence in 1991 the airfield was under Ukrainian military control, with concomitant use as a civilian airport for a few years.

After Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, the Sevastopol transportation authorities said that Belbek airport was used for civilian charter flights from Ukraine and Russia.[3]

2002–2007: International airport

From July 2002, the airfield began to be used for civil aviation. In December 2002, the airport received a license for international flights. Between 2002 and 2007 over 2,500 flights were carried out, which transported about 25,000 passengers. During 2007, civil flights were suspended again. In spring 2009 it was announced that resumption of air links was to commence in the near future, but this did not happen.

Ukrainian military use of the airfield as a fighter airbase continued alongside its civilian use. In 1996 the Su-15TM aircraft based there were replaced by the Su-27, and until 2014 the 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade flying the MiG-29 was based there.

Russian military control

On 28 February 2014, Ukraine's acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that that the airport had been blocked by Russian Military personnel, and unidentified armed men were patrolling the area. He said through his Twitter account that, "I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation". Neither the Russian Foreign Ministry nor the Russian defense ministry responded to requests for comment.[4][5]

11 March 2014, a website was established[6] by the military personnel to report directly on current and former events in the airfield. According to the website, there had been a fire at the airfield in military area (воинская часть, Military Unit Number, А-4515) where electrical equipment was stored, with some unknown soldiers guarding it. The site was updated several times, and discontinued in 2016.[6]

14 March 2014, Ukrainian Colonel Yuliy Mamchur made an appeal on YouTube to the Ukrainian government, requesting written orders to all the Ukrainian troops on the Crimean peninsula. If he did not receive the orders, he said that the 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade was going to fight, even if facing likely defeat.[7][better source needed]

The 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade had been deployed in Belbek since December 2007 in the military area number A4515 (воинская часть A-4515).[8]

After 2014, a 38th fighter regiment of the Russian 27th Mixed Aviation Division, flying Su-27s and Su-30s, was established at Belbek, but relocated to Russia after explosions in August 2022.[9]

The 23rd Fighter Aviation Regiment (23 IAP) from Dzyomgi Airport of the Russian Air Force were deployed here from April 2022 flying the Sukhoi Su-35S.[10]

On 1 October 2022 an explosion was reported, which Russian news agency TASS reported as due to an aircraft which ran off the runway while landing, without damaging the airfield.[11]

In January 2017, the company managing the airport presented public plans to open a new temporary terminal with a capacity of 300,000–400,000 passengers by 2018, with a full-size terminal to follow by 2019 or 2020.[12] The plans were not carried out.

Airlines and destinations

As of 2015, there were no scheduled flights to or from the airport.[13][14][15]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Sevastopol'/Bel'bek' (UKFB)". Scramble.nl. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  2. ^ "62nd Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO".
  3. ^ "Airport "Belbek"". Sevastopol transportation. August 2014.
  4. ^ "Military airport in Ukraine's Crimea taken over by Russian soldiers-Interfax". Reuters UK. 28 February 2014. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
  5. ^ "Ukraine accuses Russia of 'armed invasion' after Crimea airports blockaded". Telegraph.co.uk. 28 February 2014.
  6. ^ a b >"Новости - Бельбек". belbek62.com.ua (in Russian). 12 March 2014. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014.
  7. ^ Обращение командира бригады Юлия Мамчура "БЕЛЬБЕК". YouTube. 13 March 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  8. ^ Рябов Михаил (27 September 2013). "Севастопольской бригаде тактической авиации присвоено имя Александра Покрышкина". gazeta.sebastopol.ua (in Russian).
  9. ^ "After explosions in Crimea, Russians move their aircraft to territory of the Russian Federation – Ukrainian intelligence". Ukrainska Pravda. 17 August 2022.
  10. ^ AirForces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. November 2022. p. 36.
  11. ^ "Ammunition partially exploded in plane accident at airfield in Sevastopol, Governor says". TASS. 1 October 2022.
  12. ^ "INSIGHT: A second civil airport for Crimea?". Russian Aviation Insider. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  13. ^ Sevastopol airport is closed for flights
  14. ^ Russian Government says Belbeck will be restored
  15. ^ Sevastopol airport must be opened by 2017 - Russia

Notes

  1. ^ Crimean Tatar: Belbek Halqara Ava Limanı, Ukrainian: Міжнародний аеропорт Севастополь "Бельбек", Russian: Аэропорт Бельбек