Slovak Air Force
Vzdušné sily Ozbrojených síl Slovenskej republiky
Slovak Air Force logo.svg
Emblem of the Slovak Air Force
Founded1 January 1993; 29 years ago (1993-01-01)
Country Slovak Republic
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size
  • Approx 3,200 personnel
  • 23 aircraft
  • 14 helicopters
Part ofSlovak Armed Forces
Garrison/HQZvolen
Commanders
Air Force CommanderMajor General Róbert Tóth[1]
Insignia
Roundel
Coat of arms of Slovakia.svg
Roundel of Slovakia – Low Visibility.svg
Aircraft flown
AttackL-39ZAM
FighterMiG-29AS
HelicopterMi-17M/LPZS
Utility helicopterUH-60M
ReconnaissanceL-410FG
TrainerL-39CM
TransportC-27J, L-410UVP-E14/20

The Slovak Air Force, known since 2002 as the Air Force of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic (Slovak: Vzdušné sily Ozbrojených síl Slovenskej republiky), is the aviation and air defense branch of the Slovak Armed Forces. Operating 23 aircraft and 10 helicopters from 3 air bases : MalackyKuchyňa, Sliač, Prešov. It succeeded the Czechoslovak Air Force together with the Czech Air Force in 1993. The Slovak Air Force is part of NATO Integrated Air Defense System – NATINADS.[2][3][4][5][6]

The Slovak Air Force is tasked with the defense of the sovereign Slovak state and the support of the nation's ground troops.[7] Eight Russian upgraded fighter aircraft MiG-29[8][9][10][11][12] together with seven modernized basic and light advanced trainers Aero L-39 dominate the inventory, followed by the seven Let L-410 and one Antonov An-26 transport aircraft.[13] The helicopter fleet consists of the ten Mil Mi-17.[14] Eight Mil Mi-24 were withdrawn from service on September 20, 2011. The Slovak Air Force has been under the command of Major General Róbert Tóth since January 1, 2021.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

History

1939–1945

Main article: Slovak Air Force (1939-1945)

After the division of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany in 1939, Slovakia was left with a small air force composed primarily of Czechoslovak combat aircraft. This force defended Slovakia against Hungary in 1939, and took part in the invasion of Poland in support of Germany. During the World War II, the Slovak Air force was charged with the defense of Slovak airspace, and, after the invasion of Russia, provided air cover for Slovak forces fighting against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. While engaged on the Eastern Front, Slovakia's obsolete biplanes were replaced with German combat aircraft, including the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The air force was sent back to Slovakia after combat fatigue and desertion had reduced the pilots' effectiveness. Slovak air units took part in the Slovak National Uprising against Germany from late August 1944.[21][22][23]

1946–1992

Main article: Czechoslovak Air Force

During this time Czechoslovakia was a member of the Eastern Bloc, allied with the Soviet Union, and from 1955 a member of the Warsaw Pact. Because of this, the Czechoslovak Air Force used Soviet aircraft, doctrines, and tactics. The types of aircraft were mostly MiGs. MiG-15, MiG-19, and MiG-21F fighters was produced in license; in the 1970s, MiG-23MF were bought, accompanied by MiG-23ML and MiG-29s in the 1980s.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the Czechoslovak Air Force consisted of the 7th Air Army, which had air defense duties, and the 10th Air Army, responsible for ground forces support.[24] The 7th Air Army had two air divisions and three fighter regiments, and the 10th Air Army had two air divisions and a total of six regiments of fighters and attack aircraft. There were also two reconnaissance regiments, two transport regiments, three training regiments, and two helicopter regiments.

In November 1989 Communism fell across Czechoslovakia. The two parliaments of the two new states from 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, decided how to split the assets of the former air force. The assets were divided 2:1 in the Czechs' favor, and thus the Slovak Air Force was (re)formed. However the 20 MiG 29s were shared equally between the two countries. [25]

1993–2018

After the formal dissolution of Czechoslovakia on January 1, 1993, Czech and Slovak aircraft were divided according to each nation's population, in a ratio of nearly 2:1 in the Czech Republic's favor.[26] The exceptions to this rule were the MiG-23's, which were given exclusively to the Czech Air force, and the MiG-29's, which were divided evenly between the two nations. Slovak bases were initially under-equipped to handle the aircraft transferred from the Czech bases, and required considerable improvements in infrastructure to facilitate the new air force. On March 1, 1995, the air force replaced the Soviet style aviation regiment organization with the western wing and squadron system.[27] Around 2000–2002, Slovakia gradually retired many of the older aircraft, including the entire fleet of Su-22, Su-25, and MiG-21.[28] In 2004, the flight training academy and national aerobatic demonstration team Biele Albatrosy, both based at Košice, were disbanded.[29][30]

On January 19, 2006, the Slovak Air Force lost an Antonov An-24 in a crash.

On September 20, 2011, all of the remaining Mil Mi-24 gunships were retired.[31][32][33][34]

In January 2014, Slovakia started discussions with the Swedish Government regarding leasing or purchasing JAS-39 Gripen aircraft to replace their MiG-29 fighters.[35][36]

On April 21, 2014 Slovakia and RAC MiG signed a contract for a three years long modernization programme for the air force's MiG-29 fighters.[37][38][39][40]

On December 12, 2018, Slovakia signed a contract to acquire 14 F-16C/D Block 70. All are to be delivered by 2025.[41]

2022

In April 2022, during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Slovakia donated its S-300PMU (SA-10F Grumble) battery to Ukraine.[42]

Structure

Slovak Air Force is located in Slovakia
Slovak Air Force locations 2018:
Red pog.svg
Fighter jets
Pink pog.svg
Helicopters
Blue pog.svg
Transports planes
Purple pog.svg
Air Defense Missile unit
Lightgreen pog.svg
Air Operations Centre
Organization of the Slovak Air Force in 2021
Organization of the Slovak Air Force in 2021

Aircraft

A Slovak Air Force MiG-29AS
A Slovak Air Force MiG-29AS
A Mil Mi-17 of the Slovak Air Force
A Mil Mi-17 of the Slovak Air Force

Current inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-29 Soviet Union multirole MiG-29AS/UBS 12[47] 1 used for conversion training
F-16 Fighting Falcon United States multirole F-16C/D 14 on order – two used for training[48]
Reconnaissance
L-410 Turbolet Czechoslovakia surveillance L-410FG 1[48]
Transport
Alenia C-27J Italy transport C-27J 2[48]
L-410 Turbolet Czech Republic transport L-410UVP-E14/20 5[48]
Helicopters
Mil Mi-17 Soviet Union transport / utility Mi-17M/LPZS 13[48]
Sikorsky UH-60 United States utility UH-60M 9[48]
Trainer Aircraft
Aero L-39 Czechoslovakia jet trainer / light attack L-39CM/ZAM 7[48]

Retired aircraft

Previous aircraft operated by the Air Force include the MiG-21, Sukhoi Su-22, Sukhoi Su-25, Yakovlev Yak-40, Tupolev Tu-154, Aero L-29, Antonov An-12, Antonov An-24/An-26, Mil Mi-2 and the Mil Mi-24 helicopter.[49]

A retired MiG-21MF
A retired MiG-21MF

Air Defense

Name Origin Type In service Notes
SAM
2K12 Kub 2M Soviet Union SAM system 5 batteries Tracked medium-range surface-to-air missile system.[50]
9K38 Igla2 Soviet Union MANPADS 72 Man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile system.[50]

See also

References

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