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Armies of the world. Ukraine

Military air force

The Soviet Union's collapse left Ukraine with one of Europe's largest and strongest air forces, on paper at least.

A large part of the USSR's air assets were stationed in Ukraine, including the majority of the Tu-160 Balckjack fleet and significant numbers of MiG-29 Fulcrums and Su-27 Flankers.

However, paper strength and reality are often far removed. The Ukrainian air force's strength appears to include large numbers of stored aircraft and serviceability and aircrew flying hours are both reported as low.

The Fifth Aviation Corps at Odessa and the Fourteenth Aviation Corps at Lvov control combat aircraft.

Transport units and the Tu-22M-equipped bomber force both report to air force headquarters in Kiev, as does the Kharkov-based training school and the Nikolayev combat training centre.

The Tu-22M Backfire bomber force is divided between two regiments at Priluki and Poltava. A regiment of older Tu-22 Blinders is used in the reconnaisance role based at Nehzhin. The Su-24s are divided between five strike regiments, with Su-24MR variants serving in mixed type dedicated reconnaissance regiments.

The fighters are divided between six regiments.

In 1999 the Ukrainians and Russians finally agreed to return strategic bombers. Eight of 19 Tu-160s and three of 27 Tu-95 Bears have been transferred from the Ukrainian in return for reducing its debt to Russia.

The remainder will rot where they stand at the Uzin and Priluki bases. Until the START treaty is fully implemented Ukraine remains a nuclear power.

Planes: 55 Tu-22M Backfire (being destructed now), 26 Tu-22R Blinder, 225 MiG-29-A/C/UB-Fulcrum, 150 MiG-23M/UB Flogger, 70 Su-27/UB Flanker, 65 Su-25 Frogfoot, 230 Su-24M/MR/MP-Fencer, 14 Be-12 Mail, 55 Su-17M/UM Fitter, 20 Mi-6 Hook, 1 Il-22 Coot, 21 An-12 Cub, 13 An-24 Coke, 28 An-26 Curl, 2 An-30 Clank, 26 An-72 Coaler, 100 II-76/78 Candid, 2/3 Tu-134/UBL Crusty, 6 Yak-40 Coding, 50 An-2 Colt, 110 Mil-8/17 Hip, 450 L-39 Albatros, 230 Yak-52

Naval air arm

Ukraine has eased declaring any naval fixed wing combat aircraft as part of its obligations to the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty.

It previously operated MiG-29s, Su-25s, Tu-22Ms and Su-17s which appear to have been transferred to the air force.

The naval air arm appears to be shore based at Ochakov. The fleet is being established with possibly only two or three ships currently aviation capable.

Planes and helicopters: 12/4 Ka-27/29 Helix, 18 Ka-25 Hormone, 5 Mi-14PL Haze, 1 An-12 Cub, 1 An-26 Curl, 8 Mi-8 Hip.

Ukrainian ground forces air arm.

Ukraine's army aviation assets include large numbers of air assault helicopters, Mi-24 Hinds and Mi-8 Hips.

Many are unused and in storage, as are some of its other three helicopter types.

Some reports suggest the entire fleet of Mi-2s is non- operational.

The helicopter fleet is controlled by three geographical commands: western, based at Lvov; northern, based at Chernigov; and southern, based at Odessa.

They control seven army aviation brigades, organic to elements of the ground forces.

Each brigade operates Mi-24s and transports, apart from 2 Brigade based at Chernobayevka in southern command which operates only Mi-6 command posts and Mi-8s, as it is attached to army command.

Other bases include Brody, Gnoymo and Kalinovka in the west; Beridichev and Vapnyarka in the north, and Raukhovka in the south.

Helicopters: 250 Mi-24 Hind, 240 Mi-8 Hip, 50 Mi-6 Hook, 25 Mi-26 Halo, 50 Mi-2 Hoplite.

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