Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence

Air warfare branch of the Slovenian armed forces
Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence
Sign of Slovenian Army.svg
Emblem of the Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence
Founded1991; 31 years ago (1991)
Country Slovenia 22
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Aerial defence
Size400 personnel
Part ofSlovenian Armed Forces
HeadquartersCerklje ob Krki, Brežice
Anniversaries14 December
15 December
Equipment39 aircraft
Engagements
Commanders
Current
commander
Colonel Janez Gaube
Insignia
RoundelRoundel of Slovenia.svg
Fin flashFlag of Slovenia.svg
Aircraft flown
AttackPilatus PC-9M Hudournik
TrainerZlin Z-142, Zlin Z 242
TransportPilatus PC-6 Porter, Let L-410 Turbolet, c-27j spartan
Military unit

Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence is a part of the Slovenian Armed Forces. It is an integral part of the command structure, not an independent branch.

Duties

Slovenian Air Force and Air Defence aim is securing the sovereignty of the airspace of the Republic of Slovenia and providing air support to other services in the implementation of their tasks in joint operations. Its main tasks are:

  • Inspection and control of the air space security
  • Providing help in natural, humanitarian, and technological disasters
  • Search and rescue operations
  • Taking part in international missions and operations

Since Slovenia does not have the air capabilities to police its airspace in accordance with NATO standards, nor does it plan to develop such capabilities, these tasks are performed alternately by the Italian and Hungarian Air Forces under NATO command.[1]

History

A former SOKO SA341 Gazelle on display at Cerklje air base

Slovenian contact with military aviation began during World War I, when the army and navy air services of Austria-Hungary conscripted large numbers of personnel from throughout the Empire. As the Empire began to collapse during 1918, Slovenian aircrew and ground crew switched their allegiance to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Aircraft found on Slovenian territory were taken over by the Slovenian authorities and formed into a fledgling air arm. The new air arm was soon involved in the conflict with Austria over the border provinces of Carinthia and south Styria. Later in 1919, the Slovenian air units were absorbed into the Royal Yugoslav Air Force.

In 1968 a reserve volunteer force, the Teritorialna Obramba (Territorial Defence of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia), was established to defend local key locations in time of crisis. The Slovenian Territorial Defence HQ had a small auxiliary aviation unit stationed at Ljubljana-Polje airfield by 1969, when Government Factories Type 522 advanced trainers were being operated. These aircraft were borrowed from the Yugoslav Air Force and not owned by Slovenia. Slovenian Territorial Defence ceased to be a part of the Yugoslavian auxiliary forces on 21 June 1991, (four days prior of the proclamation of independence), when the Yugoslav army seized 12 Soko J-20 Kraguj aircraft from them.

On 28 June 1991 a Yugoslav Air Force Gazelle defected to Slovenia, providing the first helicopter for the Territorial Defence Force. During the war it also was equipped with three ex-Police Bell 412s and an Agusta A-109A. On 9 June 1992 the Air Force Unit of the Slovenian Army was renamed into 15 Brigada Vojaskega Letalstva. The 15 Brigada was divided into two squadrons, one fixed-wing and one helicopter squadron, flying from two bases, Brnik airport and Cerklje ob Krki. The 15 Brigada was under control of the 1 Air Force and Air Defence Force Command located at Kranj. In 2004 Slovenia entered NATO. Now NATO is responsible for protecting Slovenian airspace. On 8 November 2004 the 15 Brigada was officially disbanded. In its place three new units were formed.

The 15 Air Force Brigade was restructured into the 15 Helicopter Battalion, the Air Force School, and the Air Force Base. The 15 Helicopter Battalion is located at the Brnik air base. The unit is equipped with eight Bell 412 helicopters and four AS-532 Cougar helicopters. The units duties are to organise training courses for pilots and technical staff, to organise search and rescue missions and operate within the System of Civil Protection, Help and Rescue, to secure cargo transportation to mountain areas, to extinguish fires, and to provide air support for SAF units.

The Air Force Military School is located at the Cerklje ob Krki air base. The school conducts the basic and advance training programmes for future air force pilots in two Zlin 142L and eight Zlin 242L planes and four Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopters, organises practices for air force pilots, provides fire support, and carries out various tasks for other branches of the armed forces by using the two PC-9 and nine PC-9M planes. A part of the Air Force Military School is also the parachute squad, located at the Brnik air base, which organises basic and advanced parachute training for SAF members.

The Air Force Base, located at the Cerklje ob Krki air base, carries out logistic support, such as fuel supply. The unit is equipped with two PC-6 planes and one L-410 plane. The Air Force Base unites the air supply squad and the technical support unit whose main tasks are to plan and conduct the second stage of aircraft maintenance, carry out technical personnel training, update aircraft documentation, etc. Another restructuring took place in 2007 when the Air Force School and the 15 Helicopter Battalion were made into a single command making logistics easier, and reduce staff. Following the decision to operate jet aircraft from 2015 again, major restructuring will take place at Cerklje.

Due to reorganization of the Slovenian Armed Forces, the Air Defense and Aviation Brigade will be reconstructed to the 15th Wing (Military Aviation Regiment). The Wing will consist of 151st Rotary Wing Squadron, 152nd Fixed Wing Squadron, 153rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 16th Air Space Control and Surveillance Centre, 107th Air Base and Flight School. Air Defense elements will be moved to Ground Forces.

Aircraft

Current inventory

Pilatus PC-9 landing
Slovenian AS532 Cougar
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat aircraft
Pilatus PC-9 Switzerland light attack PC-9M 9[2]
Transport
L-410 Turbolet Czech Republic transport 1[2]
C-27J Spartan Italy transport 1 on order[3]
Falcon 2000 EX France VIP transport 1[4]
Pilatus PC-6 Switzerland utility 2[2] STOL capable aircraft
Helicopters
Eurocopter AS532 France transport 4[2]
Bell 412 United States utility 8[2]
Trainer aircraft
Velis Electro Slovenia trainer 5[5] trial period
Zlín Z 43 Czech Republic trainer Z 143 2[2]
Zlín Z-242 Czech Republic trainer 8[2]
Bell 206 United States trainer 4[2]

Note: Three C-17 Globemaster III's are available through the Heavy Airlift Wing based in Hungary.[6]

Retired

Previous aircraft operated were an Agusta-Bell 212, Agusta A.109, Aérospatiale Gazelle, and a UTVA 75 trainer.[7][8]

Acquisition of new aircraft

The Slovenian Ministry of Defense tested the EADS CASA C-295 and the C-27J Spartan in Cerklje AFB in 2007. Two Casa C-295 were chosen, with the first one to be delivered in 2008 and the second in 2010. The first aircraft was ordered in January 2008, but in February the aircraft order was frozen because of the Mirosławiec air accident in Poland.

In 2021, the Slovenian Ministry of Defense ordered at least one C-27J Spartan. The estimated delivery date is set to be in 2023.[3]

Incidents and accidents

Ranks

References

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air force of Slovenia.
  1. ^ "Slovenia, Hungary Sign Air Policing Agreement".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal. 2022. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b Bozinovski, Igor (2021-11-23). "Slovenia signs for C-27J Spartan". Jane's. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  4. ^ "Letalstvo". Slovenska Vojska. Retrieved 2022-02-15.
  5. ^ "Slovenska vojska pilote prva na svetu šola v električnem letalu". 24ur. 2021-10-01. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
  6. ^ "Heavy Airlift Wing". Strategic Airlift Capability Program. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  7. ^ "World Air Forces 1994 pg. 55". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  8. ^ "World Air Forces 2000 pg. 86". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  9. ^ Podgoršek, Borut. "Sierra5.net - Priprava letala pilatus PC-9M na prevoz". www.sierra5.net (in Slovenian). Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  10. ^ STA. "Vojaški helikopter med prevozom zadel vejo". siol.net (in Slovenian). Retrieved 2022-02-18.
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