M. Saakashvili’s coming to power was marked by a rise in nationalist sentiment in Georgia. And without that, the not too friendly policy towards Russia has become openly hostile. Wanting to enter history as a “statist” and “land gatherer” M. Saakashvili unleashed in the media hysteria about the allegedly “aggressive intentions of the northern neighbor” and “the return of the originally Georgian territories”.
Information warfare was accompanied by unprecedented military preparations. The military budget was increased several times, the army began to be transferred to a contract basis, large-scale purchases of weapons and military equipment abroad began. The largest partners in the supply weapons became Ukraine and Israel.
The United States rendered significant free military assistance to equip the Georgian army with modern communications, small arms and helicopters. And also in the training of personnel. The states of Eastern Europe also participated in the renewal and strengthening of Georgian air defense.
The situation in the zone of presence of the Russian peacekeeping forces began to heat up long before the transition to the stage of full-scale conflict.
Regular shelling and provocations were accompanied by reconnaissance flights over the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia UAV "Hermes-450", an Israeli production.
In the period to June 2008, five "Hermes-450" were received from Israel, two vehicles were shot down by Russian fighters.
GEORGIAN air force and air defense before war in ossetia
By the beginning of August 2008, the number of personnel of the Georgian Air Force was 1813 people. The main strike force was the 12 attack aircraft Su-25 (of which 10 - in single and two - in double combat training options).
Most of them were collected from the Soviet side of the Tbilisi plant “Tbilaviamsheni”, the rest were bought in Macedonia, which in turn acquired them in Ukraine.
Starting from 2001, the Georgian attack aircraft (according to various data from 6 to 10 units) were upgraded by the Israeli firm "Elbit Systems" with a complete replacement of on-board electronic equipment.
The updated machines received the index Su-25KM and the name "Scorpion". However, the Georgians themselves call them "Mimino" but not in honor of the character of the famous comedy, simply "mimino" in Georgian means "falcon".
In addition, there were several military transport vehicles An-24, An-32 and An-72, 12 of the Czechoslovak combat-training aircraft L-39 "Albatross" (six of them are also former Ukrainian) and nine older combat-training L- 29 Dolphin.
The helicopter fleet was represented by one Mi-35, three Mi-24P, four Mi-24В (most of the attack helicopters of the Mi-24 family were received from Ukraine), two Mi-14, sixteen Mi-8, six American Bell-212, the same number UH-1Н Iroquois and two Mi-2.
Mi-24 Georgian Air Force
The main location of the Georgian Air Force was the Marneuli airbase with a developed infrastructure, inherited by the Georgians from Soviet times. They constantly housed Su-25 attack aircraft, and training and combat vehicles. The helicopters were based partly at the Novo-Alekseyevka airfield near Tbilisi, partly at Senaki.
Georgian military air bases have strong, well-protected reinforced concrete shelters for aircraft. However, they were built in the 60-e - 70-e years of the last century and are designed for the dimensions of combat vehicles of the time, such as the MiG-21, Su-7, Su-17, MiG-23 and MiG-27, the last three could fit in them only with folded wings.
Su-25 can be “squeezed” into such a shelter only by undoing its wing console. Therefore, the Georgian “mimino” and “rooks” constantly stood in the open air, and relatively small training “dolphins” and “albatrosses” were kept in shelters.
After the collapse of the USSR, Georgia received the stationary C-75 and C-125 air defense systems, which were located in positions in the Tbilisi area. But by the time the conflict began, due to the lack of proper maintenance, they were all not combat-ready. Repeatedly reported in the media about the presence in Georgia of the former Ukrainian long-range air defense systems C-200 later turned out to be false. However, this is not surprising: there was no point in buying a clearly outdated, bulky, immobile and difficult to operate anti-aircraft anti-aircraft system using liquid fuel.
Shortly before the start of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, a separate anti-aircraft missile division (OZRDN) was formed and put into operation, consisting of three much more modern anti-aircraft missile systems 9K37М1 "Buk-М1", received in June 2007 from Ukraine. Each complex consisted of four self-propelled fire installations (SOW) with four missiles each. It was this mobile division that took the most active part in the hostilities.
The second division of "beeches" was never formed. The materiel and the stock of missiles for him came from Ukraine on the ferry "Heroes of Pleven" 12 on June 2008, but the Georgians did not have time to train the calculations and put the division into operation. Subsequently, he was captured by Russian paratroopers.
The structure of the military air defense system consisted of two Osa-AK ZNK 9KZMM2 and one Osa-AKM ZRK 9KЗЗЗЗ batteries. All 12 combat vehicles with six missiles on each, however, it is not known how many of them were combat-capable. Information passed that part of the "Os" Georgians dismantled for parts.
In addition, the Georgians had a number of 57-mm anti-aircraft guns C-60,15 23-mm ZSU-23-4 "Shilka", around 20 units ZU-23 on various self-propelled chassis, 30 MANPADS "Thunder" and about 100 rockets (Polish version of the Soviet 9K310 “Needle-1” MANPADS), as well as several dozen 9K32М Strela-2М. The Georgian “know-how” was equipping the calculations of MANPADS with quad bikes of increased maneuverability, which greatly increased their mobility and made it possible to quickly change firing positions.
Finally, there are allegations of the acquisition by Georgia in 2008 of one battery of the new Israeli short-range air defense system Spyder-SR. The Rafael Spyder-SR air defense system uses Python 5 and Derby air-to-air missiles as anti-aircraft missiles. There is no official confirmation of any deliveries of the Spyder-SR complex to Georgia, but the Jane's Missiles & Rockets magazine in July 2008, citing a statement from a Rafael representative, said that “the Spyder-SR complex was ordered by two foreign customers, one of which supplied the SAM on alert ".
PU ZRK "Spider"
The Israeli authorities still have not officially recognized the sale of “Spiders” to Georgia, and the Georgian leadership at the official level does not respond to reports in the press about their use in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. However, there is information about the head end of the Python rocket found in the battle zone.
The radar component of the Georgian air defense system consisted of the following types of radar: 36Д6, П-37, 5Н87, П-18, 19Ж6, PRV-9, -11, -13, ASR-12, and XRNXX, ASR-XNUMX, and XRUM-XNUMX, -XNUMX, ASR-XNUMX, XRUMX, XRNXX, ASR-XNUMX , TBILISI, MARNEULI and civilian radar integrated into a single information network.
To control the fighting used wired communication lines, radio stations operating in a secure mode of transmission of information, means of communication and data transmission for civilian purposes.
The post closest to the border with South Ossetia was located a few kilometers from the village of Shavsevebi and the Gori district. A modern Ukrainian-made 36-D6-M radar was installed on the hill. This station, with a high degree of noise immunity, is capable of detecting air targets at a distance of 360 km, that is, almost the entire territory of the North Caucasus from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea has reached the range of the Shavcheviche radar. At the same time, the station can accompany in automatic mode up to 120 targets and transmit information about them to operators of anti-aircraft missile launchers. The second such radar was installed near Tbilisi.
Destroyed Georgian 36D6-M radar
The civilian radar of the Georgian Air Service served the airports of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti, Telavi and Marneuli. Of course, after the outbreak of hostilities, all the information from them was made available to the military.
Ukraine’s participation in the creation of the Georgian Air Force and Air Defense was not limited to the delivery of airplanes, helicopters, radars and anti-aircraft missile systems. In 2006, Kiev for 25 millions of dollars sold to Georgia a new one, created just three years earlier, the Kolchuga-M passive radio intelligence complex consisting of three reconnaissance stations.
This complex is designed to detect airborne targets by emitting their radars and communications equipment. The three stations included in it, located on the automobile chassis, are capable of covering the front up to 1000 kilometers. The maximum detection range, depending on the mode of operation, ranges from 200 to 600 kilometers.
In addition, in 2007, the Ukrainian corporation Aerotekhnika connected all the Georgian military and civilian radars, as well as the Kolchuga-M complex, into a single network of ASOC airspace monitoring (AirSovereigntyOperationsCenters). The central command post of ASOC is located in Tbilisi and since the spring of 2008 has been connected to the ASDE (AirSituationDataExchange) NATO air traffic data exchange system.
It is not known how effective Kolchuga proved in practice and what the results of its use were, since the Georgian military command, for understandable reasons, does not disclose such information. There is no information even about whether the Georgians managed to maintain this system or whether it was destroyed during the hostilities. Among the many trophies captured by the Russian army in the "five-day war", this system and its individual components are not listed.
THE BEGINNING OF COMBAT ACTION
In response to the invasion of the Georgian troops, the Russian leadership decided to launch a “peace enforcement operation” by the 58 Army of the North Caucasus Military District, stationed in North Ossetia.
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On the Russian side, the following units of the 4 Air Force of the North Caucasus Military District were involved in the fighting:
368-th separate assault air regiment from Budennovsk (Su-25 and Su-25СМ, commander - Colonel Sergey Kobylash);
461-th assault air regiment from Krasnodar (Su-25, commander-colonel Valery Kushnerev);
559-th Bomber Aviation Regiment from Morozovsk (Su-24M, commander - Colonel Sergey Borodachev);
959-th bomber regiment from Yeisk (Su-24M);
11-th separate Guards Vitebsk reconnaissance air regiment from Marinovka (Su-24МР, commander - guard Colonel Vasily Neizhmak);
19-th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment from Millerovo (MiG-29, Commander - Guards Colonel Vyacheslav Kudinov);
31 Guards Nikopol Fighter Regiment from Zernograd (MiG-29, commander - Guards Colonel Oleg Soloviev);
55-th separate Sevastopol helicopter regiment from Korenovsk (Mi-8, Mi-24, commander - Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry Sergeev);
325-yotdelny transport-combat helicopter regiment from Egorlykskaya (Mi-8, Mi-26, commander - Colonel Vladimir Grigoryan);
487-th separate helicopter regiment from Budennovsk (Mi-8, Mi-24P and Mi-24PN, commander - Colonel Evgeny Fedotov);
In addition, separate airplanes and crews from air units that are not part of 4 VA were involved:
52 Guards TBAP (Tu-22МЗ, airfield "Shaykovka");
929-th GLITS (Akhtubinsk, Su-24МР);
4-th pulp and paper industry. Chkalov (Lipetsk, Su-24M, Su-25CM) and some others.
However, this rather long list of aircraft parts should not be misleading.
Often, from the units indicated here in the combat zone, isolated vehicles were present. The total number of Russian combat and reconnaissance aircraft and helicopters that were directly involved in the conflict did not exceed hundreds of vehicles.
The ground defense of the 58 units of the Russian army that entered the battle against the Georgian forces in South Ossetia consisted of self-propelled anti-aircraft units ZSU-23-4 Shilka, ZRPK 2K22 Tunguska, and portable anti-aircraft missile systems. In addition to MANPADS, the paratroopers were armed with self-propelled anti-aircraft guns BTR-ZD “Skreset” with anti-aircraft guns ZU-23
Based on the foregoing, it can be concluded that Russian aircraft during the war in Ossetia surpassed Georgian aircraft in both quantitative and qualitative terms. However, Georgian anti-aircraft weapons, with the support of an advanced electronic detection system, were quite capable of providing very serious opposition to it. Unfortunately, our aviation command underestimated this threat ...
In the morning and afternoon hours of the first day of the war, when a column of armored vehicles of the 58 Army marched along the mountain "serpentine" from the Roki tunnel to the south, in the direction of Dzau, the only one who could assist the defenders of Tskhinval in repelling the Georgian offensive was Russian military aviation. The Su-25 and Su-25СМ from the 368-th Separate Assault Aviation Regiment under the command of Colonel Sergey Kobylash were the first to enter the battle.
Su-25 368-th OSHAP is one of the most militant regiments of the Russian Air Force.
Formed in the 1984 year at the Zhotnevoe airfield, he fought 1986-87 in Afghanistan, then managed to visit the territory of the GDRs as part of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, and from the XXUMX year based in the North Caucasus, in Budyonovsk.
The regiment went through both Chechen wars, in 1995 he survived the attack of terrorists Shamil Basayev, but never in his history did he encounter such strong anti-aircraft resistance and did not carry such heavy one-time losses as in the first two days of the “Ossetian” war - August 8 and 9 2008 of the year.
In one of the first sorties, during an attack on a convoy of Georgian troops south of Tskhinval, an anti-aircraft missile shot down the plane of the squadron deputy commander Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Terebunsky, an experienced pilot, who had 120 sorties in his wars in Chechen wars. The pilot ejected and went to his. 22 August decree of the President of Russia, he was awarded the Order of Courage.
In addition, during the day, attack aircraft Captain Ivan Nechaev and Colonel Oleg Molostvov suffered serious damage, but both pilots managed to return to their airfield and safely land. On the Nechaev's plane, the left engine was completely destroyed, the right one was damaged.
After the plane landed, it turned out that kerosene from a broken fuel hose flows directly onto the runway, and it had to be filled with fire-fighting foam. On the plane of the same Molostvov technology on return counted 88 fragmentation holes.
Despite the losses, the Russian pilots by their actions significantly reduced the offensive activity of the Georgian troops and thereby prevented the enemy from establishing full control over Tskhinval.
Georgians report very little about their losses from the air raids suffered on the first day of the war in the region of the capital of South Ossetia. In the press release of the Georgian Ministry of Defense for 8 August there is information only about the destruction of a truck with ammunition.
While the Rooks and Mi-24 were operating on the outskirts of Tskhinval, the Su-24M bombers attacked targets in the depths of Georgian territory.
Their first priority was to isolate the combat area — preventing the enemy from approaching reinforcements. In carrying out this task, the 8 of August, at noon, attacked the convoy of the 4 Brigade of the Georgian Armed Forces, which was moving along the highway from Gori to Tskhinval. As a result of the bombing, five trucks and several jeeps were destroyed, more than 20 soldiers and officers were killed, including the commander of one of the 4 battalions of the brigade Major Shalva Dolidze. A few dozen people were injured.
On the part of Georgia, this turned out to be the greatest single-step loss of the Georgian army during the entire war. Most of those hit were demoralized and largely lost their combat capability. It is noteworthy that the 4 Brigade was considered the elite of the Georgian army, it was prepared by American instructors and armed with American weapons.
Initially, the Georgians claimed that cluster munitions were used in the attack on the convoy. Then their opinion changed and there were reports that the Russian plane allegedly dropped a volume explosion ammunition - the so-called
"Vacuum bomb". But our military deny the use of both cluster and detonating bombs in the conflict with Georgia, so the question of the type of munitions used remains open.
According to Georgian sources, the first Russian bombardment was marked on 9.45 in the morning - a Russian plane dropped four bombs near the village of Shavshevey.
In 10.57, two bombers attacked the base of the Georgian artillery brigade, located close to the residential area of the city of Gori. Glasses flew out of explosions in nearby houses, in some places the walls were broken by shrapnel.
At 11.45, a Russian reconnaissance aircraft first appeared above the Marneuli airfield, taking photographs.
In 15.00, two bombs were dropped on the Vaziani military base in 25 kilometers from Tbilisi, where the reservists ’assembly point and the American instructors of the Georgian army were located. One of the bombs hit the canteen building. No losses were reported.
16.30 - the first bombing of the Marneuli airbase. Several buildings were destroyed, the runway was damaged, two Georgian military planes of an unnamed type were destroyed. The loss of life was briefly reported: “there are victims.”
The 17.00 is the second Marneuli air strike, which again “caused the victims.”
17.35 - Marneuli airbase was bombarded for the third time. The Georgians acknowledged the destruction of three more military aircraft and several automobiles; among the airfield personnel, one person was killed, four were injured.
Satellite image of Google Earth: airfield Scamredia
It is likely that as a result of this series of attacks, the airbase was permanently out of order, and the majority of Georgian attack aircraft were either destroyed or seriously damaged. In any case, in the further course of the conflict, only one appearance of Mimino over Tskhinval is reliably known. The Albatros Georgians, apparently, did not apply at all because of their low combat effectiveness and high vulnerability from modern air defense systems.
Google Earth satellite image: Implications of the Vaziani air strike. Non-adjustable free-fall bombs were used.
Analysis of the combat use of Russian aviation in the early days of hostilities showed that the planning for the support of combat operations by the operational groups of aviation and air defense in the South Ossetian and Abkhaz sectors was carried out without taking into account the capabilities of Georgia’s air defense systems and the specifics of using their EW aviation equipment to suppress them. Gross mistakes were made in the formulation of combat missions, which could lead to the loss of concealed aircraft, which were avoided only by competent actions of the commander of the EW consolidated squadron.
The actions of Russian aviation were characterized by the following failures:
- the possible location of active air defense systems of Georgia and their detection and destruction zones was not taken into account;
- no terrain was used;
- repeated visits were made to targets (and from the same directions);
- the position of the sun and the objects illuminated by it was not taken into account;
- anti-aircraft and anti-missile maneuvers were not performed;
- flight to the targets and back 8 and 9 August was carried out on the same route;
- the absence of reconnaissance aircraft capable of conducting detailed radio reconnaissance in real time with high accuracy in determining the coordinates of the radar;
- the discrepancy between the frequency ranges of the RGS missiles "air-radar" and the radar air defense missile system of Soviet production, the absence of control equipment and target designation;
- the insufficient number of jammers, their short time in the jamming zone;
- insufficient height of the maximum ceiling of the flight of helicopters - jammers, as a result of which it was impossible to use them in the mountainous terrain of South Ossetia;
- lack of means of group defense protection from battle formations.
The actions of Georgian aviation were rather passive. According to the results of the first day of the war, the Georgians announced that their aircraft had bombed the Russian one at 8 a.m. tank a convoy that left the Roki Tunnel, destroying dozens of armored vehicles, and then destroyed the Guftinsky Bridge, making it impossible for the Russian troops to move from Dzau to Tskhinval. However, both of these messages turned out to be false. And the column did not suffer, and the bridge remained intact.
The passivity of the Georgian "falcons" at a time when they still had the ability to influence the outcome of the conflict is difficult to explain.
Perhaps the Georgian command objectively assessed the level of training of their pilots in order to give them the order to attack small targets in narrow mountain gorges. Or maybe Georgians feared Russian air defense weapons and
fighter-interceptors. Or they simply underestimated the threat posed by the Roki tunnel.
SUCCESSES OF THE GEORGIAN air defense
Unlike the Georgian Air Force, whose actions cannot be called effective at all, the Georgian anti-aircraft gunners in the first period of the war managed to achieve significant success. Particularly distinguished division "beeches", operating in the area of Gori. Already in the morning he managed to shoot down the Russian intelligence officer Su-24MR, who piloted the crew of the 929 GLITS from Akhtubinsk as part of the pilot Colonel Igor Zinov and the navigator Colonel Igor Rzhavitin. The plane crashed on Georgian territory 17 kilometers from Gori. The pilots managed to eject, but Igor Rzhavitin died. Colonel Zinov, having received injuries to the head and spine during the ejection, could not move. Georgian soldiers found him and took him to a Tbilisi hospital.
It is still not clear why the crew, consisting of two colonels of the flight test center, was sent for reconnaissance, all the more so that the command of the 4 Air Army has an 11 Guards reconnaissance air regiment equipped with the same Su-24MR and staffed by experienced pilots . Whatever the case, this loss was one of the most painful for our air force during the conflict.
But even more severe blow was waiting for them at night. Around midnight on August 8, a long-range Tu-22 M3 bomber from the 52 Guards TBAP was shot down over Georgia. Soviet-Russian aircraft did not lose their bombers of this class in a combat situation since the end of the Second World War.
The wreckage of an aircraft hit by a direct hit by an anti-aircraft missile fell near the village of Kareli in the area of the Ossetian-Georgian border, in the territory controlled by Georgian forces at that time. Of the four crew members, only one survived - the co-pilot Major Vyacheslav Malkov, who was captured. The crew commander, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Koventsov, as well as Majors Viktor Pryadkin and Igor Nesterov, were killed.
The most reliable is information that a downed Tu-22М3, specially equipped for aerial photography, brought up a group of 9 bombers. The task of the group included the defeat of Georgian objects.
The reconnaissance Tu-22М3 also had a bomb load. He had to evaluate the results of the bombings and, if necessary, deliver additional strikes. Anti-aircraft defenses in the area were not expected.
Most likely, the Russian bombers came under fire from the Ukrainian complex Buk-M1. The assault Tu-22М3, using standard EW and anti-missile maneuver, could evade missile attacks, and the scout was shot down.
In total, during the combat operations, the Russian Air Force lost three Su-25, two Su-24 and one Tu-22М3. It was also established that after the end of the conflict, a plane crash occurred in South Ossetia - two Mi-8MTKO and Mi-24 helicopters crashed. Perhaps part of the attack aircraft was struck by "friendly fire."
In spite of the losses, the Russian aviation was able to accomplish all the tasks set, but at the same time, an analysis of the actions of the Air Force during this war forces us to seriously consider and draw some unpleasant conclusions. And the main one is that the Air Force is not fully ready to fully engage in combat operations under the conditions of countering modern air defense. In addition, given the weak immunity of their similar air defense systems (first of all, the RTV radar and military electronic defense system installations are not ready to repel modern means of air attack. When countering modern enemy air defense systems, combat losses will be significantly higher.