Against the background of the coup in Ukraine, few people paid attention to the fact that the air forces of the actually split country are not just experiencing a rapid decline, but in fact go into oblivion.
Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine has received a solid Soviet legacy: the division of military equipment left the newly formed republic of the CIS quite strong aviation potential. In terms of quantity, the combat aviation of Ukraine in 1992 was second only to the aviation of the USA, Russia and China, being the largest in Europe.
It is also worth noting that a significant part of the modern military airfields of the former USSR was located on the territory of Ukraine, where MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters were stationed, long-range Tu-22, Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers. It was the Ukrainian airfields that at that time played the primary role in delivering a disarming strike to the NATO forces. The airbases in Mirgorod and Vasilkov, Melitopol and Belaya Tserkov, Priluki and Poltava, Mukachevo and Stryi - this is not a complete list of those who received the new aircraft in the first place. At the Saki airfield in the Crimea there is a complex of NITKA - a ground-based test aircraft simulator for training naval aviation pilots. It is a ground-based complex of ship-borne means of shortened take-off and landing of aircraft.
In 1992, three air armies were transferred to the Ukrainian Air Force (1100 combat aircraft):
In addition, armed with about 900 helicopters, including 250 shock Mi-24В / Mi-24П.
However, with the further deterioration of Ukraine’s financial and economic position, the aviation regiments began to shrink like shagreen leather: from the end of the 90, the Il-78 tankers, MiG-23 fighters, training Tu-XNUMHUBL weapons were decommissioned, or they were cut into scrap Tu -134М22 / М2, Tu-3 and Tu-95 (although some of the carcasses were sold to Russia). The situation with the training of aviation personnel was no better.
But the most humiliating for the Ukrainian air forces is the signing of an agreement between Ukraine and the US on November 10, 25, on the destruction of long-range aviation units. It became clear to all that NATO did not need a strong, self-sufficient Ukraine. In 1993 – 1996, the country's leadership eliminated 1999 strategic missile carriers (29 Tu-10, 160 Tu-19MS). In addition, in 95 – 2002, in the presence of American “inspectors” at air bases in Poltava, Pryluky and Belaya Tserkov, Tu-2006М22 / 2 were destroyed.
Air Force of Ukraine in the early 2014, there 80 frontline MiG-29 (a certain amount has been upgraded to MiG-29MU1), 20 interceptor Su-27, 24 Sukhoi Su-24M, 36 Su-25 (14 have upgraded up to the version of Su-25М1), 12 reconnaissance aircraft Su-24МР, 38 training aircraft of the Czech production L-39 "Albatross", seven military transport Il-76МД, five transport workers An-26, one VIP aircraft of An-24 and Tu-Xnumhak. Helicopter units were armed only with Mi-134 / Mi-8, since in 17, the majority of helicopters became part of the ground forces.
Analyzing the state of the Ukrainian Air Force before the coup, it should be noted that even in 2012, the situation somewhat improved. Thus, the average annual flight time of Ukrainian pilots increased significantly compared with the previous figures and averaged 42 hours per pilot (in 2010, the average annual flight time is only 17 hours). However, the Ukrainian figure was much inferior to other countries: for example, the average annual flight time of a pilot in the Russian Air Force over the same period was 100 – 120 hours, in NATO - 120 – 180 hours. All airplanes and helicopters that were returned to the Air Force underwent overhaul or medium modernization at Ukrainian enterprises (in total, more than 50 machines were returned to the system).
After the new leadership came to power, the military aviation of Ukraine actually lost its combat capability. The airbases and hangars remained essentially without proper protection, which further complicates the situation due to the fact that aircraft armament began to fall into the hands of frankly Nazi groups.
The seizure of power in Kiev led to another factor - the split of Ukraine. And this actually led to the formation of military units of the Crimea (before the republic was transferred to Russia), on the one hand, and the “zapadentsy” - on the other. Since the beginning of March, by order of the Chairman of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Andriy Paruby, the process of forming the so-called parallel army and national guard is underway. However, the rank and file of the air force of the former united Ukraine, stationed in the Crimea and in some parts of the south-east of the country, refused to submit to the new leadership.
Currently, the air base began to experience significant difficulties in obtaining spare parts, fuel and armaments. Thus, the inaction of the former government of Viktor Yanukovych and the outright Russophobia of the current junta have done their work — the aviation of a united Ukraine as such probably no longer exists.