Since beginning of ATO Ukraininan military aviation has lost 89 staff members and 18 equipment units
What are the achievements of Ukrainian military aviation? Ukrainian war pilots have been gaining real fighting experience since the beginning of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). Although the information about the battling air forces during the first months of the unannounced war has been classified, it was Ukrainian war pilots who covered the positions of Ukrainian soldiers, providing with air support and drawing off the strikes of the enemy's missiles.
The first mass takeoff of Ukrainian war pilots took place during the siege of the Donetsk airport where Ukrainian planes and helicopters played a key role in the operation. In the spring of 2014 it seemed the Anti-Terrorist Operation was about to end up in a few weeks. All of a sudden the militants started attacking back with portable air defence and missile systems. This is when Ukrainian armed forces recognized the so-called separatists are Russian-backed.
During the first four months of ATO Ukraine lost 10 helicopters, 8 planes, and 89 people. The catastrophe with the biggest number of victims happened in June 2014 when Russian-backed separatist forces downed Ukrainian Il-76 aircraft in Luhansk. There were 58 people on board, among them 49 paratroopers and 9 crew members. All of them died.
Since September 2014 Ukrainian military air forces do not fly over the conflict region where the anti-terrorist operation is being unfolded. The 40-th brigade of Ukraine's Tactical Air Forces has also suffered from the enemy attacks when one of the planes was shot from a "Buk" missile system above the village of Snizhne in Donetsk region. Since then, the command say, they have gained a good deal of strength and military capacities.
Volodymyr Kravchenko, commander of 40th brigade: "We have increased the number of raids, as well as the frequency. A war pilot must not make regular breaks in flying. Earlier we organized the flights once in two weeks."
Military air forces require huge money investment. According to the commandment, dozens of tons of fuel are needed to conduct one séance of training. For instance, to fully supply the tank of a medium-sized fighter Mig-29 more than 4 tons of fuel.
When there is no chance to take off to the open sky, the militaries train on special training simulators. This one is currently set to imitate the pursuit of an imaginary Russian transport plane.
Oleksandr Blyskun, pilot of 40th brigade: "If the aimed object does not show a single sign of reaction on warning, military headquarters' command may allow the pilots to make a preventive shot."
Virtual enemy does not respond to numerous warnings that is why the plane is attacked.
Currently using the air forces in battling the attackers in the ATO zone is forbidden by the Minsk agreement. The leaders of the occupied territories in turn insist they are ready to let their air forces to the battlefield. Ukrainian pilots answer they cannot wait to encounter the enemy, preferably aiming point-blank.