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The Kazak Air & Air Defense Forces; Astana, May 22 – 25, 2014

The Kazak Air Force, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The Air Force of Kazakhstan has several types of fighter aircraft in operational service. The majority of the air defense fighters are based in the south and the east of the country. The attack aircraft are mostly based in the southern part of the country near the borders with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China.

One of the main interceptors of the Kazakh Air Force is the MiG-23 "Flogger". The aircraft are from the era of the former Soviet Union. The MiG-23MLD was one of the last fighter interceptors of the third generation which joined the Russian air force. The MiG-23MLD and MiG-23UB were assigned to the Kazakh Air Force after the fall of the Soviet Union. The MiG-23MLD "Flogger K" is now decommissioned and the aircraft are in storage somewhere in Kazakhstan. The Flogger K was the last variant of the MiG-23 which was developed. The aircraft was designed for the air defense role. The MiG-23UB "Flogger C" is used in Kazakhstan as a tactical trainer for the advanced fighter pilot training. Fighter pilots will be trained on the MiG-23UB after their training on the L-39. The Kazakh Air Force has three MiG-23UBs which are still in service. The MiG-27 is the ground attack version of the MiG-23. The Kazakh Air Force has currently twelve MiG-27M "Flogger J" aircraft in use. The Flogger J is a cheaper export version of the MiG-27K and a highly improved version of the MiG-23BN. The aircraft is equipped with electronic countermeasure equipment and is able to carry advanced air to ground weapons. The big difference with the MiG-23 is that the MiG-27 has no radar. All Flogger variants are stationed at Aktobe Air Base in the northwest of the country. Aktobe Air Base is in Kazakhstan designated as the 604th Air Base. It is expected that the MiG-23 and MiG-27 will remain in service in the coming years, because no other aircraft within the air force can act as a tactical trainer.

The MiG-29 "Fulcrum" is an air defense fighter within the Kazakh Air Force. In comparison to the Russian MiG-29s, the Kazakh Fulcrums are painted in a bright blue camouflage pattern. The Kazakh MiG-29s are divided between two airfields in the country. Most of the MiG-29s of the Kazakhs are based at Zhetygen Air Base which is designated as the 600th Air Base. This airfield is located in the Almaty Oblast in the south of the country. The second airfield where the MiG-29 is stationed is Shymkent

Air Base which is known as the 602nd Air Base. This airfield is located in the Shymkent Oblast in the south of the country near the border with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Kazakh Air Force has probably still 39 Fulcrums in service. Five of these aircraft are the MiG-29UB variant and 34 aircraft are of the MiG-29A variant. The main interceptor of the Kazakh Air Force is the MiG-31 "Foxhound". Kazakhstan is next to Russia is the only country in the world which flies the MiG-31. The Foxhound continued its service in Kazakhstan after the fall of the Soviet Union. The MiG-31 is stationed at Karaganda Air Base in the north east of the country. Karaganda is in Kazakhstan designated as the 610th Air Base. The MiG-31 is an aircraft which needs much maintenance and is therefore for the Kazakhs a difficult aircraft to operate. There are probably nine of the original 29 MiG-31s operational at this moment. Originally, ten aircraft were updated to the MiG-31M standard in 2010. Recently, one aircraft crashed and the aircraft were temporarily grounded. The remaining MiG-31s are in storage in Karaganda and Semipalatinsk in the north east of the country near the Russian border.

The Sukhoi Su-27 "Flanker" is the main air defense fighter of the Kazakh Air Force. The Flanker is an aircraft of the fourth generation and is a true air superiority fighter. The origin of the fighter is Russian; the aircraft was built in the Soviet Union in 1985. About 30 aircraft stayed behind in Kazakhstan after the fall of the Soviet Union. The Air Force of Kazakhstan has 22 Su-27 and eight Su-27UB fighters in operational service. A total of twelve Flankers were upgraded to the Su-27M2/BM standard. The main task of the Su-27 in Kazakhstan is the air defense role. The aircraft is also well suited for the role of escort fighter to escort various attack aircraft. The Kazakh Flankers are like the MiG-29s painted in a bright blue and gray camouflage pattern. The Flankers in Kazakhstan are spread over two airfields. The largest airfield where the Su-27 is based is Aktobe Air Base which is known as the 604th Air Base and is located in the northwest of the country. The MiG-23 is also stationed at this airfield. The second airbase where the Flanker is stationed is Aktau Air Base which is known as the 605th Air Base. Aktau is located in the southwest of the country near Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Aktau is the youngest military airfield in Kazakhstan. The airfield was redesigned to house the Flanker in 2011. The Flanker was stationed at this airfield because the Kazakh government had the need for a stronger air force in the western part of the country. The airfield in Aktau was drastically renewed for the Su-27.

The largest attack aircraft of the Kazakh Air Force is the Su-24 "Fencer". The Fencers are like many other aircraft inherited from the Soviet era. In total, the Kazakh Air Force received 25 Su-24 “Fencers”. The Su-24 "Fencer" is a fighter-bomber and is similar to the American F-111. The aircraft is suitable for fast attacks at low level. The Fencer is a big and strong aircraft which can be equipped with much air to ground weapons like rocket pods and bombs. A part of the Fencers is brought to the Su-24M and Su-24MR standard through the years. The Fencers are currently all in storage since 2010. It is not clear whether the aircraft will ever fly again. The Su-24s are based at Zhetygen Air Base in the south of the country and is designated as the 600th Air Base. The Kazakh Air Force has in addition to the Su-24 also fourteen Su-25 "Frogfoot" fighter-bombers in service. The Air Force has twelve Su-25 and two Su-25UB “Frogfoots” in use. The primary task of the Su-25 is to provide close air support to ground troops. The Su-25 is an aircraft which is a proven concept; the aircraft is a very efficient attack plane. The aircraft is very robust and can operate from almost all types of airfields. Also, the aircraft requires very little maintenance and it can withstand the harsh Russian winters. The Kazakh Frogfoots are based at Shymkent Air Base in the south near the border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Shymkent is referred to as the 602nd Air Base.




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