LATEST UPDATE 15 MARCH 2014 | On the same day as Turkey scrambled eight F-16 fighter jets to intercept a Russian Ilyushin IL-20 surveillance plane that was coming close to the border, Russia confirmed on 5 March 2014 it based updated MiG-29 fighter jets on its expeditionary base at Erebuni Airport in Yerevan, Armenia. The airfield is less than 20 km (12.5 miles) from the Turkish border.
At least 3 updated MiG-29s were officially christened on 14 March 2014. The 3624th Air Base Erebuni has a squadron of Russian MiG-29s of which Russian press agency RIA Novosti puts the number of active aircraft on 16.
Part of a long pre-planned strengthening of the military ties within the Commonwealth of Independent States – a sort of successor of the USSR – the base is soon to house a Russian Army Aviation tactical helicopter squadron of 18 machines as well. According to the Southern Military district where Erebuni is part of it will be Mi-24P (Hind-F) attack helicopters and Mi-8MT/SMV Hip transport helicopters.
In fact, the Russian Air Force announced on 24 February it started the construction of military and special facilities for the army aviation pilots at Erebuni, which is located about a 1,000 metres above sea level surrounded by a mountain range.
“Group parking places helicopters, taxiways, a platform for testing engines, take-off and landing, plus training and service facilities will be built”, according to an official news release. “Construction of sheds for flight equipment and buildings and hangars are also part of the first phase.”
Armenian Air Force
Erebuni is also home of to the Armenian Air Force, which has 2 Ilyushin IL-76M Candids and a single Airbus A319CJ, up to 12 Mi-24 Hinds and 9 Mi-8 Hip based there. Fifteen Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft are located at Gyumri Airfield to the northwest of Yerevan. Nine Mil Mi-2 Hoplite light utility helicopters are flying from the Armenian Air Force training base in Arzni, where also about 10 Yak-52s are based. Up to six L-39C Albatros jet trainers could be spotted on both Erebuni and Gyumri as well. The Armenian Air Force is said to have a single Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 Foxbat high-altitude interceptor, but like with all the other equipment the airworthiness of the aircraft is difficult to verify.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger
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