Special Purpose Command

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Moscow District of the Air Force and Air Defence Force
Special Purpose Command
Flag of the Soviet Air Force.svg
Active c.1945–present
Special Purpose Command: 2002 – July 1, 2009[1]
Country Soviet Union Soviet Union
Russia Russia
Branch Flag of the Soviet Air Force.svg Soviet Air Force
Flag of the Air Force of the Russian Federation.svg Russian Air Force
Size World War II: several air divisions
Today: ~ 10–15 air regiments
Garrison/HQ Moscow
Marshal Anatoly Konstantinov (dismissed 1988)

The Special Purpose Command (Komandovaniye Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya) was a formation of the Russian Air Force, the strongest among the tactical aviation and anti-aircraft groupings. Its zone of responsibility amounted to 1.3 million km², taking in 40 million people, as well as the country's capital, Moscow. On July 1, 2009 it was superseded by the Aerospace Defense Operational Strategic Command (ru:Объединённое стратегическое командование воздушно-космической обороны).[1]

As a result of the air force reforms implemented on June 1, 1998, the Moscow District of the PVO and the 16th Air Army of VVS became a single entity, the Moscow District of the Air Force and Air Defense. According to Krasnaya Zvezda of 16 December 2002, the former Moscow District of the VVS and PVO was reorganised as the Special Purpose Command in September 2002.[2] Interfax says the Moscow District was split into the reactivated 16th Air Army, a tactical force, and the Central Air Defence Zone, an air defense force.[3]

Pyotr Butowski, writing in 2004, seems to indicate that the Special Purpose Command (he makes no mention of ‘the Central Air Defence Zone’) is merely essentially a redesignation of the former Moscow District. The rearrangement of the Moscow District of the VVS and PVO into the Special Purpose Command is apparently connected with plans in the long term for the military-space defense of the central industrial region.

The initial commanding officer of the KSpN was General Lieutenant Yuri Solovyov, later promoted to Colonel-General. The Moscow Air Defence District has a long history, dating back to the Second World War. Until 1950, MiG-15 interceptor regiments were concentrated in the Moscow District to protect the capital against US bomber attack.[4] After 1950 significant elements, the 64th Fighter Aviation Corps, were redeployed to fight in the Korean War. The district's commander was replaced shortly before the Matthias Rust affair in 1988 for insufficient support of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika policy.[5]

VVS and PVO Units in the District in the late 1980s

In the last days of the Soviet Union there was a considerable Soviet Air Defence Forces presence, and a smaller Air Forces presence, in the Moscow Military District. The Air Forces of the Moscow Military District, alternately known as the 78th Air Army, consisted of a reconnaissance regiment, the 47th Guards Separate Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment at Shatalovo flying Su-24MPs, and the 9th Fighter Aviation Division (9 iad), at Kubinka, with four regiments. The division incorporated the 32nd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, also at Shatalovo, with MiG-23MLDs, the 234th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment at Kubinka with MiG-29s, the 274th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Regiment at Migalovo (274 apib) with Su-17s, and the 343rd Fighter Aviation Regiment at Sennoy with MiG-29s. Also part of the force was a ground signals regiment, the 131st.[6] 32nd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment served in Cuba as part of 'Operation Anadyr' during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963.[7] The regiment was temporarily renamed 213th Fighter Aviation Regiment while in Cuba. Joseph Stalin's son Vasily Stalin commanded the Moscow district air forces in the early 1950s.[8]

Moscow district air defence had been provided during the Second World War by initially the Moscow PVO Corps Region. The Corps Region Headquarters, then formed the Moscow Front PVO from 6 April 1942 – 10 July 1943. In turn, the Moscow Front PVO was redesignated as Headquarters, Special Moscow PVO Army. In 1948 the North-Western Air Defence District was redesignated the Moscow Air Defence Region, which became the Moscow Air Defence District in 1950.[9]

In 1988 the Order of Lenin Moscow Air Defence District had four air defence corps and a division, which included 11 fighter aviation regiments, one transport helicopter regiment, 28 anti-aircraft rocket regiments, and four radar brigades and regiments. The corps were the 2nd, at Balashikha, 3rd at Rzhev, 7th at Kursk, and 16th at Gorky.[10] One of the fighter regiments was the 472nd Fighter Aviation Regiment at Kursk. The 7th Air Defence Corps was redesignated the 7th Air Defence Division in the early 1990s.

7th Air Defence Division 1995

Source Holm.[11]

  • Headquarters, Bryansk, Bryansk Oblast, 1960 – 2001
  • 207th Communications Center (Bryansk, Bryansk Oblast)
  • 153rd Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO (Morshansk, Tambov Oblast)
  • 472nd Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO (Kursk, Kursk Oblast)
  • 108th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Nikolskoye, Voronezh Oblast)
  • 260th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Bryansk, Bryansk Oblast)
  • 563rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment (Gorodets, Nizhniy Novgorod Oblast)
  • 9th Radio-Technical Brigade (Nizhniy Novgorod, Nizhniy Novgorod Oblast)
  • 41st Radio-Technical Brigade (Orel, Orel Oblast)

The division was disbanded in 2001.

Moscow Air Defence District commanders

Source 1948–80: Holm[9]

16th Air Army

The 16th Air Army (ru:16-я воздушная армия) was the most important formation of the Special Purpose Command. Initially formed during the Second World War as a part of the Soviet Air Force, it was from c.2002–2009 the tactical air force component of the Moscow Military District, headquartered at Kubinka.

The army was formed on August 10, 1942 during the Battle of Stalingrad on the basis of military units and organizations of the eighth Air Army (220th Fighter Division and 228 attack aircraft division), and included the 228th and 291st Assault Aviation Divisions and two separate aviation regiments. The end of August / beginning of September came the 283rd Fighter Division and the 291st mixed Fliegerdivion from the reserve of the Headquarters added. The starting inventory stood on 4 September to 152 aircraft types Yak-1, LaGG-3, IL-2 and Pe-2 . Until the beginning of the first jobs whose number has been increased to 300. It took part in Operation Uranus as part of the Don Front in November–December 1942, being commanded by Sergei Rudenko.[12]

It was involved in the Battle of Kursk, and was part of the First Belorussian Front for the liberation of Belarus, the Lublin-Brest Offensive, and the assault on Berlin. For a long period after the war, the army was stationed with the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, headquartered at Zossen-Wünsdorf. In 1949, it was renamed the 24th Air Army, but was reformed as the 16th in 1968. In its last years in Germany, it consisted of:

The 16th Air Army ceremonially said farewell to Germany at the Sperenburg Open Day on 27 May 1994.[15] On that day the Air Army Headquarters was moved to Kubinka in the Moscow Military District.[16] However the last aircraft from the 226th Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment did not leave Sperenburg until 6 September 1994. A visiting Il-76MD was the last aircraft movement three days later.

On 1 June 1998, the 16th Air Army was disbanded and its units incorporated into the Moscow District of VVS and PVO, in accordance with the amalgamation of the Air Forces and the Russian Air Defence Forces.[16] This was quickly reversed and on 25 November 1998, the 16th Composite Air Corps was re-raised. The 16th Composite Air Corps was reformed as the 16th Air Army on 1 February 2002.

Savasleyka is another airbase within the Moscow Military District's boundaries, but its exact operational status is currently unclear, as the formerly resident unit, the 54th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment, was not listed as operational in the most widely available recent survey of Russian air power, which was done by Air Forces Monthly in August and September 2007. The 54th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment had previously been withdrawn from Vainode Air Base in Latvia.[17] Russian internet sources now say it has been reorganised as the 3958th Air Base.[18]

The 16th Air Army will soon receive two regiments of the advanced Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers in the near future.[19] General Belevitch said the 16th Air Army would also receive MiG-29SM Fulcrum fighters to replace outdated MiG-29s and modernized Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft, which showed outstanding performance during operations in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other "hot spots."[19]

2007 structure

In 2009 the Russian Air Force was extensively reorganised. This structure is not current. Combat Aircraft magazine's June 2010 issue gives some details of the new structure.

  • 1st Air Defence Corps(Balashikha) (surface to air missiles only)
    • 9th Air Defence Divisions, including the 584 SAM Regiment (Лыткино, Поварово) with the S-400[21]
    • 37th(?) Air Defence Division[22]
    • four SAM regiments in total
  • Army Aviation components
    • 45th Independent Helicopter Regiment – Oreshkovo (Vorotinsk) near Kaluga – Mi-24
    • 440th Independent Helicopter Regiment for battle control – Vyazma Airport – Mi-24, Mi-8
    • 490th Independent Helicopter Regiment for battle control – Klokovo (4 km north of Tula) – Mi-24, Mi-8;
    • 865th Reserve Helicopter Base – Protasovo/Aleksandrovo (air base), near Ryazan


  1. 1.0 1.1 http://vz.ru/society/2009/7/4/303726.html
  2. Olga Bozhyeva, 'New special command replaces Moscow Air Force and Air Defence District, Krasnaya Zvezda, 16 December 2002.
  3. See also Interfax, 5 January 2002
  4. Steven J. Zaloga, The Russians in MiG Alley, Air Force Magazine, 1991
  5. Bill Keller, Moscow dismisses more air generals, New York Times, June 18, 1987
  6. Fes'kov, V.I.; Golikov, V.I. & K.A. Kalashnikov (2004). The Soviet Army In The Years Of The Cold War 1945–1991. Tomsk University Publishing House. pp. 144–145. ISBN 5-7511-1819-7.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. http://www.airforce.ru/history/cold_war/cuba/index_en.htm, see also ru:32-й гвардейский истребительный авиационный полк (СССР)
  8. Father's little watchman, Time magazine, 1950. Time says Air Defence Forces, but this is incorrect.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Michael Holm, Order of Lenin Moscow Air Defence District, accessed December 2012.
  10. V.I. Feskov et al 2004, 150.
  11. Holm, 7th Air Defence Division
  12. Uranus Order of Battle
  13. Separate units list is translated from http://www.genstab.ru/gsvg_16.htm, translation of base names from Orbat.com, Archive – Warsaw Pact in 1989
  14. See also Michael Holm, 105th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division, accessed November 2011
  15. Chris Lofting & Kieron Pilbeam, 'Sperenburg,' Air Forces Monthly, February 1995, p. 41.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Pyotr Butowski, Air Power Analysis: Russian Federation, Part 2, International Air Power Review, AIRTime Publishing, No.13, Summer 2004, ISBN 1-880588-84-6, p.87
  17. 'Twin Base Training,' Air Forces Monthly, December 2002
  18. http://www8.brinkster.com/vad777/russia/air/va/16va_mvo.htm
  19. 19.0 19.1 Russia to equip two air regiments with Su-34 strike planes soon
  20. Structure drawn from Air Forces Monthly, July 2007 issue, p.82.
  21. An earlier report at www8.brinkster.com had said the 9th PVO Division's 606th Guards Air Defence Missile Regiment at Elektrostal had the S-400, though this now has been changed.
  22. Michael Holm, 1st Air Defence Army for Special Use, accessed December 2012.

External links