This is the only known base of all Su-24 Fencer, medium-range bomber of the Ukrainian Air Force.
On the day visited the base all flying started at 0900 and continued for 6 whole hours, with Su-24M/MR and L-39s launching and recovering without a break.
This huge base was very active during the 2014 war with Russia and one of its Su-24MR was hit by a MANPAD but recovered safely to a forward operating base with one engine fiercely on fire. During that mission on July 1st, 2014, the Fencer was being flown by then Lt Col Bulatsyk Yevhen.
Starokostiantyniv AB houses both the Su-24M bomber as well as the Su-24MR reconnaissance version of this aging but still very formidable jet. The 7th Fighter Bomber Regiment flies two squadrons of Su-24M and a squadron of Su-24MRs while L-39s are used by all three squadrons for pilot proficiency and also as a way of fuel saving for training purposes.
The base is commanded by Col Kovalenko Mykola who was very proud of the achievements of his personnel maintaining and flying the Su-24s. Indeed, the steady flow of movements on the day kept the Col busy as some of his pilots flew up to three missions on that particular day and a number of pilots received their qualifications during the day's missions.
Starokostiantyniv AB is a typical Soviet-era style base with two large ramps that house most of the Su-24MRs and L-39s while the other two squadrons were dispersed in pens dotting the south side of the airfield. The field houses a very good number of active Su-24s as well as others that will be made airworthy again in the near future. The latter were all nesting to the East of the airfield but one could tell that they could easily be worked back to airworthy status. Additionally, a good number of Su-24s were undergoing maintenance both inside and outside the hanger situated in the SW corner of the field, just short of runway end.
Being a medium-bomber base and housing one of the meanest jets in Ukrainian AF inventory, security is very tight both outside and on the base, however, our reporter found some of the most friendly and highly appreciative personnel as they truly wanted to show some of their best aircraft and what the servicemen and women stand for as they strive to continue with the success story of Ukraine's independence on August 24, 1991.