2017 Event Review

Ukraine Air Force Base Tour Aircraft profiles
Location: Vasylkiv AB and Starokostiantyniv AB
Admission: By invitation only
Parking: N/A
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: Not an air show
Display by the Italians
Red Arrows

Our photoreporter, Joe Ciliberti, has recently been on a tour of two of the most important bases of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Cordially invited by the Ukrainian AF Command in Kiev, the tour consisted of a visit to Air Force Base A1789 in Vasylkiv, 30kms South of the Capital and home of 40th Fighter Aviation Brigade flying MiG29s. This was followed by a splendid tour of UkAF base Starokostiantyniv, 250kms SW of Kiev and home of the Su-24 Fencer of the 7th Fighter Bomber Regiment.

Vasylkiv AB

On the day visited Vasylkiv no flying was taking place as preparations were underway for a massive national aerial exercise due in the following days. However, Joe was offered a tour of the based aircraft, some of them very much at the ready should there be need. One needs to remember that Ukraine suffered territorial loss to the Russians and is therefore on alert 24/7 to defend its borders should there be need. A good number of the MiG-29s were fully armed and ready on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) basis.


Vasylkiv AB is under the command of Col Kravchenko Volodymyr who has plenty of hours on different aircraft and over 1500hrs on the MiG-29. The base is quite a large airfield with one massive aircraft parking ramp equipped for all kinds of aircraft. The Mig-29s and L-39s however, are spread around the airfield in pens that hold one or two fast jets at a time. Additionally, there are also individual pens for different types of aircraft on the south side of the field. Col Volodymyr's leadership could be seen in the efficiency of officers and other personnel under his command who certainly have a lot of admiration for their commander.


The Ukrainian Air Force is in a continuous upgrading mode and the base showed both operational MiG-29s and some that were being prepared for a return to flight status. Others were undergoing deep maintenance and the base also has its own simulator developed and built by the Ukrainians themselves. During visit, the simulator was being 'flown' by a young pilot, one of several whose willingness and determination to defend his country was very evident.


Tucked in a medium-sized ramp were a number of recently-refurbished L-39s that are used both for training as well as to keep the based pilots' hours high to ensure the best results.

Starokostiantyniv AB

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.


Joe Ciliberti on the behalf of would like to thank the Command of the Ukranian AF, Col Kravchenko Volodymyr, Col Oleksander Vereschak, Col B. Yevhen and Maj Alexandr Poriadko.

Report and photography byJoe Ciliberti for

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