According to Russian propaganda, young pilots of the naval aviation and air defense of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF MA&AD) “performed scheduled training flights” in the skies over the occupied Crimea. The training included solo flights, as well as actions in pairs and squads, air duels on a collision course with practicing elements of complex aerobatics. Such a “combat training event” becomes traditional at the Black Sea Fleet for the end of the year. For example, a similar one was held in December 2019. In total, in the “training flights” the invaders used 6 multipurpose fighters “Su-30SM” and front-line bombers “Su-24M” from the regiment of the BSF MA&AD [1].

It is worth noting that in December 2011, units of the Black Sea Fleet naval aviation underwent organizational and staff measures to reorganize the 7057th and 7058th aviation bases, the 37th separate engineering and airfield company, the 312th flight aviation workshop, the 1471st aircraft repair workshop with security units in the common 7057th Sevastopol Second Category Aviation Base, awarded by the Red Banner and Order of Kutuzov.

After the beginning of the occupation of Crimea, on the basis of the order of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation № 222 dated March 28, 2014, “for the distinctions shown in ensuring the safety of events related to the protection of the rights and lives of citizens of the Republic of Crimea, holding a referendum in the Republic of Crimea in 2014”, the entire personnel of this military unit was “awarded” by medals “For the Return of Crimea”. So the “referendums” in the Crimea, as we see, demand the cover of naval bomber and fighter aircraft.

Later, in July 2014, “in accordance with the instructions of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation”, the 7057th Aviation Base was reorganized into the 318th Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment and the 43rd Separate Naval Assault Aviation Regiment [2].

At the Saki Airfield, the occupants deployed the 43rd Aviation Regiment assigned to the Black Sea Fleet aviation with two dozen “Su-24M/MR” and “Su-30SM”. But since September 1, 2016, this 43rd Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet stopped operating the “Su-24” naval attack aircraft. This regiment was generally the last part of the Russian Armed Forces armed with “Su-24” aircraft. According to some reports, the 43rd Regiment in the fall of 2016 had 7 “Su-24” aircrafts, 8 “Su-30SM” attack aircrafts, 3 “Su-24M”, 6 “Su-24MR” reconnaissance aircraft and a “Tu-134” aircraft for the Black Sea Fleet Commander [3].

In 2016, in the Black Sea Fleet, the invaders completed the recruitment of a squadron of “new super-maneuverable multifunctional” “Su-30SM” fighters. This was done in preparation for the “Kavkaz-2016” strategic command-staff exercises. At the same time, the intensity of the “combat training” of the Black Sea Fleet’s naval aviation sharply increased, which took part in all the “exercises” conducted in the fleet, having performed more than 3.6 thousand “combat exercises”. In general, in the same year, the pilots of the Black Sea Fleet naval aviation conducted 224 flight shifts, and the total flight time of the crews amounted to more than 5.5 thousand hours, which was almost 1.5 times higher than the “planned indicators”. At the training grounds, the pilots “practiced the delivery of missile and bomb strikes against sea and coastal targets, torpedoing, landing, and the search for submarines”. The crews of deck helicopters “were on alert” aboard the newest frigate “Admiral Grigorovich” as part of a permanent formation of Russian Navy ships in the far sea zone. Also, on the basis of the 43rd Regiment, complexes of unmanned aerial vehicles were mastered [4].

  The aforementioned 318th Separate Mixed Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet was deployed by the invaders at the Sevastopol Kacha airfield. It is armed with 5 “Be-12”, 8 “An-26”, 14 “Ka-27”, 2 “Ka-31R”, and 4 “Mi-8”. Last year, the 318th Regiment, based near Sevastopol, began to enter service with “Ka-31R” long-range radar detection and control helicopters [5].

Due to the significant differences from the “Ka-27” and “Ka-29” in the Black Sea Fleet, the occupants have drawn up a program for retraining the operating crews of naval helicopters, and measures for training pilots have been added to the fleet’s combat training plan. In addition to the flight crew, the technical staff, which conducts pre-flight training of the helicopter before departure, also “improved their qualifications”. One of the stages of flight personnel training is the performance of training flights with takeoffs and landings on the helicopter deck of the ship at sea, both in motion and at anchorage [6].

For comparison, let us note that, for example, the Russian Caspian flotilla does not have its own aviation at all.

1. https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/[email protected]

2. https://www.kchf.ru/history/318aviapolk.htm

3. https://eagle-rost.livejournal.com/672927.html

4. http://bastion-karpenko.ru/black-sea-news-2017/

5. https://www.ng.ru/armies/2020-03-23/8_7824_aviation.html

6. https://diana-mihailova.livejournal.com/4649198.html