|Moldovan Air Force|
|Forțele Aeriene ale Republicii Moldova|
|Size||710 personnel (2019)|
|Part of||Moldovan National Army|
|Commander-in-Chief||President Maia Sandu|
|Transport||Antonov An-26, Antonov An-2|
The Moldovan Air Force, known officially as Air Forces Command is the national air force of Moldova. It was formed following Moldova's independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991 and is part of the National Army of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Moldova.
On 18 March 1992, the 275th Guards Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade at Chișinău of the Soviet 60th Air Defense Corps, equipped with Surface-to-air missiles, became part of the Moldovan Air Force. Elements of the brigade served as air defense units in the Transnistria War.
In April 1992, the Moldovan Air Force inherited the Mikoyan MiG-29-equipped 86th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment at Mărculești Air Force Base from the Air Forces of the Black Sea Fleet. Most of the regiment's non-Moldovan personnel, including all of its pilots and its commander, departed for their home countries after its transfer. These were replaced by Moldovan personnel returning from service in the Soviet Armed Forces, among whom there were not many pilots, and even fewer pilots could fly MiG-29s. During the Transnistria War, on 22 June 1992, a flight of two MiG-29s bombed a bridge across the Dniester, connecting Bender and Parcani. None of the bombs directly hit the bridge, although the 14th Guards Army claimed that the bombs had caused civilian casualties and that their anti-aircraft fire downed one of the fighters. Moldova denied the loss, and Moldovan Air Force records show that all of the MiG-29s returned to the base after the mission.
In 1994 the Air Force consisted of 1,300 men organized into one fighter regiment, 1 helicopter squadron, and 1 missile brigade. They had 31 MiG-29 aircraft, 8 Mi-8 helicopters, 5 transport aircraft (including an Antonov An-72), and 25 SA-3/SA-5 Gammon surface-to-air missiles.
In 2002 the Air Force consisted of 1,400 men.
In 2007 the Air Force had been reduced to a strength of 1,040 men organized into one helicopter squadron, and one missile battalion. They had 6 MiG-29S aircraft, upgraded in Ukraine and stationed in Mărculeşti Air Base, 8 Mi-8 helicopters, 5 transport aircraft (including an Antonov An-72), and 12 SA-3 surface-to-air missile.
In March 2010, the Moldovan Air Force signed an agreement with the Romanian Air Force regarding the exchange of information about military aircraft flights near the border, the exchange of radar data, the obligation to provide mutual support to military aircraft in distress and future joint operations. By 2011, the Dimitrie Cantemir Brigade had become a regiment.
Under an agreement finalized on 10 October 1997, the United States acquired 14 MiG 29Cs, described by U.S. officials as wired to permit delivery of nuclear weapons. Also, the United States purchased six MiG 29As, one MiG 29B, 500 air-to-air missiles and all the spare parts and diagnostic equipment present at the Moldovan Air Base where the aircraft were stationed. In return, Moldova received around $40,000,000, humanitarian assistance and non-lethal excess defense articles, such as trucks. The purchase was not without its opponents in Moldova, and the then acting defense minister, Valeriu Pasat would later be charged for illegally selling the aircraft to the USA. All of those MiG-29s were transported from Moldova to the National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio in C-17 transport planes over a period of two weeks.
In late 1998 Moldova also sold 10 MIG 29s to Eritrea, but it was speculated that these aircraft were no longer airworthy.
As of 2011, it is reported that Moldova is left with seven aircraft, six MiG-29s and one Tu-134.[failed verification]
In February 2012, Defense Ministry announced eight planes and eight military transport helicopters will be purchased at the cost of US$240 million.
Moldova received approximately 34 MiG-29’s from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, proving too expensive to maintain, they were sold off to Eritrea, Yemen, and the United States. Other unserviceable aircraft to be placed in storage consisted of the An-2, Tu-134, and some An-24’s.
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