Air Transportation: September 14, 2002
On 2 September, Russia's Defense Ministry decided to transfer the Land Forces' aviation units to Air Force command by 1 November 2002. Most of the changes will be at the support and command levels: Land Forces aviation command structures will be reduced by 65% and added to the Air Force Staff, while rear and support formations will be reduced 40-45%. Army aviation schools will be reduced 10-15%.
The decision to subordinate Land Force aviation to the Air Force was made after the 19 August MI-26 Halo crash. Meanwhile, fragments of a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile launcher were found on the site of the 31 August MI-24 crash in the Chechen highlands. The Russians destroyed 18 of MANPADS systems in Chechen districts last winter and the military command in Chechnya is taking measures to prevent MANPADS strikes on their helicopters, but refused to reveal any additional details. - Adam Geibel