Slovenia - Air Force

The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) is a so-called joint armed force, meaning there are no branches like Army, Air Force and Navy, but it consists of arms and services including naval and aviation units. The Slovene Armed Forces are equipped with helicopters (Bell 412 and AS 532AL Cougar) and turbo-prop fixed wing aircraft (Pilatus PC9M). Slovenian Ministry of Defence stated on 21 June 1994 that Slovenia had not been negotiating for buying Israeli fighter airplanes Kfir. As of mid-1998, it was possible that one squadron of ex-Dutch F-16A's would go to the Slovenian Air Force. Up to now no such transfers have come to pass.

On the perennial issue of air policing, purchasing aircraft will be too expensive for the SAF in the short-term, but possible in the long term - five to ten years out. Because of this, Slovenia must look at other options, including cooperation between Slovenia and the US. Slovenia's air defense needs and the desire of senior military officials for acquisition of fighter jets continues to create a buzz around the MoD. As of 3006 some in the SAF were seriously considering purchasing fighters. But this will not happen: it is too expensive, and there is no need for it, despite the fact that some in the SAF would like having fighters.

Air defence represents a set of measures, procedures and activities for the prevention and reduction of enemy combat operation effects from the air. The air defence system in Slovenia consists of the following elements: airspace control, air command and control system, active air defence and passive air defence.

Active air defence is carried out through combat operations against enemy attack assets from the air to deter or neutralise his power or destroy his forces before they accomplish their mission. Active air defence comprises the employment of airplanes, ground based air defence weapon systems and other weapons and electronic warfare assets. Passive air defence is composed of procedures, measures and activities to downgrade the enemy’s operations from the airspace, and at the same time, provide favourable conditions for mission accomplishment.

Airspace control is defined as a continuous and systematic surveillance of the airspace with electronic, optical and other resources for timely detection, identification and determination of flyovers by all elements in the RS airspace and avenues of approach. Its main purpose is to provide comprehensive and detailed information for better situational awareness, to support commanders in the decision making process, and to transmit real time air threat warnings to all users, including the system of informing and alerting the civilian population and coordination of weapon systems.

Slovenia's airspace is technically policed through an agreement with Italy. However, only one token flight has been made - the day after Slovenia became a NATO member in 2004. Slovenia continues to look for a more satisfactory long-term arrangement for its air defense due to political resistance to having Italy do it. On the other hand, interest in fighters is due to even greater political resistance to future potential NATO members in the region, namely Croatia [and Serbia], doing the job.

In Ljubljana, Brnik is not only the international airport of the capital of Slovenia, but also the base of the 15th Brigade Air Force. As a new country with a surface area of little more than 20,000 square kiometers and two millions of inhabitants, Slovenia does not have large armed forces. Thus Brnik base is the most important one and the place where the new pilots are also training after their basic course.

The 15th Brigade Air Force of the young Republic of Slovenia provided transport assets to SFOR Headquarters in Sarajevo. By 2002 more than 5,000 flying hours have been completed since they began to fly in SFOR missions at the very end of 1997. In fact, Slovenia was the only country to become independent from the late SFRY that was part of SFOR. The Slovenian Air Force provides helicopters and fixed wings plane for use by SFOR. Specifically they provide four B 412 helicopters, one of them always posted at Archer Base, Camp Butmir (Sarajevo). In addition they flew their fixed wing transport plane L 410 weekly to different destinations such as Naples (Italy), Brussels (Belgium), Ramstein (Germany) and Ljubljana to name but a few. One of the members of the 15th Brigade was also in charge for co-ordinating aircraft movements with SFOR Headquarters.

Airmen from Aviano Air Base, Italy, joined forces with troops from one of NATO's newest member nations Oct. 4-7, 2004 to improve the way they rescue downed pilots. The training was part of Adriatic Rescue 04, a U.S.-Slovenian combat search- and-rescue exercise. While Slovenia had conducted similar training with the United States before, this was the most comprehensive training of its kind to date, involving multiple facets both in the air and on the ground. Teams from Slovenia's 15th and 1st brigades worked both with and against members of the 31st Fighter Wing from Aviano to make the experience as realistic as possible. Croatian, Macedonian and Albanian representatives also observed the training to better understand how they can fit into NATO operations. Slovenian air assets played a major part in the rescue scenarios by serving as the rescue teams, sending their helicopter teams to rescue the downed pilots. Aviano sent F-16CG Viper aircraft from the 555th Fighter Squadron to escort Slovenian helicopters into the pickup zone. Slovenian PC-9M aircraft pilots in turn acted as aggressors, or red air, and tried to shoot down the helicopters.

As of 2005, Slovenia was interested in purchasing a transport aircraft similar in size and capabilities to the C-27 Spartan. As of 2006 NATO is asking Slovenia to procure 3 additional helicopters and two light transport aircraft by 2011. At that time, Slovenia planned to acquire two C-27 or CASA 295 transport aircraft for logistics support of their deployed troops. The intent was to join the US purchase of the Joint Cargo Aircraft. Slovenia also signed on for a small (60 hours) commitment to the Multinational C-17 Airlift Initiative. Though there had been talk over the previous year about SAF transport capabilities and the possible purchase of a C-130, the Chief of Defense has said that Slovenia was not currently looking to purchase C-130 transport aircraft, and it was content with the SAF's ability to utilize NATO transport aircraft when necessary.

The MoD canceled its contract for a Spanish Casa 295 transport aircraft following the crash of a Casa 295 in Poland in January 2008, but intended to reopen the tendering process in the near future. As part of the intended purchase of a Tactical Transport Aircraft (TTA) in 2012 or later, in 2009 Slovenia hosted a C-130J development team from the US over a week-long series of meetings. Slovenia as a transport hub to Southeastern Europe and beyond with TTA aircraft or a Depot facility has great gravity for economic development and access for all NATO / Membership Action Plan (MAP) nations.

Commander of the Slovenian Army Force Command, Brigadier Alan Geder, stated in January 2010 that the air force was achieving set goals despite a lower budget. The main goals for the year include participation in a mission in Kosovo and preparations for an Afghanistan assignment. These will include participating in the NATO-led KFOR mission with a single helicopter, while the Afghanistan assignment is to involve several transport aircraft. The mission in Afghanistan will be an "operation of high intensity", and will require upgraded Eurocopter Cougar-class helicopters. The start of the operation was scheduled for 2012.

Order of Battle

Air defence and Aviation Brigade

Air defence and Aviation Brigade

9th Air Defence Battalion

15th Helicopter Battalion

16th Air Space Surveillance Battalion

107th Air Base

Airport Type Quantity
Brnik, Ljubljana Let L410VP-E 1
Bell 412 8
PC-9 3
Cerklje Zlin 143L 2
Zlin 242L 8
Bell 206B-3 3

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