The war in the history of mankind - it habitual. In civilized Europe, the end of the twentieth century was Yugoslavia, the war is not uncommon in Asia, Latin America, is almost constant - in Africa. The latest war of classical type with all kinds of weapons, including modern aircraft, occurred there.
It's hard to understand as a nation that emerged in the closely together against a common enemy, the State, which stood at the head of a cousin, to get to the bloody military conflict. In 1974 in the Ethiopian Orthodox monarchical about a hundred soldiers led by General Haman Andom entered into collusion with the head of the court of protection, Major Mengistu Haile Mariam overthrew Emperor Haile and Selasie. Two months later, already triumvirate led by General Teferi Bent (but with Mengistu) has replaced the entire government clan, shot a dozen colonels and the Amana Anda. Three years later, Colonel Mengistu, eliminating most of its allies, he became the head of state. Under his leadership, Ethiopia with the help of the Soviet Union and Cuba began to build socialism.
In 1991, a number of factors exacerbate the situation in the country: drought, crop failure, famine in most provinces, the collapse of the Soviet Union, nationalist movement in the north for the formation of an independent state of Eritrea, student unrest ... All this has led to strong growth of the partisan movement, which began in 1988, Mengistu, possessing one of the largest armies in the region, was unable to suppress it, and after three years of civil war, fled to Zimbabwe. Celebrated the victory, the guerrillas divided the country into two friendly "powers" with a common currency, the new government began to have capitalist policies.
But after a couple of years there has been problems. In spring 1998, Eritrea, showing the territorial claim, as a result of the abrupt onset captured more than 1000 square meters. km of Ethiopian territory. Before the onset of ground troops, the Air Force of Eritrea secured dominance in the air, a sudden bomb border airport. Appeal to the UN has not moved the process of normalization with the dead point, and the Government of Ethiopia is preparing for a major war.
Before the conflict, the army supreme command, very little attention has been given to Ethiopia's air force, seeing it as an expensive toy. Training pilots five years of almost non-existent. Gradually exploited on the ground Soviet aviation: fighter aircraft MiG-21, MiG-23 and Mi-24. There are a number of obsolete Soviet MiG-17 and American F-5. All F-5 were on the ground due to lack of spare parts and complete neremontoprigodnosti American units in the context of Ethiopia. By the way, foreign helicopters to restore the same it was not possible. Restoration is the MiG-17 Ethiopian Air Force leadership considered impractical because of their obsolescence, and a limited number of crew. "
After the fall of socialism, in order to establish relations with America, and for the possible replacement of old An-12, four were bought by American transport aircraft C-130. They flew a couple of times a week, warplanes almost no summer, military pilots can be converted to the fingers. In Ethiopia, at that time there were few Russian teachers Soviet aviation engineering services of local professionals to help with practical advice in cases of extreme bounce. Since the military use of aviation was given very little attention, the work was to train through an interpreter a few young technicians.
Everything changed after the surprise raid on the airfield and bombing suburb Mekel, the place where born guerilla movement, places the defeat of the Italian expeditionary corps in 1938, and most importantly - the homeland air defense and Air Force Chief of Ethiopia Abebe Tekle Haymanot. Sam head ( "Jobe" as it is called in the troops), was previously the commander of a guerrilla infantry divisions, a large image and relationship in the government. In the first instance, assumed his new duties, he did everything to preserve the existing aircraft in Ethiopia. Was established almost exemplary protection of all locations of aircraft. Not one screw from the air is not gone. At the same time introduced a Canadian computer system of registration and storage of spare parts, which turned out to be much more perfect past. In addition, he put on all the important posts of its former regimental commanders, forcing them in the short term, without separation from the core responsibilities, learn to fly in combat aircraft that unusual for four men and reminds our motto is "Party have said - Komsomol answered is" .
Meticulously examined the experience of modern local wars, the Army leadership has set a target of at least provide protection from air attacks by enemy ground troops, the capital and the border area. Later it turned out, the operational department of the Air Force analyzed the Ethiopian combat characteristics of the modern American, French and Soviet aircraft of similar class with a clear tendency to choose an American aircraft. However, negotiations with the Americans and followed them for an objective comparison of the aircraft using the criteria of "effectiveness-cost" Air Force Chief of Ethiopia was forced to seriously think about the types of Soviet aircraft.
Suddenly, Russia for a positive experience worked in Ethiopia, the American C-130. To prepare the machines needed to fly the American specialists, aircraft every week refused to detail and need of the annual work by the manufacturer, which emphasizes the dignity of the An-12 plodder. They even have been old but they are well mastered the local experts, labor for maintenance had been minimal, the machine worked for months without denial.
For advice on the performance of Soviet MiG-29, Su-25, Su-27 military aircraft head turned to the Russian specialists. Formal business meetings lasted for hours. Objective information on the advantages and disadvantages of our aircraft has led to increased confidence, but the choice still remains difficult. In off-hours debate was more intense. Over a cup of the famous Ethiopian coffee in a relaxed atmosphere, and almost home, in slippers at Bos leg, the head decided the fate of the air war. The gravity of the decision felt almost physically. The issue of choice of type of aircraft being worked thoroughly and very carefully, it was felt by professionally formulated questions. Taken into account also that the training and combat aircraft the majority of firms are traditionally designed for learning aerobatics and performing only limited combat tasks.
In the end, bearing in mind that Eritrea has bought MiG-29 and the fact that Ethiopia has a relatively large area (approximately as Ukraine), it was decided to purchase Su-27 fighter jets. Initially, because of the cheap (or policy inconsistencies), considering the option of purchase of new Su-27P in the Republic of Belarus. However, referring to the state machine and analyze the specific delivery time, finally stopped on the second hand, but more universal Russian aircraft Su-27SK.
Initially, it was assumed that the emergence of such a powerful long-range combat aircraft like the Su-27 to bring zarvavshegosya neighbor for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. In the hope of this, apparently, did not immediately purchased the equipment for testing guided missiles, mobile systems for the scheduled works, small cylinders of nitrogen supply was needed for intense combat patrol in the air.
Immediately after the conclusion of the contract started in theoretical training engineers and crew of Ethiopia, part of the flight and technical staff were sent to Krasnodar for pereuchivaniya. After making the prepayment, the settlement of political issues and a little conditioning, that stretched for two months, IL-76 was brought dismantled Su-27UBK and then the Su-27SK to Ethiopia. Initially, the question of independent flight of Su-27 in Africa, but for the sake of saving resources and because of political tensions with Eritrea supports the Islamic states, through the airspace of which was the direct route of travel, staying in the carriage with the help of IL-76.
Work on assembling and debugging of the aircraft, which served the Russian factory team, as a good practice to Ethiopian professionals, who actively helped in everything. However, in close collaboration and openness, and revealed some problems. After disassembly, transport and assembly, as expected, dramatically increased the flow of failures. All this is carefully recorded towards us to report head. Almost everyone over to expire before the expiry of the refusal hydrosystem, SDU-10, radio, even a single engine. And then another when the extreme flight opportunities for low skilled Russian pilot diverting just a second and lost speed, performing a loop. It was the parachute and pilot had ejected from an overturned position.
Among the local inhabitants went to move sayings such as "Cheap is not good." We must pay tribute to the excerpt Chief, who has known a lifetime of experience that the right decision then, which is executed before the end. In the absence of technical education, he very quickly understand all arguments about the impact of bedding systems after assembly on the causes of failures, I realized the explanation test pilot for the failure of his high-mountain conditions in the airport flight at low altitudes.
Incidentally, the accident will make an initial plan for the purchase, increasing the number of training and combat aircraft, because instead of combat aircraft crashed on the advice of its pilots, "Jobe" ordered another Spark. Training of military Su-27UBK fully perform all functions of combat aircraft, but the existence of the second pilot gives you more confidence in the correctness of actions and the psychological sense of support that is especially affected, with the first sorties for the pilots, with a relatively small plaque and a small experience in military use.
To conduct a successful ground operations had to be confident in the lack of impact of aviation on the enemy Ethiopian troops. Therefore, the beginning of the strictly correlated with the timing of combat readiness of aircraft and pilots, and flight training, and technical staff has been accelerated. For the final inspection in January had a few flight of tactical drills (LTU) for interaction with other air delivery of troops.