Slovenian Territorial Defence Force / Slovenian Air Force
By Marijn van der Burgt
When Slovenia declared its independence on 25 June 1991, it was attacked for 10 days by the Yugoslavian forces. The short war resulted in a victory for Slovenia. At this time Slovenia started building up their military Territorial Defence Force (Teritorijalna Obramba).
Building up the Slovenian Air Force
On 28 June 1991 a Yugoslav Air Force Gazelle deflected to Slovenia, providing the first helicopter for the Territorial Defence Force. During the war it also was equipped with three ex-Police Bell 412s and a Agusta A-109. On 9 June 1992 the Air Force Unit of the Slovenian Army was renamed into 15 Brigada Vojaskega Letalstva. The 15 Brigada was divided into two squadrons, one fixed-wing and one helicopter squadron, flying from two bases, at the military side of the Ljubljana-Brnik airport and Cerklje (situated close to the Croatian border). The 15 Brigada was under control of the 1 Air Force and Air Defence Force Command located at Kranj. On 21 November 2003, NATO members formally invited Sovenia to join the alliance.
Now NATO is responsible for protecting of the Slovenian airspace, the Slovenian Air Force became used exclusively in support of the armed forces. On 8 November 2004 the 15 Brigada was officially disbanded. In its place three new units were formed. The 15 Air Force Brigade of the SAF (Slovenska Vojska - Slovenian Armed Forces) was restructured into the 15 Helicopter Battalion (15. helikoptrski bataljon - 15.HEB), the Air Force School (Letalska šola - LETŠ), and the Air Force Base (Letalska baza - LEBA). Another name-change took place in the beginning of 2007 when the unit was dubbed 15 Helicopter Battalion or 15.HRB.
The 15 Helicopter Battalion is located at the Brnik air base. The unit is equipped with eight Bell 412 multipurpose helicopters and four AS-532 Cougar multipurpose support helicopters. The unit's main duties are to organise training courses for pilots and technical staff, to organise search and rescue missions and operate within the System of Civil Protection, Help and Rescue, to secure cargo transportation to mountain areas, to extinguish fires, and to provide air support for SAF units. The unit is under direct command of the SAF Force Command.
The Air Force Military School is located at the Cerklje ob Krki air base. The school conducts the basic and advance training programmes for future air force pilots in two Zlin 143L and eight Zlin 242L planes and three Bell 206 JetRanger helicopters, organises practices for air force pilots, provides fire support, and carries out various tasks for other branches of the armed forces by using the two PC-9 and nine PC-9M planes. A part of the Air Force Military School is also the parachute squad, located at the Brnik air base, which organises basic and advanced parachute training for SAF members. The Air Force Military School is under direct command of the Doctrine, Development, Training, and Education Command.
The Air Force Base, located at the Cerklje ob Krki air base, carries out logistic support, such as fuel supply, for all air force units located at the air bases in Brnik and Cerklje ob Krki. The unit is equipped with two PC-6 planes and one L-410 plane. The Air Force Base unites the air supply squad and the technical support unit whose main tasks are to plan and conduct the second stage of aircraft maintenance, carry out technical personnel training, update aircraft documentation, etc. The Air Force Base operates as part of the SAF logistic support at the Force Support Command. The aircraft are normally based at Brnik.
Although the airborne part of the SAF only exists for fifteen years, it has adapted itself constantly to the changing world. In this light another restructuring was carried out in 2007 when the Air Force School and the 15 Helicopter Battalion were be subordinated to a single command " Air Defence and Aviation Brigade" making logistics easier, and reduce staff. Following the decision to operate jet aircraft from 2015 again, major restructuring will take place at Cerklje. Although the C295 was selected as the best in the selection process held for a new transport aircraft, no order for transport aircraft has still been issued.