In 1932, Komsomolsk-on-Amur was founded on the banks of the Amur in the middle of the Far Eastern taiga. Within 10 years, the city became an important industrial and defense center. During the Great Patriotic War, steel was smelted at its enterprises, combat aircraft and ships were built.
In wartime, to provide air defense of the city 18 km southeast of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the construction of an airstrip began.
Initially, an 800-meter unpaved runway and caponiers were built. The personnel were housed in dugouts and barrack-type buildings with stove heating. In the post-war period, construction was carried out on a concrete GDP with a length of 2500 m, capital structures, residential and technical buildings, and shelters for aircraft.
The airfield, the nearby village and the military town of Khurba-2 got their name from the small rivers Malaya Khurba and Bolshaya Khurba flowing nearby.
At present, Khurba airfield is one of two large airfields in the vicinity of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The second airfield with a runway capable of receiving all types of aircraft is the Dzemgi factory airfield on the northeastern outskirts of the city. The 23rd IAP is also based on Dzemgakh, which is armed with the Su-27SM, Su-30 and Su-35 fighters.
Satellite image of Google Earth: Khurba airfield
For various reasons, the deployment of fighters providing cover for Komsomolsk-on-Amur took place in Khurb already in the post-war period. From 1948 to 1962, the 311th Air Defense Fighter Aviation Regiment was based here (until June 28, 1946, the 48th IAP).
Monument to the MiG-17 in the military town of Khurba-2
The regiment was armed with fighters: I-15bis, I-16, I-153, Yak-9, MiG-15, MiG-17, Su-9. Combat aircraft and pilots of the regiment took part in the battles on Lake Khasan, Khalkhin Gol and the Soviet-Japanese war.
In 1969, the 277th Bomber Mlavsky Red Banner Aviation Regiment was relocated to Khurbu from the GDR.
The regiment, consisting of two squadrons on SB-2 aircraft, was formed in April 1941 in the Krasnodar Territory. On September 13, 1941, it received the name of the 277th Near Bomber Aviation Regiment. This date in the annals of the regiment is recorded as the day of the formation of the unit.
The regiment became part of the Air Force of the 56th Army of the Southern Front and from October 1941 participated in the defense of Taganrog, bombing the advancing tanks and motorized infantry of the Nazi invaders. After this operation in June 1942, the regiment, which had suffered serious losses in personnel and equipment, was assigned to be reorganized to Kirovabad, where the regiment's personnel underwent retraining for the A-20 Boston aircraft received from the United States under Lend-Lease.
The bomber regiment fought in the Caucasus and Crimea, after which it entered the 16th Air Force of the 1st Belorussian Front, where it participated in the Bobruisk and Lublin operations to defeat and destroy large enemy groupings. For the high levels of combat activity, courage and heroism shown by the personnel, by order of the Commander-in-Chief of February 19, 1945, the regiment was given the honorary name "Mlavsky". After the end of the war, the regiment's aircraft were based at the airfields of Poland and the GDR.
The successes achieved by the regiment's personnel in the post-war years were repeatedly noted by the command.
At the time of relocation, the 277th bap was armed with Il-28 bombers, including the Il-28Sh assault modification, to the Far Eastern airfield Khurba. The difference between the assault modification and conventional bombers was the presence of additional pylons under the planes for the suspension of various weapons. The Il-28 assault variant was intended for operations from low altitudes against enemy manpower and equipment accumulations, as well as against single small-sized targets such as missile launchers and tanks. Up to 12 pylons were installed under the wings of the aircraft, on which they could be suspended: NAR blocks, suspended cannon gondolas, cluster or conventional aerial bombs.
The idea of creating the Il-28Sh appeared in the late 60s after the Soviet-Chinese armed conflict on Damansky Island in 1967. Bombers that were being repaired at aircraft repair enterprises were converted into this version.
In 1975, the regiment's pilots were among the first in the Air Force to retrain for the new Su-24 front-line bombers. In parallel, continuing to operate the proven IL-28.
The first five Su-24s entered the 277th bap from the Baltic airfield Chernyakhovsk (63-bap), where they underwent military trials. These were the cars of the very first series - the 3rd, 4th and 5th.
As the new technology was mastered, the Il-28s were transferred to the aircraft storage base (reserve base) created in Khurba, where later, in addition to bombers, there were also Su-17 fighter-bombers and Su-15 interceptors.
Simultaneously with the arrival of the Su-24, the construction of reinforced concrete shelters for them was carried out, as well as the expansion and improvement of the military town of Khurba-2.
The construction of a civil airport in Khurba began in 1964, when, by decision of the main headquarters of the country's air defense, a site was allocated at a military airfield with the transfer of some of the buildings and structures that previously belonged to the military.
Prior to this, the unpaved airport runway in the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur was located in Pobeda village. An-2, Li-2, Il-12, Il-14 made regular flights from it. After the appearance of turbojet and turboprop airliners in the Aeroflot fleet, the old airport could no longer receive them. Subsequently, this unpaved runway was transferred to the flying club. Until recently, piston Yak-52s and motor hang-gliders flew from it.
After the separation of the civilian sector in Khurba, construction began on a modern airport with a runway to receive all civil aviation aircraft existing at that time.
In 1971, a runway was built to receive IL-18 aircraft, and in 1976 the construction of the first stage of the airport was completed. Flights on An-24 turboprop aircraft opened regular air traffic with the cities of Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Blagoveshchensk, Nikolaevsk.
A new milestone in the history of the airport was in 1977, when the first passenger flight was made on the IL-18 to Moscow, with a stopover in the city of Novosibirsk. By the beginning of the 80s, the airport acquired its current complete shape.
For the development of local communication in 1983 at the Komsomolsk airport, the Komsomolsk United Aviation Squadron was created, which has the L-410 Czechoslovakian-made aircraft popular in the USSR. On which regular flights were carried out on local air lines to Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Nikolaevsk, Blagoveshchensk, Roshchino, Chegdomyn, Polina Osipenko, Ayan, Chumikan.
In 1986, Tu-154 replaced the well-deserved turboprop Il-18 on regular flights from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow. The largest number of passengers were carried in 1991. Then 220 thousand passengers used the services of the airport, in addition, 288 tons of mail and 800 tons of cargo were delivered. The airport served 22 regular flights per day.
Postcard with a picture of the terminal
Only in the direction of Khabarovsk from Komsomolsk there were eight daily flights at a very reasonable ticket price. Usually, the flight time to Khabarovsk was 40-45 minutes, which was very convenient for passengers who did not want to waste time on an eight-hour train ride. In our time, this can only be dreamed of.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and economic turmoil affected the Far East region very sharply. The outflow of the population to the western regions and a sharp decline in solvency, an abrupt rise in prices for aviation fuel made most of the air routes economically unprofitable for carriers.
In the 90s, the state of the airport reflected the general decline in which the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur is located since the beginning of the "market reforms". Passenger traffic decreased several times, regular air traffic was available only in summer, and in winter the airport operated with minimal congestion.
However, life at the airport did not stop. In the 90-2000s, Krasnoyarsk Airlines operated Tu-154 aircraft with a stopover in Krasnoyarsk to fly to Moscow (once a week).
In the summer of 2009, after a long break, direct flights to Moscow began to operate again. The flights were carried out by Vladivostok Air on the Tu-204 airliner.
In 2010, in the midst of Serdyukovism, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation made an attempt to “squeeze out” civilian carriers from the territory of the Khurba airfield. All this was motivated by "the need to eliminate violations of the legislation of the Russian Federation in the field of land use by the civil aviation sector on the territory of the airfield."
Fortunately, then the air carriers, with the help of the regional authorities, managed to defend their positions and the decision that infringed on the interests of the Far East people interested in regular air traffic with remote territories was not implemented.
In 2011, Vladivostok Air was bought by Aeroflot, and Komsomolsk-on-Amur was again left without direct air communication with Moscow, since Aeroflot's management considered this route to be unprofitable.
In 2012, Yakutia Airlines began operating regular flights to the capital on Boeing-757.
Boeing 757-200 of "Yakutia" airlines at the Khurba airfield
Since 2014, VIM-Avia began to fly to Komsomolsk on Boeing-757, and since May 2015, Transaero has resumed flights Komsomolsk-on-Amur - Moscow on Tu-214 aircraft.
Tu-214 of the airline "Transaero" at the Khurba airfield
Compared to the last decade, the business and the economic condition of the Komsomolsk airport have improved somewhat. However, the absence of investments in the hanging infrastructure over the past two decades requires immediate repair and modernization of a significant part of it.
The years of "reforms" and the economic difficulties of the 90s negatively affected the level of combat training and the technical condition of the combat aircraft of the 277th Bomber Aviation Mlavsky Red Banner Regiment. Due to the lack of jet fuel and the shortage of spare parts, the number of flights was sharply reduced. The infrastructure of the airfield and the military town began to decline.
In the mid-90s, the S-125 anti-aircraft missile division covering Khurba and the aircraft storage base were liquidated. The aircraft available at the base: Il-28, Su-15 and Su-17 were cut into metal.
Nevertheless, in the midst of the "market reforms", in 1997, the pilots of the 277th bap began retraining for the modernized Su-24M. Taking into account the fact that the production of aircraft of this type had been discontinued by that time, these were not new aircraft from other aviation units that were being "optimized".
In the spring of 1998, there was a case when an old dirt strip, built during the war years, came in handy.
On the Su-24M (w / n 04 white), during the landing approach due to the failure of the hydraulic system, the main landing gear was not released. The crew made passes over the runway, trying to overload the main landing gear. When this failed, it was decided to land on the ground. The navigator dropped the flashlight over the near locating radio beacon, and the emergency landing was successful.
A snapshot from the Su-24M emergency landing site
The Su-24M that made an emergency landing on the ground arrived from Ozernaya Pad, after landing on the ground, it was restored and subsequently transferred to Dzhida, where he continued to fly.
In 1998, the regiment successfully mastered the Su-24M and began to take part in all major aviation exercises held in the Far East.
The regiment's bombers repeatedly participated in the elimination of ice jams during the spring flood in Yakutia, where they carried out precision bombing of FAB-250 bombs in the narrowness of rivers to prevent the flooding of settlements and the destruction of hydraulic structures and bridges.
After mastering the modernized Su-24M, based on the results of combat training for 1998-1999. the regiment was recognized as the best in the Far Eastern 11th Army of the Air Force and Air Defense. From 2000 to 2007, the regiment took 1st place among the bomber regiments of the 11th Army of the Air Force and Air Defense. For their courage, heroism and success in mastering new technology, a number of regiment officers were awarded orders and medals.
In June 2007, the regiment took part in the Wing-2007 exercise. At the same time, in practice, the withdrawal of the air regiment from the strike was worked out. 20 Su-24M aircraft took off from the Khurba airfield in less than 13 minutes. Also, an imitation of landing on the prepared for this section of the Khabarovsk-Komsomolsk-on-Amur highway was carried out. During the exercise, the Su-24M link passed over the section of the highway prepared for the runway at a minimum height.
Unfortunately, during this period there were some emergencies. So, on August 23, 2007, during a training flight on the Su-24M (tail number "63 white"), an emergency situation arose - a fire in the behind-the-cockpit compartment. The crew ejected safely. Six months later, on February 15, 2008, an engine failure occurred on another Su-24M in flight, the pilots acted competently and made a safe landing with one engine running.
After the start of "Serdyukovism" and the transition of the armed forces to a "new look", another round of reorganizations and renaming began. At the end of 2009, at the Khurba airfield, the 6988th Mlavskaya airbase of the 1st category was created. At the same time, it was decided to liquidate the 302nd bap in the village of Pereyaslovka near Khabarovsk, with the transfer of equipment and weapons to Khurba. Front-line bombers capable of taking off into the air flew from Pereyaslovka to Komsomolsk. Some of the ground equipment and weapons were delivered by military transport aircraft. The rest, including aerial bombs, was transported by road along the Khabarovsk-Komsomolsk-on-Amur highway. At about the same time, part of the equipment from the 523rd apib stationed at the Vozdvizhenka airfield was transferred to Khurba.
When there were massive reductions, merger and renaming, in Khurba, which became the home for the 277th bap, combat aircraft of other aviation units were based, which they drove from their airfields.
For some time, in parallel with the front-line bombers, there were MiG-29 fighters of the 404th IAP, previously based at the Orlovka airfield in the Amur Region, and the Su-27 of the 216th IAP from the Kalinovka airfield near Khabarovsk.
Satellite image of Google Earth: Su-24M and MiG-29 at the parking lot of the Khurba airfield
Since 2010, the Su-24M2 "Gusar" aircraft with more advanced avionics, which have been repaired and modernized, have begun to enter service.
However, on the territory of the airfield there are samples of aircraft that are completely rare in our time. For example, the Yak-28P, installed as a monument near the checkpoint.
Yak-28P on the territory of a military unit in Khurba
The history of the appearance of the Yak-28P interceptor in Khurba is mysterious. Apparently, he arrived at the airfield "on his own", but aircraft of this type were not in service with the aviation units based here. According to the old-timers, there have never been such planes at the airport. Most likely, this copy was sent from one of the air defense units to the currently disbanded storage base (BRS, military unit 22659). Unlike other combat aircraft "stored" there, he happily escaped the fate of being cut into metal.
As of 2011, on the basis of the Khurba airfield, the 6983rd Guards Aviation Vitebsk Twice Red Banner, of the Orders of Suvorov and the Legion of Honor base "Normandy-Niemen" of the 1st category was formed.
At present, the bomber regiment, based in Khurba, has the previous designation - 227th bap (military unit 77983), but without the honorary name "Mlavsky".
In general, the Khurba airfield, being one of the largest in the Far East, fully corresponds to the status of a 1st category airbase. However, the runway, a number of facilities and infrastructure have long been in need of repair and reconstruction.
Cleaning pebbles from the runway
Back in 2014, a tender was announced for the reconstruction of the airfield. The plans provide for the reconstruction of the aircraft weapons storage, the building of the charging and storage station, the boiler room, guard and service buildings, as well as the construction of more than 30 new facilities. So far, everything rests on financing, and there have been no special advances in this direction.
Not so long ago, the anti-aircraft cover of the airfield was restored, which it had been deprived of in the 90s. On the opposite bank of the Amur, in the vicinity of the national Nanai village of Verkhnyaya Ekon, about 11 km from Khurba, the S-300PS anti-aircraft missile division is deployed.
Satellite image of Google Earth: the position of the C-300PS in the vicinity of the village of Verkhnyaya Econ
In addition to the Khurba airfield, the anti-aircraft missile division, located very successfully on the top of one of the hills, covers the Dzemgi airfield and the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur from the southeast direction.
In the entire vast Far Eastern region, only an aviation unit remained at the Khurba airfield, which is armed with front-line bombers Su-24M and M2.
Flying with front-line Su-24 bombers has always been a tricky business. This is a rather difficult machine to operate and pilot, which places high demands on the level of ground handling and pilot skills.
This summer, the pilots of the 227th bap confirmed their high qualifications. At the competition of professional skills of the military
For the Aviadarts-2015 pilots, the crew from Khurba on the Su-24M2 won the 3rd prize.
However, the Su-24 aircraft of all modifications have the dubious fame of the most emergency combat aircraft in the Russian Air Force. Since 2000, two dozen Su-24s have been lost in various accidents, including the upgraded Su-24M and M2. Sadly, the 227th BAP, based near Komsomolsk, was no exception.
In March 2013, due to a pilot error, the Su-24M2 was seriously damaged, which crashed into the APA-5D aerodrome mobile unit while taxiing.
More recently, a tragedy struck in Khurba: on July 6, 2015, during takeoff from the Khurba airfield, a Su-24M2 crashed, both pilots were killed. After taking off the plane from the runway, the propulsion system failed, the plane fell sharply to the left bank and collided with the ground. A front-line bomber crashed near the runway. Due to the fact that he was heading for training bombing at the Litovko training ground, there was a bomb load on board.
Prior to that, Su-24 pilots who flew from this airfield, in case of emergency, always managed to eject.
After the disaster, for the duration of the investigation of its causes by a specially created commission, flights of all Su-24s were suspended, and the Khurba airfield was closed for flights.
At present, the flights of front-line bombers of the Russian Air Force have resumed. Nevertheless, the issue of flight safety and the extremely high accident rate of the Su-24 continues to be acute. The leadership of the Ministry of Defense has repeatedly stated that by 2020, all bomber regiments operating aircraft of the Su-24 family will switch to the Su-34. However, in the current difficult economic conditions, it is extremely doubtful that in the foreseeable future it will be possible to replace all old bombers with new strike vehicles in a 1: 1 ratio.
References to the fact that the Su-34 is more effective than the Su-24M2 are untenable. In terms of their shock capabilities, both machines are very close. Moreover, the Su-24M2 is much better in flight at extremely low altitudes when breaking through air defense. At the same time, the Su-34 is a much stronger vehicle in defensive air combat, and it is better protected by body armor.
Apparently, the upgraded Su-24M and M2 will be operated after 2020, since a one-time abandonment of them will lead to a sharp weakening of the already rather modest strike capabilities of our Air Force.
This means that these fast and very graceful machines will continue to fly from the Khurba airfield. And God forbid that the number of landings is always equal to the number of take-offs.
The author expresses his gratitude to the Ancient for the consultation.