The Austrian Air Force is a component part of the Austrian Armed Forces (the Bundesheer).
The Austrian Air Force in its current form was created in May 1955 by the victorious Allied powers, subject to restrictions on its use of guided missiles. The Austrian State Treaty of 1955 committed Austria to permanent neutrality.
Pilot training started out with a four Yak-11 Moose and four Yak-18 Max aircraft donated by the Soviet Union, and Austria purchased further light trainer types under the Military Assistance Program. Until 1960 Austria purchased training and support aircraft under the MAP, but no modern fighter aircraft; the role of a fighter was rather inadequately filled by the already outdated, 30 Saab 29 Tunnan bought second-hand from the Swedish Air Force in the early 1960s.
From 1970, Austria purchased a total of 40 Saab 105 lightweight multi-role aircraft with the intention to deploy them in trainer, reconnaissance, interception and ground attack roles. As it became clear in the 1980s that the sub-sonic aircraft were inadequate for air combat and airspace interdiction, Austria purchased 28 reconditioned Saab 35 Draken fighter aircraft to supersede the Saab 105 as the Austrian Air Force’s main interceptor in 1988. The Saab 105 remained in service as a trainer/surveillance aircraft.
Shortly after, the Draken saw their first major use in airspace interdiction starting 1991 during the Yugoslav Wars, when Yugoslav MiG-21 fighters crossed the Austrian border without permission. In one incident on 28th June a MiG-21 penetrated as far as Graz, causing widespread demands for action. Following repeated border crossings by armed aircraft of the Yugoslav People’s Army, changes were suggested to the standing orders for aircraft armament.
Since 1955, Austria’s armed forces had been forbidden to operate any guided missile system, including Air-to-air missiles and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). In the post-Cold War environment, and with gun-armed aircraft a relic of a past age, the Austrian Parliament voted to amend this section of its state treaty and in January 1993 modern AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles were ordered from Sweden to arm its fighter aircraft. A higher performance model of the Sidewinder were purchased directly from the United States; deliveries began in 1995. French Mistral SAMs were purchased to add ground-based protection against air attack. The first Mistrals arrived in 1993 and final deliveries were concluded in 1996.
The helicopter fleet includes Agusta-Bell (AB) 204s (mainly used for medical evacuation), AB-206s (training and liaison), and AB-212s (used by air-mobile troops and for light transport). 28 French-made Alouette IIIs are available for search-and-rescue tasks, including high mountain operations. The 12 Bell OH-58 Kiowa, a scout helicopter, is mounted with a rapid-firing machine gun, but the air force lacks a true attack helicopter. Most of the helicopters, except the 24 AB-212s, are becoming obsolete (see table 16, Appendix). After the 1999 Galtür Avalanche, it became apparent that the Austrian Air Force’s helicopter complement were too few in numbers and too limited in design. Therefore, 9 US-built UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were purchased, to be used for transportation during disasters.
In 2003 Austria’s transport capability was improved when it purchased three C-130 Hercules from the Royal Air Force. These aircraft were needed for the demanding UN peacekeeping missions in which Austria played a role.
In 2005, the Saab Draken fleet was retired (50 years after the type first flew), to be replaced by the Eurofighter Typhoon. Before the first delivery of Typhoons, 12 F-5 Tiger II were leased from Switzerland as a stopgap measure. The Eurofighter purchase was subject to controversy in Austria, and became a political football for some time, but the 15th and final aircraft was delivered on 24th September 2009. As of 2017, possible corruption affairs surrounding the Eurofighter procurement are still being investigated by the Austrian parliament. In July 2017, as a result of the ongoing controversy, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced the phasing out of the Typhoon starting 2020, and its replacement by a “militarily more effective and more cost-efficient” air surveillance system.
Austria’s air force is divided into two brigade-level formations: the Air Surveillance Command (Kommando Luftraumüberwachung) in Salzburg tasked with the defense of the Austrian airspace and the Air Support Command (Kommando Luftunterstützung) in Hörsching Air Base with helicopters and transport planes.
Air Surveillance Command, Salzburg
- Airspace Surveillance Wing, Zeltweg Air Base
- Fighter Squadron 1, (Eurofighter Typhoon jets)
- Fighter Squadron 2, (Eurofighter Typhoon jets)
- Radar Battalion, Salzburg
- Air Defense Battalion 2, Zeltweg
- Air Defense Battalion 3, Salzburg
- Maintenance Facility 2, Zeltweg Air Base
Air Support Command, Hörsching Air Base
- Air Support Wing, Langenlebarn Air Base
- Medium Transport Helicopter Squadron, (9x S-70A-42 Black Hawk helicopters)
- Light Utility Helicopter Squadron, (11x OH-58B Kiowa helicopters)
- Light Air Transport Squadron, (8x PC-6 Porter planes)
- Air Reconnaissance Squadron, (various drones)
- Liaison Helicopter Squadron, Aigen im Ennstal (16x Alouette III helicopters)
- Light Transport Helicopter Squadron 1, Hörsching Air Base (12x AB 212 helicopters)
- Light Transport Helicopter Squadron 2, Hörsching Air Base (11x AB 212 helicopters)
- Air Transport Squadron, Hörsching Air Base (3x C-130K Hercules planes)
- Maintenance Facility 1, Langenlebarn Air Base
- Maintenance Facility 3, Hörsching Air Base
All personnel destined to enter service with the Air Force is trained by the Air and Air Defense Personnel School (Flieger- und Fliegerabwehrtruppenschule) based at Langenlebarn Air Base. The school is under direct command and control of the Ministry of Defense and controls two flying units:
- Airplane Training Squadron, Zeltweg Air Base (12x PC-7 planes)
- Helicopter Training Squadron, Langenlebarn Air Base (8x Alouette III helicopters)
After 50 years of service the Austrian Air Force has retired without replacement its Saab 105OE aircraft in January 2021 and has disbanded its Jet Trainer Squadron (Düsentrainerstaffel) at Linz – Hörsching Air Base, which has operated the type. The Squadron’s younger pilots will re-qualify for the Eurofighter, the older pilots and the aircraft technicians will re-qualify for the AB 212 helicopters and advanced jet flying training will be outsourced to the Italian Air Force’s MB.339 and T.346 jet trainers operating from Lecce – Galatina and Decimomannu.
Eight air bases (Fliegerhorste) are maintained by the Austrian Air Force.
Vogler Air Base
Vogler Air Base, north of the town of Hörsching west of Linz, was built as a base for the German Luftwaffe 1938–1940. After the war the USAAF used the base, then named “Camp McCauley – Hörsching” and housing displaced persons, until 1955 when it was returned to the Austrian government.
Initially used exclusively by the ground forces, the first military aircraft, Yak-18 “Max-A”, arrived in 1957. The base was named for First Lieutenant Walter Vogler in 1967.
The German-built base structures were used jointly by the military and civilian aviation until the 70s when construction of the new civilian area in the northern part of the base was finished.
FH Vogler is the largest base of the Luftstreitkräfte. It houses Fliegerwerft 3, responsible for overhauls and maintenance of the C-130K Hercules and AB-212.
Units currently based here are the Saab 105Oe of 3rd Jet Squadron, Flight Regiment 3; the C-130K Hercules of 4th Air Transport Squadron, Flight Regiment 3; and the AB-212 of 1st and 2nd Helicopter Squadron, Flight Regiment 3.
Brumowski Air Base
Fliegerhorst Brumowski, south of the town of Langenlebarn northwest of Vienna, was built as a base for the Luftwaffe 1938–1940. After the war the base was briefly occupied by Soviet troops before it was taken over by the USAAF, becoming “Air Force Station Tulln – Vienna”. In 1946 Pan Am added the base as a destination, and for a short time there were regular flights New York City/Langenlebarn.
The first Austrian aircraft to arrive were Yak-11 “Moose” and Yak-18 “Max-A” trainers donated by the Soviet Union and Agusta Bell AB47G2 helicopters in late 1955. The base was named for Captain Godwin Brumowski in 1967.
The base is the headquarters of the Luftunterstützungsgeschwader (Air Support Wing); it also houses the Bundesfachschule für Flugtechnik (Federal School for Aeronatical Engineering) and Fliegerwerft 1, responsible for overhauls and maintenance of the Pilatus PC-6 B2H2 Turbo Porter, S-70A-42 Black Hawk and OH-58B Kiowa.
Units currently based here are the PC-6 B2H2 Turbo Porter of 4th Air Squadron, Flight Regiment 1; the S-70A-42 Black Hawk of 1st Helicopter Squadron, Flight Regiment 1, and OH-58B Kiowa of 3rd Helicopter Squadron, Flight Regiment 1.
Hinterstoisser Air Base
Fliegerhorst Hinterstoisser, located north of Zeltweg in a region known as Aichfeld, was built as a base for the Air Force of the Ständestaat 1936–1938. The base was occupied by Soviet troops in the aftermath of the war, but then transferred to the RAF which used the base until 1947.
In spring 1957 the first aircraft, Piper PA-18/95 Super Cub and Zlin Z-126 Trener, arrived with Fluggruppe 1 at the base. Since then it is the main base for the training of new aviators. It was named for Colonel Franz Hinterstoisser in 1967.
The base houses the 1st Squadron of the Überwachungsgeschwader (Surveillance Wing). With the retirement of the Saab 35 Draken in 2005 the unit now uses the Eurofighter Typhoon. The first Eurofighter Typhoon arrived in July 2007. The base also houses parts of Fliegerwerft 2, responsible for overhauls and maintenance of the Saab 105Oe and the Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer, as well as flight school for basic training.
Units currently based here are the PC-7 Turbo Trainer of flight school; detachments of 2nd Squadron and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Fiala-Fernbrugg Air Base
Fiala-Fernbrugg Air Base (Fliegerhorst Fiala-Fernbrugg), located north of the town of Aigen im Ennstal on the southern edge of the Totes Gebirge, was built as a base for the Air Force of the Ständestaat 1936–37. At the end of World War II the base became the home base of the only helicopter unit of the Luftwaffe; beginning the tradition of helicopter operations at Aigen im Ennstal.
Soviet troops occupied the base after the war, but after only a few weeks control switched to US forces. After a few more weeks, the base ended up in British hands. The RAF rebuilt the base and handed it over to Austria in 1947. It was used as a storage depot for the B-Gendarmerie, a paramilitary police force in the western zones.
After some years of hiatus, the first helicopters, Bell H-13H Sioux arrived in late 1960. The base was named for Captain Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg in 1967.
The base houses Fliegerwerft A, responsible for overhauls and maintenance on the AS-316B Alouette III. Hochgebirgslandekurse (Alpine landing courses) are conducted at least annually at the base, with officers of foreign air forces as regular attendants.
Units based here are the AS-316B Alouette III of 1st and 2nd Helicopter Squadron, Flight Regiment 2.
Wiener Neustadt Air Base
Wiener Neustadt Air Base was located northwest of the city and was one of the first airports on the European continent. It opened in 1910 and housed units of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops. The base was close to the Wiener Neustädter Flugzeugwerke (WNF) factory in the eastern part of the city and which manufactured Messerschmitt Bf 109s and repaired Junkers bombers and destroyers during World War II. The base was bombed to total destruction during World War II and was rebuilt by the Soviets who operated the base until 1955. The Austrian military took the base over, but didn’t use it until 1961. The base houses no units, but Flight Regiment 1’s PC-6 B2H2 Turbo Porter are operating from the base for flight training purposes as well as for training of army parachutists.
Truppenübungsplatz Allentsteig – Liechtenstein Kaserne
The large Liechtenstein Kaserne on the northern edge of the Truppenübungsplatz Allentsteig (Training Area, Gunnery and Bombing Range) is home to a detachment of Flight Regiment 1’s OH-58B Kiowas. Known as Stützpunkt Nord, it is not only used by military aircraft; helicopters of the Ministry of the Interior also use the base for operations; the task of border surveillance is jointly conducted by the military and civilian authorities. Besides that, Flight Regiment 1’s helicopters and PC-6 B2H2 Turbo Porters are operating from the base or its adjacent meadows and roads on a regular basis.
The Frundsberg Kaserne in the southern suburbs of Schwaz east of Innsbruck houses a detachment of Flight Regiment 2’s AS-316B Alouette IIIs used for SAR and firefighting duties. The helicopters are operating from Schwaz since 1969. The base is earmarked for closure, with the helicopters being redeployed to the nearby Andreas Hofer Kaserne.
- Eurofighter Typhoon European Union Multirole Tranche 1 15
- Pilatus PC-6 Switzerland Utility / Transport PC-6/H2-B2 8
- C-130 Hercules United States Transport C-130K 4
- AW169 Italy Utility AW169M 18
- Agusta AB212 United States Utility AB212 23
- Bell OH-58 United States Scout OH-58B 10
- Sikorsky S-70 United States Utility S-70A 9 +3 ( in 2021-2023)
- Aérospatiale Alouette III France Liaison / Utility 21 (will be replaced by AW169M)
- Pilatus PC-7 Switzerland Trainer, Attack 13
- Diamond DA40 Austria Trainer DA40 NG 4
Planned Eurofighter Typhoon Retirement
In July 2017, the Austrian Defense Ministry announced that it would replace all their Eurofighter Typhoons by 2020, they stated continued use of its Typhoons over their 30 year life span would cost about 5 billion Euros with the bulk being spent on maintenance. The Ministry believes that buying a new airframe would save 2 billion Euros over the same period. Austria plans to explore a government-to-government sale or lease agreement, where they could avoid a lengthy and costly tender process with a manufacturer. Possible replacements include the Saab Gripen and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
A list of some notable aircraft retired from the Air Force service
- Saab 29 Sweden Fighter J 29F 30 (Replaced by the Saab 105)
- Saab 35 Draken Sweden Fighter / Interceptor Saab 35Ö 24
- Northrop F-5 United States Fighter F-5E 12 (Four year lease from Switzerland)
- de Havilland Vampire United Kingdom Fighter T.55 9
- Saab 17 Sweden Reconnaissance-dive bomber B 17A 1
- O-1 Bird Dog United States Observation O-1A/E 22
- CN-235 Spain Utility / Transport CN-235-300 1
- Short Skyvan United Kingdom Transport Skyvan 3M 2 (Placed in storage)
- DHC-2 Beaver Canada Utility 6
- PA-18 Super Cub United States Utility 10
- Sikorsky S-65 United States Transport S-65Öe 2 (Sold to Israel in 1981)
- Westland Whirlwind United Kingdom Utility / Transport 10
- Agusta AB204 Italy Utility AB204B 26
- Aérospatiale Alouette II France Utility 16
- Agusta-Bell AB47 Italy Utility AB47G-2 10
- Bell H-13 Sioux United States Utility OH-13H 18
- CM.170 Magister France Jet trainer 18
- Saab 91 Safir Sweden Trainer Saab 91D 24
- Yakovlev Yak-18 Soviet Union Basic trainer 8
- Yakovlev Yak-11 Soviet Union Trainer 4
- T-6 Texan United States Trainer LT-6G 10
- Fiat G.46 Italy Trainer G.46-4B 5
- Zlín Z-26 Czechoslovakia Trainer Z-126 4
- Saab 105 4
Hobbymaster 1/72nd scale Austrian Air Force Eurofighters
Check out the Hobbymaster 1/72nd scale Austrian Air Force Eurofighters that are available to pre-order from Flying Tigers. Please click on the images / links below to go straight to the model of your choice.
Hobbymaster arrivals due at Flying Tigers at the end of May/ Early June !
Check out the Hobbymaster models that are due to arrive at the end of May/ Early June at Flying Tigers. Get in quick with your order, as stocks are very limited and once they have gone… they have gone. Click on the model photo of your choice below to go straight to the model page.
Sorry… HA5233, HA5234, HA6504, have all already SOLD OUT at pre-order stage…
New Range ! Panzerkampf 1/72nd scale diecast Dassault Rafale… pre-order yours now !
Panzerkampf 1/72nd scale diecast Rafales have just been added to Flying Tigers range and are available to pre-order today. If you want any of these models it is always safer to pre-order as quantities are limited.
Don’t forget NO DEPOSIT necessary with Flying Tigers and if you order with your debit or credit card your payment is not taken until your model is available to dispatch.
Flying Tigers will also consolidate your orders to save on postage costs across all brands !
Corgi Aviation Archive 1/48th scale English Electric Lightning F6… arriving soon !
Aircraft now preserved by the Lightning Preservation Group, Bruntingthorpe Airfield, Leicestershire, England For an aircraft which instilled immense national pride in so many people over such a long period, it is no wonder that the English Electric Lightning still commands a significant position in the hearts of the UK aviation enthusiast, with two very special aeroplanes being singled out for special attention. Until recently, two of the aircraft lovingly maintained by the Lightning Preservation Group regularly blasted down the runway at Bruntingthorpe airfield, in scenes reminiscent of a Cold War RAF fighter station and always drawing large crowds for these events. Lightning F.6 XS904 has been in the care of the LPG since she was delivered to the airfield on 21st January 1993, a historic occasion which witnessed the final military flight of an English Electric Lightning fighter.
Flying from the British Aerospace factory airfield site at Warton in formation with a Panavia Tornado F.3 fighter, the pair made a spirited high speed pass along the length of the runway at Bruntingthorpe on their arrival, before the Deputy Chief Test Pilot at BAe Warton, Peter Orme, brought this magnificent supersonic aircraft in for her final landing at her new home. During a 20 year RAF career, XS904 served with Nos 5 and 11 Squadrons and also has the distinction of being one of the nine Lightnings which took part in a spectacular 9 ship formation during the ‘Last Lightning show’ at RAF Binbrook on 22nd August 1987.
That is all for this week.
Thank you for reading this week’s Newsletter.