Afghanistan 1979–88

Soviet air power against the mujahideen

Afghanistan 1979–88 cover

Afghanistan 1979–88

Soviet air power against the mujahideen

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The first English-language book to examine the crucial part air power played in the Soviet-Afghan War.

The Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan was fought as much in the air as on the ground. From the high-level bombing raids that blasted rebel-held mountain valleys, to the Mi-24 helicopter gunships and Su-25 jets that accompanied every substantial army operation, Soviet control of the air was a crucial battlefield asset. Vital to every aspect of its operations, Mi-8 helicopters ferried supplies to remote mountain-top observation points and took the bodies of fallen soldiers on their last journey home in An12 'Black Tulips'.

But this was not a wholly one-sided conflict. Even before the Afghan rebels began to acquire man-portable surface-to-air missiles such as the controversial US 'Stinger,' they aggressively and imaginatively adapted. They learnt new techniques of camouflage and deception, set up ambushes against low-level attacks, and even launched daring raids on airbases to destroy aircraft on the ground.

Featuring information previously unknown in the West, such as the Soviets' combat-testing of Yak-38 'Forger' naval jump jets, Soviet-expert Mark Galeotti examines the rebel, Kabul government and the Soviet operation in Afghanistan, drawing deeply on Western and Russian sources, and including after-action analyses from the Soviet military. Using maps, battlescenes and detailed 'Bird's Eye Views', he paints a comprehensive picture of the air war and describes how, arguably, it was Soviet air power that made the difference between defeat for Moscow and the subsequent stalemate that they decided to disengage from.

Table of Contents

Flying in an Afghan summer
The Soviet Air Force in Afghanistan
Close air support
Supporting the war
The DRA Air Force
Countering Soviet air power
Deception, evasion and camouflage
Anti-aircraft artillery
Mines and ambushes
A decade in Afghanistan
1. Invasion, 1979–80
2. Reluctant escalation, 1980–84
3. Chernenko's war, 1984–86
4. The 'bleeding wound', 1986–88
5. Withdrawal, 1988–89
Jets and helicopters fight a guerrilla war
1. Invasion, 1979–80
2. Reluctant escalation, 1980–84
Operation Rhombus and the Yak-38
3. Chernenko's war, 1984–86
Operation Trap: The end of 'Chernenko's war'
4. The 'bleeding wound', 1986–88
The Stinger
Operation Highway, 1987–88
5.Withdrawal, 1988–89
Operation Air-Bridge, January–February 1989

Product details

Published 16 Feb 2023
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 96
ISBN 9781472850713
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations Includes around 60 photos and at least 14 pages of colour illustrations
Dimensions 248 x 184 mm
Series Air Campaign
Short code ACM 35
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Mark Galeotti

Mark Galeotti is a scholar of Russian security aff…


Edouard A. Groult

Edouard Groult grew up inspired by watching histor…


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