Croatian Air Force
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Air Force

Current Title: Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo i Protu Zracna Obrana
Title in English: Croatian War Aviation & Anti-Aircraft Defence
Abbreviation: HRZ


Narrative Summary:
Air Force History

Key Dates:
August 1991    Battle of Vukovar Starts
3 September 1991    SZV Independent Air Units formed using light aircraft
September 1991    First helicopter (Mi-8) captured and put into service
November 1991    Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo (HRZ) established
January 1992    Ceasefire in Croatia allows HRZ to reorganise
January 1992    First MiG-21 defects from JRV
April 1992    Croatian forces move to support Bosnian Government against Serb separatists
May 1995    Operation Bljesak (Flash) recaptures part of Western Slavonia
August 1995    Operation Oluja (Storm) recaptures much of Eastern Slavonia
December 1995    Dayton Agreement formally ends War of Indepedence
1997    Cadet pilot training restarts at Zemunik

Current Status:
With the continuing reduction in tensions in the region, coastal patrol and Search and Rescue (SAR) have become major tasks for the Air Force, in the absence of a civilian coastguard agency. PC-9s, Mi-8s, MiG-21s, CL-415s and the AT-802 have been reported as being involved in patrol missions. Civilian helicopters don't have the range to carry out SAR missions along the Dalmation coast, so a few Mi-8 helicopters have been assigned this task.

Future Plans:
15 Mi-8 helicopters have been requested from Russia in lieu of debt from the communist era, with configured for medevac.
Replacement of the ageing UTVA-75 basic trainers with 6-8 of more modern type such as the SF.260 or Zlin 242.
Replace the MiG-21s with one squadron (12 aircraft?) of a modern multi-role fighter aircraft such as the F-16 or Gripen after 2010.


National Insignia:
To be added.

Aircraft Serial Numbering System(s):
The first Croatian Air Force aircraft were impressed civilian aircraft, and often had their civil registrations painted out. No visible serial numbers were usually carried. From 1992 the second-line type were allocated three-digit serial numbers (prefixed by H- for helicopters) or civil registrations in the RC-xxx (or later 9A-xxx) series. Front-line aircraft such as the MiGs and Mi-24s continued to operate without visible serials until the late 1990s, to preserve secrecy about their origins and quantity.

From about 1998 front-line aircraft also began to carry serial numbers. The use of 9A-xxx registrations was also phased out. All HRZ aircraft are now allocated a three digit serial, grouped in batches rather than running sequentially, so that the first digit is often an indication of the aircraft type or sub-type. E.g. 001-099 for PC-9, 100-199 for MiG-21, 700-799 for An-32, 801-899 for CL-215/415 etc. Helicopter serials run in a similar manner, with an 'H-' prefix (except for the Bell 206 for some reason): 101-199 Mi-8, 201-299 Mi-8MTV, 301-399 Mi-24, 601-699 Bell 206.

Unit/Base Aircraft Code System(s):
Coding system not used


Aircraft Designation System(s):
None - Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory:
Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List:
Alphabetical Order --- Chronological Order

Aircraft NOT Used:
False reports of aircraft on order or in service


Main Headquarters:
Pleso Air Base, Zagreb.

Current Organisational Structure:
The air force is organised into five main air bases, with one or more squadrons (Eskadrilas) each. Some squadrons supply temporary detachments to secondary bases.

Current Order of Battle:
Table of Current Order of Battle

Historical Orders of Battle:
Table of Historical Orders of Battle

All-Time Flying Units List:
Table of Flying Units

Air Bases

Current Air Bases:
The HRZ currently uses five major air bases. See below for details.

All-Time Air Bases Used List:
As well as the five main air bases, there are also a number of smaller airports and airfields around the country which are sometimes used by the Air Force.
Military Air Bases Listing

More Information


Croatia Aviation Bibliography - to be added


World Air Power Journal No.13 p.132-133
World Air Power Journal No.24 p.140-147
World Air Power Journal No.26 p.24-27
International Air Power Review Vol.8 p.91-93
Air Forces Research No.10
Scramble 231 (August 1998)
Air Forces Monthly August 1996
Air Forces Monthly September 2005
Air Forces Monthly February 2006


Ex YU Airforces - Croatia Croatia

Croatian Air Force and Air Defense

World Air Forces: Croatia

Croatian Airforce (1996)

MiGs Over Croatia

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First Created: 15 June 2006 - Last Revised: 29 June 2006
Copyright 2006 John Hayles.    e-mail: