The Air Force of the East German Nationale Volksarmee or Luftstreitkräfte der NVA as it was officially known posed a formidable threat to NATO forces positioned in Western Europe during the Cold War. Although small, it was one of the most technologically sophisticated air arms of all the Warsaw Pact nations. Being positioned on the border of the ‘Iron Curtain’ the Luftstreitkräfte operated a number of aircraft of equivalent to the Soviet Air Force rather than downgraded export models often flown by other Warsaw Pact air forces. With 35,000 soldiers spread across two air divisions responsible for defending the northern and southern approaches of East Germany, the Luftstreitkräfte was to serve as an initial strike force leading the way for heavier Soviet strike aircraft. The Luftstreitkräfte's units carried on a tradition of Warsaw Pact nations under Soviet control by naming it's units after prominent figures in the Communist struggle.
1st Luftverteidigungsdivision (1st LVD) – Cottibus, East Germany
The 1st LVD was responsible for operations in southern parts of East Germany. With the Air Force and the Air Defense Units consolidated it maintained a vast number of airfields and gun batteries reflective of Soviet Air Defense doctrine. The following list of units is the major subordinate units assigned under the 1st LVD. Each unit was then broken down further into smaller units.
- Jagdfliegergeschwader 1 (JG-1) „Fritz Schmenkel“ - Holzdorf
- Jagdfliegergeschwader 3 (JG-3) „Wladimir Komarow“ - Preschen
- Jagdfliegergeschwader 7 (JG-7) „Wilhelm Pieck“ - Drewitz
- Jagdfliegergeschwader 8 (JG-8) „Hermann Matern“ - Marxwalde
- 41. Fla-Raketenbrigade (41. FRBr) „Hermann Dunker“ - Ladeburg
- 51. Fla-Raketenbrigade (51. FRBr) „Werner Lamberz“ - Sprötau
- Fla-Raketenregiment 31 (FRR-31) „Jaroslaw Dombrowski“ - Straßgräbchen
- Funktechnisches Bataillon 31 (FuTB 31) - Döbern
- Funktechnisches Bataillon 41 (FuTB-41) „Arvid Harnack“ - Holzdorf
- Funktechnisches Bataillon 51 (FuTB-51) „Paul Schäfer“ - Sprötau
- Funktechnisches Bataillon 61 (FuTB-61) - Müncheberg
- Nachrichtenbataillon 31 (NB-31) „August Willich“ - Cottibus
3rd Luftverteidigungsdivision (3rd LVD) - Trollenhagen, East Germany
The 3rd LVD was responsible for operations in the northern part of East Germany.
- Musikkorps der LSK/LV - Trollenhagen
- Jagdfliegergeschwader 2 (JG-2) „Juri Gagarin“ - Trollenhagen
- Jagdfliegergeschwader 9 (JG-9) „Heinrich Rau“ - Peenemünde
- Fliegertechnisches Bataillon 9 (FTB-9) „Käthe Niederkirchner“ - Peenemünde
- 43. Fla-Raketenbrigade (43. FRBr) „Erich Weinert“ - Sanitz
- Fla-Raketenregiment 13 (FRR-13) „Etkar André“ - Parchim
- Fla-Raketenregiment 23 (FRR-23) „Rudolf Breitscheid“ - Stallberg
- Funktechnisches Bataillon 23 (FuTB-23) „Liselotte Herrmann“ - Pragsdorf
- Funktechnisches Bataillon 33 (FuTB-33) „Fritz Behn“ - Pudagla
- Funktechnisches Bataillon 43 (FuTB-43) - Parchim
- Nachrichtenbataillon 33 (NB-33) „Max Christiansen-Clausen“ - Trollenhagen
The East German Air Force was essentially an extension of the Soviet Air Force’s 16th Air Army and was to be the frontline strike force for offensive operations into the West. With such a critical mission at its heart, this also resulted in less autonomy from the Soviet Union as opposed to the operating leniency granted to other Warsaw Pact nations.
The Luftstreitkräfte operated many of the USSR’s most advanced fighter designs but it’s offensive capacities were relegated to air defense and army support roles. It had no strategic bombers and had no long range capacity. Its weaponry was employed in mostly a purely defensive nature to counteract penetration by Western Air Forces.
In the event that the Cold War would have gone hot, the offensive capacity of the East German Luftstreitkräfte would be transferred under the control of an organization known as the Führungsorgan der Front- und Militärtransportfliegerkräfte which translates into the Command of the Frontal & Military Air Units. Under this unit all fighters, fighter-bombers, reconnaissance, transport and military helicopters would be realigned for offensive operations. This would not only include Luftstreitkräfte units but also Naval Aviation units as well. In the event of war, the structure of the FO FMTFK would look like this:
- Jagdbombenfliegergeschwader 37 (JBG-37) „Klement Gottwald“ - Drewitz
- Jagdbombenfliegergeschwader 77 (JBG-77) „Gebhardt Leberecht von Blücher“ - Laage
- Marinefliegergeschwader 28 (MFG-28) „Paul Wieczorek“ - Laage
- Transporthubschraubergeschwader 34 (THG-34) „Werner Seelenbinder“ - Brandenburg-Briest
- Verbindungsfliegerstaffel 14 (VS-14) - Strausberg
- Transportfliegerstaffel 24 (TFS-24) - Dresden-Klotzsche
- Taktische Aufklärungsfliegerstaffel 47 (tAFS-47) - Preschen
- Taktische Aufklärungsfliegerstaffel 87 (tAFS-87) - Drewitz