Abandoned Airbase

Smirnykh, Sakhalinskaya Oblast’, Russia

The original airfield was built in the early 20th century for the Imperial Japanese Army and was called Keton. It consisted of a 1200 m long concrete runway, gravel taxiways and about 20 equipped aircraft parking lots.

⠀After the Soviet Union regained control over Sakhalin in 1945, the Smirnykh airfield (both the village and airfield were renamed in 1946 after the battalion commander who died in the battles for the liberation of the island in this area) became home to the 528th Fighter Aviation Regiment. The regiment was tasked with the air defence of Sakhalin Island and its marine zone.

⠀In 1966, the airfield was again under construction. A new runway with a length of 2,000 m was built, which was later extended to 2,500 m. Revetments and shelters were built using reinforced concrete to house the aircraft. These shelters were arranged in a fan shape.  

The airfield was first detected by Western intelligence around 1962. By 1965 19 Yak-28P Firebar were known to be stationed at the airfield.

In October 1972 a US reconnaissance satellite assessment showed 17 Yak-28P long-range interceptors, 2 Antonov Coke transports, and 1 Liunov Li-2 Cab (DC-3 copy) transport.

By the 1980’s Smirnykh was home to a Mig -23 (Flogger-G) interceptor regiment.

An ICAO report on the 1983 downing of Korean Air Flight 007  indicated PVO (Soviet Anti-Air Defence) Mig-23 fighter aircraft from Smirnykh were scrambled, even though it was an Su-15 jet from Dolinsk-Sokol  which shot down the airliner.

The airfield is no longer in use and the runways have not been maintained in decades, but today only three aircraft remain as a reminder to a once active airfield.

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