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Anatoly Kornukov
Anatoly Kornukov-2 (cropped).jpg
Anatoly Kornukov in 2000
Native name
Анатолий Михайлович Корнуков
Birth name Anatoly Mikhailovich Kornukov
Born (1942-01-10)January 10, 1942
Kadievka, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
(now Stakhanov in Ukraine)
Died 1 July 2014(2014-07-01) (aged 72)
Krasnogorsk, Russia
Allegiance  Russia
Service/Branch Flag of the Russian Air Force Russian Air Force
Years of service 1962–2002
Rank Russia-Airforce-OF-9-2013.svg General
Unit Soviet Air Defence Forces
Commands held Commander Russian Air Force
Far Eastern Military District
Air Defense Forces
Battles/wars Soviet war in Afghanistan
Shootdown of KAL Flight 007
Chechen conflict
Awards See below
Spouse(s) Lyudmila Vasilievna
Children 2

General Anatoly Mikhailovich Kornukov (Russian: Анатолий Михайлович Корнуков; 10 January 1942 – 1 July 2014) was a general in the Russian Air Force and the former fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Defence Forces. From 1998 until 2002, he served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force.

Early life

Kornukov was born in the city of Kadievka in Ukrainian SSR in 1942. His father was a miner from Donetsk, who took part in the Great Patriotic War.

Military career

He joined the Soviet Armed Forces in 1959, and sent to study at the Kremenchug Military Aviation School for the initial pilot training. However, in 1960 it was disbanded, and some of the cadets, including Kornukov, were transferred to the Chernigov Military Aviation School of Pilots named after the Lenin Komsomol, which he graduated with honors in 1964. After college, he was assigned to the 54th Guards Kerch Red Banner Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Soviet Air Defence Forces, where he served as a pilot and deputy commander of a fighter squadron.

In 1970, he was transferred to the 47th Fighter Aviation Regiment in the Soviet Far East as deputy commander of an aviation squadron for political affairs. From 1971, he commanded a fighter aviation squadron. On 1972, he was appointed as deputy commander and from 1974 to 1976, he served as commander of the 777th Fighter Aviation Regiment in Sakhalin Island. During his period of service with the Soviet Air Defense Forces, Kornukov made over 150 missions which included reconnaissance, interception of air targets, prevention and suppression of violations of the Soviet airspace.

From 1976, he was appointed as deputy commander of the Air Defense Corps in the Far East. On 1978, he was appointed as deputy chief of aviation of the 11th Air Defense Army in the Far East. In 1980, he graduated in absentia from the Military Academy of Air Defense named after Marshal of the Soviet Union G.K. Zhukov. On 1980, Kornukov was appointed as commander of the 40th Fighter Division in Air Defense Forces in the Far East. The regiments of the division were stationed in Sovetskaya Gavan, Sakhalin and Kuril Islands.

Shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007

On 1 September 1983, while en route from New York City to Seoul, South Korea with stopover in Anchorage, Alaska, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a Boeing 747-230B carrying 246 passengers and 23 crew, went astray and entered Soviet airspace, first over Kamchatka.

Kornukov was serving as commander of Dolinsk-Sokol Air Base and subordinate to commander of the Far Eastern Military District Air Defense Forces, General Valeri Kamensky. Kornukov received the command from Kamensky to shoot down the airliner, while it was over the international waters of Okhotsk, having exited Kamchatkan air space.

Though Kamensky had ordered KAL 007 to be shot down while over international waters, he insisted that it first be verified as not civilian. Kornukov insisted that there was no need.

The aircraft was shot down by a Su-15 interceptor flown by pilot Major Gennady Osipovich. The Korean airliner eventually crashed in the sea near Moneron Island west of Sakhalin in the Sea of Japan. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed.

Kornukov, who had retained his position even when, in 1976, a pilot under his command, Victor Belenko, had defected to Japan with his MiG-25—the most advanced Soviet fighter of the time—also survived the KAL 007 incident, eventually attaining the highest appointment possible in his field of service. Kornukov was neither awarded nor punished for the KAL 007 shootdown.

Asked how he felt about the victims on board KAL 007, Kornukov said the downing left him with some "unpleasant feelings" but suggested that casualties were simply the price that had to be paid. Kornukov never shied away from questions on this topic, always emphasizing that his order was based on the norms of international and Soviet law. He believes that KAL 007 was a provocation from the United States, designed to identify the weaknesses of the Soviet air defense and to worsen Soviet-American relations.

Further career

From 1985, he was assigned as the commander of the 71st Fighter Aviation Corps, stationed with the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. The corps consisted of two divisions and six separate air defense regiments. In 1988, he graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces named after K. E. Voroshilov.

On 1988, Kornukov was appointed as first deputy chief of aviation of the Soviet Air Defense Forces. From 1989, he was assigned as first deputy commander and on 1990 he was commander of the 11th Separate Air Defense Army based in Khabarovsk. The unit was the largest air defense army in the USSR, covering a huge territory and included four air defense corps, two separate air defense division and large number of separate units.

In August 1991, he was appointed as commander of the Moscow Air Defense District, which covered military and civilian facilities on the territory of 29 constituent entities of the Soviet Union and later of the Russian Federation.

Russian Air Force

On January 22, 1998, Boris Yeltsin appointed Kornukov as Commander of the Russian Air Force. This appointment by Yeltsin came on the heels of Yeltsin's dismissal of General Pyotr Deynekin, who had headed the air force since 1992. Deinekin was pressed to resign after a Russian Air Force Antonov An-124 cargo plane crashed after takeoff at Irkutsk Airport and landed on a nearby apartment complex, killing over 60 people.

In January 2002, Kornukov resigned as Commander of the Russian Air Force and advised the Russian Federation in matters of missile defense and defense against aerial hijacker terrorist attacks against Russian cities.

Against the terrorist threat from the air, he believed Russia is unprepared considering the Russian air defense commanders often absentee, "passing the buck", and lacking coordination.

Later life

After his retirement from the Air Force, Kornukov worked as deputy general director of the Almaz Scientific and Production Association for Military-Technical Policy, which is responsible for the development of anti-aircraft missile systems and other air defense systems, and is the head enterprise of the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation.

He died at the age of 72 on 1 July 2014.

Honours and awards

  • Order For Merit to the Fatherland 3rd class
  • Order For Merit to the Fatherland 4th class
  • Order of Military Merit
  • Order of the Red Star (USSR)
  • Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR 2nd class (USSR)
  • Order for Service to the Homeland in the Armed Forces of the USSR 3rd class (USSR)
  • Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945" (USSR)
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
  • Jubilee Medal "300 Years of the Russian Navy"
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 850th Anniversary of Moscow"
  • Medal "For Diligence in Engineering Tasks" (Min Def)
  • Medal "Veteran of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR)
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR)
  • Jubilee Medal "60 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR)
  • Jubilee Medal "70 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR" (USSR)
  • Medal "For Strengthening Military Cooperation" (MVD)
  • Medal "For Military Valour" 1st Class (Min Def)
  • Medal "For Strengthening Military Cooperation" (Min Def)
  • Medal "For Impeccable Service" 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes USSR)
  • State Prize of the Russian Federation
  • Order "Danaker" (Kyrgyzstan)

See also

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