Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan

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Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Qazaqstannyn' qary'ly ku's'teri
Coat of arms military-of-kazakhstan.svg
Coat of Arms of the Kazakh Armed Forces
Current form 1992
Service branches Republican Guard
Kazakh Ground Forces
Kazakh Air Force
Kazakh Air Defense Forces
Kazakh Naval Forces

National Guard
Headquarters Astana, Almaty
Commander-in-Chief Nursultan Nazarbayev
Minister of Defence Saken Zhasuzakov
Military age 18–45 years old;
Conscription One year
Active personnel 37,000 (IISS 2017)
Budget $1.648 billion U$D (FY11)[1]
Percent of GDP 1.1% (2010 est.)[1]
Domestic suppliers JSC National Company Kazakhstan Engineering
Foreign suppliers Canada
United States [2]
Related articles
History Civil war in Tajikistan
Iraq War

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Kazakh: Қазақстанның Қарулы күштері, Qazaqstannyn' Qary'ly ku's'teri), is the name of the unified armed forces of Kazakhstan. It consists of the Ground Forces, Air and Air Defence Forces, Naval Forces, and Republican Guard. The national defence policy aims are based on the Constitution of Kazakhstan. They guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state and the integrity of its land area, territorial waters and airspace and its constitutional order. The armed forces of Kazakhstan act under the authority of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defence.

The Military Balance 2013 reported the armed forces' strength as; Army, 20,000, Navy, 3,000, Air Force, 12,000, and MoD, 4,000. It also reported 31,000 paramilitary personnel.[3]


Armed Forces shoulder sleeve insignia

On May 7, 1992, the President of Kazakhstan took a number of actions regarding defence. He signed a decree on the 'establishment of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan', the transformation of the State Committee of Defence of the Republic of Kazakhstan into the Ministry of Defence, on the attribution of Sagadat Nurmagambetov the military rank of Colonel General, and the appointment of General-Colonel Sagadat Nurmagambetov as Defence Minister of Kazakhstan. Mukhtar Altynbayev served as the Minister of Defence twice, most recently from December 2001 to 10 January 2007.

On June 30, 1992, the Soviet Armed Forces' Turkestan Military District disbanded, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The most powerful grouping of forces from the Turkestan Military District then became the core of Kazakhstan's new military. Kazakhstan acquired all the units of the 40th Army (the former 32nd Army) and part of the 17th Army Corps, including 6 land force divisions, storage bases, the 14th and 35th air-landing brigades, 2 rocket brigades, 2 artillery regiments and a large amount of equipment which had been withdrawn from over the Urals after the signing of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

On July 6, 2000, a Presidential Decree "On the structure of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan" changed the structure: The Armed Forces returned to a dual structure (general-purpose forces and air defense forces). The Airmobile Forces were created, the transition to the new military-territorial structure, established military districts, harmonized structure and deployment of troops. On August 7, Lieutenant-General A. B. Dzharbulov was appointed commander of the Southern Military District and Lieutenant-General E. Ertaev became commander of the Eastern Military District.

In February 2001 a Presidential Decree divided the functions of the Ministry of Defence and General Staff. According to the decree, the head of the General Staff subordinates all kinds of aircraft and type of troops and military districts, while the Minister of Defence has a mostly administrative and political functions. On March 30, Major General M. K. Sihimov was appointed commander of the Western Military Region. On October 12, M. Saparov was appointed to Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy of the Defence Minister. V. B. Elamanov became commander of the Airmobile Forces. On December 8, a new Defense Minister was appointed: General K. Altynbayev, and on December 27, Major General K. K. Akhmadiev was appointed commander of the Air Defense Forces.

Key defense posts announced early in 2002 included; Major-General Tasbulatov appointed Deputy of the Defense Minister, Maj. Gen. Elamanov commander of the Southern Military District, Maj. Gen. N. А. Dzhulamanov commander of the Eastern Military District, Maj. Gen. Zhasuzakov commander of the Airmobile Forces, Major-General A. Shatskov commander of the Central Military District and K. Altynbayev given the title of Army General.

Kazakhstan had its first military parade in its history at Otar Military Base on May 7, 2013, celebrating the Defender of the Fatherland Day as the national holiday for the first time ever. During the ceremony, the first woman was promoted to the rank of General.[4]

Today there are four regional commands: Regional Command Astana, Regional Command South at Taraz, Regional Command East at Semipalatinsk, Regional Command West at Aktobe, as well as the Air Defence Forces, the Airmobile Forces with four brigades, and the Artillery and Missile Forces (formed as a separate branch on 7 May 2003).[5]

Kazakhstan is a founding member of CSTO and SCO. Kazakhstan also has an Individual Partnership Action Plan with NATO[6] & strategic cooperation with the Turkish Armed Forces.[citation needed]

Ground Forces

Regional Commands of Kazakhstan

The 32nd Army had been serving in Kazakhstan for many years. The 32nd Army had been redesignated initially the 1st Army Corps (1988), then the 40th Army (June 1991). It came under Kazakh control in May 1992. On November 1, 1992, on the basis of units of the former Soviet 40th Army of the Turkestan Military District, the First Army Corps was created, with its headquarters in Semipalatinsk.[7] Later, at its base was established the Eastern Military District, retitled on 13 November 2003 as Regional Command East.

Immediately prior to its dissolution, the 40th Army consisted of the 78th Tank Division (Ayaguz); the 5202nd Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment at Semipalatinsk (prior to 1989 – the 71st Motor Rifle Division); the 5203rd BKhVT Ust-Kamenogorsk (prior to 1989, the 155th Motor Rifle Division); the 5204th BKhVT at Karaganda (prior to 1989 – the 203rd Zaporozhye Khingan Motor Rifle Division), taken over by Kazakhstan on 7 May 1992, the 69th Tank Division (mobilisation) (Ust-Kamenogorsk), and the 10th Fortified Area.[8] The 69th Tank Division and the 10th Fortified Area were both disbanded in 1992.

In the middle of the 1990s Kazakhstan's land forces included the 1st Army Corps (HQ Semipalatinsk), with the 68th Motor Rifle Division (Sary-Ozek, in Kyzylorda Province) – 2 motor-rifle and one tank regiment and the 78th Tank Division (Ayaguz).[9] While the 68th Division was called a motor-rifle formation, in equipment terms it had almost 300 tanks and about 500 armoured fighting vehicles. The 78th Tank Division had 350 tanks, 290 armoured fighting vehicles and 150 artillery pieces. The 210th Guards Training Center, the former 80th Guards Motor Rifle training Division, had 6,000 soldier and officers and 220 tanks and 220 artillery pieces, so was a strengthened division. It was often called the Division of Guards by Kazakh sources.

Some of Kazakhstan's officers have trained at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Today the Ground Forces include four regional commands:[10]

There are also the Air Defence Forces, the Airmobile Forces with four brigades, and the Artillery and Missile Forces (formed as a separate branch on 7 May 2003).[5]

Airmobile Forces

Paratroopers of the 35th Guards Air Assault Brigade

The Airmobile Forces were formed by grouping the 35th Guards Air Assault Brigade with new brigades formed from previous Soviet units. The 35th Guards Air Assault Brigade arrived from Germany in April 1991, and was taken over by Kazakhstan in 1992. Near Karaganda was the 5204th Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment, the remnants of a motor rifle division.[11] In 1998 two motorized rifle brigades were created from the former storage base. One of which was left near Karaganda, and another called 2nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade and was relocated 200 kilometers to the north of Astana, which by that time was the capital, and for that reason ought to have a decent court garrison. No units were stationed in Astana (Tslinograd) during the Soviet period. In October 2003, the 36th Separate Air Assault Brigade was formed on the basis of the 2nd Motor Rifle Brigade. On the basis of Taldykorgan Motor Rifle Regiment, 173rd Sary Ozekskoy Motor Rifle Division, in April 2003 was formed the 37th Separate Air Assault Brigade.

Ground Forces Equipment

A T-72 main battle tank
Name Origin Type In service Notes
Armored fighting vehicle
T-72 Russia Main battle tank 300[14]
GAZ Tigr Russia Infantry fighting vehicle 21[2]
BMPT Soviet Union Infantry fighting vehicle 10[2]
BTR-80 Soviet Union Amphibious APC 110[2] of which 44 are the 82A variant
BTR-3 Ukraine APC 2[2]
BPM-97 Russia APC 18[2]
Otokar Cobra Turkey APC 13[2]
Marauder South Africa APC 10[2]
Humvee United States Armored car 40[2]

Security agencies and commando units

Republican Guard performing precision drill

There are a number of special forces units reporting to various Kazakh security agencies which are not part of the Armed Forces. The National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan has the Arystan commando unit, KNS' Border Guards has a unit, the Police have units, and the Presidency is reported to have its own units as well.

Additionally, a small Republican Guard exists, with 2,500 soldiers (1994), but this force is not considered a part of the Army. The Republican Guard was established on March 6, 1992, when the President of Kazakhstan signed a decree on their creation. The Republican Guard was established on the basis of a separate brigade of operational designation of the Internal Troops deployed in the village of Kaskelen district of Almaty region.[15] Two Republican Guard regiments were created, stationed in Astana and Almaty.

Kazakh Air and Air Defence Forces

Air Force roundel

At the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the 24th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division with three aviation regiments and three separate regiments was stationed in Kazakhstan.[16] By late 1993 the Kazakhstan Air Force comprised a total of six regiments, with a further air defence fighter regiment. The 11th Division included the 129th Fighter-Bomber Regiment based at Taldy Kurgan, with MiG-27 'Flogger' aircraft and the 134th Fighter-Bomber Regiment at Zhangiz-tobe with MiG-27s. There was also the 149th Bomber Regiment at Zhetigen/Nikolayevka, with Sukhoi Su-24 'Fencers'. Independent elements comprised the 715th Fighter Regiment at Lugovaya, with MiG-29s and MiG-23 'Floggers'; the 39th Reconnaissance Regiment at Balkhash, with MiG-25RBs and Su-24MR 'Fencer' aircraft, and the 486th Helicopter Regiment based at Ucharal with Mi-24 'Hind'. The sole air defence fighter aviation regiment was the 356th Fighter Aviation Regiment at Semipalatinsk with MiG-31 air defence fighters. The Air Force was under the command of Major General Aliy Petrovich Volkov.

Air Force 12,000 (incl Air Defence) 1 air force division. Pilots fly approximately 100 hours per year.[clarification needed]

Today the Kazakh Air and Air Defence Force has four fast jet bases:[17]


Current inventory

A Kazakhstan Sukhoi Su-27
A Kazakhstan Su-25
Antonov An-72 of Kazakh Air Force
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-23 Soviet Union fighter 3[18]
MiG-27 Soviet Union fighter bomber 12[18]
MiG-29 Russia multirole 25[18]
Mig-31 Russia Interceptor aircraft 25 [19]
Sukhoi Su-25 Soviet Union CAS 14[18]
Sukhoi Su-30 Russia fighter Su-30SM 18 19 on order[18]
Tupolev Tu-154 Russia VIP Tu-154M 1[18]
Antonov An-12 Ukraine heavy transport 1[18]
Antonov An-26 Ukraine transport 5[18]
Antonov An-72 Ukraine heavy transport 1[18] STOL capable aircraft
CASA C-295 Spain transport C-295M 7 1 on order[18]
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility Mi-8/17 50[18]
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack Mi-35 18 4 on order[18]
Mil Mi-26 Russia heavy lift / transport 4 4 on order[18]
Eurocopter EC145 Germany utility 12[18] assembled in Kazakhstan
Trainer Aircraft
Aero L-39 Czech Republic jet trainer 17[18]
Yak-130 Russia advanced trainer 4 on order[18]

Future Purchases

On 28 Oct 2010, two strategic agreements signed today establish the framework for Eurocopter’s creation of a 50/50 joint venture with Kazakhstan Engineering Kazakhstan to assemble EC145 helicopters, along with the sale of 45 of these locally assembled aircraft for government missions in the country.[20] On 28 November 2011, Eurocopter delivered the first of six EC145s ordered to date by the Kazakh Ministries of Defence and Emergencies.[21] Deliveries are to continue through 2017.

On 3 January 2012, Airbus Military signed a firm contract with Kazspetsexport, a state company belonging to the Ministry of Defence of Kazakhstan, to supply two EADS CASA C-295 military transport aircraft plus the related service support package for spare parts and ground support equipment. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed for a further six C295 aircraft, for which separate firm contracts will be signed progressively over the next few years. The first two aircraft will be delivered by April 2013 and for the remaining six aircraft a delivery schedule will be defined over the following years. This purchase likely represents a quid pro quo. In 2008, EADS made titanium sourcing agreements with Kazakh suppliers.[22]

In May 2012, Kazakhstan signed a letter of intent to acquire 20 Eurocopter EC725 helicopters. They were to be assembled in Astana by Kazakhstan Engineering.[23] These Eurocoptors will be fitted with modern systems made by the Turkish firm Aselsan.

Naval Force

Kazakh naval emblem

Kazakhstan’s Naval Forces were established by presidential decree on 7 May 2003. They operate on the Caspian Sea, based at Aktau. The Kazakh Naval Force has a strength of 3,000 personnel and is equipped with fourteen inshore patrol craft.[24]


Vessel Origin Type In service Notes
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Missile boat 1[25][26] Kazakhstan class
Türk Turkey patrol boat 1[27]
OPV-62 Israel patrol boat 2[27] Pacific-class
Shaldag Israel Go-fast boat 6[27] Assembled in Azerbaijan

The naval aviation base in Aktau was opened eight years later, in 2011. The 612th Airbase in Aktau will provide the home for two Su-27 fighter jets, seven Su-27 pilots and twelve helicopter gunship pilots, according to a report in Interfax-Kazakhstan (not online, via BBC Monitoring). The report doesn't specify the model or number of helicopters, but it is presumed they are Mi-24s.[28]


  1. ^ a b "SIPRI Publications". Archived from the original on 2010-03-28. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Trade Registers. Retrieved on 2017-12-18.
  3. ^ IISS 2013, 221.
  4. ^ "First Military Parade in Kazakhstan". The Gazette of Central Asia. Satrapia. 7 May 2013. 
  5. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Marketos, Thrassy N. (2008-11-21). China's Energy Geopolitics: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Central Asia. Routledge. ISBN 9781134106028. 
  7. ^ For early information on Kazakhstan's land forces, see also 'Kazakhstan's Defence Profile Revealed,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 9 October 1993
  8. ^ Michael Holm, 32nd Combined Arms Army, 2015.
  9. ^ Machine translated and cleaned up from a Russian source at, 'Military-political safety of Kazakhstan'
  10. ^ a b Most specific unit information, including military unit numbers, locations, etc. is sourced from Vad777, Kazakh Ground Forces Archived March 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., accessed February 2010
  11. ^ History of the Airmobile Forces of Kazakhstan,
  12. ^ [2] Archived March 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ [3][permanent dead link]
  14. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (9 February 2016). "The Military Balance 2016". Routledge: 185–186. doi:10.1080/04597222.2016.1127558. 
  15. ^ "Сегодня – День создания Республиканской гвардии". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Michael Holm, 24th Fighter-Bomber Aviation Division, accessed October 2011. Note division was given as the 11th in Kazakhstan AF Restructures, Jane's Defence Weekly, 25 September 1993
  17. ^ Vad777,, July 2010
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "World Air Forces 2018". Flightglobal Insight. 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  19. ^ "World Air Forces 2017". Flightglobal Insight. 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017. 
  20. ^ "HeliHub Kazakhstan buys 45 EC145s and signs production JV with Eurocopter". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "HeliHub First of six EC145s deliverd to Kazakhstan". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Defense Industry Daily, EADS-Signs-its-Own-Titanium-Deal-with-Kazakhstan
  23. ^ "Airbus Group". airbusgroup. Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  24. ^ "Military Balance in Europe 2011"., March 07, 2011
  25. ^ "Министерство обороны Республики Казахстан (МО РК)". Retrieved 8 October 2015. 
  26. ^ "Kazakhstan Navy Unveils Its First Ship". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  27. ^ a b c Trade Registers. Retrieved on 29 May 2015
  28. ^ "Military Balance in Asia 2011"., March 07, 2011, page 55-56
  • CIA World Factbook, 2003 edition.
  • Abai TASBULATOV, "The Kazakhstani Republican Guard: Its Record and Development Prospects", Military Thought, No. 4, 2009, pages 136–142

External links

  • Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies, Issue 11, 2010, Security and Defense Reform in Post Soviet Central Asia
  • Building National Armies – Kazakhstan
  • Kazakh armored forces parade

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