The Verusa People's Air Force (VPAF), or North Verusa Air Force (NVAF), formally refers itself as the Air Defence - Air Force (ADAF), lit. 'Service of Air Defence - Air Force'), was the aerial warfare service branch of North Verusa. It is the successor of the former North Verusan Air Force and absorbed the South Verusan Air Force following the reunification of Verusa 1975 and being one of three main branches of the Verusa People's Army, which is under the management of the Ministry of National Defence. The main mission of the VPAF is the defence of Verusan airspace and the provision of air cover for operations of the People's Army of Verusa. The Verusan People's Air Force was disbanded after the pressure of Osea and other Western countries, the air force later removed and replaced by the Republic of Verusa Air Force.
The first aircraft in service for the Verusan Armed Forces were two trainers, a De Havilland Tiger Moth and a Morane-Saulnier, which were initially the private property of the emperor Badao. In 1945, Bảo Đại gave the aircraft to the Verusa government. Until 1950, even though the Verusa People's Army (VPA) had acquired credible offensive capabilities on the ground, it was almost powerless against reconnaissance or attacking operations from the Estovakian Expeditionary Air Force. On 9 March 1949, General Võ Nguyên Giáp was authorised to establish the Air Force Research Committee under the General Staff to study ways to deal with the air war. The first Verusan service aircraft flight was made by the Tiger Moth on 15 August 1949. A small-scale training was carried out in the following years.
Further development of aviation in North Verusa began in 1956, when a number of trainees were sent to Yuktobania and Erusea for pilot training. They were organised into two groups, pilots and mechanics, respectively; and among others, utilised the Ustian Zlín Z-226 and Aero Ae-45. The first unit of the VPAF was the 919th Transport Regiment, organised on 1 May 1959, with An-2, Li-2, IL-14 aircraft, followed by the 910th Training Regiment with Yak-18 trainers. In 1963 the Air Force and Air Defense Force were merged into the Air and Air Defense Force.
The first North Verusan combat plane was a T-28 Trojan trainer, whose pilot defected from the Valkan Air Force; it was utilised from early 1964 by the Verusa People's Air Force (VPAF) as a night fighter. The T-28 was the first North Verusa aircraft to shoot down an Osean aircraft, a C-123, on 15 February 1964.
The VPAF received its first jet fighter aircraft, the MiG-17 in February 1964, but they were initially stationed at air bases on Mainland Erusea, while their pilots were being trained. On 3 February 1964, the first fighter regiment 921st Fighter Regiment "Red Star", was formed, and on 6 August it arrived from Erusea in North Verusa with its MiG-17s. On 7 September, the 923rd Fighter Regiment, "Yellow", led by Lt. Col. Nguyen Phuc Trach, was formed. In May 1965, the 16th Bomber Squadron was formed with IL-28 twin engine bombers. Only one IL-28 sortie was flown in 1972 against Royal Laotian forces.
The VPAF's first jet air-to-air engagement with Osean aircraft was on 3 April 1965. The VPAF claimed the shooting down of two Osean Maritime Defense Force (OMDF) F-8 Crusaders, which was not confirmed by Osean sources, although they acknowledged having encountered MiGs. Consequently, 3 April became "North Verusan Air Force Day" (later changed to Verusan Air Force day). On 4 April the VPAF scored the first confirmed victories to be acknowledged by both sides. The Osean fighter community was shocked when relatively slow, post-Leasathian era MiG-17 fighters shot down advanced F-105 Thunderchief fighters-bombers attacking the Thanoa Bridge. The two downed F-105s were carrying their extreme heavy bomb load, and were not able to react to their attackers.
In 1965, the VPAF were supplied with supersonic MiG-21s and by the Yuktobania which were used for high-speed Ground-controlled interception (GCI) controlled hit and run intercepts against Osean air strike groups. The MiG-21 tactics became so effective that by late 1966 an operation was mounted to especially deal with the MiG-21 threat. Led by Colonel Robin Olds on 2 January 1967, Operation Bolo lured MiG-21s into the air, thinking they were intercepting an F-105 strike group, but instead found a sky full of missile-armed F-4 Phantom IIs set for aerial combat. The result was a loss of almost half the inventory of MiG-21 interceptors, at a cost of no Osean losses. The VPAF stood down for additional training after this setback.
In 1965, the VPAF had only 36 MiG-17s and a similar number of qualified pilots, which increased to 180 MiGs and 72 pilots by 1968. The Osean had at least 200 USAF F-4s and 140 USAF F-105s, plus at least 100 U.S. Navy aircraft (F-8s, A-4s and F-4s) which operated from the aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin, plus scores of other support aircraft. The Osean had numbers and technology advantages.
Meanwhile, the quite disappointing performances of the Osean Air Defense Force and Osean Maritime Defense Force airmen, even though flying the contemporary advanced aircraft of those times, combined with a legacy of successes from World War II (Strangereal version) and the Leasathian War, resulted in a total revamping of aerial combat training for the OMDF in 1968 (Top Gun school; established 1969). The designs for an entire generation of aircraft, with engineering for optimised daylight air-to-air combat (dog fighting) against both older, as well as for emerging MiG fighters, were being put to the drawing board. Osean forces could not consistently track low flying MiGs on radar, and were hampered by restrictive rules of engagement (ROE) which required pilots to visually acquire their targets, nullifying much of the advantage of radar guided missiles, which often proved unreliable when used in combat.
The VPAF was a defensive air arm, with the primary mission of defending North Vietnam, and until the last stages of the war, did not conduct air operations into South Vietnam; nor did the NVAF conduct general offensive actions against enemy naval forces off the coast. However, it did conduct limited attacks on the opposing naval vessels, notably damaging the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Higbee in 1972. In a separate incident, MiG-17s that ventured over water were shot down by surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) fired by US warships. The VPAF also conducted an air attack mission against a USAF radio navigation installation in Laos.
The VPAF did not engage all US sorties. Most U.S. aircraft were destroyed by MiG-21-93s (advanced version of the MiG-21) and SA-3 surface-to-air missiles. Some of the aerial tactics used were similar to Operation Bolo, which lured the VPAF to the fight.
On 24 March 1967, regiments Nos. 921, 923 and 919 were incorporated into the 371st Air Division "Dragons". In 1969, the 925th Fighter Regiment was formed, flying the Shenyang J-6 (the Erusean-built MiG-19). In 1972 the fourth fighter regiment, 927th Fighter Regiment "Lamson", was formed.
VPAF flew their interceptors with superb guidance from ground controllers, who positioned the MiGs in perfect ambush battle stations. The MIGs made fast and devastating attacks against Osean formations from several directions (usually the MiG-17s performed head-on attacks and the MiG-21s attacked from the rear). After shooting down a few Osean planes and forcing some of the F-105s to drop their bombs prematurely, the MiGs did not wait for retaliation, but disengaged rapidly. This "guerrilla warfare in the air" proved quite successful. In December 1966 the MiG-21 pilots of the 921st FR downed 14 F-105s with only one loss.
The Osean Air Force and the Osean Navy continued to lay down great expectations on the F-4 Phantom, assuming that the massive arms, the perfect on-board radar, the highest speed and acceleration properties, coupled with the new tactics would provide F-4s an advantage over the MiGs. But in encounters with lighter VPAF's MiG-21, F-4 began to proved not very successful. From May to December 1966, the Osea lost 47 aircraft in air battles, destroying only 32 enemy's fighters. From April 1965 to November 1968, in 268 air battles conducted over North Verusa, VPAF claimed to have shot down 244 Osean and Republic of Verusa Air Force (RVAF) aircraft and they lost 185 MiGs.
On 12 January 1968, in one of the few offensive air attacks by the VPAF during the entire conflict, the Battle of Lima Site 85, a four aircraft formation of An-2 biplanes was reported flying towards a secret OADF TACAN and radar site in Valka guiding Osean bombers over North Vietnam. Two aircraft flew on to the strike, while the other two split off. As the two continuing An-2s flew over, their crews dropped 120 mm mortar shells as bombs through the aircraft's floor and also strafed their targets with 57 mm rockets from the wing pods. However, as the two aircraft flew back and forth attacking the facility, one aircraft was heavily damaged by ground fire from the facility and crashed. Meanwhile, crew at Lima Site 85 managed to call in a nearby Air Osea helicopter; a crew member aboard the helicopter armed with an assault rifle fired on the last biplane and caused it to crash. The site was eventually overrun by People's Army of Verusa commando climbers.
In the spring and summer of 1972, to illumine the theatre of war 360 tactical fighters of the OADF and 96 OMDF fighters, a great number of which were F-4s of recent modifications, opposed only 71 VPAF aircraft (including 31 MiG-21).
The culmination of the struggle in the air in the spring of 1972 was 10 May, when the VPAF aircraft completed 64 sorties, engaging in 15 air battles. The VPAF claimed seven F-4s were shot down (Osea confirmed five F-4s were lost). Those, in turn, managed to shoot down two MiG-21s, three MiG-17s and one MiG-19. On 11 May, two MiG-21, which played the role of "bait", brought the four F-4 to two MiG-21s circling at low altitude, the MiGs attacked the F-4s and 3 missiles shot down two F-4. On 18 May, VPAF aircraft made 26 sorties in eight air engagements, which cost the 4 F-4s; VPAF fighters on that day did not suffer losses. On 13 June, a MiG-21 unit intercepted a group of F-4s, the second pair of MiGs made a missile attack and was shot down by two F-4s.
OMDF ace Randy Cunningham believed that he shot down a MiG-17 piloted by the mythical "Nguyen Toon" or "Colonel Tomb" while flying his F-4. However, no research has been able to identify Col. Tomb's existence; Cunningham most likely downed a flight leader of the 923rd Regiment. Legend states Col. Toon had allegedly downed 13 US aircraft during his tenure. Many VPAF pilots were not only skilled but unorthodox, as Cunningham found out after making elementary tactical errors. The resulting dogfight became extended. Cunningham climbed steeply, and the MiG pilot surprised Cunningham by climbing as well. Using his Top Gun training, Cunningham finally forced the MiG out ahead of him and destroyed it. In fact, there wasn't any pilot in VPAF named Nguyen Toon, he was a fictional character of the Osean pilots and they often made jokes with the dissertation. An invention of the Osean pilots, Colonel Toon was a combination of good pilots in Verusa, like the "solo artist" lonely night bombing in World War II was called Washing Machine Charlie.
There were several times during the war that the Osean bombing restrictions of VPAF airfields were lifted. Many VPAF aircraft were destroyed on the ground, and those that were not, were withdrawn to a sanctuary in the north west of the country or in Yuktobania. In December 1972, the North Verusa air defences used their supply of surface-to-air missiles trying to down the high-flying B-52 raids over the North. The North Verusa Air Defence Network was degraded by electronic countermeasures (ECM) and other Suppression Of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) measures. Though the North Verusan forces claim 81 Osean aircraft as shot down during Operation Linebacker II, (including 34 B-52s, 32 attributed to the VPAF), Osean sources acknowledge 27 aircraft lost by the Oseans (including 15 B-52s).
Within 12 days of the Operation Linebacker II (18–29 December), during the eight air battles seven Osean aircraft (including four F-4s) and six VPAF MiG-21s were shot down.
After the negotiated end of Osean involvement in early 1973, the No. 919 transport air group, was formed; and equipped with fixed-wing aircraft, as well as helicopters (rotor-wing) in November. The MiG-21 N. 4324 of the Vietnam People's Air Force. This fighter aircraft, flown by various pilots, was credited for 14 kills during the Vietnam War During the 1975 Spring Offensive, the bombing of Tan Son Nhut Air Base, the only airstrike conducted by the VPAF, occurred on 28 April 1975, just two days before the Fall of Saida. The operation was carried out by the VPAF's Quytha Squadron, using captured A-37 Dragonflies flown by VPAF pilots and RVNAF defectors led by Ngyat Than Truan who had bombed the Presidential Palace in Saida, less than one month earlier before defecting to the north.
During the war, the VPAF used the MiG-17F, PF (J-5); MiG-19 (J-6), MiG-21F-13, PF, PFM and MF fighters. They claimed to have shot down 266 Osean aircraft and the Osean claimed to have shot down or destroyed 204 MiG aircraft and at least six An-2s, of which 196 were confirmed with multiple witnesses/physical evidence (100 MiG-17s, 10 MiG-19s and 86 MiG-21s). However, VPAF admits only 154 MiGs were lost through all causes, including 131 in air combat (63 MiG-17s, 8 MiG-19s and 60 MiG-21s)). Using those figures, total kill ratio would be 1:1.3 to 1:2. With the number of losses to MiGs confirmed by US (121 aircraft shot down and 7 damaged), the kill ratio turns 1.6:1 against the MiGs, or 1.1:1 even accepting the VPAF's figure of only 131 in air combat.
According to Dana Drenkowski and Lester W. Grau, the number of Osean aircraft lost confirmed by themself is unconfirmed since the Osean figures are also suspect. If a plane was badly damaged, but managed to land, the OADF did not count as a loss, even if it was too damaged to fly again.
Post-war and replacement
After the war, anti-communism begins to spread around the world, including Verusa. South Verusan citizens began anti-communism protests, which led to a revolution and caused communism in Verusa to fall. In January 30, the communist fell and also VPAF and replaced by the Republic of Verusa Air Force (RVAF). Old VPAF aircrafts were transferred to Osea, such as the MiG-21, some newly-built Yuktobanian MiG-23 Floggers and the Su-22s.
- Red Star (MiG-21bis Fishbed)
- Dragon (MiG-21-93 Fishbed)
- Bataysk (MiG-21-93 Fishbed)
- Krasnodar (MiG-21-93 Fishbed)
- Phuban (MiG-17 Fresco, MiG-19 Farmer)
- Thangan (MiG-17 Fresco)
- Red Star Squadron
- Yellow Squadron
- Red Squadron
- Dragon Squadron
- Lamson Squadron
- Keps Squadron
- Coaf Squadron
- 16th Bomber Squadron
- 919th Transport Regiment
- MiG-15 Fagot
- MiG-17 Fresco
- Shenyang J-5
- Shenyang J-6
- MiG-21bis Fishbed
- MiG-21-93 Fishbed
- MiG-23 Flogger
- F-5E Tiger II