Over Eighty Airmen Leave Air Force as Myanmar Military Casualties Rise

By The Irrawaddy 6 May 2021

More than 80 officers and other ranks have left the Air Force since Myanmar’s military seized power in a Feb. 1 coup.

Captain Lin Htet Aung from Defence Services Academy Intake 54 confirmed reports on social media that over 80 officers and other ranks have left the Air Force. Hundreds of soldiers from infantry units have also joined the civil disobedience movement (CDM), he said.

“More than 10 officers from the Air Force have joined the CDM. The highest ranking of them are captains,” said Captain Lin Htet Aung who is also on strike.

The officers and other ranks who have left come from air bases and aviation communication units in Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyarwady regions and Kachin State.

“Some have fled because they have committed offences. Others have joined the CDM of their own volition,” Captain Lin Htet Aung said.

Their departure could have a negative impact on the administrative functions of the air force, said the captain. The reports of airmen leaving the Air Force come after a military gunship was shot down by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Momauk, Kachin State on Monday. The three airmen on board died in the crash.

Military analysts suggested that the incident will deter regime jet fighters from launching attacks from the same altitude that the gunship was flying at when it was shot down. The regime’s jets will have to fly at a higher altitude, which makes it more difficult for them to hit targets on the ground.

“The junta has to carry out airstrikes because it can’t beat the KIA in ground warfare. So if the helicopter was shot down while flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet, the jets will have to fly at a higher altitude when launching attacks. That will reduce the precision of their bombing,” said one analyst.

The analysts suggested also that the morale of Myanmar’s military seems to be declining, as their soldiers were easily defeated when the KIA and the Karen National Liberation Army attacked military outposts in Kachin and Karen states in the past few weeks.

The National Unity Government, a shadow government formed to rival the military regime, announced on Wednesday that it has established the People’s Defence Force, a move signaling its desire to step up armed resistance against the junta which has killed some 760 civilians since the coup.

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