Russian Airpower Modernisation

Russia’s military took delivery of 166 modern aircraft in 2016, Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu told the State Duma on February 22. He said modern aircraft now represent two-thirds of Russian military aircraft, over half of those under the command of the country’s military district headquarters (and hence intended to have an operational mission) and 58% of those in combat units. President Vladimir Putin has previously announced a target of 70% of Russia’s major military equipment being modern types by the end of 2020.

Shoigu said Russia’s armed forces are now operating over 600 unmanned air systems with over 2,000 unmanned air vehicles, organised in 38 units. This year, Russia’s military is expected to receive 170 new and upgraded aircraft, including one Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack and four Tupolev Tu- 95MS Bear-H bombers. Elsewhere, delivery details reported include Mil Mi-8AMTSh-VA Arctic transport and attack helicopters, designed to operate at -60°C. They will go to the Pacific Fleet.

The day before Shoigu’s speech, Deputy Defence Minister Yuriy Borisov said 2017’s state defence order would include replenishment of munitions expended during Russian combat operations in Syria. A new air defence division will be established in 2018 to cover the eastern Arctic region. It will be responsible for the area from Novaya Zemlya (56°E) east to the Chukotka peninsula (177°E), opposite Alaska. The existing 1st Air Defense Division will cover the area west of this, to the Finnish and Norwegian borders. David C Isby