|Военно-воздушные cилы России
Voyenno-vozdushnye sily Rossii
Russian Air Force
(previously the Soviet Union and Russian Empire)
|Role||Defeating enemy units, reconnaissance, defence of major military units and facilities|
|Colonel General Alexander Zelin|
The Russian Air Force (Russian: Военно-воздушные cилы России, transliteration: Voyenno-vozdushnye sily Rossii) is the air force of Russia. With 2,832 aircraft, it is the second largest Air Force in the world. It is currently under the command of Colonel General Aleksandr Zelin. The Russian Navy has its own air arm, the Russian Naval Aviation, which is the former Soviet Aviatsiya Voyenno Morskogo Flota ("Naval Aviation"), or AV-MF).
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union into its fifteen constituent republics in December 1991, the aircraft and personnel of the Soviet Air Force - the VVS were divided among the newly independent states. General Pyotr Deynekin, the former deputy commander-in-chief of the Soviet Air Forces, became the first commander of the new organisation on 24 August 1991. Russia received the majority of the most modern fighters and 65% of the manpower. The major commands of the former Soviet VVS - the Long Range Aviation, Military Transport Aviation and Frontal Aviation were renamed, with few changes, Russian VVS commands. However, many regiments, aircraft, and personnel were claimed by the republics they were based in, forming the core of the new republics' air forces. Some aircraft in Belarus and Ukraine (such as Tu-160s) were returned to Russia, sometimes in return for debt reductions, as well as a long range aviation division based at Dolon in Kazakhstan.
During the 1990s, the financial stringency felt throughout the armed forces made its mark on the Air Forces as well. Pilots and other personnel could sometimes not get their wages for months, and on occasion resorted to desperate measures: four MiG-31 pilots at Yelizovo in the Far East went on hunger strike in 1996 to demand back pay which was several months overdue, and the problem was only resolved by diverting unit monies intended for other tasks. As a result of the cutbacks, infrastructure became degraded as well, and in 1998, 40% of military airfields needed repair. The situation only began to improve after Putin took power and military budgets were greatly increased.
The VVS participated in the First Chechen War (1994–1996) and the Second Chechen War (1999–2002). These campaigns also presented significant difficulties for the VVS including the terrain, lack of significant fixed targets and insurgents armed with Stinger and Strela-2M surface-to-air missiles.
The former Soviet Air Defence Force remained independent for several years under Russian control, only merging with the Air Forces in 1998. The decree merging the two forces was issued by President Boris Yeltsin on 16 July 1997. During 1998 altogether 580 units and formations were disbanded, 134 reorganized, and over 600 given a new jurisdiction. The redistribution of forces affected 95% of aircraft, 98% of helicopters, 93% of anti-aircraft missile complexes, 95 % of the equipment of radiotechnical troops, 100% of anti-aircraft missiles and over 60% of aviation armament. More than 600,000 tons of material changed location and 3500 aircraft changed airfields. Military Transport Aviation planes took more than 40,000 families to new residence areas.
The number of servicemen in the Air Force was reduced to about 185 000 from the former combined number of 318,000. 123,500 positions were abolished, including almost 1000 colonel positions. The resignation of 3000 other servicemen included 46 generals of which 15 were colonel generals. On 29 December 1998 Colonel General Anatoly Kornukov, a former Air Defence Forces officer who had in 1983 ordered the shootdown of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, and new commander-in-chief of the merged force, succeeding Deynekin, reported to the Russian defence minister that the task had 'in principle been achieved'. General Kornukov established the new headquarters of the force in Zarya, near Balashikha, 20 km north of the centre of Moscow, in the former PVO central command post, where the CIS common air defence system is directed from.
General Kornukov was succeeded by General Vladimir Mikhaylov in 2002.
In December 2003 the aviation assets of the Army—mostly helicopters—were transferred to the VVS, following the shooting down of a Mi-26 helicopter in Chechniya on August 19, 2002, that claimed 19 lives. The former Army Aviation was in its previous form intended for the direct support of the Ground Forces, by providing their tactical air support, conducting tactical aerial reconnaissance, transporting airborne troops, providing fire support of their actions, electronic warfare, setting of minefield barriers and other tasks. The former Army Aviation is now managed by the Chief of the Department of Army Aviation, who in mid 2007 was Lieutenant General Anatoly Surtsukov.
In October 2004 the disbandment was announced of the 200th and 444th Bomber Aviation Regiments with Tupolev Tu-22M3, of the 28th, 159th, 790th, and 941st Fighter Aviation Regiments, of the 302nd and 959th Regiments equipped with Sukhoi Su-24, and of the 187th and 461st Assault Aviation Regiments with the Sukhoi Su-25. These disbandments did not go ahead.
The VVS continues to suffer from a lack of resources for pilot training. In the 1990s Russian pilots achieved approximately 10% of the flight hours of the United States Air Force. The 2007 edition of the IISS Military Balance listed pilots of tactical aviation flying 20–25 hours a year, 61st Air Army pilots (former Military Transport Aviation), 60 hours a year, and Army Aviation under VVS control 55 hours a year.
During the 1990s the Sukhoi design bureau designed a replacement bomber aircraft, the T-60S, which now is being developed into the PAK DA. A further abortive design project was the MiG 1.42, which is now being developed into the Mikoyan LMFS . Currently, a fifth-generation fighter jet is being developed by a consortium of companies, including Mikoyan, Yakovlev and spearheaded by Sukhoi. The program has been named Perspektivnyy Aviatsionnyy Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii - PAK FA, which means Future Air Complex for Tactical Air Forces. It is intended to replace the MiG-29 and Su-27 in the Russian Air Force. General Colonel Alexander Zelin said on August 8, 2007 that Russia will soon start construction of a prototype fifth-generation fighter plane. "At present, we have completed the development of technical documentation for the fifth-generation fighter and passed it to the production plant, which will start construction in the near future," Colonel General Zelin said.
The Air Force commander also said that Russia would deploy advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with flight range of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and flight duration of up to 12 hours by 2011. The UAVs of both fixed- and rotary-wing types will perform a variety of tasks, including reconnaissance, attack, retransmission of radio signals and target designation, the general said.
Russia's air forces have 650 dedicated fighter jets in service, mainly of the Sukhoi and MiG variety. The most numerous type of aircraft is the MiG-31. The 291 MiG-29s have fallen into disrepair however and many of them suffer rust damage. 200 of these aircraft have been rated unsafe to fly. However the Russia Defense Ministry has already stated that it will upgrade and modify all Mig-29s that are obsolete making them combat ready by 2012 when new aircraft such as the PAKFA are scheduled to enter service.
The 16th Air Army will soon receive two regiments of the advanced Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers in the near future. General Belevitch said the 16th Air Army would also receive MiG-29SM Fulcrum fighters to replace outdated MiG-29s and modernized Su-25 Frogfoot close support aircraft, which showed outstanding performance during operations in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other "hot spots."
Russia resumed the Soviet-era practice of sending its bomber aircraft on long-range flights at a permanent basis in July and August 2007, after a 15-year unilateral suspension due to fuel costs and other economic difficulties after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Patrols towards the North Pole, the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean were reinstated, bringing the planes often close to NATO territory, most recently flying over the Irish Sea, between the UK and Ireland.
Warfare.ru indicates that in early 2009 the Air Force went through a major restructuring, in which air armies were succeeded by commands, and most air regiments becoming airbases. However, Combat Aircraft, in a piece by Stefan Buttner in its August-September 2009 issue, presented the order of battle as being substantially unchanged, similar to the listing below. Thus whether a reorganisation is yet to take place or has taken place remains unclear. Aviation Week reports that the reorganisation will be complete by years end and will see a 40 percent reduction in aircrew numbers.
On 5 June 2009, Russian Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov said of the Russian Air Force that "They can run bombing missions only in daytime with the sun shining, but they miss their targets anyway". Maj. Gen. Pavel Androsov said that Russia's long-range bombers would be upgraded in 2009 with the aim of being able to hit within 20 meters of their targets.
Russia has officially signed a contract for 48 Su-35BM, 4 Su-30M2 and 12 Su-27SM's on August 18th at the MAKS-2009 air show.
This order of battle is reproduced from Air Forces Monthly's July & August 2007 editions, but is not complete - some of the training units and direct reporting units have subordinate squadrons or regiments listed in the magazine but not replicated here yet.
|Air Forces of Russia|
Air Force (1909–1917)
Red Air Force (1918–1991)
Naval Aviation (1918–1991)
Air Defense (1948–1991)
Strategic Rocket Forces (1959–1991)
Air Force (1991–present)
Naval Aviation (1991–present)
Strategic Rocket Forces (1991–present)
The List of Soviet Air Force bases shows a number which are still active with the Russian Air Force.
Due to the secrecy of the Russian Ministry of Defence, the actual numbers and types of aircraft in the Russian Air force is largely unknown. However it is believed that Warfare.ru can give a fairly reliable and up to date inventory for the Air Force. The Russian Air Force operates around 2,832 aircraft of all types. This includes 1,351 fixed wing combat aircraft, 200 strategic bombers and 305 attack helicopters.
|Aircraft||Photo||Origin||Type||Versions||Numbers In Service||Comments|
|Sukhoi Su-27||USSR||Air Superiority Fighter||Su-27SM||322|||
|Sukhoi Su-30||Russia||Strike Fighter||Su-30M||12|||
|Sukhoi Su-35BM||Russia||Air Superiority Fighter||Su-35BM||12||48 to be delivered by 2015 with first delivery in 2011. |
|Mikoyan MiG-29||USSR||Multirole Fighter||MiG-29SM||194|||
|Sukhoi Su-34||Russia||Fighter-bomber||Su-34||16|| 58 to be delivered by 2012|
|Sukhoi Su-24||USSR||Tactical Fighter/Bomber||Su-24M||314|||
|Mikoyan MiG-35||Russia||Multi-Role Fighter||MiG-35D||0||MiG-35 is currently in development, 10 prototypes by 2011 Ref|
|Sukhoi Su-25||USSR||Close Air Support||Su-25/Su-25UB||243||80 awaiting modernization to reach Su-25SM (~20 Su-25SM already modernized).|
|Total Combat aircraft||1,351|
|Tupolev Tu-22M||USSR||Strategic bomber||Tu-22M3||120|||
|Tupolev Tu-95||USSR||Strategic bomber||Tu-95MS||64||64 (37th Air Army), modernization of 35 to reach Tu-95MSM|
|Tupolev Tu-160||USSR||Strategic bomber||Tu-160M||16||16 (37th Air Army), modernization to reach Tu-160M|
|Total Bomber aircraft||200|
|Yakovlev Yak-130||Russia||Training||Yak-130||4||62 ordered, first aircraft to be commissioned in 2009|
|Aero L-39 Albatros||Czechoslovakia||Training||L-39||500|
|Total Trainer aircraft||504|
|Ilyushin Il-76||USSR||Transport||IL-76MD||119||Planned modernization to reach Il-76MF-90|
|Ilyushin Il-112||Russia||Light Transport||Il-112V||0||18 by 2015|
|Antonov An-26||USSR||Transport||An-26||30||9 An-26, 21 An-26B|
|Antonov An-124||USSR||Transport||An-124||25||14 says IISS|
|Total Transport Aircraft||195|
|Ilyushin Il-80||Russia||Command Post||Il-80||4|
|Tupolev Tu-214||Russia||Command Post / VIP||Tu-214-100||6(ordered)||2 delivered|
|Total Command Post||6|
|Ilyushin Il-78||USSR||Refueling Tanker||IL-78||20|
|Total Aerial refueling aircraft||20|
|Beriev A-50||USSR||AWACS-Reconnaissance||Beriev A-50||19|| currently being modernized to A-50M standard|
|Total Reconnaissance aircraft||19|
|Kamov Ka-50||USSR||Attack Helicopter||Ka-50||15|| Serial production cancelled in favour of Ka-52.|
|Kamov Ka-52||Russia||Attack Helicopter||Ka-52||10|| Special Forces - 12 more to be purchased in 2009 |
|Mil Mi-24||USSR||Attack helicopter||Mi-24||252|| All to be replaced within 2015 by Mi-28s|
|Mil Mi-28||Russia||Attack Helicopter||Mi-28||28|| 47 by end of 2010 and 300 by 2015|
|Total Attack Helicopters||305|
|Mil Mi-8||USSR||Transport Helicopter||Mi-8||195||160 Air Force|
|Mil Mi-26||USSR||Transport Helicopter||Mil Mi-26||30|||
|Kamov Ka-60||Russia||Transport Helicopter||Ka-60||7||200 ordered|
|Total Transport Helicopters||232|
|Total aircraft of all types||2,832|