The average age of aircraft in the Russian Air Force is about 25 years, so the defense ministry is working up an ambitious plan to replace a major portion while eliminating some inventory by retirement, all by 2020.Â Fifteen hundred aircraft of which 350 are to be new production combat aircraft over the next ten years, that is the plan.Â However, just as the US and other Western air forces are finding out, the costs for a complete overhaul are quite prohibitive.Â Same as regards total numbers, too expensive to go for a 1:1 replacement.Â However, it’s not as if the current inventory, numbering over 2800 (1500 combat aircraft), is the paragon of full mission capability as many are either so old/obsolete that they are for all intents, static displays.
So despite the flight of the first 5th gen fighter earlier this year, the RuAF will instead look to a mix of 5th gen, updated 4th gen and rework of existing aircraft. Â Sort of like the F-35, F/A-18E/F decision the Navy is facing here at home.Â The box score (according to a recent article in Ria Novosti) shows the defense ministry has already signed contracts for:
- 32 x Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers (to be delivered by 2013)
- 48 x Su-35 Flanker-E fighters (delivery by 2015)
- 12 x Su-27SM Flanker B Mod 1 fighters (by 2011)
- 4 x Su-30M2 Flanker-C (also by 2011)
- 12 x Su-25UBM Frogfoot combat trainers
Additional contracts this year call for:
- 26 x MiG-29K Fulcrum-D fighters (by 2015)
- at least 80 x Su-34s and 24-48 x Su-35s
In sum, the RuAF is expecting to receive 240-260 new aircraft of these types by 2015.Â Another 100-110 aircraft (according to the article) consisting of MiG-35, Su-30, and 40-60 Sukhoi PAK-FA 5th generation are scheduled to be added.Â Clearly, even with some reductions in force stemming from consolidation and greater capability per aircraft, some existing a/c will still need to be retained and as such, overhauled. Included in the latter group will be the majority of the bomber force consisting of Tu-160 Blackjack, Tu-95MS Bear-H and Tu-22M Backfires while working on a new generation bomber.
Several questions arise regarding this ambitious plan, chief of which is the industrial capacity to support the plan.Â Not long ago, the first Tu-160 to go through re-work/update was completed – an effort that took over a year for one aircraft.Â Now, a new process will take time initially to complete and over time, efficiencies manifest themselves as workers gain experience and overhaul times will correspondingly drop.Â However, one must ask if there are sufficient amounts of skilled labor, spare industrial capacity and funding to complete.Â Some ventures, such as a proposal that India share 50-50 in the development (and costs) of an export variant of the T-50 to serve in the Indian Air Force may help offset some of those shortfalls while easing some of the costs.Â Other sales overseas would also offset financial costs, but at what price to making the rather optimistic and aggressive schedule the defense ministry has laid out.
Time will tell…
Article Series - Future of Air War
- Of Wargames, JSFs and Baby Seals (Part I)
- Is the F-35 the Next DDG-1000? – UPDATED
- Of Wargames, JSFs and Baby Seals (II)
- Of Wargames, JSF and Baby Seals (III)
- F-35 Slated for Common Electronic Attack Platform?
- Bulava Fails Latest Test – Lessons for US?
- E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – Death By A Thousand Cuts?
- Boeing Unveils the F-15SE ‘Silent Eagle’
- More Hawkeye Pics
- Stand-up of the Navy Air and Missile Defense Command (NAMDC)
- A JSF Program Re-Structuring on the Horizon?
- E-2D Update: Progress Report and Hawkeye BMD?
- Fifth Generation Fighters – The Competition Casts Its Ballot (UPDATED)
- Some More Observations on the Sukhoi PAK-FA
- ÐšÑ€Ð°ÑÐ½Ð°Ñ Ð·Ð²ÐµÐ·Ð´Ð° Ð²Ñ‚Ð¾Ñ€Ð½Ð¸Ðº: Red Star Tuesday — Overhauling Russia’s Air Force
- De-constructing Sukhoi’s PAK-FA
- Let’s Talk Integrated Air and Missile Defense
- Progress – However You Measure It
- Thought for the Day
- Close Air Support Aircraft Find Renewed Interest
- IAMD Acquisition Updates: E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and SM-3 Blk IIB
- Fighter Deal of the Century: Europe – 2, USA – 0
- Steeljaws Airborne Again?
- â™«â™¬ Oh When the Drone is Called Up Yonder… â™¬â™«