Last week, General-Lieutenant Igor Sadofyev – Chief of Aviation, Deputy CINC of the Air Forces (VVS) for Aviation – spoke to the press about his service’s ambitious plans for procurement under State Armaments Program (GPV), 2011-2020.
General-Lieutenant Sadofyev told RIA Novosti the VVS will receive 1,500 new, and 400 modernized aircraft by 2020. The Chief of Aviation said the State Defense Order (GOZ or ГОЗ) for 2011 includes acquisition of Su-27SM, Su-30M2, Su-34, Su-35S, and Yak-130 aircraft for the VVS, as well as Ka-52, Mi-28N, Mi-8AMTSh (MTV-5-1), Ka-226, Ansat-U helicopters for Army Aviation. But he provided no specific procurement numbers for next year.
For Long-Range Aviation (LRA or ДА), he said the VVS will modernize existing Tu-160, Tu-95MS, Tu-22M3, and Il-78M aircraft. The goal is to update 80 percent of this inventory in what he calls the medium-term future – defined by him as 2020. What he has in mind here is service life extension and the replacement of some electronics and other systems.
For Military-Transport Aviation (VTA or ВТА), Sadofyev says the VVS will modernize its existing aircraft, and purchase more than 50 percent new ones. He doesn’t break it down by particular types of transports.
For Frontal Aviation, some existing aircraft will be modernized, and over that medium-term future (2020) more than half the order-of-battle will be replaced with new aircraft, and 14 percent of the inventory will be ‘perspektivnyy’ (перспективный) aircraft. One supposes that means PAK FA. If that 14 percent is 70 PAK FAs, that would put Frontal Aviation at about 500 aircraft total.
Army Aviation, according to Sadofyev, will get 70 percent new aircraft by 2020, and 100 percent sometime afterward. He said the VVS will begin getting the Ка-52 / Alligator next year. And he made a point of noting that Army Aviation will remain within the VVS, despite rumors it might return to the Ground Troops.
He said serial deliveries of the Yak-130 trainer will begin next year to replace 1970s-vintage L-39 jets. Flight instructors and technical personnel will learn the Yak-130 at Lipetsk before using it to train young pilots at Krasnodar.
Sadofyev also told RIA Novosti the number of VVS day-night, all-weather aircraft will increase 4.5 times, and this will lower aircraft losses by a factor of 10-12. According to him, the share of precision weapons in the VVS will increase 18 times, taking it to 70 percent of the inventory by 2020. So less than 4 percent of current air-delivered munitions qualify as precision weapons. UAVs will be increased 6 times, taking them to 30 percent of the aircraft inventory. So they are about 5 percent at present. Sadofyev adds that money will go to providing a common reconnaissance-information environment for the VVS.
Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Vladimir Drik also talked about VVS procurement last week. He said the VVS got new and modernized aircraft this year, including Su-27SM and Su-25SM, and Mi-24PM and Ansat-U helicopters. But he had to admit only the Ansat-U is new, and he didn’t provide numbers.
There was a major garble over the Su-27SM. RIA Novosti quoted Drik as saying the VVS “received four squadrons of modernized Su-27SM” this year. In fact, the transfer of the final 4 of 48 Su-27SM happened in late November 2009.
Drik said Russia’s air defenses will be 100 percent new by 2020, with the VVS operating the S-400, S-500, and Pantsir-S. Once again, no one seems to want to talk about what’s going on with SAM production.
Igor Korotchenko’s take on VVS procurement from October looks pretty on-target in light of this latest press. He said the priorities were precision weapons, automated C2, aircraft, and air defense systems. And, at that time, he put the acquisition numbers at 500 new aircraft, 1,000 helicopters, and 200 air defense systems.
All in all, an extremely ambitious plan. Fulfilling it will demand complete and timely funding, and even then it will be a challenge for Russia’s aviation industry. Also, Sergey Ivanov says the GPV has gone to the government today, so maybe we’ll learn how VVS requirements fare. VVS will be a priority, but we’ll have to see how high.