Tag Archives: Ansat-U

Latest on VVS Procurement


Russian Air Forces (VVS) spokesman Colonel Vladimir Drik picked the day after New Year’s to make some specific announcements on his service’s plans for procuring airplanes and helicopters out to 2015.  Not sure what inspired or spurred the sound bites, but one’s glad for every morsel.

He said the VVS will acquire up to 100 Sukhoy aircraft by 2015.  Sukhoy has three state contracts to provide, as Drik put it:

“. . . nearly 50 multifunctional highly-maneuverable Su-35 fighters (they should be delivered by 2015), more than ten modernized Su-27SM and nearly five two-seat multipurpose Su-30M2 fighters (they will be delivered before the end of 2011).”

It doesn’t read as awkwardly in RIA Novosti’s original:

“. . . около 50 многофункциональных сверхманевренных истребителей Су-35 (их должны поставить до 2015 года), более десяти модернизированных Су-27СМ и около пяти двухместных  многоцелевых истребителей Су-30М2 (их поставят до конца 2011 года).”

It’s not clear whether “before the end of 2011” applies to just the Su-30M2, or Su-27SM deliveries as well.

What Drik describes is basically Sukhoy’s VVS contracts signed at MAKS-2009 (48 Su-35, 12 Su-27SM, and 4 Su-30M2).  In all, 64 aircraft for about 80 billion rubles.

Drik also said 25 Su-34 fighter-bombers will be procured.  The Su-34 purchase has always been reported as 32. 

It’s easy to lose track – were there 2, then the 4 at the end of 2010, plus 25 for a 31?  Or was it really 3, then 4, plus 25 for a total of 32?

He concludes that, in all, there are long-term contracts for “nearly 130 combat aircraft.”

Recall that Deputy Air Forces CINC Sadofyev said the VVS order for 2011 includes the Su-27SM, Su-30M2, Su-34, Su-35, Yak-130, and helicopters, but he gave no numbers.

Now this observer counts 90 Sukhoy airframes in Drik’s comments, so that’s pretty much “up to 100.”  Less clear is where the balance of 30-40 combat aircraft will come from by 2015.  Will they be new Yak-130 combat trainers, helicopters?

Drik did enlighten us a little on VVS plans for helicopters.  He said three (not four as reported elsewhere) Ka-52 / Alligator arrived at Torzhok at the end of last month, and he noted that serial deliveries of this helicopter will begin this year.

Ka-52 (photo: RIA Novosti / Anton Denisov)

He emphasized that the Mi-28N / Night Hunter, accepted into the inventory in 2009, is no less important to the VVS.  He said Army Aviation will need it for a long time.  For trainers, series deliveries of the Ansat-U began in 2009, and preliminary testing of the Ka-60U continues, but Drik didn’t say anything about numbers the VVS expects to receive.

If this is the complete plan until 2015, it’s fairly modest.  Modest can be good.  Modest is achievable.  It may or may not be the whole picture.  We have to continue parsing the statements, and triangulating the words, to try and see where the VVS will be in the next few years.

If this is the plan, it doesn’t sound like what’s been touted as 500 new airplanes and 1,000 new helicopters by 2020. 

Yes, this is a skeptic’s viewpoint.  Maybe VVS procurement is backloaded after 2015. 

But a few other thoughts linger . . .

  • The Su-35 still faces state testing.  It was supposed to start this past fall. 
  • Seems like a lot of aircraft are gap-fillers for PAK FA.  It’ll be interesting if it’s not an obvious success well before 2015.
  • One supposes MiG aircraft are completely out of the picture.
  • Nothing was said about transport aircraft.  They’ve been emphasized a little lately, and sooner or later someone’s got to talk exact numbers.
  • Interesting that there’s so little specific said on helicopters.

Training Helo Pilots at Syzran


SVVAUL Cadet in a Simulator

Krasnaya zvezda often profiles parts of the Russian military, and on 30 July, it interviewed the Chief of the Syzran Higher Military Aviation School for Pilots (SVVAUL or СВВАУЛ), Colonel Nikolay Yartsev.  Yartsev is a 1984 graduate of the school, a Hero of the Russian Federation, an Honored Military Pilot of the RF, and Pilot-Sniper.

SVVAUL is Russia’s sole higher military educational institution for helicopter pilot training.  In its various incarnations, it’s existed for 70 years.  It trains helicopter pilots for the Air Forces, Navy, and other ‘power’ ministries and departments.  It’s a 5-year commissioning school, so some of the initial two years isn’t particularly specific to helicopter training. 

Asked if the current level of cadet training in the school meets the demands of the time, Yartsev points out that SVVAUL is accredited through 2012 and fulfills the ‘state order’ for military specialists in helicopter aviation.  It is fully staffed with professors and instructors; more than half have scholarly credentials.  All have great teaching experience, and many have not only years of service in operational forces, but also long combat experience.

Yartsev goes on to say SVVAUL can train 1,500 cadets simultaneously.  Its faculties have displays, mock-ups, and examples of weapons and equipment that support the practical direction of student training.

Yartsev says, thanks to the Air Forces, two years ago the school got a modern Mi-24 simulator, and this year an even more modern one.  It’s supposed to get two more simulators, a KT-24P and Mi-8.

The school has an 8-hectare field training base including 3 airfields for its 3 training-helicopter regiments.  In their third year, cadets learn to fly the Mi-2U, and SVVAUL is preparing to switch to the Ansat-U for primary training.

In their fourth and fifth years, students fly Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters.  They get 35 hours as pilot and 10 as pilot-navigator (operator) in this phase of training.  Yartsev says in 2009 the average cadet graduated with 135 flight hours, but a few got about 250 hours along with their third class pilot’s qualification.

Yartsev describes the Russian helicopter pilots’ experience in the Afghan war.  He says the USSR lost 333 helicopters and hundreds of pilots and crew members.  Twelve SVVAUL graduates became Heroes of the Soviet Union.  Thirty became Heroes of the Russian Federation while in combat in the North Caucasus.

Information available about Fort Rucker, home of the U.S. Army’s helicopter school, provides an interesting contrast.  Fort Rucker trains current officers and warrants to become rotary-wing pilots in as little as 9 months.  The program may train as many as 4,000 student pilots every year.  It looks like each student gets over 200 hours flying a TH-67 trainer and 70 hours in simulators, before even beginning many hours of advanced flight training in whichever specific combat helicopter they’ll eventually fly.  U.S. Army aviation has over 100 simulators in use and dozens in procurement.