Tag Archives: Nikolay Yartsev

Some Cracks in Air Forces’ Stonewall (Part I)

An update on the Igor Sulim case . . . on Tuesday, Moskovskiy komsomolets’ Olga Bozhyeva reported there may finally be some pressure on the alleged extortionists.  Colonel Kovalskiy and one Captain Artemyev decided (in fine Russian tradition) to go the hospital to avoid arrest, but a former 4th squadron chief of staff and Kovalskiy relative, Mikhail Zakurdayev was arrested on July 30. 

Bozhyeva wrote about related crimes at Lipetsk including forgery and extortion from civilian workers receiving premiums to the tune of 10 million rubles.

She reported that, despite the Defense Ministry’s promise to check all units, systemic extortion of premium pay was only found in Lipetsk, Sevastopol, Syzran, and Michurinsk.

The case at the Syzran generated some media attention starting on July 29.  The press reported the chief of the helicopter pilot training center, Colonel Nikolay Yartsev, and a former training regiment commander have allegedly been “taxing” pilots five percent of their premium pay, taking a total of four million rubles from 43 officers last year.  The Saratov garrison commander has opened a criminal case against them.

According to Bozhyeva, military prosecutors say the command in Lipetsk is still creating obstacles instead of establishing order in the ranks.  It transferred a primary witness and Sulim ally — Major Anton Smirnov — to Chelyabinsk.  Another officer whose wife complained in a letter to the president was removed from flight duty for “poor morale.” 

Bozhyeva ends with an excerpt from Sulim’s blog where he says officers are quizzed several times a day on the most obscure military topics.  Failing the tests justifies not paying their premium pay.

According to RIA Novosti, on Wednesday, Sergey Fridinskiy announced that unnamed VVS Glavkomat officers have been held to account for violating the rights of Lipetsk pilots facing extortion from their own commanders. 

The Main Military Prosecutor apparently responded to queries from Duma deputies interceding on behalf of Senior Lieutenant Sulim.  Fridinskiy indicated his prosecutors checked on Sulim’s complaint that his rights were violated during the initial [Air Forces] investigation. 

The head prosecutor claimed, as a result of these checks, several criminal cases were launched, and steps were taken to prevent further violations.  The GVP also announced that:

“The officials, including those in the VVS Glavkomat, who committed them have been brought to account on the GVP’s demand.”

The GVP found that, in the investigation, no active steps were taken, and conditions were created for continued illegal activity by dishonest officers.  They obstructed the investigation, and pressured officers prepared to cooperate with investigators.

According to RIA Novosti, Sulim’s main antagonists, Colonels Kovalskiy and Sidorenko, were removed from duty, but continued to have regular, unfettered access to the base.  But the pilots and navigators who gave evidence were removed from flight duty and given menial duties.  Several times the command’s given Sulim tasks without informing him to provide the basis for reprimands for not fulfilling assigned duties.

The Duma deputies who went to Fridinskiy think the Lipetsk command’s dragging out the case and using “administrative resources” to pressure those who spoke out.  The deputies believe the Tambov garrison military prosecutor isn’t interested in closing the case, and to them, this means higher-ranking officials will have to be made accountable.

More tomorrow.

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.