Russian Commander Explains Air Force Acquisition Plan
Russian Air Force commander Gen. Alexander Zelin has elaborated further about aircraft acquisition plans under the country’s Weapons Program 2011-2020. His comments addressed the Sukhoi series of combat aircraft, as well as airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, airlifters and the Yak-130 jet trainer.
Zelin said that the air force will acquire about 60 Sukhoi PAKFA (T-50) fifth-generation fighters by 2020. “The T-50 is intended for air-superiority missions…and will be flown by first-class pilots only,” he said.
Zelin also said that the grand total of Sukhoi Su-30SM two-seat and Su-35 single-seat fighters to be acquired would be about 100. On March 22, Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Irkut president Alexey Fedorov signed a contact for 30 Sukhoi Su-30SMs for delivery in 2013-2015. This is the domestic version of the Su-30MK already exported to Algeria, India and Malaysia. State acceptance trials are slated for next year. As for the Su-35, a total of 48 have been ordered so far.
Zelin said that the Russian air force will acquire a total of 140 Su-34s. To date, 124 have been placed under contract. The Su-34s will allow for a substantial increase in the national nuclear deterrent force, and also be used for launching long-range missiles at maritime, land and aerial targets, he added.
The commander also called for additional Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced jet trainers to be used for preparation of Su-34 and Su-35 fighter pilots. The airplane was also selected as a platform for development of a light strike aircraft.
The A-100 AWACS aircraft that was announced last year will include additional functions such as maritime target identification and the control of UAVs, Zelin said.
The Russian air force wants “not less than 300 airlifters in different payload capabilities,” Zelin said. The restart of Ruslan heavylifter production is still being pursued, specifically the more advanced An-124-300 version. In parallel, the air force will be getting the re-engined Il-76MD-90A, which will also be used for special missions and aerial refueling.
Regarding the long-delayed Antonov An-70 joint project with Ukraine, Zelin said, “We have eliminated the discrepancies taking place before.” Antonov will deliver to the Russian air force for evaluation an improved prototype now being assembled. If ever approved for production, Russian An-70s will be assembled in Voronezh, from kits produced at the Antonov plants in Kiev and Kharkov.
Zelin said the service has selected the An-140-100 as a temporary solution for a light tactical transport. The commander also confirmed plans to acquire 100 Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTAs), being jointly developed by Russia and India.