Imported Avionics Boost Russian Air Force Aircraft

 - September 6, 2013, 11:15 AM
Instructor pilots from the Russian air force Center for Type Conversion and Re-Training Center at Lipetsk airbase flew this formation of two Su-27s and one Su-34 at the Moscow Air Show. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

“Imported avionics” are being installed into Russian air force aircraft in increasing quantities, “to ensure that our airframers satisfy our demanding requirements for their new and upgraded products,” said Russian air force commander Lt. Gen. Victor Bondarev at last week’s Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2013). AIN noted last week that European aerospace and defense companies such as EADS Cassidian and Sagem showed a range of high-tech equipment at MAKS 2013.

Bondarev reviewed progress with upgrades to the Russian air force fleet. He said that 100 new airplanes and more than 300 helicopters had recently been delivered, while in-service MiG-31 Mach 3 interceptors and Su-25 attack aircraft continue to undergo modernization. Replacement of aging An-24/26 tactical airlifters continues with deliveries of Russian-built An-140-100 passenger airplanes embodying minor modifications. “We will have 11 such aircraft in the inventory next year,” he added. The Russian air force is modernizing its fleet of An-124 Ruslan heavy airlifters at a rate of two per year. The defense ministry has already placed an order for 39 new Il-76MD-90A airlifters and–Bondarev revealed at the show–is preparing a separate contract for “about 40” Il-478 tankers derived from the same platform. Furthermore, the upgraded Ilyushin has been selected as the platform for the next-generation Awacs aircraft.

Bondarev expects “the next-generation strategic bomber” (a reference to the PAKDA, Russian acronym for Perspective Aviation Complex of Long Range Aviation) to enter service at the beginning of the next decade. Referring to the PAKFA fifth-generation fighter, designated T-50 by Sukhoi, Bondarev said the prototypes “continue to undergo manufacturer’s trials and shall soon be submitted to the defense ministry for state acceptance trials, which will last for at least three years.”

At MAKS 2013, Almaz-Antey exhibited the S-350E Vityaz mobile medium-range surface-to-air missile system for the first time. It consists of a 50P6A launcher loaded with twelve 6M96/6M96E missiles featuring active radar seekers; a 50N6A multifunctional radar; and a 50K6A control post, all mounted on a BAZ 8-by-8 wheeled chassis. In production at the Obukhov plant, the S-350E has just begun firing trials in preparation for service entry in 2015.

Bondarev noted that Russian air defense units have received a number of S-400 long-range and Pantsyr short-medium range SAM systems as well as Nebo-M radar sets. On completion of state trials on the Vityaz SAM and the Container beyond-horizon radar, these systems will also be added to the inventory. Meanwhile, development of the very long-range S-500 system by Almaz-Antey will be completed in 2015, extending the reach of Russia’s anti-missile systems into near-space.