Russian Military Aircrew Numbers Tumble


Senior Member
Sep 3, 2009
Aircrew numbers in the Russian air force are to be cut by 40% as part of a program that will see the service adopt a revised operational-command structure by year-end.

Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, the air force chief, unveiled the far-reaching plan last summer with the aim of transforming his service into an agile force capable of dealing with more diverse types of threats. Zelin says the new structure will consist of operational commands, air force bases and aerospace defense brigades (to counter aircraft and missile threats).

Existing air force and air defense armies will be replaced with four operational commands with headquarters in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk and Rostov-on-Don.

The other three organizations will be the long-range aviation command, formerly the 37th strategic air army; the military-transport aviation command, built around the 61st air army; and an operational-strategic command of aerospace defense (the former special missions command with responsibility for defending Moscow and central Russia). The last will coordinate its activity with the space forces, which protects Russia from ballistic missiles as well as potential threats from space.

Thirty-three air bases and 13 aerospace defense brigades will form the core of the renovated air force, which will comprise 180 units and commands instead of the existing 340. Aircrew numbers are to be cut to 7,000 from 12,000, while the officer corps will be reduced to 38,000 from 65,000.

As a result, hundreds of older fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft types will be withdrawn from service as the air force works to improve its overall readiness. The ambition is that by 2020 70% of the combat inventory will consist of either new types or upgraded aircraft.

Delivery of the Sukhoi Su-35S, which is based on the Su-27 Flanker, is due to begin in 2011. The aircraft will give the air force a multirole heavy fighter until the PAK FA enters service during the second half of the next decade. First flight of the PAK FA prototype—the T-50—has likely slipped into early 2010, although officials close to the development say the overall program is now progressing satisfactorily.

In addition, the air force will receive more production-standard Su-34 strike aircraft beginning in 2010, as the type begins to replace the Su-24M Fencer. Upgrade of some of the air force’s MiG-31Bs is ongoing.

The upheaval in the air force mirrors that in the army. Nearly 1,900 army units and commands are being transformed into 172 permanent readiness units and commands, while more than 20 motorized and tank divisions will be replaced by 39 combined arms and two tank brigades.

The changes will facilitate the air force’s being able to concentrate better equipped and trained units at a fewer number of bases, suggest air force sources. They point to Baltimor airfield near Voronezh in central Russia as one potential beneficiary of the consolidation. The intent is to develop the airfield as a major base with several runways up to 3,500 meters (11,480 ft.) long. Once completed, Baltimor will accommodate about 100 combat aircraft.

Other bases have absorbed aircraft and personnel from disbanded units. The military transport aircraft base at Migalovo, near Tver, has absorbed air regiments from Sesha, Smolensk and Krechevitsy. Transport aircraft types moved to Migalovo include the Ilyushin Il-76 and Antonov An-12.

The relocation of aircraft and personnel requires substantial infrastructure development and additional accommodation. The latter concern is likely the defense ministry’s most pressing issue.

Along with an anticipated 28 new-build combat aircraft and the same number of helicopters slated to be delivered in 2010, additional units equipped with Almaz-Antey S-400 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) are to be formed.

Notionally, a further five air defense battalions are scheduled to receive the S-400 during 2010, but Zelin has already begun to doubt whether this target will be met. The air force has so far equipped two units with the mobile long-range SAM.

Commenting on system *trials at the Ashuluk test range in southern Russia, Zelin suggested that while he was generally satisfied, the S-400 “still did not completely match the specification.” Exactly which elements of the system’s performance remain to be fulfilled is not yet known.

Moreover, delivery of the S-400 to the air force is being hampered by production capacity, and the defense ministry has floated the idea of establishing a second manufacturing site.


Russian Military Aircrew Numbers Tumble | AVIATION WEEK


Senior Member
Mar 21, 2009
Country flag
atleast now Russia is believing in quality then quantity.
advanced fighters then huge number of planes.

Global Defence