With its current fleet of 3,000 warplanes and about 1,400 helicopters the Russian Aerospace Forces are second only to the US Air Force, Andrei Kots wrote for RIA Novosti.
“The all-new MiG-35 fighter jets will soon be added to the formidable force of Su-30SM and Su-35S planes, and the dated Su-24 frontline bombers are being quickly phased out by the all-new Su-34s,” military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Sputnik.
“The mass-production of the T-50 fifth-generation fighter planes is scheduled to begin before 2020 and we have dozens of new Mi-28N, Mi-35, Ka-52 and upgraded Mi-8 helicopters shipped to the Armed Forces each year,” he added.
Viktor Murakhovsky also mentioned the fast pace of modernization of such tried-and-true planes as the Su-24 bombers, which are being equipped with modern targeting gear making sure that conventional free-falling bombs hit their targets just as accurately as their “smart’ counterparts.
“Just five years ago we depended very much on Ukrainian-made helicopter engines, but they are now entirely built in Russia by the United Aircraft Corporation, which managed to completely overhaul their production facilities. The same with cruise missile engines,” Murakhovsky continued.
Tupolev Concern’s CEO Alexander Konyukhov said in May that before 2019 they planned to test-fly the Tu-160M2, which is a souped-up version of the Tu-160 strategic bomber and will eventually become the backbone of Russia’s fleet of strategic bombers.
Military transports remain a problem though, because such aircraft were mostly built in what are now former Soviet republics. Trying to cope with the problem, the Defense Ministry singled out four types of military transports the Armed Forces need most: the An-26 light, An-12 medium, Il-76 heavy and An-112 super-heavy transport planes.
“In the Soviet Union Il-76 transport planes were built in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but we are now building them here in Russia,” Viktor Murakhovsky said.
“Two or three years from now we are going to start the mass production of the all-new Il-112 to replace to old An-26 and in part the An-12 transports,” he added.
“Luckily, we are now able to build Il-76s in Russia. To a certain degree they can replace the An-112. We are pinning much hope on the arrival of the new Yermak plane, but when exactly this is going to happen we don’t know,” Khodaryonok noted.
"Yermak," the latest development of Russian aircraft manufacturers in the field of military transport aircraft, will have a lifting capacity of up to 100 tons and will be powered by a new engine based on the PD-14 turbofan, used on Russia’s latest MC-21 airliners. With a projected thrust of 30 tons, it will pack much more horsepower than that of the An-124.
Serial production of the Yermak military transports is scheduled to begin before 2024.