Russian Truths Department
Russian Military Expert On The Reform Of The Russian Air Force
From: 4threvolutionarywar, April 24, 2016, by Akira, from http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/9134.html
(Click to enlarge) From The Moscow Times’ Putin’s Way of Reforming the Army
– “On March 30, 2016, the Russian foreign affairs journal Russia in Global Affairs published an article by Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) and a member of the Public Council of the Russian Defense Ministry, titled “A Proving Ground of the Future.” In the article, Pukhov explains that the brief conflict with Georgia in 2008 resulted in a radical reform of Russia’s Air Force, and that the procurement of new aircraft was among the main priorities of the State Armaments Program for 2011-2020 (SAP-2020), endorsed on December 31, 2010. In 2012, when defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov (2007-2012) was replaced by Sergei Shoigu, the Air Force reform entered a new phase. In 2014, during the Ukrainian crisis, Russia began to build up the strength of its Air Force units by forming new combat regiments. With the participation of Russian military aviation in the Syrian war, the Air Force has begun to acquire significant combat experience.
Russia’s air operation in Syria is actually the largest engagement of the Russian Air Force since the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989), and is unparalleled in the history of Russian and Soviet aviation in terms of intensity of warfare. Pukhov writes that in the operation in Syria Russia suffered no combat or non-combat losses, with the sole exception being the Su-24M2 tactical bomber that was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter on November 24, 2015. This is considered a great achievement, especially when compared to the five-day conflict with Georgia in August 2008, when the Russian Air Force lost seven combat aircraft in four days and another four aircraft were seriously damaged. In general, Pukohov writes that the Russian Aerospace Forces (the Russian Air Force was renamed the Aerospace Forces on August 1, 2015) demonstrated an unprecedentedly high level of combat and operational readiness, despite the fact that their combat actions had only a moderate impact. Indeed, Russia’s air support for Syrian ground troops was not particularly effective, although this was also due to the fact that the Syrian government army had been slow to take advantage of the air strikes.
However, Pukhov notes that Syria is an excellent proving ground for Russia’s Aerospace Forces, where it can try out new tactics and weapons on a large scale. The Syrian campaign provided Russia’s Aerospace Forces with operational experience, which will result in further intensive reforms and increased development over the coming years. A further advantage for Russia is that so far the price has been relatively low. On March 17, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the official cost of Russia’s Syria campaign to be 33 billion rubles ($484 million). Pukhov also states that the attacks by sea- and air-launched cruise missiles against targets in Syria were not a military necessity, but rather a purely military-political demonstration of the Russian Armed Forces’ capabilities.
The following are excerpts from Pukhov’s article:
The Syrian Campaign Is The Largest Engagement Of The Russian Air Force Since The War In Afghanistan
Ruslan Pukhov (Source: Valdaiclub.com, May 30, 2011)
“Russia’s air operation in Syria is the most spectacular military-political event of our time. In its post-Soviet history, it is the first time that Russia’s Armed Forces have been deployed and extensively used in real combat conditions beyond the boundaries of the former Soviet Union. Period. The Syrian campaign is the largest engagement of the Russian Air Force since the war in Afghanistan, and is unparalleled in the history of Russian and Soviet aviation in terms of complexity and intensity of warfare and the remoteness of the area of operations.
One Of The Main Problems Faced By The Air Force Before 2008 Was Its Technological Backwardness
“The Russian Air Force became the centerpiece of military reform starting in 2008, and has changed profoundly since then. The reform was necessitated by a large number of long-standing problems in this branch of the Armed Forces. Organizationally, the pre-reform structure of the Air Force was formed in 1997-2000, during the previous large-scale consolidation and disbandment of regiments in the Air Force and the Air Defense Forces, which themselves were merged into one branch. The transfer of army aviation to the Air Force in 2003 had no major impact on the overall situation in the branch. By the beginning of the reform in the fall of 2008, the Air Force and the Air Defense Forces were a formidable power – but only on paper. The two branches had some 2,800 aircraft and helicopters and about 100 air defense battalions. In reality, however, the Air Force, like the whole of the Russian Armed Forces, was plagued with problems, and its actual combat potential was very low.
“One of the main problems faced by the Air Force before 2008 was its great technological backwardness caused by a 15-year-long hiatus in purchasing new hardware. Supplies of new aircraft and helicopters dropped sharply in the first few years after the Soviet Union’s breakup and decreased to zero in 1994-1995, so that even the youngest aircraft were at least 15 to 20 years old by 2008.
Structural Reforms Of Russia’s Air Force
“The main points of the reforms in Russia’s Air Force and Air Defense Forces in 2008-2012 were as follows:
“By the end of 2012, the Air Force and the Air Defense Forces looked different: they were much more compact and matched available resources. The reduction of Air Force personnel and a steep increase in defense spending helped to intensify combat and flight training, improve logistic support, and raise pay for the personnel. Finally, in 2009, after a 15-year hiatus, the Air Force began to be supplied, in increasing volume, with new aircraft and armaments. However, not all decisions made during the creation of a ‘new look’ for the Armed Forces were deemed optimal. In November 2012, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was replaced by Sergei Shoigu, and the Air Force reform entered a new stage.”
Russia’s Military Districts (Source: Mil.ru)(…)“
Kassander: This list here is a list of all crimes made by Anatoly Serdyukov, sacked by Putin, pardoned by Putin and rewarded by Putin, so not in jail, but elevated to state senior position (Wikipedia: In October 2015 he was appointed as an Industrial Director of Rostec State Corporation. His duties include supervising of all the company’s aviation-related activities from helicopter-building to airplane engines.) The same man who promotes sell-out or privatization of Helicopters of Russia (former post).
The list is point by point black on white litany of 100% deeds leading to destruction of Russian Army. Read yourself.
– “(…) “In 2013-2015, the main purposes of the reorganization of Russia’s Air Force and Air Defense Forces were as follows:
“In addition, in 2014, for the first time since the late 1980s, Russia began to build up the strength of its Air Force units by forming new combat regiments. This process was started in Crimea, where the new 27th Mixed Air Division was formed from several new regiments. Subsequently, several new air regiments were formed in other Russian regions. For the first time in almost thirty years, the Russian Air Force began to increase its strength.”
Procurement Of New Equipment
“The Ministry of Defense has signed contracts for the construction of 387 combat aircraft for tactical and naval aviation (12 Su-27M3s, 20 Su-30M2s, 80 Su-30Sms, 129 Su-34s, 98 Su-35ss, 20 MiG-29SMT/UBs, and 24 MiG-29KR/Kubrs) and 101 Yak-130 trainer/combat aircraft. Of these, it has already received 234 aircraft (12 Su-27M3s, 24 Su-30M2s, 56 Su-30Sms, 74 Su-34s, 48 Su-35Ss, six MiG-29SMT/UBs, and 24 MiG-29KR/Kubrs) and 79 Yak-130s.
“In addition, the Russian Air Force has received one new strategic bomber, Tu-160, and four long-range surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft (two Tu-214ONs and two Tu-214Rs).The most important priority for Russia’s combat aviation is the creation of a Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAK FA)–the T-50 fifth-generation fighter. Since 2010, five prototypes of the T-50 have been built and are now undergoing testing, and another four prototypes are to be tested during 2016. In all, there are plans to build 14 experimental and pre-production T-50 prototypes and 12 series-produced T-50s before 2020. Their mass production will begin in the next decade.
“In all, given the current procurement plans, Russia’s Air Force and naval aviation may have up to 1,500 combat aircraft by 2020. In the best-case scenario:
* “up to 130 bombers (16 Tu-160s, 50 Tu-96MSs, and 70 Tu-22M3s);
* “up to 820 fighters (12 T-50s, 100 Su-35s, 200 Su-30SMs, 20 Su-30M2s, 100 modernized and new Su-27SM/SM3s, 120 non-upgraded Su-27s and Su-33s, 150 upgraded MiG-31s, 36 MiG-35s, 50 MiG-29SMTs, and 24 MiG-29KR/Kubrs);
* “up to 350 strike and reconnaissance aircraft (150 Su-34s, and 200 upgraded Su-24Ms and Su-24MRs);
* “up to 180 ground attack aircraft (modernized Su-25SMs/Su-25UBs). (…)“
Kassander: Bullshit, pay attention to the condition – In the best-case scenario:
Problems Complicating The Reform Of The Air Force
“However, there are serious problems complicating the reform and functioning of the Air Force, such as:
* “Instability of the organizational structure in recent years, caused by ceaseless reforms since 2008;
* “Unconfirmed effectiveness of the existing structure, where the larger part of the Air Force is subordinated to operational-strategic commands (military districts). In particular, it remains unclear whether this may lead to regionalization of air power, instead of its concentration;
* “Unclear status and development prospects of the newly formed Aerospace Defense Forces;
* “Largely outdated methods of utilizing the Air Force at operational and tactical levels; lack of experience in conducting major modern air operations while meeting aggressive enemy counteraction;
* “Shortage of modern airborne weapons, which is likely to continue for a long time;
* “Weakness of modern surveillance and target acquisition assets–in particular, the absence of targeting pods in the Air Force;
* “Insufficient maturity of many new types of modern aircraft coming into service is likely to remain an issue for a long time;
* “A large number of outdated aircraft in the Air Force, which causes maintenance, service life, flight safety, and other problems;
* “Weak long-range UAV and attack drone capabilities are unlikely to be improved in the near future.”
Russia’s Air Operation In Syria
“The operation in Syria is of paramount importance for Russia’s Aerospace Forces, which have for the first time gained the experience of a broad offensive campaign involving different types of aircraft in coordination with ground forces and foreign partners (Syria, Iran, and Iraq). Equally valuable and unique for the Russian Armed Forces is the experience of deploying and supporting an expeditionary air group at a considerable distance from national territory.
Results And Assessment Of Russia’s Air Operation in Syria
“In general, the Aerospace Forces have demonstrated an unprecedentedly high level of combat and operational readiness and their capability to conduct highly intensive combat operations far away from Russian territory. The absence of combat and operational losses during the air campaign is impressive. On the other hand, the effectiveness of combat actions is rather moderate. Apparently, the attacks have inflicted less damage on the rebels than was expected, and the Syrian government army has been slow in exploiting the effects of the air strikes. The interaction between the Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian government forces on the ground leaves much to be desired. Russia’s air support for ground troops does not appear to be particularly effective.
“Despite the obvious progress, the technological level of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in the Syrian campaign only matches that of the U.S. Air Force during Operation Desert Storm of 1991. In other words, they are far behind U.S. and, generally, Western military aviation. Speaking of precision-guided weapons, in Syria, Russia uses mainly munitions with satellite-aided guidance. This type of guidance has certain limitations, including in terms of accuracy. KAB-500S bombs, which weigh 500 kg, and cruise missiles are often too powerful to be used against typical targets in this war. Russian aviation has few (if any) high-precision weapons for use against moving, small-sized, and well-fortified targets.
“Russian aviation is experiencing an acute shortage of target designation assets for precision-guided weapons. The only exception is the Platan electro-optical targeting system used by new Su-34 tactical bombers. Russian UAVs do not have target designation capability either. Russia’s Aerospace Forces still do not have targeting pods, which have been used by Western military aviation for the past 25 to 30 years.
“Apparently, the effectiveness of Russia’s combat actions in Syria is limited mainly by deficient reconnaissance capabilities, rather than by a lack of aircraft or weapons. Russian aviation urgently needs specialized reconnaissance aircraft, UAVs with a wide range of equipment and long-range capability, and efficient space-based reconnaissance systems. There is also a complete lack of drones with strike capabilities. Also, Russia has not yet sent its new Mi-28N and Ka-52 combat helicopters to Syria due to their insufficient maturity.
“Despite these inadequacies, Syria has become a perfect proving ground for testing new tactics and new weapons of Russia’s Aerospace Forces on a large scale. Russia has for the first time used its most advanced aircraft Su-30SM and Su-34 (and now also Su-35S), cruise missiles, precision-guided weapons, and UAVs, and practiced intricate forms of interaction between various forces. Russia’s Aerospace Forces are gaining rich combat and operational experience and the operation in Syria seems to have cost Russia relatively little so far.
“Whereas the short conflict with Georgia in 2008 resulted in a radical reform of Russia’s Air Force, the participation of Russian military aviation in the Syrian campaign will have even more far-reaching effects since the experience it provided is immeasurably greater. This will result, among other things, in more intensive development of the Aerospace Forces in the next few years.”
 Globalaffairs.ru, March 30, 2016.
 Themoscowtimes.com, March 17, 2016.
 The original English has been lightly edited for clarity.
 Crimea was annexed by Russia (from Ukraine) on March 18, 2014.“
Kassander: do not have illusions…