Appendix C: Russian Aerospace Forces

The former Russian Federation Air Forces and Aerospace Defense Troops merged to create the Russian Federation Aerospace Forces (VKS) in August 2015. The merger places former space and aerospace defense assets vital to strategic aerospace operations under one organizational structure.430,431 The Russian Aerospace Forces include four tactical air armies, which are aligned with the military districts. They also contain the

Long-Range Aviation (LRA) and Military Transport Aviation (VTA), as well as the Space Troops, which are not subordinate to the military districts but to Aerospace Command in Moscow.432 Overall manpower for the Russian Aerospace Forces is listed at 148,000 including conscripts.

The 6th Air Force and Air Defense Army (AFADA) is subordinate to the Western Military District, the 14th Air Force and Air Defense Army to the Central Military District, the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army to the Eastern Military District, and the 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army to the Southern Military District.

Russian Air Forces Air Bases433

Moscow maintains aviation units in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, represented on the map by the two fighter base symbols outside Russia’s borders.

Long Range Aviation: The LRA is the bomber force of the Russian Aerospace Forces and operationally subordinate to the Supreme High Command of the Russian armed forces. The LRA is tasked with long-range bombardment of strategic targets with conventional or nuclear weapons. Currently, TU-95MS aircraft are being modernized to include the Kh-101/102 missile system.434 The LRA has an inventory of 16 Tu-160, 60 Tu-95MS, and more than 50 Tu-22M3 bombers.435

Military Transport Aviation: The VTA is subordinate operationally to the Supreme High Command of the Russian armed forces and is the main provider of the air lift for Russian troops and equipment. The recent Ukraine and Syria conflicts have resulted in heavy use of the VTA forces, allowing pilots to gain significant flight hours. The primary aircraft operated by the VTA include the Il-76, An-124, An-22, An-26, An-72, and An-12. The various sizes of aircraft allow the VTA to support many different missions from VIP flights, to small cargo, to transporting tanks and aircraft. Additionally, these aircraft tend to have larger fuel tanks allowing for extended missions without refueling to increase efficiency.437

Russian Air Forces Order-of-Battle436

Aircraft Type

Total Number

Most Capable

Bomber

141

Tu-160

Fighter

420

MiG-29

Fighter Ground Attack

345

SU-35S

Attack

215

SU-25SM

ELINT

32

II-22 M

Airborne Warning and Control

22

A-50

C2

6

II-86VKP

Tanker

15

II-78 M

Heavy Transport

122

An-124

Training

198

Yak-130

Space Troops:438 These forces within the Aerospace Forces have the mission of conducting space launches and maintaining the ballistic missile early warning system, the satellite control network, and the space object surveillance and identification network.439,440,441

Russian Combat Aircraft - Fighters442,443,444,445,446

Fighter Aircraft

Entered Service

Role

Operational

Su-35S

2014

Multi-Role Fighter

SU-30SM

2014

Multi-Role Fighter

Su-34

2012

Multi-Role Fighter-Bomber

MiG-31BM

2012

Fighter Interceptor

SU-27SM3

2011

Multi-Role Fighter

MiG-29K/KUB

2009

Multi-Role Naval Fighter

Yak-130

2009

Light Attack Fighter-Trainer

MiG-29N/SE

2009

Multi-Role Fighter

MiG-29SMT

2006

Multi-Role Fighter

MiG-29UBT

2006

Multi-Role Fighter

SU-27SM

2006

Fighter Interceptor

SU-30M2/MK2

2003

Multi-Role Fighter

Su-33

1994

Naval Multi-Role Fighter

SU-27P/S

1986

Fighter Interceptor

SU-27UB

1990

Fighter Interceptor

MiG-29

1983

Multi-Role Fighter

MiG-31

1981

Fighter Interceptor

Developmental

MiG-29M/M2

2018

Multi-Role Fighter

MiG-35S

2018

Multi-Role Fighter

PAK-FA

2020

5th Generation Multi-Role Fighter

LMFS

Circa 2030

Light Weight Multi-Role Fighter

PAK-DP

Circa 2030

Multi-Role Fighter Interceptor

Russian Bombers447,448,449,450,451

Bomber Aircraft

Entered Service Role

TU-95MSM BEAR

2015

Modified Strategic/Tactical Bomber

TU-160M BLACKJACK

2014

Modified Strategic/Tactical Bomber

TU-22M3M BACKFIRE

2014

Modified Regional Bomber

Tu-160

1987

Legacy Strategic Bomber

TU-95MS

1983

Legacy Strategic Bomber

TU-22M3

1981

Legacy Regional Bomber

Developmental

TU-160M2

2020

New Build Strategic/Tactical Bomber

PAK-DA

2025+

Future Strategic/Tactical Bomber

Integrated Air Defense System

Russia employs what is considered to be among the very best of modem military integrated air defense systems. Historically, Russia has been a leader in developing technologically advanced detection and engagement elements. During the 1990s, Russia largely maintained its research and development programs for air defense equipment.452 During this period, Russia purchased very few of these systems for domestic use.453 However, the State Armaments Program of 2015, and the subsequent 2020 plan, significantly enhanced support for the purchase and employment of the newest and most capable air defense equipment including radar, surface to air missiles, command and control, and electronic warfare equipment. Concurrent to the acquisition plan, Russia continues to support research and development efforts in the air defense realm.454

The military integrated air defense system kill chain provides the framework for the Russian design, deployment, and command hierarchy of deployed air defense assets. The kill chain contains the seven elements that a fully functional Russian military integrated air defense system would employ in an air defense scenario.

To support the kill chain (outlined below), Russia employs redundant and overlapping systems.455

Russia employs its military integrated air defense system at home and abroad. The military integrated air defense system also plays a significant role in Russia’s domestic defense and expeditionary operations.456 Russia’s initial deployments to Crimea and Syria included the Pantsir and S-300 air defense systems. These systems allowed Russia to build an echelon-based air defense system in the Crimean Peninsula.457 At a later point in the Crimean and Syrian operations, Russia deployed long-range strategic surface to air missile systems in both countries.458

Russian Military Integrated Air Defense System Kill Chain

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

In 2008, Russia lagged behind the world in development of UAVs. However, the 2008 Georgia conflict accelerated efforts with initial requirements focused on tactical reconnaissance systems that currently dominate inventory. Russia has introduced a class of mini-UAVs for use by the military, but the most significant defense developments are occurring with larger, more capable systems for tactical and strategic use. Russia is also working on unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).461

Russian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles459,460

UAV

Entered Service

Role

Operational

Pchela-1K

2009

Tactical UAV

Zala 421-08

Grusha / Granat-1

2010

Tactical UAV

Zastava

2013

Tactical UAV

Orlan-10

2013

Tactical UAV

Forpost

2013

Tactical & Strategic UAV

Rubezh-20 / Granat-4

2013

Tactical UAV

Takhion

2014

Tactical UAV

Developmental

Orion/lnokhodets

2018

Tactical & Strategic UAV

Altius-M

2019

Strategic UAV

Gonshchik

2020+

Tactical & Strategic UAV

Okhotnik-B/U

2025+

Medium Weight UCAV

Russia’s fleet of aircraft is aging, but they are rapidly modernizing their air force as well as their air defense systems. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russia’s air force entered a decline as industry and operational units languished. Since 2008, however, the Russian Air Force and Navy have invested unprecedented financial resources toward airpower to include the upgrade anchor new build of approximately 700 combat fighter/bomber aircraft through 2020 to replace legacy systems.462,463,464

Newly modified aerodynamic systems in Syria demonstrate that Russian airpower has returned in limited numbers. Similar efforts with newly upgraded air combat systems have been used in the Crimea/Black Sea and Baltic regions with Russian expectations that provocative moves by the United States and/or NATO will be met with more capable Russian air power. Finally, a slowly improved strategic bomber force (i.e., Tu-95MS BEAR and Tu-160 BLACKJACK) is again using Cold War concepts to conduct international flights that impinge upon the sovereign borders of foreign nations.465

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