Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin made a variety of remarks to the media this morning. It’s not clear where yet, but it might have been a press-conference at ITAR-TASS. It’s the season for such things with Air Forces Day and MAKS-2011 just ahead.
At any rate, Zelin had a lot of information on the status of different VVS programs and plans:
- Army aviation will expand by more than 1,000 helicopters by 2020. The number of army aviation bases will grow from 8 to 14 during that time. He mentioned reestablishing production of Mi-26 transports in a POL supply variant. Zelin doesn’t sound like he’s willing to surrender the VVS’ hold on army aviation.
- Zelin mentioned getting 8 or 6 new Su-34 this year. ITAR-TASS gave both numbers, but we’ve seen six elsewhere.
- The VVS CINC criticized work on the Su-35, saying it has a number of problems. PAK FA / T-50 is going on schedule, but he wouldn’t say when he expects it to enter the inventory.
- On UAVs, some drones will go to the Ground Troops per a Genshtab decision, but Zelin says operational-tactical unmanned aircraft will stay at air bases under the control of military district commanders.
- Without mentioning S-500 development, Zelin talked about new Morfey and Vityaz SAMs. Morfey is a short-range system mentioned before as part of S-500. Zelin described Vityaz in greater detail, calling it an improvement on the S-300 with greater capabilities and 16 missiles per launcher. See ITAR-TASS for this.
- Zelin said there will be four S-400 regiments by the end of 2011. He said the second one, the 210th Air Defense Regiment, went on combat duty with it last week, so two more are expected. The CINC said the manufacturer’s had problems with the system’s long-range missile, but there is an understanding on how to resolve them. The Air Forces, he says, still want Almaz-Antey to build another production plant. Interfaks posted on this.
- The next 6 Pantsir-S gun-missile air defense systems will go to the OSK VKO around Moscow. Zelin said the first 4 went to the 4th Air Forces and Air Defense Command at Novorossiysk.
- Another flight demonstration group will be formed using Yak-130 trainers.
- Zelin expects to get a new A-100 AWACS aircraft, based on the Il-476, by 2016. He says it will have both air and ground surveillance missions. The plan has Genshtab and financial support, according to Zelin.