Tag Archives: Mi-8

Zelin’s Update (Part II)

General-Colonel Zelin

In his recent NVO interview, VVS CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin wasn’t as specific about transport aircraft and helicopter acquisition as about fighters.

He mentioned “reestablishing” An-124-100 and An-124-300 production, and said the Il-76MD-90A will fly in July.  The An-70 is moving forward with Ukraine, he says.

The VVS has settled on the An-140-100 as a light transport.  Russia will work jointly with India on a light MTA (multirole transport aircraft?), and Moscow may buy up to 100, according to Zelin.

Zelin concludes VTA must have not less than 300 aircraft.  That might actually be about what it already has.

The CINC says the General Staff wants VTA to be capable of lifting a “light” brigade anywhere in the country or abroad if necessary.

On helicopters, General-Colonel Zelin reemphasized the goal of 1,000 new ones by 2020.

He mentions getting about 100 Mi-26, or Mi-26T, heavy lift helos, as well as the Mi-8AMTSh, Mi-8MTV5, and Mi-38 (another Mi-8 variant). 

Zelin says little about the Mi-28N and Ka-52 except they’re complementary.  He sees no need to choose between them, but the former will be the military’s line combat helicopter.

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Air Forces Prospects

With MAKS-2011 underway, this is something of a moving target.  Before getting to the main topic, a little news from Zhukovskiy . . . some of today’s headlines. 

OAK President Mikhail Pogosyan told the press two more T-50 prototypes will join the development and testing program this year.  He expects more than 100 military transport aircraft to be bought under GPV 2011-2020.  Il-112, Il-476, and Il-76MD will come first, then ten An-124 in 2014-2015, and later a larger number of An-70s.  Pogosyan said, starting from 2011, OAK will deliver more than 20 combat aircraft each year.

VVS CINC, General-Colonel Zelin told the media he foresees five squadrons of Su-34 (possibly as many as 120 aircraft).  The VVS will have six by the end of 2011 and will get 12 next year under the current contract for 32 aircraft.

For Air Forces Day, RIA Novosti had military commentator Konstantin Bogdanov describe how he sees things developing for this armed service.  How he puts the Air Forces’ future picture together is worth a look.

Bogdanov says he sees, for the first time since the Soviet collapse, movement, a turnaround in procurement financing, and real deliveries of aircraft in 2011. 

Interestingly, he begins with the Su-35S.  Forty-eight of these “transitional” 4++ generation fighters will be procured, but there could be more if there is any delay in the 5th generation T-50.  Bogdanov suggests, even without a  delay, the pragmatic Defense Ministry leadership could decide to blend 4th and 5th generation technology and equipment in one aircraft.

Bogdanov maintains one Su-34 flew missions in the 5-day war with Georgia [has anyone seen this elsewhere?], then got its serial production go-ahead, and contract for 32 aircraft in fall 2008.  Modernizing the aged Su-24 is a backup plan for the Su-34.  Bogdanov claims VVS CINC Zelin has hinted that ALCM-armed Su-34s could go to LRA.

Some old Su-27s have been updated to Su-27SM, and even a few new Su-27SM3 — unsold to China — have been obtained.

RSK MiG’s future, according to Bogdanov, looks less certain.  Russia had to buy the defective Algerian MiG-29SMTs.  It’s unclear if the Defense Ministry will have any requirement for the MiG-35.  And this leaves MiG with the possibility of providing MiG-29Ks to replace the Navy’s Su-33 fighters on the Kuznetsov’s deck.

Bogdanov then mentions how Irkut has parleyed its export success into more domestic sales.  He says the firm has redeveloped its Indian Su-30MKI into the Su-30SM, and it may sell as many as 40 to the Defense Ministry.  Twelve might go to replace Naval Aviation’s Su-24s at Gvardeyskoye in the Black Sea Fleet [apparently these aircraft weren’t swept up by the VVS earlier this year].  Similarly, says Bogdanov, KnAAPO last fall sold the VVS four Su-30M2s, domestic versions of its Su-30MK2 export.

Turning to rotary-wing aircraft, Bogdanov sees stable order books for Russian helicopter makers.  The order books are balanced in terms of military and civilian, and internal and external buyers, and all sales sectors are growing.

He says by 2010 the military’s contract for Mi-28N helicopters reached 100 units and serial production of its main competitor, the Ka-52, continued.  Mi-8s have been bought by the dozens.  And the hangars and flight decks of Mistral helicopter carriers will have to be filled in the future.

Bogdanov concludes more than 100 helicopters of all types may be procured before the end of 2011.  He repeats the familiar goal of 1,000 new helicopters by 2020, and says the near-term future for this sector looks good.

Bogdanov sees more clouds in military transport development and production.  Il-476 production at Ulyanovsk still needs to stand up, and Zelin’s already announced that a new A-100 AWACS will be based on it.  Restarting An-124 production and buying the An-70 from Ukraine are possibilities with details to be worked out.

Focused on platforms, Bogdanov gives short shrift to organizational and human aspects of VVS development.  He notes the Air Forces are completing the change from mission-oriented air armies and divisions to territorial composite or mixed formations (air bases), and he briefly mentions scandals over the handling of “order 400” premium pay.  But he concludes:

“In coming years we’ll see more than a few painful symptoms in the VVS, both strictly aviation-related and internal, and those connected to the general background of difficult transformations of the country’s armed forces.  Let there be pains, but let them be growing pains.”

VVS Taking VMF’s Land-Based Fighters and Bombers

Vesti.ru has rebroadcast Interfaks information from a Main Navy Staff source who says, on 1 April, Naval Aviation (VMA) will begin transferring its land-based fighter and bomber aircraft to the Air Forces (VVS).

By year’s end, the VVS will get the Navy’s remaining Su-27 fighters, MiG-31 fighter-interceptors, long-range Tu-22 [sic] supersonic bombers, and also part of the VMA’s transport aircraft.

Russian Naval Aviation Tu-22M3

The Interfaks report will probably get garbled into all aircraft, or all land-based aircraft, going to VVS, which is not the case, as it makes its way into other Russian and English language news stories.

VMA will retain control of its Il-38, Tu-142, and Be-12 ASW aircraft, and its deck-based aircraft, the Su-33 fighter and Ka-27 helicopters, according to the Interfaks source. 

According to the Vesti.ru article, missile-carrying naval aviation has deteriorated since the Soviet collapse, and only the Northern and Pacific Fleets have long-range ASW aircraft which, it claims, amount to only 25 Il-38 and 15 Tu-142.  It says the Baltic Fleet has no ASW aircraft, and the Black Sea Fleet only four old Be-12 likely to be completely worn out by 2015.

The article notes that the Su-33, Su-25UTG trainer, multipurpose Ka-27 and Ka-29 combat-transport helicopters will remain in the air wing of heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov.  There are reported plans to procure 26 MiG-29K fighters for Kuznetsov.

Here’s a nicely done, data-filled Russian language Wiki article on Russian Naval Aviation.

VMA lost something else recently.  A BMW-X5 used by VMA Chief, General-Colonel Igor Khozhin was stolen in Moscow on Friday, according to Interfaks.

ITAR-TASS also reported Friday that more than 80 RVSN aircraft — An-72, An-26, and Mi-8 helicopters — will also be going over to the VVS starting on 1 April.

Training Helo Pilots at Syzran

 

SVVAUL Cadet in a Simulator

Krasnaya zvezda often profiles parts of the Russian military, and on 30 July, it interviewed the Chief of the Syzran Higher Military Aviation School for Pilots (SVVAUL or СВВАУЛ), Colonel Nikolay Yartsev.  Yartsev is a 1984 graduate of the school, a Hero of the Russian Federation, an Honored Military Pilot of the RF, and Pilot-Sniper.

SVVAUL is Russia’s sole higher military educational institution for helicopter pilot training.  In its various incarnations, it’s existed for 70 years.  It trains helicopter pilots for the Air Forces, Navy, and other ‘power’ ministries and departments.  It’s a 5-year commissioning school, so some of the initial two years isn’t particularly specific to helicopter training. 

Asked if the current level of cadet training in the school meets the demands of the time, Yartsev points out that SVVAUL is accredited through 2012 and fulfills the ‘state order’ for military specialists in helicopter aviation.  It is fully staffed with professors and instructors; more than half have scholarly credentials.  All have great teaching experience, and many have not only years of service in operational forces, but also long combat experience.

Yartsev goes on to say SVVAUL can train 1,500 cadets simultaneously.  Its faculties have displays, mock-ups, and examples of weapons and equipment that support the practical direction of student training.

Yartsev says, thanks to the Air Forces, two years ago the school got a modern Mi-24 simulator, and this year an even more modern one.  It’s supposed to get two more simulators, a KT-24P and Mi-8.

The school has an 8-hectare field training base including 3 airfields for its 3 training-helicopter regiments.  In their third year, cadets learn to fly the Mi-2U, and SVVAUL is preparing to switch to the Ansat-U for primary training.

In their fourth and fifth years, students fly Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters.  They get 35 hours as pilot and 10 as pilot-navigator (operator) in this phase of training.  Yartsev says in 2009 the average cadet graduated with 135 flight hours, but a few got about 250 hours along with their third class pilot’s qualification.

Yartsev describes the Russian helicopter pilots’ experience in the Afghan war.  He says the USSR lost 333 helicopters and hundreds of pilots and crew members.  Twelve SVVAUL graduates became Heroes of the Soviet Union.  Thirty became Heroes of the Russian Federation while in combat in the North Caucasus.

Information available about Fort Rucker, home of the U.S. Army’s helicopter school, provides an interesting contrast.  Fort Rucker trains current officers and warrants to become rotary-wing pilots in as little as 9 months.  The program may train as many as 4,000 student pilots every year.  It looks like each student gets over 200 hours flying a TH-67 trainer and 70 hours in simulators, before even beginning many hours of advanced flight training in whichever specific combat helicopter they’ll eventually fly.  U.S. Army aviation has over 100 simulators in use and dozens in procurement.

Shamanov Wants Aviation Back

VDV Commander General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov told ITAR-TASS today that the airborne troops need their organic light transport aviation back because its absence is complicating their training.  He says:

“The results of the air-assault training of the VDV in the first quarter of this year show that the transfer of light aviation to the Air Forces is stalling the system.”

As an example of this, Shamanov said light aviation fulfilled only 60 percent of planned jump training at the VDV’s Omsk Training Center.  He said its commander has asked to continue jumps until 7 May.

Shamanov said the VVS ban on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday flights was making the VDV a hostage.  He continues:

“We’ve already had cases.  The VVS command allocated one helicopter each for jumps by our Spetsnaz and communications regiments near Moscow.  However in practice it turned out that the regiment having clear priority, the Spetsnaz regiment, could use the helicopter coming from Levashovo in Leningrad Oblast for jumps in all for only a half day out of five for purely aviation reasons, at the same time as the second, communications regiment, with the other helicopter coming from Ryazan, jumped for a full week.”

“We’ve sent the Genshtab our proposals to create organic sub-units of light aviation in the VDV.  Unfortunately, there’s no hope for them since no answer has been received from the  Genshtab, but we will continue to assert our position.” 

A VDV spokesman said last year, when they still belonged to the VDV, An-2s supported 140,000 jumps in combat training, and the VVS’ Il-76 medium military transport aircraft only 35,000.

The VDV’s light transport force had 7 squadrons of Mi-8 helicopters and An-2 and An-3 aircraft and three airfields until the General Staff Chief’s 1 January directive transferred them to the VVS.

Shamanov also repeated his past calls for each of his three air-assault formations to have its own regiment of 20 combat and 40 transport helicopters.  He said a proposal to this effect is being prepared.  An interlocutor told ITAR-TASS:

“Having organic helicopter regiments in the VDV’s air-assault formations undoubtedly would raise their air-mobility, fire power, responsiveness of command and control in combat conditions, and in the course of combat training.  So the formation commander, who gets a helicopter regiment, could independently, when he considers it necessary, without turning to the VVS command, decide to have air-assault training for personnel including helicopter jumps.”  

Recall the early January Genshtab directive that transferred all aviation units in other services and arms, with the exception of RVSN, to the VVS. 

Shamanov’s complaint and appeal for a change is interesting.  He isn’t one to be afraid to demand special treatment.  He warded off the change from divisions to brigades in 2009.  

Shamanov last publicly lobbied for an upgraded VDV rotary wing component, both attack and transport helicopters, in late 2009.  The Ground Troops would also like army aviation, which they lost to the VVS in 2002, returned to them.  ITAR-TASS noted that former Ground Troops CINC Army General Boldyrev said as much last September.  He wanted helicopter regiments for air-assault brigades that belong to the military districts.

The organic aviation issue will be another place to watch for a possible policy about-face.