Visit of the leadership of the Ministry of Defense to KnAAZ, August 2020 In the foreground is one of the assembled Su-57
As part of the current State Armaments Programs, the re-equipment of key branches of the armed forces continues. In these processes, special attention is paid to the modernization of the aerospace forces. Plans for the beginning of 2021 provide for the purchase of a large number of new aircraft and the modernization of existing equipment, as well as the rearmament of air defense units.
On December 21, a regular expanded meeting of the Collegium of the Ministry of Defense took place, the topic of which was the results of the outgoing 2020 and plans for the new 2021. During the event, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu indicated that in the new year more than 100 aircraft and helicopters of various types will arrive in the air force and naval aviation – both new construction and those that have been modernized.
More precise data on the types and proportions of new and updated vehicles have not yet been published. At the same time, there is information about the implementation of existing contracts and plans for new ones. This information allows us to present the processes of modernization of videoconferencing in the new year.
The first Tu-160M of a new construction during roll-out, 2017. This year it will be handed over to the Aerospace Forces
Of greatest interest are the supplies of the 5th generation Su-57 serial fighters. At the end of December, the Air Force accepted the first aircraft of this type, and the transfer of new machines is expected in 2021. The number of boards is unknown, but so far it will not be large. Achievement of high rates of production, allowing to fulfill the approved plans, is expected only by the middle of the decade.
In the recent past, it was reported that in 2021 the first Tu-160M missile carrier of modern construction would be handed over to the troops. In the same year, it is planned to launch serial production, due to which in the future long-range aviation will receive 50 completely new aircraft.
In 2020, the aviation industry completed several long-term contracts for the production of front-line aircraft of various types. During the Army 2020 forum, it was announced that these contracts will be followed by new ones. Already in 2021, orders are expected to appear for the next batches of Su-30SM and Su-35S fighters, Su-34 bombers and Yak-130 combat training aircraft.
The volumes and cost of such contracts have not yet been announced. Domestic media, referring to anonymous sources, wrote about limited quantities of equipment, no more than 30-40 units. These orders will only take a few years to complete, but it is not yet clear whether the first contract aircraft will be handed over by the end of 2021.
Experienced Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopter for Aerospace Forces and SSO
In the interests of the military transport aviation, the serial construction of the Il-76MD-90A aircraft continues. Last year, three such aircraft were taken into the air, and in the near future they will all enter the Air Force. In the spring of 2020, the Ministry of Defense and the Aviastar-SP plant revised the terms of cooperation, resulting in a new contract for the supply of 14 Il-76MD-90A aircraft in 2021-28. The first machines of this order can be handed over to the customer this year.
Several major aircraft modernization programs are ongoing. One of the main ones is the overhaul and renovation of the MiG-31 interceptors under the BM project. The current work is carried out under a 2019 contract, the implementation of which will continue until 2023 and will lead to a complete renewal of the interceptor fleet.
In 2021, the construction of several types of helicopters will continue under existing contracts. In addition, deliveries of new models of machines are expected within the framework of new orders, as well as preparations for the launch of new series.
One of the first Mi-28NM to be tested
One of the most interesting novelties will be the Mi-8AMTSh-VN transport and combat helicopters, which the Aerospace Forces will use to support the activities of the Special Operations Forces. Contract for 10 units. such equipment was signed at the “Army-2019”, and to date, part of the work has been completed. During the year, the customer will receive new helicopters. In the future, the next contract for an unnamed number of such equipment should appear.
Also at Army-2019, a contract was signed for the supply of 98 Mi-28NM attack helicopters in the period from 2020 to 2027. Last year, under this contract, two aircraft were built and handed over to the Air Force. According to the schedule, this year the industry will hand over three more. With the help of these helicopters, the army will work out the issues of combat use and train instructors. Already in 2022-23. a sharp increase in production rates is expected – for the implementation of a full-fledged rearmament.
Air defense plans
The process of rearming the air and missile defense forces as part of the Aerospace Forces continues. The other day, the Ministry of Defense revealed the details of updating the material part last year and announced plans for the new 2021st. So, in 2020, the Aerospace Forces received and distributed between the units four regimental sets of S-400 air defense systems, as well as 24 Pantsir-S1 missile and cannon systems. The first air defense system of the new type S-350 was handed over to the training center.
This year the first regiment re-equipped with the S-350 Vityaz system will take up combat duty. In the coming years, a similar modernization of a number of parts is planned. It is argued that the receipt of S-350 products will significantly increase the potential of air defense for several types of targets.
SAM S-350 “Vityaz”, transferred to the training center of the air defense-missile defense forces in early 2020
The production of the S-400 Triumph systems will continue. Industry will hand over two regimental kits this year. With their help, the obsolete type of air defense system will be replaced.
Acceptance of 18 Pantsir-S1 air defense missile systems is scheduled for 2021. In parallel with their production, the development of the updated Pantsir-SM complex continues. Perhaps the first order for the supply of such equipment will appear this year. It is curious that Pantsir-SM can be used not only in the Aerospace Forces. Earlier it was reported about the development of its modification for the ground forces – such an air defense missile system will be able to work as part of a military air defense system and cover air defense systems of other types.
At the end of November, it became known about the imminent completion of work on the promising S-500 Prometey air defense system; this will happen in 2021. In addition, it was reported about the launch of serial production of such equipment by the end of 2020. Whether it was possible to fulfill the designated plans is unknown.
Plans and opportunities
According to the plans of the Ministry of Defense, this year the Aerospace Forces should receive more than a hundred new and modernized aircraft and helicopters, as well as a large number of equipment for the air defense and missile defense forces. Such deliveries will expand the combat capabilities of individual units of the Air Force and air defense-missile defense, as well as increase the share of modern models – which will also affect the overall combat capability of the armed forces.
Complexes S-400 “Triumph” air defense formations of the Central Military District, transferred in 2020
Unfortunately, not everything is going smoothly, and the production of weapons and equipment faces various problems. There are objective factors and negative coincidences of circumstances that prevent the rapid and full implementation of all plans. So, the production schedule for Su-57 fighters was negatively affected by the accident at the end of 2019, and the pace of construction of the Il-76MD-90A still does not allow for a complete re-equipment of military transport aircraft within a reasonable time frame.
However, the interaction of the defense industry, represented by the mass of enterprises and the Ministry of Defense, leads to obvious positive consequences for the aerospace forces. State armaments program 2011-2020 for the VKS ended in success. The share of modern models has been brought to 75%, and now it becomes possible to reduce the rate of rearmament. This will reduce costs, but at the same time maintain and systematically build up combat effectiveness, taking into account new threats and challenges.
Thus, the processes of modernization of the VKS continue and give the desired results. It follows from the well-known plans of the Ministry of Defense that the new 2021 will continue this trend and will have a positive effect on the general state of the Aerospace Forces – and, along with them, on all the armed forces.