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Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu has confirmed that President Vladimir Putin has signed the Russian Defence Plan for the period 2021-2025. Under this, the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) are to receive almost 100 aircraft and helicopters ahead of schedule by 2025, including fifth-generation Su-57 multirole fighters.
“For aviation equipment, it is planned to deliver 94 aircraft and helicopters ahead of schedule by the end of 2024. Among them, 22 Su-57 aircraft, the number of which will be increased to 76 units by 2028,” Shoigu said.

FELON Update

On 7 December, Sergei Chemezov of Rostec Corporation announced that the first serial Su-57 with a first stage engine would handled to the VKS by the end of 2020. After this, the first Su-57s featuring a second stage engine would be assembled in 2022. The plane has been designated “FELON” by NATO and is designed to destroy all types of air, ground and surface targets. It has a supersonic cruising speed, internal weapons bays, a radio-absorbing coating (stealth technology) as well as the latest complex of onboard equipment.
The Su-57 programme’s fast development will extend its export prospects dramatically. During MAKS-2019 the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan examined the FELON. The Turkish leader was accompanied by his Russian counterpart who offered the plane to Turkey due to the nation being excluded from the F-35 programme because of purchasing the S-400 long range SAM system. The Middle Eastern media recently reported that Algeria could become the Su-57’s first export customer in response to the US-Morocco deal on F-16s. Thus, Rosoboronexport, Russia’s national defence trader, placed the Su-57E in its Catalogue in both Russian and English on 17 November. The letter “E” openly confirms that it has received a so called “export image passport” which is a mandatory stage to permit the weaponry for export.

Bomber Status

Shoigu also announced plans to begin tests of the upgraded Tu-160 strategic bomber. Termed the “BLACKJACK” by NATO, this aircraft is called referred to as the Tu-160M missile carrier in Russia, where M stands for “Modernised”.  Last month, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) press service reported on the Tu-160M’s ​​maiden flight with new NK-32-02 engines from the Gorbunov Aviation Plant airfield in Kazan, 800 km to the east from Moscow. In 2015, Russia decided to resume BLACKJACK production in its modernised version. Apart of the new engines, the upgrade package includes:
  • new flight and navigation equipment
  • an onboard communications complex
  • a control system
  • a radar station
  • an electronic countermeasures system.
Earlier this year, Tupolev PJSC announced the completion of work on a minor modernisation of the first batch of Tu-95MS (NATO code name BEAR). Most of the work was carried out from 2018 to 2019 at the Tupolev facilities, including Aviakor Aviation Plant in Samara on the Volga river. During the first stage of this modernisation, outdated radio equipment and navigation systems were partially replaced with modern ones, which increases the efficiency of use and extends the service life of the Tu-95MS.
In March 2019, the VKS Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Sergei Dronov, reported that the Aerospace Forces had received more than 1,000 new and modernised aircraft and helicopters since 2012.

Russian Maritime Programmes

The Russian Navy has also benefitted from new equipment this year because the lead nuclear submarine of the BOREI-A project, the PRINCE VLADIMIR (armed with BULAV ballistic missiles and a modern complex of means of overcoming antimissile defence) was accepted into the Navy. In the fall of 2020, the Russian Navy also commissioned:
  • a Project 636.3 VOLKHOV submarine
  • a Project 22160 PAVAL DERZHAVIN patrol ship
  • a Project 22800 ODINTSOVO small missile ship

The latter is also equipped with the latest PANTSIR-M anti-aircraft missile and gun system, a navalised version of the well known SHORADS produced by the Tula-based Shipunov KBP Design Bureau, High Precision Weapons subsidiary. ODINTSOVO became the first naval ship being equipped with the Pantsir-M.

Yury Laskin