Putin demands more aircraft for Russian Air Force
Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded on Wednesday that the state program for arms procurement be adjusted to increase the number of modern combat aircraft for the Air Force. "I consider it unacceptable when foreign customers receive advanced aircraft from Russia, while the country's Air Force mainly gets overhauled planes built many years ago," the president said at a meeting with aircraft industry officials in Zhukovsky, near Moscow. In 2007, Russia's leading aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi alone exported about 50 Su-30MK2, Su-30MKM and Su-30MKI aircraft in addition to spare parts for aircraft sold earlier to Algeria, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Venezuela. According to the 2007-2015 State Armaments Program, the Russian Air Force is supposed to receive 116 new and 408 upgraded aircraft for forward-deployed units, and 156 new and 372 modernized helicopters in the next eight years. "I believe the State Armaments Program should be adjusted to increase the procurement of aircraft for national defense," the president said. Putin said that in order to meet the growing demand for aircraft it was necessary to continue the steady development of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). The UAC was established on February 20, 2006, to help overcome a crisis in Russia's aircraft industry. It incorporates many of the country's best-known aircraft builders, including Mikoyan, Ilyushin, Irkut, Sukhoi, Tupolev, Yakovlev and other enterprises in the industry. "Due to fierce competition among the world's largest aircraft manufacturers, the company [UAC] must establish its presence on global markets as one of the leaders," Putin said. "The UAC should increase its revenues at least five-fold by 2025." Also on Wednesday, Putin signed a decree setting up a national aircraft-building center in Zhukovsky.
Russian Air Force to receive new Su-35 fighters by 2011
The new Su-35 Flanker-E multi-role fighter will be put into service with the Russian Air Force in two-three years, the head of the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer said on Wednesday. The Su-35 is an advanced air superiority fighter powered by two AL-37F engines. It combines high maneuverability and the capacity to intercept air targets with ground and sea attack capability using both unguided and guided, including high precision, weapons. "I think we will start deliveries of the Su-35 to the Russian Air Force in 2010-2011. We are also planning to promote this fighter on our traditional markets in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America," Mikhail Pogosyan said. The Sukhoi said the price for the new fighter "will be quite competitive." "I am certain that we will be able to keep the competitive edge while reducing the price [of the aircraft]," he said. Pogosyan said the first prototype Su-35 successfully completed flight tests on February 18, and two more aircraft were being prepared for similar tests at an aircraft manufacturing plant in Russia's Far East. "The tests met our expectations; all systems performed in line with specifications," he said. According to Pogosyan, the Su-35 is the first step toward the development of the fifth-generation fighter and its electronics allow testing of equipment to be installed on future aircraft. "The full development cycle for the [fifth-generation] aircraft takes 7-10 years. We have walked a third of the road," Pogosyan said, adding that the first prototype of the fifth-generation fighter would be built in the next few years. Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), is planning to export over 40 combat aircraft in 2008, the company head said. In 2007, Sukhoi exported about 50 Su-30MK2, Su-30MKM and Su-30MKI aircraft in addition to spare parts for aircraft sold earlier to Algeria, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Venezuela. The company said on January 30 that its overall sales in 2007 exceeded 50 billion rubles (over $2 billion).
Belarus plans to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems
Belarus is negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 air defense systems from Russia, the country's defense minister said on Thursday. The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is a new air defense missile system developed by the Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. "The purchase of S-400 systems is being negotiated [with Russia]," Leonid Maltsev told a news conference in Minsk. Belarus submitted last year a formal request for two S-400 battalions to be made available by 2010. Almaz General Director Igor Ashurbeili previously said that S-400 production for export could start in 2009. Russia has already deployed an S-400 battalion to protect the air space around Moscow, and plans to put another battalion on combat duty in the same region in 2008. Russia has been reluctant so far to export its new air defense systems, but recent U.S. steps to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic may convince the Russian leadership to share the advances in military technology with allies in the region. The Belarusian defense minister said that although it was a matter of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Poland, the placement of 10 U.S. missile interceptors in Europe undermined the balance of forces in the region. Maltsev said the Belarusian army had been modernizing its weaponry and the S-400 missile systems would be a desirable addition to its revamped arsenal. The S-400 is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), or twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2.5 times that of the S-300PMU-2. The system is believed to have high capability to destroy stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles with an effective range of up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles), and a speed of up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second. A regular S-400 battalion comprises at least eight launchers and 32 missiles and a mobile command post, according to various sources.