By the 2020 year, it is planned to have two or three types of highly specialized aircraft for each combat mission in the combat structure of the Russian Air Force. Differing in price, new cars have almost the same features and capabilities. On the contrary, the United States and NATO countries are reducing the type to one or two universal combat vehicles.
The Air Force should receive 60 T-50, 120 Su-35S, 60 Su-30SM, 37 MiG-35 fighters, up to 140 Su-34 front-line bombers and 80 Yak-130 combat trainers. Army Park aviation 167 Mi-28N / NM, 180 Ka-52, 49 Mi-35M, 38 Mi-26T will be replenished, up to 500 Mi-8MTV / AMTS. Such large-scale purchases can not even afford the US Air Force.
Service and combat training
By the specified deadline, by the number of types and models of attack aircraft, Russia will come out on top in the world. There will be four types of bombers alone - Su-34, “clean” Su-24, upgraded by Sukhoy Su-24М2 and Su-24СВП-24 design bureau with Gefest and T sighting system SVP-24 installed. Fighters will become even more - Su-27, Su-27СМ, Su-27СМ3, Su-30, Su-30СМ, Su-35, and T-50, passing flight tests. There is also a family of MiG-29, which is replenished by MiG-33 and modernized MiG-29СМТ. In military aviation, four types of combat helicopters are the Mi-24, the Mi-35M, the Mi-28 and the Ka-52.
As the officer of the engineering service of the Air Force said, even now, before the start of mass deliveries of new types of aircraft, technical and repair services face major problems in the operation and maintenance of the already received ones. The 4-th center for the training of aviation personnel and military tests (CPA) in Lipetsk operates the old Su-24, the newer Su-24М2, Su-24СВП-24 and modern Su-34. If there is no problem with the Su-24, then the maintenance of the Su-34 is fraught with considerable difficulties. First of all, we are talking about radio-electronic stuffing, radar, aiming complex. Requires special spare parts, trained personnel. The same problem with the 7000-th air base, also received Su-34. For each system of new cars you need your own specialist in repair and maintenance, the representative of the Russian Air Force complained to "VPK". According to him, often new cars are out of order, waiting for representatives of the plant, since the ground technical services do not even understand which side to approach the car. “They say that Su-34 is very similar to Su-27 in terms of airframe, engines and electrics. This is not true. Completely different machines for which it is necessary to prepare their individual specialists in all components and mechanisms. Spare parts are not interchangeable, each type of machine needs its own. And this is only the first swallows. Su-30CM, Su-35, Mig-33 is still ahead, ”the specialist was indignant.
Thus, the diversity of combat vehicles can be a fatal blow to the ground services, for which the Military Training Center of the Air Force "Military Academy named after Professor N. Ye. Zhukovsky and Yu. A. Gagarin" in Voronezh should every year to release several hundred technical officers to service and operate new types of aircraft. In addition, it is necessary to create a stock of repair kits, engines, radio-electronic equipment. Given the impending heterogeneity, the performance of these tasks can be thwarted.
According to Andrei Frolov, editor-in-chief of the branch magazine Arms Export, the purchase of so many different types of combat aircraft, often duplicating each other, is an element of support for the domestic aviation industry: “The implementation of purchasing plans for basic aircraft platforms according to GVV-2020 will increase the cost of maintaining the military fleet -air forces of Russia. All this is done not to please the military, but to support the defense industry. An example is the unsuccessful attempt of the Ministry of Defense to abandon the purchase of the Mig-33 and replace them with the Mig-29, upgraded to the version of "SMT".
These problems have long been recognized in the main command of the Air Force. The fleet is aging by leaps and bounds, so there is a desire to update it at any cost. The industry has something to offer the military. On the other hand, problems are growing not only in maintenance and operation, but also in the combat training system.
“The combat training course, developed jointly by the 4-th center for training aviation personnel and military tests and the 929-th State Flight Research Center (GLITS), is based on the piloting capabilities of the machine, features of weapons and avionics. For example, if the weapons and the Mig-31 interceptor radar are sharpened for long-range interception, then most of the time is allotted for these exercises, and for the near maneuvering battle - by the residual principle. The same principle works in the planning of the combat use of aviation, ”the officer of the Air Force Main Committee specified.
For highly efficient combat use of the aircraft, test pilot GLITSa before the start of mass delivery to the troops test weapons and avionics on all flight modes in difficult and simple meteorological conditions, day and night, finding the optimal parameters. On the basis of the results obtained, the center develops a combat application manual for individual aircraft, units and squadrons, and then a combat training course. At the same time, according to the officer of the Russian Air Force, Su-35 and Su-30SM with engines of a variable thrust vector, have not even completed the flight test program with sophisticated radars. “The first Su-30CMs will soon arrive at the air base in Transbaikalian Domne. On this machine there is neither a course of combat training, nor a manual on combat use. Now in Lipetsk they are doing something, so to speak, “on the knee”. But the main thing is that there is still no understanding what the new car should do. Is it a fighter, interceptor, fighter-bomber? We do not know yet, and the car is already beginning to enter the troops, ”the source continued.
Last year, the army aviation encountered such a problem. Mi-35M from the composition of the center of combat use and retraining of the personnel of army aviation in Torzhok, sent to the North Caucasus, crashed in adverse weather conditions, having caught the mountain. The machine, sent on research flights within the framework of working out a combat program in the mountains, was alerted by ground command to escort a convoy. General military commanders can be understood: there is a high-tech tool, it should work. For bad weather conditions, the Mi-35M, equipped for flying in bad weather and at night, was best suited. But the crew from Torzhok only studied the possibilities of its radio electronics and weapons in the conditions of the mountains. In fact, the helicopter was not ready for combat flight. The result is a catastrophe and loss of life.
Today, the Air Force Command insists on upgrading cash combat aircraft. It is not necessary to re-prepare ground specialists for updated and re-equipped machines, to create repair kits for all components and mechanisms, for a combat training program. Application guidance is easily refined. But the industry is profitable to supply only new cars.
There are already examples of successful modernization according to modern standards: Su-27CM and CM3, Su-25CM and CM3, MiG-31BM. For relatively little money, the Air Force received good modified machines with modern onboard electronic equipment, updated engines. It took about a year to develop all the documentation for training and combat use of the Su-27CM and CM3. “Su-27 we already know well. Put a new radar, upgrade the armament complex for new missiles RVV-SD and RVV-MD and everything is fine. But to tinker with the Su-35, with engines of a variable thrust vector will take a very long time. First we need flight studies, which are now under way in Akhtubinsk, and then only work on combat use. By the most conservative estimates, it is not less than five years. As long as Su-35 is brought to mind, already the PAK-FA will go into a series and everything will start anew, ”a source in the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force estimated prospects.
Modernization and unification
Since 2010, the US Air Force has launched a large-scale program to improve its fleet. Waiting for the appearance of the newest F-35 US Air Force did not abandon the rest of the strike aircraft. F-15E “Strike Eagle” fighter-bombers received new sniper sighting containers, instead of refining the AN / PG-70 radar with standard radar AN / ASQ-236 produced by Raytheon and new aviation weapons. During the upgrade, the resource is extended twice - from 16 to 32 thousands of flight hours. According to the calculations of the US military, the updated F-15E will last 10 – 15 years.
In the spring of this year, the United States Air Force signed a contract for upgrading the SABR program to the 300 F-16 order, which was previously planned to be decommissioned by the newest F-35. The updated Vipers, which received new multifunctional radar, sighting systems, and before that equipped with new suspended sighting containers, the Sniper, became identical in their combat capabilities to the more expensive F-15E. After completing the modernization program, calculated up to the 2017 of the year, the US Air Force will receive universal combat vehicles capable of how to work on ground targets with high-precision weapons, and conduct air combat.
The British Royal Air Force went the other way, abandoning virtually the entire fleet of old combat vehicles. Until 2020, only Typhoon multifunctional fighters will remain, modified to attack ground targets and fight air defense, as well as F-35. Tornado fighter-interceptors have already been written off, and single-type fighter-bombers will hold out until the 2020 year, until they are replaced by the "Typhoons". The Air Force Command believes that for all occasions there will be enough two types of combat aircraft capable of performing the whole range of combat missions. The German Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force, which relied on the multifunctional European Typhoon, followed the same path. The French Air Force left in its fleet Mirage-2000 fighter-bombers modernized with the extension of the service life. European countries with a limited budget and some financial difficulties understand that for them a large, diverse type of fleet of combat vehicles is an unaffordable luxury.
“Now the versatility of combat vehicles is achieved by installing additional sighting, navigation and electronic equipment in outboard containers. Modernization firms extend the life of the machine, repair engines and make onboard electronic equipment, power supply systems and sighting systems compatible with outboard containers. An example is strategic В-1В, which, thanks to the installation of sighting containers "Sniper", successfully began to solve the tasks of hitting ground targets, ”said Anton Lavrov, independent military expert, author of books on modern air forces. According to him, sighting containers like the American "Sniper", LANTIRN, and French "Damocles" have now become an indispensable element of modern combat aircraft. “Due to the sighting container with a thermal imager, a high-resolution television system and a laser rangefinder, a strike aircraft can easily hit ground targets with laser and television guidance bombs from a height of several thousand meters. The price of one container varies from one and a half to four million dollars, which is an order of magnitude cheaper than installing the same systems directly on the aircraft. The container can be easily removed and replaced with reconnaissance equipment, converting a fighter-bomber into an intelligence officer, ”Lavrov said.
China, India, Indonesia immediately ordered the Russian Su-30 with sighting containers associated with the onboard sighting and navigation complex of the aircraft. True, all the containers were not Russian-made, mostly French.
Back in the middle of the 90-s, NATO countries recognized that a unified aviation fleet with highly specialized combat vehicles was too expensive and ineffective. But only in the middle of the 2000-ies, when compact radio-electronic equipment, navigation and sighting systems that fit in the outboard containers appeared, was it possible to implement the concept of a universal combat vehicle.
There is a problem
With all the ambitiousness of the program of re-equipment of the Air Force of Russia in the current version, it seems that it will not be able to radically increase its combat capabilities. Instead of unification and transition to universal combat platforms in 2020, the Air Force will receive hundreds of highly specialized machines for solving a limited number of tasks. Save the situation can only optimize costs and a partial rejection of the procurement of planned in GV-2020 combat aircraft and the modernization of the fleet of existing ones.
Irkut Corporation, which is actively working on the international market, perfectly understands global trends. The Su-30CM purchased for the Russian Air Force can easily become a universal combat platform, all the more so now, on the basis of the 929 GLITS in Akhtubinsk, tests are being conducted on a suspension sighting container developed by the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant, which should be completed in the near future.
Su-34 and Su-35 are a classic example of highly specialized machines. All the unique sighting system Su-34 now fits easily into a hanging container such as the American Sniper. Despite the declared possibility of using medium-range air-to-air missiles, the Su-34 is unlikely to cope with the air enemy. The KLA and the leadership of the Air Force have so far failed to clearly explain why we need an armored titanium cockpit that protects against small arms and artillery systems on a bomber that operates at an altitude of more than five thousand meters and hits targets with precision weapons without entering the enemy’s air defense zone .
The super-maneuverable Su-35, despite the statements made by the KLA leadership, still has limited capabilities for hitting ground targets, but the Irbis radar and a set of medium-range and long-range air-to-air missiles make it a formidable opponent for airplanes and helicopters.
It is possible to propose to abandon the Su-24 and Su-34 family of bombers as one of the optimization options for procurement, placing the task of attacking ground targets on the Su-30CM with suspended sighting containers developed by the Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant. Now the machine with such weapons is being tested in Akhtubinsk. A similar option is chosen in the British, Italian Air Force and Luftwaffe. They equipped a double version of the European fighter "Typhoon" with a suspended aiming complex, which made the latter a universal machine capable of being an interceptor and a fighter-bomber. Another way is to resume work on the modernization of the Su-27 fleet in the “СМ3” variant, but with the installation of sighting overhead containers. For a small amount of money, the Air Force will receive universal combat vehicles without long tests and fine-tuning. So do the United States, upgrading the park F-15E and F-16.