Russia will upgrade military airfields in Crimea to "first-class" facilities and operate them as it sees fit, Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev has said.
Interfax-AVN quoted him saying at Buturlinovka airfield in Voronezh Region on 12 June that airfields in Crimea, the region Russia annexed last spring, never belonged to Ukraine. "Essentially, there never were any Ukrainian airfields in Crimea. There were ones that temporarily belonged to Ukraine," he said.
"We shall bring the military airfields in Crimea to first-class condition and we will use them," said Bondarev. "We shall sit where we need to sit."
Modernization of Su-25
Another Interfax-AVN report on 12 June said that Russia would continue to modernize Su-25 attack jets. "Planes are already being supplied to the Air Force. We shall continue the modernization of Su-25SM3," he said.
He said work was under way to improve the range of the guided missiles and their accuracy as well as to install radio-electronic jamming equipment.
Oldest air force regiment to be recreated
Bondarev also announced on 12 June that the Air Force would in 2017 recreate the 899th Assault Aviation Regiment ("the oldest in the country"). It was disbanded under former defence chief Anatoliy Serdyukov. "The 899th Assault Aviation Regiment will be deployed here, at Buturlinovka airfield, in 2017 on Su-25SM planes," said Bondarev. The regiment will have 24 Su-25SM jets. Buturlinovka airfield is currently home to the 47th Joint Aviation Regiment.
On 10 June, Interfax-AVN reported that Russia’s Southern Military District had received Su-34 bombers. "The Southern Military District’s Separate Bomber Aviation Regiment has taken delivery of three more new-generation aircraft," the district press service was quoted saying. Another Interfax-AVN report on 10 June said the jets would be based at Morozovsk airfield in Rostov Region.
The press service said that the Southern Military District would this year receive a total of around 50 new and modernized Su-27SM, Su-30SM, Su-34, Su-30M2 and Su-35S jets, over 15 Mi-26T and Mi-8 helicopters.
It said that "in late 2013" the Separate Bomber Aviation Regiment received six new planes built at Chkalov plant in Novosibirsk. In May 2014, units in Krasnodar Territory and Rostov Region took delivery of two Su-27 jets and four Mi-35 helicopters.
A yet another Interfax-AVN report on 10 June said that three Su-30SM fighter jets had joined Domna airbase (Transbaykal Territory). They arrived from a plant in Irkutsk.
The Air Force had previously received 18 Su-30SM jets, in 2012-2014.
T-50 catches fire
In the meantime, Russia’s new T-50 fighter jet (also known as PAK FA and the fifth-generation fighter jet) may have suffered a set back during trials. One of the jets caught fire at landing. Interfax-AVN reported on 10 June, quoting the United Aircraft Construction Corporation: "Smoke could be seen over the right air intake of the T-50 during its landing at the Gromov Flight and Research Institute airfield in Zhukovskiy, near Moscow, after a routine test flight. Fire then broke out locally. It was quickly put out. The plane can be repaired. No-one was injured."
Four T-50 jets are undergoing testing at Zhukovskiy. Two more are going through "on-the-ground experimental works", said Interfax-AVN. One of them is an "integrated ground-based test bed", the other is going through "static testing".
Interfax-AVN said about the testing of T-50: "The aerodynamic characteristics, stability and controllability characteristics, the dynamic strength, the functioning of on-board equipment and the plane’s systems have been checked under the PAK FA testing programme. The testing of the optical radar system and the active phased array radar as part of the plane were in full swing. Positive results have been received. Mid-air refuelling has been carried out. Super manoeuvrability regimes are being worked on. Plane systems are being worked at on test beds. Experimental work is being carried out on the ground."
Two new air defence regiments go operational
On 9 June, Interfax-AVN reported that two new air defence regiments had gone operational in Moscow Region.
"The decision was taken after air defence units from Kantemirovskaya tank and Tamanskaya motor-rifle divisions achieved high results during a tactical training exercise with live firing at Kapustin Yar range in Astrakhan Region," the Western Military District was quoted saying.
These units were formed in 2013. They hit "all targets using the minimum number of missiles", the report said.
The units have Tor, Osa, Strela-10, Igla and Tunguska systems.
Source: Interfax-AVN military news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0739, 0746, 0800 gmt 12 Jun 14; 0944, 0550, 1301, 1214 gmt 10 Jun 14; 1312 gmt 9 Jun 14
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