Friday, October 22, 2010

Russian naval aviation is in critical condition

Russian naval aviation is in critical condition, particularly the aviation units of the Black Sea Fleet, which may lose most of their fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in the next five to six years.There have been no public reports or official statements regarding the purchase of new aircraft for the navy citing specific figured or parameters, except for the announcement of the purchase of 26 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum carrier-borne fighters.Off-the-record comments and articles by experts indicate that Soviet-era Ilyushin Il-38 May and Tupolev Tu-142 Bear F/J maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft are currently being modernized.

Replacing ASW aircraft is even more critical. Russia now has an estimated 40 long-range aircraft, including 26-28 Il-38s and 15 Tu-142s in use in the Pacific and Northern fleets, while the Baltic fleet lacks any long-range aircraft.The Russian Navy also plans to overhaul its 40 ASW aircraft. But 40 aircraft are clearly not enough to police Russia's coast. Russia has the longest maritime border in the world, a problem compounded by the melting polar icecaps. Although the United States has 130 planes of this class, many U.S. analysts also believe their number should be increased.A good replacement would be the Tupolev Tu-204-P multi-mission maritime aircraft, which was developed on the basis of the Tu-204 medium-haul airliner. It resembles the state-of-the-art Boeing P-8 Poseidon, a converted B-737.

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