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Russian Aerospace Defence Forces (VKO)

The Aerospace Force is responsible for centralized control over the combat air forces, air defense forces, and anti-missile defense network as well as the launch and control of the spacecraft of Russia’s orbit group and control over aerospace. Following Vladimir Putin's presidential decree, the newly created force commenced combat duty on 01 August 2015. The current Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force, Viktor Bondarev, was put in charge of the new branch.

On 01 August 2015 President Putin signed Presidential Decree No. 394 on the appointment of commander of aerospace forces, Colonel-General (Victor) Bondarev, Chief of Staff - First Deputy Commander of Air Space Forces - Lieutenant General (Paul) Kurachenko, Deputy Commander Aerospace Forces - Commander of the Space Forces, Lieutenant-General (Alexander) head .

By December 2014 it appeared that the Russian Armed Forces would have a new service, the Aerospace Forces, an informed source in the Defense Ministry told Interfax-AVN. "All decisions required for the formation of a new service of the Armed Forces have been made. A formal announcement is pending. The Aerospace Forces will incorporate air defense forces and aviation which are currently attached to the Air Force and information and attack means and forces currently belonging to the Aerospace Defense Forces," the source said.

He noted that the Air Force will cease to be a service of the Russian Armed Forces. "Thereby the Armed Forces will have three main commands - the Ground Forces, the Navy and the Aerospace Forces," the source noted.

The composition and the fundamental structure of the prospective Aerospace Forces have been approved, the source said. "The new service will be formed in several stages over a number of years. During this period units and means attached to the Aerospace Forces will unify and standardize their complexes controlling information and attack systems," the source said.

The Aerospace Forces would operate a number of systems, including an aerospace attack reconnoitering and warning system, an aerospace attack deterrence system, a unified control system and a comprehensive support system, he said.

The Russian Aerospace Defense Forces (known as VKO in Russia) was to start operating in June 2015, VKO Commander General-Lieutenant Alexander Golovko said on 06 April 2015. The principally new branch of Russia’s Armed Forces will bring together VKO and the Air Force.

Russia added a new branch to its armed forces – the Aerospace Force in August 2015. The newly created branch merged the country’s air force, air defense, anti-missile and space forces under one command, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. “The creation of the Aerospace Forces by merging the air force and aerospace defense force is the optimal way of improving the system of the nation's aerospace defense," Shoigu said at a teleconference on 03 August 2015.

He added that the creation of the new branch was prompted by a shift in the center of gravity of modern warfare activity into aerospace. The minister also stressed that merging several branches would allow Russia's armed services, first and foremost, to concentrate all the responsibility for the shaping of the military and technical policy on development of the aerospace forces in one hands. Second, it would increase the efficiency of its implementation, and third, it would ensure the incremental development of the country’s aerospace defense system.

The current system of command and control and air defense military districts remained unchanged. The general management of air and space defense is still carried out by the General Staff, and direct - the main command of air and space power. Formation of videoconferencing by joining the Army Air Forces and Aerospace Defense is the best option to improve the system of aerospace defense of the country.

The unified leadership united: aviation, troops and missile defense, space forces and means of the Armed Forces. This allows concentrating in the hands of all responsibility for the formation of the military-technical policy for the development of the troops, the decisive task in the aerospace sector, and secondly, due to tighter integration to increase the effectiveness of their application, and third, ensure the progressive development of the aerospace defense of the country.

Russian Federation Air Force (RFAF) / Aviatsiya Voyenno

The Air Force is a branch of the Russian Armed Forces designed for aerial warfare. It's main responsibility is to support and defend the Ground Forces and Navy. This is accomplished by delivering strikes against enemy targets, providing tactical aerial reconnaisance, gaining air superiority and acting as a deterrent, and the aerial defense of the nation's major industrial hubs. Colonel General Alexander Zelin was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force on May 9, 2007.

Air Force (VVS) personnel operate all military aircraft except units that belong to the Naval Forces. As a part of the organizational reform aimed at increasing efficiency and cutting military personnel, the Air Defense Force (PVO) was merged with the Air Force in 1998. The RVSN was made part of the VVS and is controlled by the 37th Air Army of the Air Force. Starting January 2003 all Army Aviation Units also reside under command of the Air Force. The Air Forces also provided and trained prospective cosmonauts for the Soviet space program.

By the mid-1990s the air defense forces had a total of about 200,000 troops, of whom 60,000 were conscripts, with about 850 combat aircraft, including 100 MiG-23, 425 MiG-31, and 325 Su-27 aircraft. In 1989 the Air Forces had 450,000 personnel. By 1996 the Air Forces included about 130,000 troops, of which 40,000 were conscripts. According to CFE Treaty figures, at the end of 1994 Russia's air forces, including air defense, possessed a total of 3,283 combat aircraft.

According to the resolutions of the Security Council meeting of 11 August 2000, the major reform measures of the general purpose forces will be accomplished by 2006. By that time these forces will have over 800,000 servicemen, for a total reduction of 400,000 troops [possibly as soon as 2003]. The air force would lose about 40,000 under this plan.

In 1989 the Air Forces were organized into in three combat arms and one supporting branch [the Aviation Engineering Service], composed of air armies consisting of several air divisions. Each air division had three air regiments with three squadrons of about twelve aircraft each. The air forces were organized into four commands under the Air Force High Command. These commands are the Long-Range Aviation Command [Dalnaya Aviatsiya - DA], the Frontal Aviation Command, the Military Transport Aviation Command, and the Reserve and Cadre Training Command. The usual command configuration includes a division of three regiments, each with three squadrons of aircraft, plus independent regiments.

Frontal Aviation was the Soviet Union's tactical air force assigned to the military districts and the groups of forces. Its mission was to provide air support to Ground Forces units. Frontal Aviation cooperated closely with the Air Defense Aviation arm of the Air Defense Forces. Protected by the latter's fighter interceptors, Frontal Aviation in wartime would deliver conventional, nuclear, or chemical ordnance on the enemy's supply lines and troop concentrations to interdict its combat operations. It would be under the operational control of Ground Forces field commanders. In 1989 Frontal Aviation was divided into sixteen air armies composed of fighter, fighter-bomber, tactical reconnaissance, and electronic warfare aircraft.

In 1989 Frontal Aviation operated about 5,000 fixed- and rotary-wing combat and reconnaissance aircraft, which included 270 Su-25, 650 Su-17, and 1,050 MiG-27 ground attack aircraft. It also operated 450 MiG-29 and 350 Su-24 deep interdiction fighterbombers , in addition to the 450 that belonged to the Strategic Air Armies. The Air Forces used the heavily armed Su-25, first deployed in 1979, effectively during the early years of the war in Afghanistan when mujahidin forces lacked modern air defense systems.

Military Transport Aviation provided rapid strategic mobility for the armed forces. Its missions were to transport the Airborne Troops for rapid intervention by parachute and to supply and resupply Soviet forces abroad, and deliver arms and military equipment to Soviet allies around the world. In 1989 Military Transport Aviation had five air divisions, including 200 An-12, 55 An-22, 340 Il-76, and 5 An-124 transport aircraft. Having entered service only in 1987, the An-124 was the first Soviet transport that could lift outsized equipment such as main battle tanks. By the mid-1990s the Military Transport Aviation Command was organized into three divisions, each comprising three regiments of thirty aircraft. In addition, there were a few independent aviation transport regiments, including one stationed in Kaliningrad. Overall, the independent training regiments deployed about 350 aircraft of the Il-76 Kandid, An-12, An-22, and An-124 types.

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