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Naval Air Force
(Aviatsiya Voyenno-Morskoyo Flota AV-MF)

Naval Aviation is a force of the Navy, designed for search and destruction of enemy’s combat forces, amphibious troops, convoys, separate ships at sea or bases; covering ship formations and naval facilities to defend from enemy’s air strikes; destruction of aircrafts, helicopters and cruise missiles; performing aerial reconnaissance; aiming at enemy’s ships and target detection. Naval Aviation is also engaged in mining and counter mining activities, electronic warfare, air transportation and lift, SAR at sea. Basic equipment of Naval Aviation is presented with helicopters of various designations. Units of Naval Aviation can operate individually and as a part of joint naval forces or in conjunction with other armed services of the Armed Forces.

Naval aviation is designed to destroy the forces of the enemy fleet on ocean and sea theater, primarily its rocket-and-nuclear groupings in order to disrupt or weaken nuclear missile strikes from sea and ocean directions, as well as to conduct aerial reconnaissance on sea and oceanic theater, providing the target designation to the forces of the fleet and the compounds and parts of other types of aircraft interacting with it.

Naval aviation produces search and destroy submarines, aircraft carriers and other surface warships and boats, amphibious troops, convoys and single transports (Court), airplanes and cruise missiles of the enemy; covers ships and fleet objects from air strikes; carries out mine operations and conducts mine action, air reconnaissance, electronic warfare; Provides guidance to the naval forces of the enemy of their strike forces and gives them a target designation.

In some cases, naval aviation may be used to destroy naval and air bases, ports and separate stationary offshore facilities, enemy oil and gas complexes; provision of landing of sea assault forces, special purpose groups and support of their actions ashore; suppression and destruction of enemy air defense forces and forces in the areas of action and other tasks.

The principal missions of Soviet surface combatants, attack submarines and naval aviation included the protection of the sea-approaches to the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact Allies and the isolation of NATO forces from reinforcement and resupply. Naval aviation has a functional division into the following branches: Naval missile-carrying aviation, ASW (anti-submarine warfare) aviation, Attack aviation, Reconnaissance aviation and Auxiliary air units (of airborne early warning defense, electronic warfare, counter mining, guidance and communication support, aircraft fueling in flight, SAR, transport support and ambulance aviation). Naval Aviation units are based in aerodromes and aircraft cruisers, divided into Shipborne and Shore-based Aviation.

At present, the main direction of the aircraft research and development is focused on refinement of all types of airplanes, increasing characteristics of speed, range and flight duration, fitting with first-order guided weapons, adaptation of electronic control systems and modes, automation assets, designed for precise process of information acquisition and handling, specifying direction for attack any targets with high accuracy; developing of tracking and detection assets, intended to destroy both surface and undersea targets, on new physic principles for increasing survivability and undercover capability.

Naval Aviation was primarily landbased; its main mission was to conduct air strikes on enemy ships and fleet support infrastructure. The importance attached to its antiship mission was shown by the fact that Naval Aviation has received almost as many TU-26 bombers as have the Strategic Air Armies. Naval Aviation also provided ASW and general reconnaissance support for naval operations.

In 1989 Naval Aviation consisted of nearly 1,000 fixed-wing aircraft and over 300 helicopters. The Naval Aviation fleet included 130 Tu-26 and 230 Tu-16 medium-range bombers armed with air-to-surface cruise missiles for carrying out antiship strikes. Naval Aviation also had 100 Su-17 and Su-24 fighter-bombers that provided close air support to Naval Infantry. Older aircraft in Naval Aviation's inventory have been converted into ASW and maritime reconnaissance platforms.

The Tupolev BACKFIRE was the latest bomber addition to the currently operational strategic bomber forces. Introduced in 1974, by 1981 some 100 were deployed with the Soviet Air Force, with a like number assigned to Soviet Naval Aviation, Production of the BACKFIRE continued at a rate of 30 per year. Most were based in the western USSR, although by the late 1970s the Soviets deployed a sizable number in the Far East. The deployment of over 30 naval long-range BACKFIRE B aircraft to the Far East since 1980 - in addition to the Air Force BACKFIRES in the region -- has significantly increased the threat to shipping in large expanses of the Pacific.

Moving an American carrier within striking range of Murmansk would also bring it within range of an extensive array of Soviet forces. A carrier battle group sailing as far north as Vestfjorden in northern Norway, for example, could come under attack by land-based Soviet naval aviation bombers-from 85 to about 250 planes in the Northern and Baltic fleets. At this range, Soviet bomber forces could be accompanied by about 270 Soviet fighters and interceptors in this area. And a greater number of Soviet attack submarines and surface combatants might be encountered this far north.

By the mid-1980s the roles and missions of Soviet Naval Aviation appeared to be changing as it became more powerful. Naval Aviation had grown by over 50 percent from the mid-1960s to 1980s, with a current force about 400 aircraft. The more dramatic changes were taking place in sea based aviation; the result being the construction of a large conventional carrier. Soviet Naval Aviation (SNA) anti-carrier role; the anti-Polaris/Poseiden role; and other developments were central in the 1950s and 1960s. Evolution of the naval doctrine culminated in the construction of the new carrier. Evolution and changes in military doctrine are considered as the rationale for these changes, including command of the sea and fleet defense. Land-based aviation was traditionally emphasized over sea based aviation.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the main challenge facing the Russian Navy and its aircraft, was to maintain its capacity, while avoiding a profound transformation. This era of ever-dwindling number of different aircraft, as well as the very limited financial resources, which are not allowed to provide adequate funding for even basic training of flight crews and flight service park. The commander of naval aviation proved unable or unwilling to initiate a realistic long-term reforms and to develop plans for the development of an organism hireyuschego naval aviation. Instead, they tried to find a temporary palliative solutions to solve problems with combat capability, which arose due to underfunding. In order to maintain a sufficient level of readiness of aircraft, naval aviation command allowed to extend as assigned, and time between overhauls aircraft. This caused a massive "cannibalization" of aviation equipment in order to keep the operational status at the level of 50%.

Modernization of the main types of aircraft in naval aviation was at a minimal pace, with no serious upgraded helicopter or naval aircraft had been received for service. With rare exceptions, by the late 1990s (when the latter was transferred to carrier-based fighter Su-33) deliveries of new aircraft was carried out; a small number of helicopters Ka-31 AEW was delivered in 2011 and 2012. [Probably the contract in 2009 to supply two Ka-31].

Naval aviation experienced a difficult time in the late 1990s - early 2000s. When lack of fuel drastically reduced combat readiness, which was maintained at the expense of skills aircrew received in Soviet times. However, the training of new crews was practically not carried out, resulting by the year 2001 the average age of aircrew exceeded 40 years.

Since 2009, all flight and units of each of the four Russian fleets were converted to air bases, which replaced the old system of individual regiments and squadrons, which in turn consist of aviation squadrons and units. Carrier-based fighter aircraft was reduced to a single organizational separate regiment of naval aviation - 279th OKIAP. The Staff of Naval Aviation in Moscow had directly subordinated the 859th Naval Aviation Training Center in Eyske on the Azov Sea. It is designed for retraining for new types of aircraft and in-depth training in the use of all kinds of weapons and tactics for all structures of naval aviation, as well as training of ground staff and its qualifications. The 7055th Air Base (formerly 46th Otap - separate transport aviation regiment), located in Astafyevo near Moscow, was responsible for performing transport for the benefit of naval aviation command within Russia.

By 2010 Naval Aviation of the Navy was experiencing a serious shortage of patrol seaplanes, which were actually is not funded. At that time, only the Be-12 seaplane remained in the ranks of emergency services in the Black Sea fleet. The other fleets have no seaplanes at all, they were all cut, because they were simply outdated, with the first planes of this type having appeared in 1963.

Further development of naval aviation goes towards improving aircraft, increasing the speed, range and duration, its automation, creation of search facilities of marine and land targets on new physical principles, as well as the development of high-precision long-range weapons with powerful warheads.

Russian Navy aircraft has undergone a difficult period of reforms. In accordance with the order of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, released in March 2011, the aircraft fleet in a short time had to transfer to the Air Force all missile-carrying aircraft of three squadrons of long-range bombers Tu-22M3, the main part of the strike and fighter units, as well as greater part of the transport aircraft. As a result of dramatic changes in the Russian naval aviation was focused on the tasks anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol, search and rescue operations, while retaining its structure in a single regiment of shipborne fighters and limited ability to perform strike missions from land airfields.

By mid-2011 Russian naval aviation consisted of more than 300 aircraft, of which about 130 were combat ready, so the alert level was 43%. For the most part the average age of the Navy aircraft was rapidly approaching the 30-year milestone, about half of the fleet released over 25 years ago.

Navy aircraft available in all four fleets - the Northern, Pacific, Baltic and Black Sea, in addition, there were several parts of central subordination. Each fleet had its headquarters structure of the Marine aviation, which is responsible for military training and supply subordinate air bases.

Assessing opportunities of reformed naval aviation suggests that it is still operational. Being armed with a number of combat-ready patrol aircraft IL-38 and Tu-142MK/MZ, naval aviation can show their capabilities as part of Russia's foreign policy, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, by demonstrating its presence, muscles and strength.

High political significance was demonstrated during patrol missions in the North Pole, when standing in front of naval aviation task of monitoring the environment and ice conditions, as well as monitoring the activities of foreign vessels. This was a direct consequence of the recent Russian aspirations by transferring its borders to the north in order to expand its control over the continental shelf, which stretches from northern Siberia to the mineral-rich and still undeveloped areas around the North Pole. This should allow Russia to establish control over large areas in the Arctic and naval aviation plays an important role.

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Page last modified: 29-06-2018 19:54:51 ZULU