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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia’s Air Force commander sets out new plans

RIA Novosti

15:17 16/08/2011

ZHUKOVSKY, August 16 (RIA Novosti, Howard Gethin) - The Russian Air Force is proceeding steadily with its re-equipment program despite unresolved questions about funding and deliveries of equipment, commander Col Gen. Alexander Zelin said on Tuesday on the first day of the MAKS air show.

"The situation with funding is not totally satisfactory," Zelin said at the MAKS exhibition, which takes place every year near Moscow.

The T-50, the force's future stealth fighter project, will be delivered as soon as 2014-2-15, Zelin said, but industry experts claim that is a very optimistic timetable.

"That appear a racy schedule," said Douglas Barrie, an air warfare analyst with the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies.

The air force has received six of the new Su-34 strike aircraft this year, and expects to field 120 in total, he said.

Zelin said the air force recognized a need for a small, light fighter aircraft like the MiG-35, but "the Su-35 is our priority."

Long range aviation is receiving modernized Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers. A video on show during Zelin's news conference appeared to show the Kh-555 cruise missile, a version of the Kh-55 nuclear-tipped cruise missile armed with a non-nuclear warhead for precision strikes on conventional targets.

Russia's Naval Aviation has now received Tu-22M3 missile carriers from the Long Range Aviation fleet in a reorganization of its fleet, Zelin said, adding that exercises using the Navy's new aircraft were planned with the Pacific Fleet.

Regarding transport aircraft, perhaps the most neglected arm of the air force, Zelin said the force hoped to get its first Il-476 transport aircraft in 2013.

"It would be nice of course if it was sooner," Zelin said.

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