Military aircraft and aircraft weaponry are traditionally viewed as one of the hubs, where the most important achievements of science, technology, and engineering thought are concentrated, whereas the state of the complex of enterprises and organizations relating to aviation, as well as the bodies vested with the management of such enterprises and organizations is the embodiment of the successfulness of development of any country (state), or a commonwealth of countries (states).
Prior to the moment of its collapse, the USSR had been a member of a small group of states disposing of possibilities to develop the aircraft sectors of their economies across all types of flying vehicles independently. Had these opportunities been used rationally Unfortunately, they had been not. Evidence of this is, for instance, the fact that the types of domestically manufactured aircraft, especially military planes, had been extremely wide. For instance, from one of the most authoritative reference books on aviation9 there may be found out 76 different types of aircraft and helicopters of Soviet manufacture and only 54 produced in the USA, whereas all other state account for only 45 types of aircraft.
As concerns the indicators characterizing the performance of combat flying vehicles (FV), in the majority of the cases military FV manufactured in the USSR answered the international standard, they were as good, and sometimes better, as their foreign counterparts. Evidence of this is the fact that Russian military aircraft are still in demand on the world market.
The types of civil aircraft built in the USSR were less diverse. However, it should be noted that the performance characteristics of civil plains, especially the level of comfort, were inferior in comparison with foreign FV. This fact is not accidental, since it just confirms the priority orientation of the USSR leadership towards military aviation and disregard of the needs of civilian customers.
Over 15 years of its recent history, the modern Russia, which in many aspects has become the successor of the USSR, has wasted the capacities and opportunities inherited by it. Apparent evidence of this fact is a number of diagrams and tables reflecting the dynamics of the numbers of piloted military FV of different types in the Russian Federation. We have based our analysis of the aggregate data on the figures presented in the annual publications by the London International Institute for Strategic Studies10 (IISS). The data presented in this publication are reliable, since they are systemized, are regularly replenished by a group of international experts, who take into account the results of the ongoing international arms control and implicitly – the information obtained by intelligence agencies. It should be reminded that the modern technical reconnaissance equipment permits to monitor the numbers of large FV without error.
Figure 1 presents the dynamics of the numbers of strategically important Russian military long range aircraft: missile carrier bombers Tu – 95 and Tu – 160, medium range bomber aircraft Tu – and Tu – 22M of different modifications. At the same time, the Figure presents long range aircraft of the Russian Navy (reconnaissance and anti-submarine planes Tu – 142), airborne heavy early warning and control aircraft A – 50, and airborne tanker aircraft Mya – 4 and Il – 78. Over the 14 years of exis Voyennaya aviatsiya (Military Aircraft). Book 1. – Mn. OOO “Popurri,” 2000. – 512 pp.
The Military Balance. IISS. 1991-1992 … 2005-2006.
tence of the Russian Armed Forces, the obsolete bombers Tu – 16 and Tu – 22, as well as airborne tanker aircraft Mya – 4 were phased out of service.
TU-TU-TU-TU-22M TU-TU-MYA-IL-A-50(IL-76) 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Yars Fig. 1. Dynamics of military strategic aircraft Ан-Ан-Ан-Il-76 M/MD Navy An-12, 24, Border Guards An-24, 26, 72, Il-76, T u-134, Yak40, SM-1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Yars Fig. 2. Dynamics of military transport and transport passenger aircraft.
Figure 2 presents the dynamics of the number of airplanes of the military transport aircraft. The airplanes belonging to this group are rather well unified with civil transport aviation. The distribution of aircraft across types is only an approximation, since IISS publications present the data on the Russian Navy aviation as aggregately classified into three types (An – 12, An – 24, and An – 26), whereas the aircraft of the Russian Border Guards Service are classified into 7 types (An – 12, An – 26, An – 72, Il – 76, Tu – 134, Yak – 40, and SM – 92P). The classification across all types of FV was carried out only with respect to the military transport aviation of the Russian Air Force. However, exactly these aircraft make the bulk of the whole military transport aviation of the Russian Federation. Yet another Number Number remark concerns the period of the degradation of the military organization of the Russian Federation, as well as the eve of the crisis of 1998, when the evaluations of the numbers of FV were rather inaccurate. Therefore, the Figure “rectifies” the dependencies pertaining to the period from 1994 till 1999. It should be also noted that the Figure does not present passenger and other transport aircraft inherited by the Russian Federation after the collapse of the USSR Air Force. In 1992, by estimates the number of such airplanes exceeded 1200 flying vehicles; however, (after the privatization epic), the military organization of the RF could retain only Tu – 134 planes, the number of which dropped to 30 aircraft, and An – 14.
Figure 3 illustrates the number of military aircraft of the theater and tactical aviation. It should be noted that due to a number of reasons they are least related to the development of civil aviation.
Su-Su-Su-MiG-Su-Su-Su-Su-MiG-MiG-MiG-MiG-MiG-1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Yars Fig. 3. Piloted aircraft designated for the theater and tactical missions Combat (Mi, Ka) ) Transport (Mi, Ka) Navy helicopters (Mi, Ka) 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Yars Fig. 4. Dynamics of the number of military helicopters Number Number At last, Figure 4 presents the dynamics of the numbers of military helicopters (combat, transport and combat, transport, and different types of special purpose helicopters) without indicating specific types of these FV. As a rule, the degree of unification of these flying vehicles with civil helicopters is rather high.
The general conclusion, which can be derived from this analysis, is apparent: the number of military FV has dropped dramatically; there are no new types of FV in service, whereas the aircraft remaining operational are obsolete. It should be reminded that the dynamics of the numbers of FV illustrated by Figures above are based the data presented in foreign publications. However, these data in general correspond to the estimates of well informed domestic experts, for instance, the RF State Duma Defense Committee11. The data presented by the Committee look as follows: in the period from 1999 till 2003, the RF Air Forces did receive no new aircraft at all. While in 2003 the Air Forces disposed of 5.1 thousand planes and 1.8 thousand helicopters, at present the total stock of aircraft makes 5.6 thousand FV, and in 5 years, in the case the present rates of replenishing persist, there will remain only about 2 thousand planes and 600 helicopters.
It should be noted that the estimates of the numbers of military FV as presented by representatives of the RF State Duma do not correspond with the data published by the IISS. However, it should be reminded that, first, statements made by RF State Duma deputies were not quite official ones; second, it may be assumed that deputies took into account the planes, which had been decommissioned and transferred to the storage bases and not destroyed until now; and, third, there may not be excluded the instances, where planes could just “vanish.” It should be noted in the Russian Federation that there has not been carried out any non-departmental inventory of military stocks as yet.
The situation in the aircraft industry does not look much better. Two hundred ninety three major enterprises of the aircraft industry having come through the period of economic reforms are based on obsolete technologies12, whereas the average age of more than 500 thousand of their employees is critically high (over 50 years). Only the enterprises manufacturing products for exports are in a satisfactory financial situation.
However, in spite of all the facts discussed above, Russia has retained certain capacities and, what is most important thing, the wish to remain one of the leading states in the sphere of aviation. There are necessary objective prerequisites and real needs, which are determined in particular by the following factors: the size of its territory, which should be serviced and, if necessary, defended; the place Russia occupies on the crossing of international cargo and passenger flows; terrain and climate difficulties encountered as concerns the development of land and river transport. At the same time, Russia is endowed with enormous reserves of own energy resources, what permits in contradistinction to energy dependent countries to make air transport profitable and the Air Forces, as a branch of Armed Forces – feasible.
The Russian Federation has many times attempted to reorient this industry, the major part of which had been considered without regard of civilian needs, as a part of the defense and industrial complex (DIC), to demilitarize it, and to make it adequate to the new economic and political realities and objectives of development (these attempts have been alternatively defined as conversion, reform, or restructuring); however, all these attempts have failed. According to Yu. Koptev13, the head of the DIC Department, “today, the total utilization of the enterprises of the defense sector makes less than 30 per cent, whereas the share of the government’s defense order makes from 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the total utilization.” Even successful enterprises are underutilized. For instance, the plant situated in Komsomolsk-na-Amure, which has the capacity to manufacture more than 80 planes of Su 27 type a year, produced 21 combat aircraft in 1999, all of which were exported. Further, the bulk of production of planes of this type was registered to be at the same level; all ready aircraft were exported on the orders of China and India.
N. Gafutulin. Oborona togo stoit (Defense is worth of that). KZ No. 39 of March 10, 2006.
V. Ivanov. Samoletostroyeniye podkhvatit yedinyi finansovyi potok (A single financial flow will carry the aircraft manufacture). NVO No. 7 of March 16, 2006..
A. Garavsky. OPK: starye problemy i novye zadachi (Defense and military complex (DMC): old problems and new tasks). KZ No. 24 of February 11, 2006.
As concerns the production of the planes belonging to the civil aviation, the situation was even worse. For instance, the plant in Ulyanovsk was built with the capacity to manufacture 60 planes of Tu 204 type a year, whereas the Voronezh plant could produce 24 planes of Il 96 type a year. The real levels of production were registered to be as follows: in 1999 – one Tu 204, in 2000 – 3 Tu 204, and two Il 96-300. Due to various reasons, domestic air lines preferred to purchase not domestic, but used foreign made aircraft on the terms of leasing. As concerns the implementation of the Federal Targeted Program “Reform and development of DIC in 2002 through 2006,” there are encountered rather significant difficulties. An Aide of the RF President14 has defined the results of implementation of this Federal Program as “extremely unsatisfactory.” It remains to be seen if the industry may be bailed out by the new Federal Targeted Program, which is now developed for the period from 2007 till 2010.
According to the Presidential Aide mentioned above, at the moment special attention should be paid not to this program, but the creation of a aircraft manufacturing holding in the Russian Federation, which should resolve the problems faced by the civil and military aviation. It is a very important statement.
At the moment there prevails the view that in the modern world the problems encountered by civil aviation are determined only by the market situation. It is a well known fact that officially the World Trade Organization (WTO) does not permit to invest governmental funds in civil aircraft industry.
However, the real situation is quite different. For instance, as soon as it became clear that US Boeing loses the competition to the European EADS, which could bring on the market three long range planes: A 340, A 350, and A 380 at once, not only aircraft manufacturers, but the US Government as well have undertaken energetic measures masterfully circumventing the requirements set by the WTO.
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