Moscow air defences to be strengthened next year: officialApril 12th, 2008 - 6:22 pm ICT by admin
Moscow, April 12 (RIA Novosti) The main unit of Russia’s Air Force protecting the western and central Russian airspace, including Moscow, will undergo a major overhaul next year, the commander of the 16th Air Army has said. The 16th Air Army is the most important unit of the Special Purpose Command. Initially formed during the Second World War as a part of the Soviet Air Force, it is now the tactical air force component of the Moscow Military District, headquartered at Kubinka airbase near Moscow.
“We will start transforming the 16th Air Army into an Air Force and Air Defence army in 2009,” Major General Alexander Belevich said, adding that the major changes would reflect the addition of air defence units and strengthening of the existing units.
The army will receive new Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers by the end of 2008, the general said.
The first two Su-34s were procured by the defence ministry in 2007 and have been deployed at the Lipetsk pilot training centre for practical training of military pilots.
Designed by Sukhoi, the $36 million Su-34 fighter-bomber is a two-seat strike aircraft fitted with twin AL-31MF afterburner turbojet engines. It is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily-defended targets under any weather conditions, day or night, and is equipped with a 30-mm GSh-301 cannon, up to 12 Alamo or Archer AAMs, ASMs, and bombs.
Experts say the new tactical bomber has the potential to become the top plane in its class for many years to come. A total of 70 aircraft will be purchased by 2015 to replace around 300 Su-24s, which are currently undergoing modernisation to prolong their service life.
Tags: aams, air defence, air force component, asms, defence units, fighter bomber, fighter bombers, military district, military pilots, moscow air, pilot training, precision strikes, purpose command, ria novosti, russian airspace, soviet air force, strike aircraft, tactical bomber, turbojet engines, weather conditions