We’ve looked at the prospects for Russia’s PAK-DA next-generation bomber programme a few times of late on The DEW Line, so I thought I’d flag up an interesting article in the latest issue of Moscow Defense Brief magazine, which describes the Tupolev-led development effort as “The White Elephant of Russian aviation”.
Penned by Mikhail Barabanov, the article asks whether the “extravagantly expensive” plan to build a successor for the Russian air force’s current 63 Tu-95MS tactical and 13 Tu-160 strategic strike aircraft (artistically bendy-looking Tu-160 pictured below in a BillyPix shot from last year’s MAKS Moscow air show) can survive when Moscow’s 10-year State Armament Programme is already facing the prospect of spending cuts.
As “one of Russia’s most questionable, risky and unnecessary defence programmes”, Barabanov says only political will is likely to sustain the PAK-DA project as its finances are progressively slashed. President Vladimir Putin intervened earlier this year to advance the programme after its need was questioned by deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, he notes.
Meanwhile, the first of 30 Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighters on order for Russia’s air force has made its first flight. You can read our colleague Vladimir Karnozov’s report about the milestone event on Flightglobal’s defence channel, and marvel with us at Irkut’s PR fail in not having managed to release any images of the aircraft actually in the air.