Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

THE RUSSIAN AIR force has hammered out a list of priority programmes, including the Sukhoi Su-27IB fighter-bomber, along with upgrade projects for both the Tupolev Tu-95MS Bear H and Tu-160 Blackjack, to improve conventional strike capabilities.

Notably absent from the priority list, thrashed out against a background of financial austerity, are the Mikoyan MiG-31M Foxhound B and MiG-29M fighters. There is also no mention of Sukhoi's T-60S advanced medium-bomber project, or of the Su-27M fighter.

According to reports in Russian newspaper Segodnya, priority projects were determined during a meeting between Andrei Kokoshin, the deputy defence minister, Col Gen Anatoly Sitnov, the procurement chief of the defence ministry, and Maj Gen Yury Yatsenko, head of the air force procurement office.

Also on the priority list is the development programme of the avionics for the "fifth-generation aircraft", although it does not directly mention Mikoyan's Object 1.42 fifth-generation fighter.

There is increasing speculation that the two 1.42 prototypes will be used only as technology demonstrators. Yatsenko also alludes to the development of a Su-27KUB naval trainer. There have been previously unconfirmed reports that a side-by-side naval Flanker trainer was being planned.

The modernisation programme is reported as also including military transports the Ilyushin Il-76MF and Il-106, Antonov An-70, and combat helicopters Kamov Ka-52 and Mil Mi-28N. Russia's army aviation units badly need a replacement for the Mil Mi-24 Hind armed support helicopter.

Both the Ka-52 and the Mil Mi-28N are all-weather-capable derivatives, respectively, of the Ka-50 and Mi-28.

Weapons projects covering the development of new air-to-surface and anti-radar missiles are also included as priorities.

The air force is keen to improve the conventional-attack capability of its strategic bomber fleet. Strategic-missile design house Raduga is working on the Kh-101 and Kh-SD long-range tactical cruise missiles for the Bear and Blackjack.

The programme covers the period to the year 2005 and was worked out by the ministry of defence, ministry of defence industry and ministry of economics. The programme has been passed for adoption by the Russian Government.

Source: Flight International