Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

Plans to merge the Russian air force with the country's air-defence forces are being overhauled by Col Gen Anatyoly Kornukov, the recently appointed commander-in-chief.

Kornukov inherited the restructuring proposals from his predecessor, Col Gen Piotr Deinekin. While Kornukov, a former senior air-defence forces commander, is pushing ahead with the merger, he says: "I disagree with many aspects [of the Deinekin plan]. My task is to overcome the biased approach to restructuring."

The forces are being merged against a background of a desperate shortfall in defence funding. Finance for procurement has dwindled to a trickle, as has operations and maintenance funding.

Kornukov, in an interview with Russian newspaper Nezavisimoye Voyennnoye Obozreniye, spelled out the timescale for the merger. His intention is to have a merged headquarters staff by 1 March. The headquarters is also being relocated from central Moscow to the air-defence forces central command post near Balashikha, some 20km (12 miles) east of the city.

The merged force will be known as the Armiya VVS i PVO (Air Force and Air Defence Armies).

Kornukov intends to allow air-defence forcesfighter-interceptor units to retain their status, with certain of these actually absorbing some air forcefighter units. This prospect would have been unlikely under the aegis of Deinekin.

While Kornukov says that the combat inventory of the merged force has been determined, no details have yet been made public.

-The Russian air force has tested an air-launched cruise missile at a range in Kazahkstan. The missile was launched from a Tupolev Tu-95MS and flew a 1,500km (800nm) engagement profile. While cruise-missile design house Raduga is in the final stages of developing the Kh-101 cruise missile, the test launch is thought to have been of a Raduga Kh-55M (AS-15 Kent), since the launch aircraft was drawn from an operational squadron at Engels air base.

Source: Flight International