Alexander Velovich/MOSCOW

The Russian air force (VVS) plans to cut nearly half of its personnel and aircraft. The cuts are part of a restructuring package being implemented by recently appointed commander-in-chief Col Gen Anatoly Kornukov, who is overseeing the merger of the VVS with the air defence force (PVO). It is estimated that the planned reductions will save about 10 billion roubles ($1.7 billion) by the year 2003.

The merged force will see reductions of 45% in personnel and 40% in the aircraft inventory. According to Kornukov, 122,000 servicemen will leave the ranks, and 15 organisational force components, such as air armies, divisions and corps, will have to be disbanded.

Kornukov has also implemented a clear out of senior VVS and PVO officers. Among the men who are expected to retire are Col Generals Victor Kot, Nikolay Antoshkin, Anatoly Malyukov, Victor Miruk, Vladimir Andreyev and Grigory Karakozov. The number of generals at the Russian air force headquarters will be reduced by 24 to 40.

The Military Transport Aviation (MTA) Command and the Long-range (Strategic) Aviation Command will be transformed into the headquarters of related air armies. The MTA air army will consist of ten air regiments of Antonov An-124 Ruslan and An-22 Cock, and Ilyushin Il-76 Candid transports.

The core of Russia's fighter aircraft fleet will be based around the VVS Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker and MAPOMIGMiG-29 Fulcrum. The last of the Mikoyan MiG-23 Floggers have already been withdrawn from front-line service and are to be scrapped.

Kornukov has yet to make a statement on the future of the PVO's MAPO MiG-31 Foxhound although, given his background in the air defence force, he is likely to retain the aircraft, despite recent technical and operational problems with the type.

Source: Flight International