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Getting The Red Air Force Off The Ground
by James Dunnigan
October 12, 2008

Discussion Board on this DLS topic

Russian fighter pilots are hanging on, just barely, as their government talks about rebuilding the air force, but does little to make it happen. Then there are a dwindling number of older pilots, who came on board in the 1980s, who remember how far the "Red Air Force" has fallen. Before the Soviet Union collapsed, there were over twenty flight schools for military pilots. Now there is only one. Back in the 1980s, you flew every month. OK, not as much as the NATO pilots (who went up 10-20 hours a month), but you maintained skills. Since the 1990s, it's been common for fighter pilots to come out of flight school, get assigned to a squadron, and not fly a jet for up to five years. Flight time went to experienced pilots, so that, if there was some action, the best pilots would have had an opportunity to retain their skills. The younger pilots are still getting screwed, but not as much. The Russian Air Force has to come through with more flight time, or they will see even more junior pilots quit for civilian flying jobs, or another career altogether.

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