RUSSIAN DEFENSE UPDATE
@ Russia has lost eight aircraft to accidents so far this year, more than double the rate (based on flight hours) of 1990. Hundreds of pilots have virtually forgotten how to fly (having not done so in over a year) while thousands more cannot be considered ready for combat. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Klebanov announced that large-scale purchase of fifth-generation aircraft will begin next year, but no one can figure out where the Russians are going to find the money.
@ Russia reports that it has tracked 861 military aircraft flying near its airspace this year, of which 297 were identified as being on intelligence-gathering missions.
@ The MiG Russian Aircraft Corporation has displayed a new low-altitude two-seat strike version of the MiG-29. It has digital fly-by-wire and an upgraded armament system including the AS-17, AS-20, and AA-12.
@ The Russian Air Force has defined the requirements for a new heavy bomber and has told Tupolev to prepare a design. The S-60, a stealthy strike fighter designed by Sukhoi, has been abandoned due to a lack of funding.
@ While the five prototypes of the Su-27IB tactical bomber will be available for tests by year's end, they will not reach operational Russian Air Force units until 2005. These are intended to replace the Su-24 Fencer (the Russian F-111) and the Su-24 Frogfoot (the Russian A-10). --Stephen V Cole