This single-seat Sukhoi Su-27SM from 968 IISAP/GTsPAP i VI. The SM is an upgraded version of the 'Flanker'
The KAB-500KR is an electro-optical TV-guided fire and forget bomb (left)
The 'Flanker-E' (as the Su-35 is known by NATO) is one of the most formidable fighter’s in the Flanker family. This single-seat, multi-role, aircraft is remarkably agile and equipped with excellent sensors and modern weapons. The multi-role Su-35 has a range of approximately 3,600km, a maximum speed of Mach 2.25, a surface ceiling of 60,000ft and an impressive array of weaponry. With a radar target detection range of some 400km in the air-to-air mode; the phased array radar can track up to 30 targets simultaneously and engage eight aerial targets, whilst also tracking four ground targets and engaging two of them, impressive by any standards! The Su-35 employs a number of the advanced technologies used in Sukhoi's PAK-FA advanced fighter. The Su-35 has a maximum payload of 8,000kg on 12 hard-points and carries a wide variety of short , medium and long-range weapons.
The Tu-22M3 is capable of carrying ten Raduga Kh-15 anti-ship missiles or three massive Raduga Kh-22 missiles, both of which are capable of achieving Mach 5.0. Used in the maritime strike role, the Kh-22 anti-ship missile has a 320 nautical mile range and a large 2,200lbs warhead that can disable an aircraft carrier with a single blow. The Tu-22M3 can also carry conventional free-fall bombs such as the OFAB 250--270 high explosive fragmentation bomb, or KAB1500 class weapons.
The other unit within the 237TsPAT are the Swifts display team
They now fly the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29S and have also recently applied a new colour scheme to their aircraft
The Tupolev Design Bureau has long been recognised as the main player as far as Russia's strategic bomber fleet is concerned. Even before the break-up of the Warsaw Pact Alliance, the Soviet Union relied heavily upon Tupolev to provide the backbone of its heavy bomber contingent. From the early days of the Tu-4, Tu-16 and early Tu-22s, right through to the current supersonic Tu-22M3 and Tu-160, Tupolev has played a key role in Russia's long-range strategic capability. Now known as JSC-Tupolev, it is likely that the company will continue to provide the future of Russian Long-Range Aviation Command's bomber fleet, with the announcement on 1st March 2017, that the first full-scale model of the future PAK-DA strategic bomber had been constructed, also confirming that its form is that of a 'flying wing' and that emphasis has been put on its low-observability/stealth characteristics. In the meantime, the Tu-22M3, Tu-95MS and Tu-160 continue to operate in the strategic bomber role, and all were displayed at Army 2017 in Kubinka.
The multi-role Su-30SM was developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau for the Russian Air Force and Navy, and is an advanced derivative of the earlier Su-30MK. The two-seat Su-30SM can perform land, air and anti-shipping interdiction, with electronic countermeasures and early warning tasks as a secondary role. The aircraft is also able to act as a command-and-control platform within a fleet of combat aircraft performing joint missions.
The Mil Mi-28N is an all-weather, day-night, two-seat attack helicopter. As a dedicated battlefield helicopter, it has no secondary transport capability and is therefore better optimized than the Mi-24/35 gunship for the pure attack role
One of the most modern transport aircraft in the Russian Federation is the Antonov An-148-100E
Having been unveiled at MAKS in July, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35 attended the Army-2017 forum, although it was somewhat inconspicuous. It was kept away from prying eyes inside a hangar with an example of Sukhoi's PAK-FA and a Sukhoi Su-35S, with VIP visitors only, allowed to view the aircraft up close. The MiG-35 is Russia’s latest 4++ Generation multi-role fighter, being an advanced version of the navalised MiG-29K/KUB and the MiG-29M/M2 strike aircraft. The MiG-35 has improved flight performance, improved avionics, and carries a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons. Flight tests of the MiG-35 began in January 2017 and the Russian Aerospace Forces Commander, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev said earlier that more than 30 MiG-35s were currently on order.
Next up was this A-50U Airborne Early Warning variant of the Il-76
#RF-50602 is believed to be operated by 144 DRLO at Ivanovo
Unfortunately cloudy skies and rain showers plagued the event at Kubinka, making photography difficult at times, particularly with slow moving helicopters such as the Ka-52
A selection of Air-to-Air Missiles on display at Army 2017
The Antonov An−140 was designed for both passenger and mixed cargo/passenger operations and was built to replace the aging An−24. The An−140−100 (above) has a larger wingspan than the standard aircraft
The Sukhoi PAK-FA attended Army 2017, but remained somewhat elusive. It spent the first day tucked away in a hangar alongside a MiG-35 and a Su-35S, with access only permitted to specified dignitaries. It was then dragged out of the hangar early on 24th and quickly towed to the far end of the flight-line. It later departed the exhibition in dramatic fashion, getting airborne very quickly and quite high when it passed the photographers who had keenly waited to shoot its departure, hence the underbelly shots obtained!
The Mil Mi-8AMTSh is an armoured assault version of the Mi-8AMT helicopter. The main role of the helicopter is to carry cargo and/or up to 26 troops, whilst also supporting troops on the ground. It can also be converted to provide evacuation and combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions, carrying up to 12 stretchers. The two stub-wings can carry various types of weapons such as the Igla-V (SA-18) missile, Shturm-V (AT-6) or Ataka-V (AT-9) anti-tank missiles, un-guided rockets, cannons and 7.62mm machine guns.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29KR (left & below) is an all-weather, carrier-based multi-role fighter aircraft developed in the late 1980s from the land-based MiG-29M. Described as a 4++ generation aircraft, the MiG-29KR features a multi-function radar, HOTAS (hands-on-throttle-and-stick) controls and the integration of RVV-AE air-to-air missiles, together with anti-ship and anti-radar missiles; and can also provide support using a variety of precision-guided strike weapons.
Two of the Su-35S' at Kubinka wore this dark grey scheme on their upper services, since abolished on newer aircraft
The aircraft are believed to come from the 968 IISAP at Lipetsk Air Base
An example of Mikoyan's mighty MiG-31BM supersonic interceptor is seen in the static display at Kubinka
The aircraft is based with the 'Guards' at Savasleyka
The A-50 was designed to replace the Tupolev Tu-126 'Moss', a derivative of the aging Tu-114. Often known as the Beriev A-50 rather than the Ilyushin A-50, this is due to the fact that Beriev and the Taganrog Machinery Plant No.86 combined in a joint effort to integrate the mission systems into the aircraft. The A-50 is equipped with the Shmel mission avionics suite built around a 360 degree Pulse-Doppler surveillance radar, which can track up to 50 targets at the same time and has a range of 230km (124 Nautical Miles). Large targets such as surface ships can be tracked up to 400km away. The A-50 has a nine metre diameter radar dome atop the fuselage as well as a variety of antennas dotted around the airframe, with the large navigators glazing around the nose area replaced with a large dielectric panel. The A-50U is an improved AEW model with new radar, increased maximum take-off weight and an increase in range and mission time performance.
Another variant of the Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton) on display alongside a Sukhoi Su-35 at Army 2017 (left)
The 'glass' cockpit accommodates two pilots in a tandem configuration and incorporates an advanced avionics suite with a head-up display (HUD) and liquid crystal multi-function displays (MFD). The Su-30SM features identification friend-or-foe equipment (IFF), a global positioning system (GPS) and also an inertial navigation system (INS). The open architecture design allows the integration of modern avionics, including a passive electronically scanned array (PESA) BARS radar system, radio and recognition system.
The -SM can be armed with a machine gun and a variety of air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons, as well as anti-shipping missiles such as the P-800 Oniks. It can also be fitted with anti-surface weaponry such as rockets for conducting land attack operations. In the air-to-air role, it is capable of carrying up to 12 missiles, usually a combination of R-77, R-27 and R-73. Powered by two Saturn AL-31FP by-pass turbojet engines with re-heat and thrust-vectoring nozzles, these features combined with its advance weaponry could give the SU-30SM an edge over comparable western types such as the F-16C, Typhoon and Gripen, as well as more modern designs like the F-35 Lightning II.
Probably the oldest aircraft on display was this Antonov An-12
The Kamov Ka-52 reconnaissance and combat helicopter is designed to destroy tanks, armoured and non-armoured ground targets, and enemy troops and helicopters. The all-weather Ka-52 can provide target acquisition and designation for helicopter teams and ground troop command and control centres. It can also provide fire support for troop landings, fly routine patrols and escort military convoys. The two-seat cockpit can be flown by either pilot, its co-axial rotors making the helicopter highly manoeuvrable in limited airspace.
Replacing the Aero Vodochody L.39 in Russian Air Force service, the Yak-130 is manufactured by the Irkut Corporation (who purchased a majority stake in Yakovlev in 2008) and is capable of carrying a varied weapons load. The aircraft entered service in the Russian Federation Air Force at the military pilot training academy in Krasnodar in July 2009 and was showcased at the MAKS 2009 airshow. The aircraft has a maximum g-loading of +8g to -3g and is capable of executing the flight manoeuvres specific to current operational combat aircraft such as the MiG-29 and Su-35. The aircraft has one centreline fuselage hard-point, six underwing hard-points and two on the wingtip, giving it a combat payload of up to 3,000kgs.
The Tu-95 is one of the fastest existing propeller planes ever built and is capable of speeds in excess of 500mph, aided by the fact that it has swept-back wings, unusual for a prop-driven aircraft. The Tu-95's original mission during the Cold War was self-evident; to fly across the Arctic Circle and drop nuclear bombs on targets over the United States. Today, the mission remains pretty much the same; Tu-95s still 'probe' United States Air Defence Zones, NATO members around Europe often see 'Bears' encroaching on their borders, testing QRA reaction times, whilst Japan sees them on a regular basis too. So whilst the aircraft may be some 60+ years old, it still remains a potent weapon in the Russian inventory.
This Su-35S recovering at Kubinka wear's a more familiar light blue scheme associated with the type
This NF-5B is one of two twin-seat aircraft assigned to the Turkish Stars
It is seen arriving at Kubinka in drab weather on 25th August
Sukhoi's Su-30SM was represented by both Navy and Air Force examples
This aircraft from the Navy's 43rd Independent Naval Attack Aviation Regiment head's out to Kubinka's runway
The MiG-35 gets towed to the flightline prior to it departing Kubinka on 25th August
The Antonov An-30 was developed from the An-24 passenger plane to perform aerial photography. It differs from the An-24 in that it has a glass navigator's position below the cockpit and photo-doors in the floor of the cabin. Five such aircraft are based at Kubinka with 226 OSAP and operate's missions under the '2002 Open Skies Treaty', which was designed to increase confidence and build bridges after the Cold War and allows nations to monitor military bases and activity
In summary, Army 2017 was a very hit and miss event. Yes, almost every rotary and fixed-wing type in the Russian inventory was displayed (the An-22, An-124 and Su-33 being notable absentees), so that was a good thing, however the PAK-FA was hidden away from all but the select few and made a very hasty departure once it broke cover. The MiG-35 was similarly hidden away and only showed its face on 24th prior to departing, but at least it was parked in a position where it could be photographed before the pilot climbed on board; plus he gave us some nice angles as he roared out of Kubinka. Flying activity on most days was poor, with a couple of days having almost nothing take to the air, and only saved due to some arrivals or a couple of departures. Unfortunately the weather didn't help, with showers and the odd torrential downpour plaguing every day of the event. However crowd levels were also small, particularly on the first three days, so no jostling for position on the flight-lines or around the static displays. So is it worth a visit? Most definitely yes; the opportunity to see and photograph many aircraft not often or never seen outside of Russia has to be taken, so despite the issues already mentioned it was well worth the time and effort.
The Yak-130's weapons fit includes the Vikhr laser-guided missile, R-73 infrared-guided air-to-air missile (NATO designation AA-11 Archer) and the Kh-25 ML (NATO designation AS-10 Karen) air-to-surface laser-guided missile. A Platan electro-optical guidance pod is installed under the fuselage for deployment of the KAB-500Kr guided bomb. The aircraft is also fitted with a 30mm GSh-301 cannon or a podded GSh-23 cannon installed under the fuselage. It can also deploy unguided B-8M and B-18 rockets, 250kg and 50kg bombs and cluster bombs.
#RF-94125/15 Red, is a fine example of the Tupolev Tu-95MS (NATO codename Bear)
Believed to be operated by the 184 TBAP/6950 AvB at Engels, the aircraft carries the name 'Kaluga'
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29SMT is identifiable from earlier models by the large dorsal hump atop the fuselage
The R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) is a guided medium range, air-to-air missile manufactured by Vympel (right)
Another Antonov design/build is the An-26, a twin-engine turbo-prop short-to-medium range transport aircraft
Another aircraft believed to be based with 968 IISAP, #Red 06 display's the classic and unmistakeable lines of the Flanker
A diminutive Ka-226 taxi's in at Kubinka. The Ka-226 has the familiar twin co-axial rotors associated with the Kamov design bureau. Two such aircraft were at Army 2017, though neither wore any markings or serials other than Russian Air Force titling. It is unkown which unit operates them
'Army 2017' officially commenced on Tuesday 22nd August, with the first day reserved for invited dignitaries only. This was then followed on the Wednesday and Thursday, days reserved for 'Professional Participants' such as members of the Press and industry delegates. The Public days were held on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th.
The static displays of aircraft at Kubinka contained most of the Russian Federation's fixed and rotary-wing types, including much of the latest hardware such as Mikoyan-Gurevich's MiG-29SM, navalised MiG-29KR and the state-of-the-art MiG-35; Sukhoi's Su-30SM, Su-34, Su-35S and PAK-FA fighters; Ilyushin's upgraded Il-38N and the upgraded version of the Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Beriev A-50U, a variant of the Ilyushin Il-76 transport. Other 'heavy' types also included among others, examples of the Antonov An-12, An-140, An-148 and a Tupolev Tu-134.
Rotary-wing types included the Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopter, Ka-27 Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopter; and Mil's Mi-8, Mi-26, Mi-28N, Mi-35, together with an example of the Kazan ANSAT-U light utility helicopter.
The multi-role MiG-29SMT has improved avionics and enhanced nomenclature of high-precision weapons, capable of engaging both air and ground targets. The upgraded MiG-29SMT includes the N-019ME airborne radar, an upgrading of the optical electronic fire control & navigation system, integration of a new data display system with a MFD-54 multi-function colour display and installation of additional weapons management control systems. New flight navigation and radio communication equipment is added with the multi-function computer and GPS. The up-graded weapons management system ensures the application of high precision weapons of the 'A-S' class; Kh-29T, Kh-31A, Kh-31P missiles; and guided bombs such as the KAB-500Kr and KAB-500-OD. Utilising the aircraft's target designation pod or external illumination targeting system it is possible to drop laser-guided bombs.
Capable of almost Mach 2, the -M3 is the ultimate version of Tupolev's strategic bomber
This particular aircraft is from the 52nd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment at Shaykovka
There was very little in the way of foreign participation at Army 2017, the most noticeable were the Turkish Stars aerobatic team.The only aerobatic team performing demonstrations with eight supersonic fighter jets. With the display performed in Baku/Azerbaijan on 24th August 2001, they hold the record of being the only team that has ever performed a display to a crowd of 1,000,000 people. The team is currently equipped with ten Northrop NF-5A and six NF-5B aircraft, although only eight aircraft perfrom in the display at any given time.
The Army 2017 International Military-Technical Forum is located over three separate areas; the Alabino Military Training Grounds, the Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre (known as Patriot Park) and the airfield at Kubinka, all of which are located within a small area in the Moscow Region. Patriot Park is primarily an exhibition centre with numerous armoured vehicles, weapons and preserved aircraft on display, whilst Alabino is a 'proving ground' where the live-firing display takes place. We based ourselves at Kubinka for the duration to catch as much as possible of the 'Air Force Cluster' as it is known.
This Su-30SM from 43 OMShAP based at Saki in the Crimea, recovers after its display at Kubinka
Note the large dorsal air brake indicative of the 'Flanker' family and the Russian Navy flag just aft of the cockpit
The Ilyushin Il-38 turbo-prop is another version of the Il-18 airliner. The latest Il-38N upgrade programme for the Russian Navy will see the maritime patrol aircraft remain in service for a number of years to come. There are currently 28 active Il-38s in service and all are expected to be upgraded to the Il-38N (above), with five already delivered and a further five on order. The upgrade will allow the aircraft to operate in the ASW, ELINT and SIGINT roles; the first aircraft delivered was in fact #RF-75355/19 yellow, which was delivered to 859 TsBPiPLS at Yeysk on the Caspian Sea
By far the most numerous aircraft at Army 2017 were those of the Sukhoi OKB. The aging Su-24 and Su-25 lining up alongside more modern variants such as the Su-30SM and Su-35S, together with the state-of-the-art 5th generation multi-role T-50 PAK-FA, due to enter service with the Russian Air Force in 2018 as the Sukhoi Su-57.
The Mach 4.5 ramjet Kh-31 (right & above) family of missiles includes anti-radiation and anti-shipping variants
Another aging 'warrior' in the static display was this pristine-looking Su-25 'Frogfoot'
Whilst this Antonov An-12 looks much like any other, a closer look at the bulbous tail fairing in place of the rear gunner's turret gives it away as an An-12BK-IS. Converted to ECM platforms with Fasol and Sirena mission systems, it is unclear whether the aircraft still operates in the ECM role as only a handful are known to remain in service. It could be that the aircraft has been de-converted back to a standard transport aircraft. The squadron badge on the nose is unknown to us, but we believe it is operated by the 27th Composite Aviation Regiment at Tambov
Prior to the event it was announced that the Tupolev Tu-160 'Blackjack', Tu-95 'Bear' and Tu-22M3 'Backfire' strategic bombers would be involved, together with a wide range of combat helicopters, fighters and transport aircraft, alongside the latest Yak-130 combat trainer. 'Army-2017' had it all, and it's not often that you get the opportunity to get this close to frontline Russian military hardware, so Jetwash Aviation Photos had to be there to take a closer look at the latest in Russian equipment.
The anti-submarine warfare (ASW) Ka-27PL version of this Kamov helicopter entered service in 1982 and has all the usual ASW equipment such as a 'dipping' sonar and sonobuoys, together with an Osminog search radar. It is planned to upgrade the fleet with the more capable and modern Kopye-AA radar, developed by Phazotron NIIR. The Ka-27PL can carry homing torpedoes, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons and typically operates in pairs.
The new MiG-35 is capable of firing laser-guided weapons such as the short-range R-73 air-to-air missile
The aircraft at Kubinka carried six of the weapons on its underwing pylons
The ultimate strategic bomber in the Russian inventory is without doubt the Tu-160M
The aircraft carries the name 'Vasili Senko'
Yakovlev's Yak-130 light combat trainer was evident in both the static and flying displays at Kubinka
This Mil Mi-8MTV-2 is seen arriving at Kubinka
It presumably brought in support personnel or VIPs from nearby Chaklovsky
The Tupolev Tu-95MS is the ultimate in Cold War Warrior as far as the Russian Federation is concerned; however it remains a valuable and credible threat in the 21st Century. Few aircraft are as distinctive as 'Bear', a four-engine strategic bomber and maritime patrol plane which can trace its heritage back to the 1950s. Over sixty years later, the Tu-95 remains in service because few aircraft can cover such great distances for such long periods of time with an equivalent payload, making it in many ways the equal of the U.S Boeing B-52. However, unlike the jet-engine B-52, the design bureau of Andrei Tupolev conceived an aircraft using four powerful NK-12 turboprop engines with contra-rotating propellers.
This Ilyushin Il-20M ELINT aircraft is based at Kubinka with 226 OSAP. The aircraft has an interesting history, having been once based at Sperenberg, East Germany during the Cold War. It still retains its Soviet-era configuration and colour scheme and makes regular detachments to Kaliningrad, where it continues to monitor NATO activity in the Baltic area, much as it did back in the 1980s and 90s when assigned to the 16th Air Army.
This Mi-8AMTSh made up part of the helicopter static at Army 2017
The first piece of 'heavy metal' on display in the static was this Ilyushin Il-76MD #RF-76743
It is believed to be operated by 708 VTAP (Military Transport Aviation Regiment) at Taganrog
An Air Force Su-30SM from the 14 GvIAP/105 SAD is seen on static display and is based at Kursk
This Sukhoi Su-34 sits proudly in the sun at Kubinka in its distinctive blue camouflage
Another aging type in the Russian inventory is the Tupolev Tu-134. The aircraft in the photo above is a Tu-134UBL, designed as a crew trainer for the Tu-160 'Blackjack' strategic bomber. The aircraft is believed to be operated by the 535 OSAP at Rostov-on-Don
Russian Navy aircraft were in short supply at Army 2017, but this Kamov Ka-27PL(M) was on display in the static
Designed to replace the aging Su-24M, the Su-34 entered service with the VKS (Russian Aerospace Forces) in March 2014. Built at the Novosibirsk production facility, the Su-34 (NATO codename 'Fullback') is a 4++ generation bomber capable of engaging ground, sea and aerial targets with a variety of precision weapons in all weathers. Russia deployed the Su-34 to Syria to shore up the besieged regime of Bashar Al-Assad against ISIS, marking the aircraft's first overseas combat deployment.
The Fullback carries a formidable self-defence capability; with the short-range R-73 air-to-air missile and the long-range radar-guided R-77, the Su-34 is able to conduct long-range strike missions without the need for fighter escort. The Su-34 has a combat radius of approximately 700 miles on internal fuel, but can extend its range using its air-to-air refuelling capability. The Fullback’s sensor suite is the Leninets B-004 passive electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, optimized for air-to-ground operations. The Su-34 is also equipped with an electro-optical fire control system and a forward-looking infrared targeting pod.
Powered by two 27,500lbs Saturn AL-31F turbofans, it can carry 17,600lbs of ordnance on twelve hard-points, which include stand-off air-to-ground missiles such as the Kh-59ME, Kh-31A, Kh-31P, Kh-29T, Kh-29L and the S-25LD. It also carries a host of rockets, guided and unguided bombs—including the RBK-500 and SPBE-D cluster bombs.
A Sukhoi PAK-FA blast's out of Kubinka in somewhat of a hurry!
The Mil Mi-35M is a variant of the Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter. The aircraft can be modified for attack, ground assault, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) or transport missions. The Mi-35M incorporates several improvements over the Mi-24, including shortened stub wings, a new rotor system, modern avionics and upgraded turbo-shaft engines. It has a 'glass' cockpit, night vision goggle (NVG) compatibility, multi-functional displays (MFDs), redundant flight controls and state-of-the-art avionics. The helicopter is also equipped with an OPS-24N surveillance-and-sighting station, and a GPS-guided navigation system. The chin-mounted turret has a twin-barrel GSh-23V 23mm cannon, capable of firing 3,500 rounds per minute. The stub wings can carry a range of weapons including anti-tank missiles, rocket pods/gun pods, or additional fuel tanks.
The Russian Defence Ministry held the 'ARMY-2017' International Military-Technical Forum 22-27th August 2017, the third such large scale event held by the Russian Defence Ministry. With the aircraft participating in the event flying from Kubinka Air Base, some 70Km southwest of Moscow, we felt it was time we ventured over to Russia for the first time to see the flying activities and report on the myriad of frontline aircraft types to be seen during the event.
Seen in weather that plagued the event throughout, this Antonov An-26 from Belarus was only present for the first day
Departing Kubinka in spectacular fashion, the MiG-35 also carried what appeared to be a T-220 targeting pod
First deliveries of the MiG-29K were made to the Indian Navy, the Russian Navy preferring the Sukhoi Su-33 as their carrier-borne strike aircraft. However, the Mikoyan Design Bureau did not stop development of the MiG-29K, and following the purchase by the Indian Navy in 2009, the Russian Navy decided to place an order to replace the aging fleet of Su-33s, which were nearing the end of their service lives. In October 2016, four MiG-29KRs from the 100th Independent Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment formed part of the air group aboard the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, as the ship deployed with its battle group to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the Russian air campaign in Syria.
The Ansat-U is a light utility helicopter built by Kazan Helicopters. Purchased by the Russian Air Force for its rotary-wing flight training schools, the dual-controlled helicopter is crewed by the student pilot, an instructor and a technician
A total of 40 Tupolev Tu-160s were built before the collapse of the Soviet Union, with just 16 currently remaining in service. With plans now in place for a new, more advanced Tu-160M2 version to be built, it is unclear whether the original aircraft will be upgraded. Whilst in many respects it looks similar to the American Rockwell B-1B Lancer, it is a much faster and larger aircraft. Designed primarily to deliver a nuclear strike, the aircraft also retains the ability for low-level penetration. The Tu-160's primary armament has always been long-range cruise missiles like the Kh-55MS and Kh-102, but the Russian Federation has also used the aircraft to deliver the conventional Kh-555 cruise missile and the stealthy Kh-101 cruise missiles against targets in Syria.
121 Aviation Repair Plant (121 ARZ) at Kubinka is currently upgrading some of the Su-25SM fleet to Su-25SM-3.The first five examples are believed to have entered service with the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) in 2016 and have already seen action in Syria, where they have replaced the Su-24M. We visited 121 ARZ during our time at Kubinka and noted a number of aircraft having completed the upgrade to SM-3 standard, as well as a number undergoing upgrade. All of the upgrades in the SM-3 programme are unknown, but do include the Vitebsk-25 self-protection system, which includes a laser to 'blind' the infrared guidance heads of incoming missiles. SM-3 also benefits from a SOLT-25 nav/attack suite with laser-guided TV/IR sensor.
The Russian Knights have recently converted to the Sukhoi Su-30SM. Based at Kubinka with the 237th Guards Demonstration Centre,
the new aircraft along with a revised colour scheme were first exhibited at the LIMA 2017 airshow in Malaysia
Much like the American B-52 Stratofrotress, the Tu-95 is a Cold War warrior that is still relevant today as a long-range strategic bomber
TheTu-95 will continue to probe NATO air defences on a regular basis well into the 21st Century
The Tupolev Tu-22M was conceived as a swing-wing development of the earlier Tu-22 'Blinder'. The initial aircraft were of the Tu-22M2 design, of which around 200 were delivered. The M3 version (left) with increased thrust and redesigned engine intakes and nose profile entered service in 1983. The 'Backfire' was originally designed to strike U.S. Navy carrier strike groups in the Atlantic and high value NATO targets in Europe during the Cold War, but has more recently been involved in air strikes against ISIS facilities in the provinces of Raqqah and Deir-ez-Zor, Syria. The Backfire is capable of reaching Mach 1.88 and will easily sustain Mach 1.6 for extended periods, whilst also carrying a 53,000lbs payload.
With the flying display being very erratic, sometimes almost non-existant, we only managed to photograph the Russian Knights in poor weather, but at least we caught a few flares!
The Sukhoi Su-27SM looks much like its newer stablemate the Su-35S, but is of much earlier design. The Su-27SM is a 4+ generation version of the original Su-27 'Flanker', with multi-role capabilities, upgraded engines and avionics. The original Su-27 entered service in 1985 as an air superiority fighter, designed to combat the American F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle fighters. The aircraft's primary role was to provide long-range air defence against B-1B and B-52 bombers of the United States Air Force, as well as providing fighter escort for Soviet heavy bombers such as the Tu-22, Tu-95 and Tu-160 on long-range strike missions.
You don't realise how big the Mi-26 is until you get up close to it. With a cargo hold larger than a C-130 Hercules, the helicopter is capable of lifting the CH-53 Sea Stallion, the largest helicopter the west currently has to offer
The Su-24M is a development of the original Su-24 and entered service in 1983. Known by the NATO codename 'Fencer', the Su-24M is designed to penetrate hostile territory and destroy ground and surface targets in all-weather conditions, both day and night. The Fencer is now nearing the end of its career with the Russian Federation forces, with the more advanced Su-34 and Su-35 slowly replacing it in frontline service, so it was great to see one in the static display
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-35
Providing support for the Turkish Stars was an Airbus A400M transport from 221 Filo and this ex-Saudi Air Force Lockheed C-130E Hercules from 222 Filo. Both aircraft are based with 12 Wing at Erkilet
The world's largest helicopter, the gargantuan Mil Mi-26
The An−148 was designed as a regional airliner, but due to the fact that it can be safety operated at poorly−equipped and unpaved runways, the aircraft was ordered by the Russian air Force. Its under−floor cargo compartments mean it is not necessary to use special ground equipment when loading or unloading and the -100E version operated by the VKS has an impressive range of 4,400Km.The modern passenger compartment allows the aircraft to be operated in the VIP passenger role, providing up to 62 seats.