Russia: ‘Russian fighters go down, we lose pilots and aircraft’

MOSCOW ($1=62.50 Russian Rubles) — Mr. Roman Skomorokhov, an author on the Russian-language online portal TopWar published an article on the state of the Russian Air Force. He does not spare his criticism of the leadership of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS], as well as the Kremlin, making nostalgic comparisons with the era of the Soviet Union and today’s Russia.

Russia: 'Russian fighters go down, we lose pilots and aircraft'
Photo credit: TopWar

“Russian planes go down. We lose pilots, we lose civilians, we lose planes. And if planes are a renewable business [probably], then the crew and people, in general, are not. However, VKS military planes go down with enviable regularity,” comments Mr. Skomorokhov.

However, his criticism was not aimed at Russian fighter jets downed in combat, but at those that went down during flights, without military action. The list is interesting, especially considering that it represents the downed Russian aircraft due to technical malfunction in the last nine months 0 since the beginning of the war with Ukraine.

In April, a MiG-31 crashed near the Leningrad region, and the crew ejected. In June, a Su-25 crashed near Belgorod, the pilot surviving. Another Su-25 crashes in the Rostov region, but the pilot does not survive. In September, a Su-34 crashed, with the crew able to eject and survive. In October, on the same day, the C-25 [the pilot died] and the Su-24 [the crew ejected] fell. That same month, a Su-34 crashed into an apartment building in Yeisk, killing 15 civilians. Later in the month, a Su-30 crashed into a house. In December, a MiG-31 crashed again, ejecting the crew.

See what a Russian Su-25 after being hit by MANPADS looks like
Photo: Telegram

In nine months, the Russian Air Force has lost nine combat aircraft, among them fighters, interceptors, and fighter-bombers. If the official announcements of the Russian Air Force are analyzed, the reasons are different: pilot error, engine failure, and control failure. There is even a report of a crew suffocating due to a malfunctioning oxygen system on the plane.

Skomorokhov divides the lost planes into “old and very old”. But the main problem, according to him, is not the age of the plane, but the lack of flight hours. “However, it is one thing to stand in the hangar making 2-3 flights a year, and quite another when the aircraft is operated on the full flight program. There is a lot to think about, there is room for maneuver, so to speak,” says in your comment the author.

The author gives more details about the shortage of flying hours. He says that as long as the USSR existed, every single aircraft, fighter, or military transport, logged 180-220 hours of flight time per year. Today, says Skomorokhov, pennies are allocated for Russian aviation, and if a plane makes 35-45 flight hours “it is considered good”.

Russia has [and continues to] operate very old aircraft in the Syrian civil war. Some have returned, but a large number remain around the Syrian battlefields. The same applies to a large number of pilots who did not return from the war in Syria. This suggests that Russia has poorly trained pilots, especially if we are talking about Syria, where compared to the fighting in Ukraine, Russian pilots should have a huge advantage. “An unprepared pilot and an unreliable plane – that’s the result,” says Skomorokhov.

4.5-Gen Su-35 on SEAD mission was shot down over Ukraine by SAM
Photo credit: Twitter

The only good thing is that today Russian pilots got the opportunity to fly more. Yes, it is about the war with Ukraine and the “only good thing” is not about the war, but about the opportunity for Russian pilots to fly their “birds” more.

But Skomorokhov sees another reason why Russian warplanes are falling. According to him, it is not right that the modernization of one aircraft should be done in several places, traveling from one point to another point in the country. During the time of the Soviet Union, says the author, everything was done in one place – the aviation repair plants. Today they are capitalized. And according to the author, there is a quality problem when you take a plane for repairs on the other side of the country.

“But if Russia does not have the financial capacity to replace old aircraft with new ones [as with tanks], then it is necessary to at least raise the maintenance of old aircraft to the required level in terms of quality. However, reports show the exact opposite,” concludes the Russian analyst.

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