Russia seeks pilots to create an Su-34-equipped Spetsnaz for Ukraine

In Russia, a special aviation group “Storm” may soon be created to solve special tasks in the war zone in Ukraine. Who will fly in the elite unit, what machines will it be equipped with and what particularly important tasks will it have to perform?

Russia sent Su-34M/M2 strike aircraft to Ukraine for testing
Photo credit: Military Watch Magazine

The role of bomber aviation in the area of ​​special operations will be significantly strengthened, and the organizational scheme of its work may be changed in some aspects. As it became known from sources in Russian veteran organizations, among the pilots of the Russian Air Force, volunteers are being recruited, including those who have retired in recent years, to participate in the new special purpose aviation division. The size of the new aviation group could be comparable to a full-fledged aviation regiment.

“The new regiment will be mixed in composition,” said the source quoted by Vzglyad. “Options are being discussed for it to consist of three squadrons: one squadron of Su-34 fighter-bombers, one of Su-24 front-line bombers and another of attack helicopters. The name of the group has already been chosen – The Storm”.

A standard aircraft squadron has 12-16 machines and a helicopter squadron has 16 machines. The crew of Su-24/34 bombers and Ka-52 or Mi-28 helicopters – two people each. By current standards, it is necessary to have about one and a half times as many trained crews as there are aircraft. In this way, it is about recruiting several dozen fighter pilots and navigators. In addition, a significant staff of technical specialists will be required for full operation.

Ace of Aces

Su-35 Pilot: 'My job is to cover the bombers and attack aircraft'
Video Screenshot

For service, they are recruiting, as the source said, “the elite of the elites” – the best volunteer pilots. Not only retired pilots, but also those who are currently in service, including in the special operations area, will be able to get there. Recruitment for the special unit began in April.

“The need to create such a division is dictated by the fact that the number of bomber aviation tasks within the military special operation [This term is used by Russia when talking about the war in Ukraine – ed.] is constantly increasing, the military-industrial complex is actively increasing the production of aircraft and ammunition. However, it is impossible to prepare the required number of personnel in such a short time,” says retired Russian Federation pilot Major General Vladimir Popov.

According to the Russian system of class qualification of military pilots, the highest level of professional skill in combat aviation is the rank of “pilot-sniper”. The holder of the sniper pilot qualification is distinguished by the fulfillment of a certain [and very high] standard of flight time, as well as the ability to perform combat tasks in difficult conditions [for example, at night]. It is assumed that sniper pilots will take part in “Storm” in the first place.

Who will command the new Spetsnaz?

The creation of a special aviation group the size of a bomber regiment with pilots of the highest qualification was dictated by military necessity. The fact is that aerial bombs are capable of inflicting far more damage on the enemy than any other striking means of modern warfare, including even rockets and artillery.

Shoigu ordered escalation in Ukraine, sent 220mm BM-27 Uragan MRL
Photo credit: Duma

The group use, for example, of an entire squadron of Su-34 bombers allows to drop several dozen aviation bombs with a huge destructive force on the enemy in a very short time. However, only highly qualified pilots can work as part of a group [and not only alone or in pairs] in the air – therefore, a special elite unit is assembled from them.

It is likely that the new division will have a special system of subordination – it will be controlled and assigned tasks not by the senior chiefs of aviation, but by the senior leadership of the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense. It may also be suggested that in order to increase flexibility and ease of use, particularly for the squadron, some War Bureau standards may be modified or even repealed.


The idea of a new air vehicle of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS] brings with it conflicting opinions. For example, some experts do not see the point of such a unit at all.

The main misunderstanding is related to the purpose and tasks of this group, that is, to the question why is it needed at all? Since the air wing is created on the basis of the Ministry of Defense, it is in fact the same mixed aviation regiment as all the others, only with an incomprehensible status.

Russia acquired new Su-34Ms with rear-hemisphere scanning radar
Photo credit: Global Look Press

I.e. currently, every single existing normal air combat regiment can perform every single mission. What will the new Air Spetsnaz do differently?

No rating system

Regarding the recruitment of elite ace pilots, this also raises a misunderstanding. There is no rating system in aviation other than flight class, but it also does not reflect the actual level of training of pilots. Reflects his foray and progress through the program. Therefore, these will be 100% regular pilots, as they are and always will be in every regiment.

The weaponry also causes confusion. It is impossible to quickly make a dozen new Su-34 and helicopters, and the Su-24 is impossible in principle. So someone will get them from somewhere. And experience suggests that they will be taken from the current VKS inventory.

Given the combat losses and increased wear and tear of the fleet in the conditions of the Northern Military District, it is not clear what the combat regiments will be left with.


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