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Russia: Air Forces
Country Study > Chapter 9 > The Armed Forces > Force Structure > Air Forces


The air forces include about 130,000 troops, of which 40,000 are conscripts. According to CFE Treaty figures, at the end of 1994 Russia's air forces, including air defense, possessed a total of 3,283 combat aircraft. The air forces are organized into four commands under the Air Force High Command. These commands are the Long-Range Aviation Command, the Frontal Aviation Command, the Military Transport Aviation Command, and the Reserve and Cadre Training Command. The usual command configuration includes a division of three regiments, each with three squadrons of aircraft, plus independent regiments. Like units of the ground forces, most air force units are deployed according to military district.

The air force contingent of the Far Eastern Military District consists of 124 Su-24 Fencer bombers of the long-range aviation force, and 245 ground-attack and fighter aircraft of the Su-17, Su-24, Su-25, Su-27, and MiG-29 classes in frontal aviation. The Transbaikal Military District hosts an air army comprising 185 combat aircraft. The long-range contingent in that district consists of eighty Su-24 bombers. The frontal aviation portion includes thirty MiG-29 and seventy-five Su-17 and Su-24 ground-attack and dual-role aircraft.

The Siberian Military District has no frontal or long-range assets. It deploys only 239 L-39 jet training aircraft of the Reserve and Cadre Training Command. The Ural Military District is supported by one regiment of thirty Su-24 fighter-bombers of the Frontal Aviation Command. The North Caucasus Military District's air assets are organized as an air army that includes a long-range bomber division of eighty-five Su-24 bombers, together with two frontal aviation divisions, a ground-attack division of 110 Su-25 fighter-bombers, and a fighter division of 110 MiG-29 fighters. The North Caucasus Military District air army also has a reconnaissance regiment consisting of thirty-five Su-24 aircraft.

Two training centers of the Reserve and Cadre Training Command are located in the North Caucasus district. They base five training regiments equipped with 500 operational and training aircraft of various types. Two more fighter training regiments deploying a combination of ninety-four combat aircraft are stationed in the Volga Military District. The Moscow Military District is supported by an air army that consists of a bomber division of ninety Su-24 aircraft of the Long-Range Aviation Command, a fighter division of 145 Su-27 and MiG-29 aircraft, a ground-attack regiment of forty Su-25 fighters, and a reconnaissance regiment of fifty-five Su-24 and MiG-25 aircraft. The Moscow Military District also hosts two training regiments of the Reserve and Cadre Training Command.

The Northern Military District is supported by an air army consisting of a bomber division under the Long-Range Aviation Command and a fighter division and a reconnaissance regiment under the Frontal Aviation Command. The bomber division is equipped with eighty Su-24 bombers, the fighter division with ninety-five Su-27 and MiG-29 aircraft.

In addition to the allocations made by district, forty-six aircraft officially belong to the Long-Range Aviation Command but are under the control of Ukraine. Their operational readiness is suspect. A composite regiment of transport aircraft and helicopters from the Military Transport Aviation Command is stationed at Kaliningrad.

The Military Transport Aviation Command is organized into three divisions, each comprising three regiments of thirty aircraft. In addition, there are a few independent aviation transport regiments, including one stationed in Kaliningrad. Overall, the independent training regiments deploy about 350 aircraft of the Il-76 Kandid, An-12, An-22, and An-124 types.

Strategic aviation is an intercontinental nuclear strike force that includes about 15,000 personnel. In concert with the strategic rocket forces, it provides the Russian Federation's strategic nuclear threat. Organizationally, strategic aviation falls under the Long-Range Aviation Command of the air forces, but it is under the operational control of the Ministry of Defense. Bases are located in the Far Eastern, Moscow, and Northern military districts. According to the reckoning of START I, strategic aviation aircraft can deliver a total of 1,506 nuclear warheads, including bombs, cruise missiles, and air-to-surface missiles. The Far Eastern force deploys 107 Tu-95 Bear bombers of the G and H models and twenty Tu-160 Blackjack bombers.

The Bear is a long-range subsonic turboprop bomber modeled after the United States B-29 of World War II vintage. Although still serviceable, it is an obsolete combat aircraft by modern military standards. Its operational range would carry it over the United States, however. The Blackjack is a modern, high-performance aircraft that has a shorter range than the Bear. The Blackjack can reach long-range targets in the United States with the aid of midair refueling. For this purpose, the strategic bomber force has forty tanker aircraft in its inventory.

The Northern and Moscow military districts each house a heavy bomber regiment of twenty modern Tu-22M high-performance jet bombers. The Tu-22M has less range than the older Tu-95 models, but it is better suited to modern air warfare. According to experts, the Bears are located in Asia because they match China's obsolete air defenses, and the more modern aircraft are in Europe to be matched against the more formidable West European defenses.

Last Updated: July 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Russia was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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