The Russian Air Force is one of the largest and the most effective military forces in the world.

Nowadays the Russian Air Force gets annually up to 150 aircraft (planes and helicopters) – not counting advanced radar facilities, low-level stations, SAM systems and anti-aircraft gun/missile systems of the latest generation.

The role of the Russian Air Force

The prime objectives of the Russian Air Force are to maintain defensive (protection against any act of aggression) and offensive (active protection) operations.

A special focus is placed on the defence of essential state, economic, industrial and military centres. The Russian vast territory makes full protection nearly impossible. Any aggressor will be certainly intercepted in the air, but if enemy aviation crosses the northern border of Siberia, its interception will take some time.

Both conventional (in particular, high-accuracy and high-capacity) and nuclear weapons can be used to hit enemy infrastructure, technique and armed forces.

It is worth mentioning that Russia has never used nuclear weapons in a military conflict.

The Russian Air Force also supports operations, sustained by other branches of the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

The Aerospace Defence Forces

This branch of the armed forces is a part of the Russian Air Force. In fact, the Aerospace Defence Forces are the very “umbrella”, protecting Russia against any space aggression.

It should be mentioned that ballistic nuclear missiles are launched into space to prevent their early interception.

However, the missiles of major nuclear powers are not the only “umbrella” target.

The “umbrella” keeps outer space under surveillance and can deal with space threats independently.

The “umbrella” is supposedly responsible for the destruction of the Chelyabinsk meteor in the upper atmosphere, otherwise wreckage on the earth would have been unavoidable (some camera footages show the trace of a rocket, lead to the meteor).

The aviation

The aviation is traditionally based on airbases.

The long-range (strategic) aviation

The long-range aviation fleet mainly consists of strategic missile carriers the Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS, long-range bombers and missile carriers the Tupolev Tu-22M3, aerial refueling tankers the Ilyushin Il-78 and reconnaissance planes the Tupolev Tu-22MR.

Tupolev Tu-22M3

The photo of the Tupolev Tu-22M3

The long-range aviation is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The patrol area of the Russian long-rage aviation currently covers the whole world.

Nowadays the already built planes are going through serious modernization. Furthermore, Prospective Air Complex for Long Range Aviation (PAK DA) is under development.

The military transport aviation

Such military transport aircraft as the Ilyushin Il-78MD, the Antonov An-26, An-22, An-124, An-12PP and transport helicopters the Mil Mi-8MTV are in service with the Russian Air Force.

Among major objectives of military transport aviation stand maintenance of landing operations for the Russian Airborne Troops and air delivery of multipurpose cargo.

The aircraft fleet is reinforced with new planes the Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A, Il-112V and the Antonov An-70.

The tactical, army, attack, fighter and bomber aviation

These branches of the Russian Air Force meet operational, tactical and strategic challenges.

The Russian aviation is actively renewed with jet fighters the Sukhoi Su-30SM, Su-30M2, the Mikoyan MiG-29SMT, tactical bombers Su-34 and multipurpose planes Su-35S.

There are plans to supply the following helicopters Ka-52 “Alligator”, Mi-28N “Night Hunter”, Mi-8AMTSH (MTV-5-1), Mi-8MTPR, Mi-35M, Ka-226 and „Ansat-U“.

Mi-28N Night Hunter

Mi-28N “Night Hunter”

Mi-28N “Night Hunter"

Mi-28N “Night Hunter”

The Anti-aircraft Missile Troops

The Anti-aircraft Missile Troops are regarded as major fire power in the Russian Aerospace Defence system.

The modern Russian SAM (surface-to-air missile) systems S-300 and especially S-400, as well as the anti-aircraft gun/missile system “Pantsir-S1”, are capable of annihilating almost all kinds of air threats.

Self-propelled launch vehicle for S-400 system

The photo: Self-propelled launch vehicle for S-400 system

The troops are being retooled with new systems and complexes “Pantsir-S (SM)”, S-400 and S-500.

The Russian Air Force also includes the Radio-Technical Troops and the Special Troops.

How Russians bombed Berlin

Here is a short story from the history of aviation. In 1941 World War II reached the doorstep of the Soviet Union.

After a month of the Nazi invasion Russians executed an unprecedented operation – they made an air raid on Berlin.

Joseph Goebbles’ ministry called for the total annihilation of the Soviet aviation. Being in extremely dire straits, the Red Army had to prove otherwise. However the distance to the German capital was too long.

The Russian bombers were rid of all the armour in order to decrease their weight. They flew on the maximum height. Since it was a secret operation strict radio silence was maintained.

The air raid on Berlin took place on June 26, 1941. Although the German capital got multilevel protection, the Nazis did not see the Soviet bombers coming. Air raid sirens were switched on only after bombing.

The Russian pilots had to fight their way back through a firewall. There were no casualties over the enemy territory.

Where to see? Not far from Moscow

Among tourist attractions of the town Shchyolkovo (23 miles from Moscow) is the Central Museum of the Air Force (the biggest in Europe). Its numerous exhibits, displayed in facilities and in the open air, are truly unique.

Nowadays the Russian Air Force is a complex defence system, protecting the Russian territory from all kinds of air assaults, including threats from outer space.


Some parts of this article are based on the official material taken from the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

Photos by Vitaly Kuzmin

We are glad to discover Russia together with you!

We put our heart into the project. Join us on Facebook or Twitter: