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The Mig-35 is a 4++ generation fighter and the latest development of the Mig-29. The Mig-35 was first shown publicly at the Aero India air show in 2007. The Mig-35 has new avionics which allow it to carry out complex joint missions, aerial reconnaissance, and precision ground strikes in any weather. The fighter has a longer service life and an in-flight cost that is 2.5 times cheaper than that of its predecessors. The Mig-35 has new, smokeless engines and a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system to enhance its performance. There are currently ten prototypes of the Mig-35 undergoing testing.
The Mig-35, just like the Mig-29K/KUB, is based on the Mig-29M2 2-seat design. The fighter is equipped with the new Phazotron Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which has a detection range of over 160 km for aerial targets and over 300 km for ships. The radar can detect more aerial and ground targets and is more resistant to electronic countermeasures than its predecessors. The Mig-35 has 9 hard points that accept both current (foreign and Russian) and future (Russian) air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons. It is also equipped with a single 30 mm GSh-30-1 automatic cannon.
The Mig-35 is equiped with two Klimov RD-33MK afterburning turbofans, which are rated at 5,400 kg of thrust each (dry thrust) and 9,000 kg of thrust each (with the use of afterburners). The Mig-35 has a maximum speed of 2,400 km/hr, a range of 2,000 km without refueling, and a service ceiling of 17,500 meters. The Mig-35 has a length of 17.3 meters, a wingspan of 12 meters, a height of 4.7 meters, and an empty weight of 11,000 kg.
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The “Berkut” air group is celebrating its 20th year anniversary. The pilots began flying in 1992 on Mi-24 helicopters. Today, the Berkuts fly on Mi-28N Night Hunters. “Flying helicopters in a group is very difficult, because they fly within very close distances of each other, a mere 10 meters apart”, stated Igor Butenko, a Berkut pilot. Making dangerous maneuvers is like diving into a chainsaw, so there is no room for mistakes. “Even though it’s a piece of steel, I feel that it has a soul, and every pilot knows his helicopter, how to approach it, how to clap it, what to tell it”, stated Evgeniy Galkin, the commander of the Berkuts. In honor of their 20th year anniversary, the Berkuts performed the rump and the arrow maneuvers. Next time, the pilots will show off their skills at the Zhukovsky airbase on the 12th of August, on the 100th anniversary of the Russian air-force.
First having entered service in 1986, the An-124 Ruslan (also known as the Condor) is a strategic air-lifter and the second largest serially-produced cargo aircraft in the world. The An-124 is designed to deliver and air drop large and heavy cargo over long ranges, including troops, vehicles, and equipment. Twenty five of these aircraft are currently operated by the Russian military, while another eighteen are operated by Russian civilian aviation companies including Volga-Dnepr. The An-124 has a double-deck layout. The lower deck is used for cargo, while the upper deck houses the cockpit, the compartment for crew relief, and a cabin for the troops which contains 88 seats.
The An-124 has a crew of 6. The aircraft is 68.96 meters in length, has a wingspan of 73.3 meters, a height of 20.78 meters, and an empty weight of 175,000 kg. The Ruslan can carry up to 120 tons of freight, 25% more than its American counterpart, the C-5A Galaxy. The An-124 has a maximum speed of 865 km/hr, a cruise speed of up to 850 km/hr, and a maximum range of 5,400 km without refueling (when fully loaded). The service ceiling is 12,000 meters. Due to the aircraft’s reliability and ability to carry heavy payloads, the aircraft has been leased by over 18 countries including Sweden, Germany, France, Finland, Portugal, the UK, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Greece, and the US.
In 2004, Russia and Ukraine agreed to continue the serial production of the An-124, and at least eighty AN-124-150 upgraded aircraft are to be built by 2020. These new aircraft will be certified to take off with a payload of up to 150 tons, the range will be increased, and the crew number will be reduced to 3. Also, all existing An-124 aircraft are being upgraded to extend their service life to 24,000 hours (as opposed to 7,500 flight hours for the original aircraft). Several more variants are planned, including the An-124-100M-150, which is to be equipped with Western avionics, and the An-124-200, which is to be equipped with General Electric CF6-80C2 engines.
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Russia’s minister of defense has ordered the purchase of four Be-200 aircraft for the Baltic fleet in the year 2013. A special water airbase will be built for the aircraft. “The fleet definitely needs seaplanes. They can be used for search and rescue operations. If these aircraft will be modernized, as planned, their scope of duties will be expanded”, stated the commander of the Baltic fleet.
The Beriev Be-200 Altair is an amphibious multipurpose aircraft that can be used for firefighting, maritime patrol, search and rescue, transporting passengers or troops, for transporting cargo, and for ASW (anti-submarine warfare). The aircraft can carry up to 72 people or 12 tons of water. The aircraft took its first flight in 1998 and entered service in 2003. The Be-200 has fly-by-wire controls, FMS, GPS/GLONASS satellite navigation, autopilot, and a radar that monitors the weather. The Be-200 is capable of taking off from either a runway that is at least 1,800 meters long, or a body of water that is at least 2,300 meters in length and has a depth of at least 2.5 meters.
The aircraft has been leased by Italy, Portugal, Indonesia, Greece, and Israel, mostly for firefighting purposes. Russia currently operates five of these aircraft and Azerbaijan has one. A new version with Rolls-Royce engines, dubbed the Be-200RR, is currently in development for export to Western countries. The Be-200 has a crew of two, a length of 32 meters, a wingspan of 32.8 meters, a height of 8.9 meters, and an empty weight of 27,600 kg. The aircraft has a max speed of 700 km/hr and a cruise speed of 560 km/hr. The seaplane has a range of 2,100 km, and a service ceiling of 8,000 meters.
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The crews have a limited number of minutes to get ready. The weather is great, but there are a lot of birds flying around. At the airfield, firetrucks ward them off. The first to take off into the sky are the new Ka-52’s, or as they’re also called, Alligators. Today’s training program involves firing reactive rockets at ground targets. This is rare footage: a view from the Alligator’s cockpit while it is attacking. The flare that you see to the right is the muzzle flash from the helicopter’s 30 mm automatic cannon. Several engagements, and the target is destroyed. Experienced pilot Andrei Volkov personally flew the Alligators from the factory to the airbase, and was the first to score the helicopter’s effectiveness.
“This helicopter is very different. It doesn’t care about what kind of winds blow from which direction, it is very easy to operate, it forgives a lot of mistakes…basically, the technology on the helicopter is very good,” stated Andrei Volkov, the squadron’s deputy commander. In addition, the Alligator is the only helicopter in the world with ejection seats, like on airplanes. If the crew need to eject, the rotor blades of the propellers are blown off. Today, the Ka-52 is not the only helicopter in the sky. The time-tested and very reliable Mi-24, also known as the flying tank, is also participating in the live-firing exercises. Just within the past year, the intensiveness of the flying exercises at this airbase have doubled. Even experienced pilots finally admit that they now get to do what they hoped for when they were enrolled in school for pilots: regular flights that involve carrying out a variety of different tasks.
The traffic at the airbase is as dense as it is in the cities. Take off, landing, reloading, and then back into the air. Recently, younger pilots were given permission to fly the Ka-52. “The pilots who have already flown the Ka-52 eagerly talk about flying the helicopter, and those that haven’t flown yet listen with interest and ask questions. Half of the crews here are already flying these helicopters, while the rest are learning,” stated Sergey Kolesnikov, a flight navigator. This aviation base has a long and rich history. Almost all of the pilots of the older generation have combat experience from participating in peace keeping missions. Younger pilots say that under the guidance of these older pilots, flying is a lot more interesting, and that they have a desire to return to the sky again and again.
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Although not a lot of information is available at this time, the aircraft appears to have many of the same characteristics as the two-seat Su-25UBM, including the ability to carry new weapons, new avionics, and the ability to operate during the day, at night, and during poor weather conditions. It may also have some of the same features as the cancelled Su-25TM (Su-39).