Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov recently discussed a number of aircraft procurement programs for the Air Force and Navy in an interview with Interfax.
On the subject of the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet, Manturov confirmed that Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant (KnAAZ) is ready to begin serial production of the aircraft. The firm has been contracted to provide 76 jets over the coming years, in line with a stipulation put forward by President Vladimir Putin earlier in the year.
KnAAZ will simultaneously continue production of the Su-35 fourth-generation jet, Manturov noted. By the end of next year, Russia should have nearly 100 Su-35s in service. The first contract for the aircraft, for 48 jets, was finished in 2015, and under the second contract – for 50 jets – 10 aircraft have been arriving annually. A third contract could be signed for an additional number of Su-35s.
Russia is examining the creation of a new anti-submarine aircraft for its navy, Manturov told Interfax. The Navy currently operates the Il-38 and the Tu-142 for the role. The Ministry of Defense will make a decision on a design for a replacement this year. In the meantime, the Il-38 is undergoing modernization and, according to Manturov, a modernization program for the Tu-142 is being considered.
Development work on Russia’s bomber fleet continues. The first Tu-160M2 – a modernized version of the Tu-160, whose production began after production lines were restarted – should be rolled out next year and delivered for testing. The Air Force is to receive the modernized aircraft, and its existing inventory of Tu-160s is to be modernized to the equivalent Tu-160M standard.
Moreover, a pair of Tu-22M3M modernized bombers should be ready for state testing by the end of 2020. One of the prototype modernized bombers is already engaged in factory flight testing, Manturov told Interfax. Its first flight took place in December 2018.
New transport aircraft are to enter service in the coming years. The Il-112V, a newly designed light transport, should be delivered to the Ministry of Defense in 2022, Manturov stated. This aircraft made its first flight in March 2019, but the test revealed that the aircraft at present fails to meet the Ministry of Defense’s requirements for the transport’s carrying capacity.
A heavier transport is being developed under the PAK-VTA program. It is still in the design phase, but will eventually replace the An-124. As Russia awaits the completion of the PAK-VTA, its An-124s will undergo modernization. Manturov said that the modernization project has been developed over the last two years to determine the upgrades needed for the aircraft. In particular, Russia seeks to replace the aircraft’s engines, Ukrainian-origin D-18Ts, with a locally made equivalent.