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Air-to-Air Warfare Isn’t Dead

by Ward Carroll on December 24, 2012

A couple of items involving Russian defense procurement lately caught our eye here at the DT World Headquarters.  UPI ran this item a few days ago:

The Russian government said it contracted with an aircraft maker for delivery of 30 fighter jets — in addition to the 30 for which it contracted in March.  The Irkut aircraft manufacturer will provide the Defense Ministry with the additional 30 Su-30SM fighter jets by 2016, RIA Novosti reported in Moscow Wednesday.  The Russian Air Force got its first two Su-30SM planes on Nov. 22, the newspaper said.  The Su-30SM is one of the air force’s most important planes. It boasts an improved radar, communications and friend-or-foe identification system, and new weapons, among other updates, the newspaper reported.

And this yesterday from UPI:

Russian air force Commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev said Sunday tests are under way on a fifth version of the T-50 stealth fighter jet.  Bondarev said three of the planes are undergoing factory testing at the Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow and all will be flown to Akhtubinsk in the Astrakhan region in March for more extensive examination, RIA Novosti reported. Bondarev said the air force hopes to deploy the planes, also known as protect PAK-FA, by 2015 or 2016.  Sukhoi, which made the fourth prototype T-50, said the plane flew for the first time last week, a 40-minute flight at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur factory in Siberia. The T-50 was first unveiled in 2010 and shown publicly for the first time at the 2011 Moscow Air Show. RIA Novosti said the plane features stealth technology, super-maneuverability, supersonic flight without afterburners and advanced avionics. The Russian Defense ministry said it plans to buy 10 evaluation aircraft and then contract for 60 production models after 2015.

And then AP reported this today:

Russia and India signed weapons deals worth billions of dollars Monday as President Vladimir Putin sought to further boost ties with an old ally.  Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed cooperation between their countries as officials signed a $1.6 billion deal for 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets that will be license-built in India from Russian components and a $1.3 billion contract for the delivery of 71 Mil Mi-17 military helicopters.  “We agreed to further strengthen the traditions of close cooperation in the military and technical areas,” Putin said after the signing.

 Holy dogfights, Batman!

So as we pivot to the Pacific and marvel that the X-47 is able to taxi around a carrier’s flight deck and label the JSF “the last manned fighter,” maybe we outta consider whether one hundred and eighty-some F-22s is gonna be enough for the air war to come.

And you know how you defeat a stealthy unmanned strike aircraft?  You shoot it down with a piloted aircraft.

(And Merry Christmas to all of our loyal readers.  You guys remain the best.)

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