Russian fighter pilots are
hanging on, just barely, as their government talks about rebuilding the air
force, but does little to make it happen. Then there are a dwindling number of older pilots, who came on board in the 1980s, who
remember how far the "Red Air Force" has fallen. Before the Soviet
Union collapsed, there were over twenty flight schools for military pilots. Now
there is only one. Back in the 1980s, you flew every month. OK, not as much as
the NATO pilots (who went up 10-20 hours a month), but you maintained skills.
Since the 1990s, it's been common for fighter pilots to come out of flight
school, get assigned to a squadron, and not fly a jet for up to five years.
Flight time went to experienced pilots, so that, if there was some action, the
best pilots would have had an opportunity to retain their skills. The younger
pilots are still getting screwed, but not as much. The Russian Air Force has to
come through with more flight time, or they will see even more junior pilots
quit for civilian flying jobs, or another career altogether.