Russia: November 21, 2000


RUSSIAN AIR FORCE IN CRISIS; Top commanders of the Russian Air Force have warned Moscow that their force is in a crisis state and needs additional funding immediately. Of the 5,807 aircraft on the rolls, less than 5,000 can fly and no more than 4,000 are regarded as fully operational. Only 21% of the aircraft are regarded as modern types. Fully 48% are over 15 years old; another 23% are over 10 years old. Less than 1% are under five years old as funding problems have kept any new aircraft from being built. Broken down by type, 79% of the long-range bombers are operational, 62% of the transports, and 54% of the front-line combat aircraft and helicopters. Flight hours have fallen from two million in 1990 to under 250,000 this year. The accident rate has tripled as pilots are flying only 10 hours per year. This is expected to get worse as more and more aircraft are sent aloft with some of their systems non-functional due to a lack of spare parts and maintenance. Over 40% of the Russian air bases are operating in emergency conditions due to the breakdown of air traffic control systems, runway lighting, fire fighting and emergency units, and refueling systems.--Stephen V Cole


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