During World War II, Britain and the United States formed an alliance with Russia to defeat Nazi Germany. While the UK and the US lead strategic bombing campaigns, Russia provided much of the manpower utilized in the operation. And Even though the US Air Force boast of some of the latest and most powerful aircraft in the world such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Russia has built some insane aircraft over the past few years.
Following the dismal performance of the Russian Air Force in the Russo-Georgia War in 2008, Moscow started a campaign to improve the capacity of the Russian Aerospace Forces. This campaign led to the procurement of over 460 brand-new fixed-wing combat aircraft, 360 attack helicopters, and 100 jet trainers. On top of all that, over 500 aircraft consisting of interceptors, attack helicopters, and jet trainers were heavily modernized. Here are the 10 military aircraft that make up the Russian Air Force arsenal.
10 Mikoyan MiG-29
The Mikoyan MiG-29 with the NATO codename "Fulcrum" was introduced by the Soviet Air Forces in 1982. It's a twin-engine fighter jet built to counter the United States' General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. That said, the MiG-29 has since been turned into a multi-role aircraft with the ability to carry out a wide range of operations including reconnaissance, air-to-air combat, and aerial bombing.
Over the years, several variants of the MiG-29 have been developed including the navalized Mikoyan MiG-29K. Russia has exported the MiG-29 to over 30 nations including India, Bulgaria, and Bangladesh.
9 Mikoyan MiG-35
The Mikoyan MiG-35, multi-role jet is codenamed "Fulcrum-F '' by the Russian Air Force. According to Defence iQ, Fulcrum-F, which was unveiled at the Moscow Air Show in 2017, is basically an upgrade of the MiG-29KR.
There are two versions of the MiG-35: the MiG-35S and the MiG-35UB. The former is a single-seat fighter jet, while the latter is a two-seater version. Unlike the MiG-29, the MiG-35 features a specially designed optical locator system that allows the aircraft to operate without any reliance on ground-controlled interception systems.
8 Sukhoi Su-27
The Sukhoi Su-27 with the NATO codename "Flanker" is a twin-engine super-maneuverable fighter jet introduced in 1985. The Flanker was built with air superiority missions in mind and as a rival to fourth-generation US aircraft like F-15 Eagle, and Grumman F-14 Tomcat.
The Flanker can perform almost every aerial warfare operation, and it was deployed against Georgian forces in Abkhazia during the war that lasted from 1992 to 1993. In 2008, the Russian Air Force also deployed the Su-27 during the South Ossetia War.
7 Sukhoi Su-30
Codenamed "Flanker-C/G/H", the Sukhoi Su-30 is a two-seat, twin-engine super-maneuverable multi-role aircraft built by the Sukhoi Aviation Corporation, and introduced into service in 2012. The Flanker-C/G/H can be deployed in air interdiction and air-to-air operations under any weather.
There are three versions of the Su-30, which were built by two different organizations. The Su-30MKK and the Su-30MK2 were built by KnAAPO and exported to China, Venezuela, Indonesia, and Uganda. On the other hand, the Su-30MKI was developed by Irkut to specialize in ground attacks.
6 Sukhoi Su-34
The Sukhoi Su-34 codenamed "Fullback" is a Russian multi-role aircraft that was commissioned in 1990 by the Soviet Union. The two-seat, twin-engine, fighter-bomber/strike aircraft was built essentially to target naval and ground forces.
As a multi-role aircraft, the Fullback can be deployed for solo/group missions against mobile targets at any time of the day, under any weather conditions. Six Fullback fighter jets were deployed to Syria for the Russian military intervention in 2015.
5 Sukhoi Su-35
Sukhoi Su-35 with the NATO designation "Flanker-E" is a multi-role aircraft with a single seat and two engines. The design of the Sukhoi Su-35 is an enhancement of the Su-27 air-defense fighter. The production version of the Su-35 is known as Su-35S and has been successful in many missions.
Russia deployed four Su-35S jets to Syria as part of its intervention operations in 2016. Also, two Turkish Air Force F-16 aircraft were intercepted by the two Russian Air Force Su-35Ss in 2019 and forced to exit the Syrian airspace.
4 Sukhoi Su-57
The Sukhoi Su-57 is a multi-role single-seat, twin-engine jet produced by the PAK FA. Codenamed "Felon", the Su-57 is designed with stealth, super-cruise, and super-maneuverable technology for the Russian military service. It is capable of performing ground strikes, aerial combat, and even maritime strike. The Felon was introduced in the Russian military service in 2020 as a replacement for older generation combat aircraft like the Su-27 and the MiG-29.
The Felon is equipped with 1 Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon, 4 Kh-38M air-to-surface missiles, 4 Kh-58UShK anti-radiation missiles, and a 500 kg cluster-bomb.
3 Tupolev Tu-160
The Tupolev Tu-160, codenamed "Blackjack" was built by the Tupolev Design Bureau as part of the aircraft arsenal of the Soviet Union and introduced in 1987. The Blackjack is variable-sweep, supersonic, wing-heavy bomber, with about 16 units still in service as of 2016. The Blackjack is the largest combat aircraft and the fastest bomber in existence.
The Tupolev Tu-160 has a maximum speed of 1,380 mph at 40,026 ft. It is equipped with two weapon bays for 99,208 lbs of ordinance, two rotary launchers, and 12 AS-16 Kickback short-range nuclear missiles.
2 Tupolev Tu-214ON
The Tupolev Tu-214 is a special reconnaissance aircraft built by the Kazan Aviation Production Association n.a. S.P. Gorbunov (KAPO) for the Russian Air Force. It is an improvement of the Tupolev Tu-204 and was introduced into the Russian military service in 2001.
The Russian Air Force uses the Tu-214ON for reconnaissance, surveillance, unarmed observation, and patrols. It can also be used to provide logistical support during emergencies. To perform these crucial operations, the Tu-214ON comes with one AK-111 topographic camera, one A-84ON panoramic camera, and two AK-112 digital aerial cameras.
1 Yakovlev Yak-130
The Yakovlev Yak-130, codenamed "Mitten" is a special combat trainer jet for the Russian Air Force. Emerging as the winner of the trainer competition organized by the Soviet Air Force organization known as Voyenno Vozdushnyye Sily (VVS), Mitten entered the Russian military pilot training academy in 2009.
Apart from training, the Russian Air Force deploys the Mitten for light airstrikes. The Mitten can simulate the tactics of other combat aircraft and carries reconnaissance pods, weapons, radar jammers, and suspended fuel tanks.