With the tension between Russia and the west these days, it is putting a strain on both NATO and Russia’s militaries. Countries such as the USA are dealing with such things as China’s rapid military expansion in the China Seas, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, ISIS aggression in Syria and Iraq, and the remnants of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russia itself is dealing with the crisis in Syria, the war in Ukraine and also trying to show the west its military is still fully capable of handling any aggression that comes its way. Perhaps no branch of any of these militaries has suffered more than the Russian air forces.
For almost a two month period around June of 2015, it seemed like Russian aircraft were dropping out of the sky on an almost-daily basis. On June 4 of 2015, Russia lost not one but two fighter aircraft on the very same day and one of those was a top of the line SU-34 – Russia’s newest and most capable fighter aircraft that was just introduced in 2014. A few days later, there was an incident where a Russian TU-95 ‘Bear’ Bomber had its engines catch fire and that was followed by the fatal crash of an SU-24 fighter jet that claimed the life of both pilots. This hectic period for Russia’s Air Force got even worse when a second TU-95 ran into problems and crashed near the Chinese border; this second incident prompted the grounding of the entire TU-95 fleet for a few days so inspections could be made. A MI-28 ‘Hound’ helicopter also ran into trouble and crashed during an airshow in early August.
It is one thing to have jets crashing at an alarming rate due to such things as pilot error, but repeated maintenance failures must have the top brass in the Russian air forces worried. One must remember that from when the Soviet Union first started to break up in 1991 until the increase in military spending that began just 4 or 5 years ago in Russia, their cash-starved armed forces certainly did not give their equipment the attention that well-oiled militaries normally give to their vital war machines.
But why is it happening now instead of before this? Russia has always suffered from the occasional aircraft failure as our own nation’s military does from time to time, but experts think the combination of aging equipment and a vastly increased number of sorties are magnifying the problems with the Russian air forces. A few years ago, the Russians did not have to deal with such things as the increased tensions in Ukraine, hundreds of reconnaissance missions over the black sea and elsewhere in Europe and stepped up displays of force such as TU-95 bombers buzzing the Western US coastline on the 4th of July.
It is no doubt the aging fleet of aircraft is currently being pushed to the limits, as are the men and women who are in charge of keeping them flying. With Russian aircraft activity still increasing at a rapid pace, it will be interesting to see if the events of June – August of 2015 were an aberration or something that will become more of a norm in the very near future.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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