In a post on his blog, Ilya Kramnik today made a set of predictions regarding upcoming procurement plans for the Russian air force. Here’s a translation:
- a second contract for 48 Su-35s in 2014 or 2015, with deliveries in 2016-20.
- a second contract for 24-32 Su-30SMs for naval aviation in 2013-2014, with deliveries in 2015-18.
- accepting the option on 16 more Su-34s, in addition to 124 already ordered, with deliveries through 2020. An additional large contract may be concluded after 2015, so that the air force has a total of 180-200 Su-34s by 2025.
- a contract for 48-72 MiG-35s in 2014-15, with deliveries through 2020. Without such a contract, MiG may have to be shut down.
- a second contract for 12-16 MiG-29Ks for naval aviation is also likely.
- a contract for 32-40 Su-25SM(or TM)/UBMs, with deliveries in 2017-22.
- two contracts for T-50 fifth-generation fighter jets. First one would be 8-12 aircraft for the Lipetsk combat training center. That contract is likely to be concluded in 2013, with deliveries in 2014-16. A second contract for 40-60 aircraft is likely to be concluded in 2015, with deliveries scheduled for 2016-22.
Transport and special aircraft:
- Contract for 30-40 Il-76MD-90As in 2013, with deliveries in 2016-20.
- Contract for 10 An-124-300s in 2015, with deliveries in 2018-22.
- Contract for 30-40 An-70s in 2015, with deliveries in 2019-25.
- 25-30 special purpose Tu-204/214s, with deliveries in 2015-25.
- Contract for 100 multi-functional transport aircraft in 2015, with delivery of the first 30 in 2019-25.
- Contract for 40 light transport aircraft in 2015, with deliveries in 2019-24. Strong possibility that these will be foreign aircraft, such as the Italian C-27J Spartan, assembled in Russia under license.
Kramnik further notes that the recent discussion of delays in fulfillment of the State Armaments Program will most likely affect the air force least and the navy the most. I tend to agree. The aircraft industry is in much better shape than the shipbuilding industry (or the tank/artillery industries, for that matter). And the Russian military is less likely to scale back its ambitions for the air force than it is for the navy, which has already largely been consigned to the role of a coastal protection force for the foreseeable future. A delay in the development and construction of new destroyers won’t really affect the functioning of the navy too much at this point (given its current set of missions), as long as it can get its corvettes and frigates more or less on time and the Borei strategic submarines still get built.
Aircraft sales do provide the largest part of the Russian defense industry’s export earnings, however. So the question that arises for me is whether the industry will have the capacity to build all these aircraft in the expected time frame. Here we should distinguish between MiG, which (as Kramnik indicates) is desperate for orders in the aftermath of losing the Indian MMRCA tender, and Sukhoi, which has lots of orders for both the Russian military and foreign customers. Will Sukhoi be able to build all those planes at the same time? Possibly, but it will depend to some extent on the company’s success in modernizing its production facilities.
Dmitry Gorenburg is a Senior Analyst at CNA blogging for PONARS Eurasia on military and security affairs in Russia and Eurasia. This comment is also available on Russian Military Reform.