Russian Air Force Modernisation Essential, Says Putin

4 March 2010 (Last Updated March 4th, 2010 18:30)

Accelerated modernisation in the Russian Air Force is essential in order to increase the number of new weapons in its arsenal, according to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He said new hardware would make up at least 80% of the air force's weapons and 75% of the air defence arms, accordin

Accelerated modernisation in the Russian Air Force is essential in order to increase the number of new weapons in its arsenal, according to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

He said new hardware would make up at least 80% of the air force's weapons and 75% of the air defence arms, according to Xinhua.

Russia signed long-term contracts in 2008 and 2009 to supply the air force with 130 warplanes.

The Russian Army is also expected to increase its airpower with the purchase of 27 planes and 50 helicopters in 2010.

Russia's fifth-generation jet fighter, the T-50, which embarked on its maiden flight earlier this year, will be used by the air force from 2015 as planned, Putin said.

The fifth-generation jet, designed to rival the American F-22 Raptor, will have to complete over 2,000 test flights, before its production begins.

Putin has also asked the aviation industry to start work on a new-generation long-range strategic bomber.

Aircraft manufacturer Tupolev hopes to finish development of this new bomber by 2017, with production starting between 2020 and 2025.