The Russian army plans to integrate more than 250 aircraft into its armed forces by the end of the year, a top defense official said Wednesday. The influx will be the latest in a series of apparent upgrades to Russia’s military capability as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vow to modernize the nation’s armed forces by the end of the decade.
“In 2015, about 250 new aircraft will come in service with the Russian army,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Arkady Bakhin told Russian-owned news service TASS. The influx of aircraft will include new fighters, drones and helicopters. Commanders in Russia’s navy and air force will be ordered to conduct renewed aviation training to coincide with the new equipment’s integration, Bakhin added. Russian military aviation personnel have carried out nearly 900 training exercises since the start of the year.
Putin has personally ordered several combat readiness drills in 2015. He vowed in March to authorize more than 21 trillion rubles ($340 billion) in spending to modernize Russia’s military by 2020. The nation’s armed forces also plan to produce hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles, known as UAVs or drones, by 2025 to serve a variety of military functions, including surveillance.
“By 2025, as a result of implementation of [new] measures, the government will get several hundred modern, Russian-made unmanned aerial vehicles of various types. Most of them will be drones used for short ranges, the most needed in [Russian] armed forces,” an official from Russia’s United Industrial Corporation told state-owned Sputnik News this week.
Western nations in the European Union and the NATO military alliance have expressed increasing apprehension at Russia’s increased military activity, especially since the Kremlin ordered the annexation of Crimea in March 2014. The European Union enacted economic sanctions against Russia late last year in response to Moscow’s purported support of separatist rebels operating in eastern Ukraine. More than 6,000 people have died in the conflict there since 2014.