Russia gathering modern fighter-bombers and helicopters at the Georgian border
During the August 2008 war with Georgia, Russia used outdated armaments. However, the Iskander type tactical missile system and the Su-34 type fighter bombers completed military testing.
The Russian mass media has reported recently that in the August war, one of the Su-34ís made successful flights. At that time, only five of these fighter jets were in the arsenal of the Russian air force and those aircraft were going through flight tests in Lipetsk and Aktiubinsk. Presumably, one of them was used against Georgia.
There are no exact notes on where and when the Russian Su-34 attacked Georgia during the August war; however, it can be assumed that the Anti-Radiation-Missile (ARM)launched by it destroyed the radar positioned at the Tbilisi Sea.
In 2010, four aircraft of the same type and production run were added to the existing Su-34 planes. The four additional Su-34ís are planned to be located at the air base in Voronezh.
In 2008, the Russian Defense Ministry ordered 32 of these jets from the Sukhoi aviation company. Their production and delivery should be completed by 2013. The modern Russian fighter bomber Su-34 is based on the design of the Su-27. It should replace the outdated Su-24 aircraft Russia used during the fighting in August of 2008 (two of which were shot-down during the war).
The 44-ton Su-34 can fly at altitudes of around 11 km with a maximum speed of 1,900 km/hr and at lower altitudes it can fly at a max speed of 1,400 km/hr. Its armaments include one 30-mm cannon with 180 shells. The maximum military load reaches 8 tons, the normal load is4 tons. The aircraft can carry guided and unguided bombs and missiles of various types. The versions of the military load are as follows: three 1,500-kg; sixteen 500 kg; thirty-six 250-kg or forty-eight 100 kg bombs. During one military flight, the Su-34 can use 6 relatively modern guided missiles (Kh-31P Anti Radiation Missile (ARM)).
Taking into consideration that the radius of operation of the Su-34 is 600-1130 km (depending on the military load and flight route) and that the distance from Mozdok to Tbilisi is only 230 km (Moscow used fighter-bombers against Chechnya and Georgia from this military airport). The Kh-31P missiles (a 600 kg missile that has a 90 kg payload and can fly a maximum distance of 110 km) ARM two Su-34 planes can damage almost all operating radars on Georgian territory.
Since last year, the Russian air force started receiving modernized Su-27SM3 type aircraft and multi-role Su-30M2ís. According to the 2009 agreement, in the near future it will receive 64 new aircraft Ė 48 Su-35S, 12 Su-27SM3 and 4 Su-30M2. The value of the contract comes to almost 80 billion Russian rubles.
According to existing information, in February of 2011, four modernized Su-27SM3ís were moved to the Krimsk air base. By the end of the year, 8 more Su-27SM3s will be sent there.
In 2005, the Russian Defense Ministry ordered 67 attack helicopters (Mi-28N), which they should receive i by 2014. In 2008, the first four production Mi-28Nís were given to the Torjsk military application and re-training center (the Georgian pilots who learned to fly the Mi-24 planes in Torjsk before the Rose Revolution know very well what the center is. If they still serve in the Georgian army, they can recall many interesting details).
In 2009, 12 Mi-28Nís were built and deployed in the North Caucasus, in the famous Budionovski air-base, to replace the outdated Mi-24s. In 2010, the Budionovsky base received 15 additional Mi-28N and the Korenovsky air base 8 more of those.
Last year the Russian Defense Ministry ordered 30 additional Mi-28N. This contract should be fulfilled by 2015, after which no less than 97 Mi-28Ns will be in the armament of the Russian military air forces. The stock deployment of them will be in the North Caucasus, in proximity to Georgiaís border.
The Mi-28N attack helicopter has a maximum speed of 324 km/hr. It can fly up to 500 km and apart from the integral 30-mm cannon (with 300 shells), armament includes bombs and missiles with a total weight of 1,605 kg., the Mi-28N can also use 16 guided anti-tank missiles (Shyturm or more modern Ataka-V). The distance between Budionovsky and Korenovsky and Georgia is not great, but it is most-likely that in the near future, new Mi-28N helicopters will be placed on the field airport (in the Java district) of the Tskhinvali region for several months.
In 2010, 22 modernized transport attack helicopters (Mi-8AMTSH) were placed in the Budionovsky and Korenovsky air-bases, which are also referred to as the Terminator. Unlike Mi-8 it is has heavy armor is well-armed and can carry 32 soldiers. The modern radar equipmentenables night flights and the use of guided missiles.
The fighting load of the helicopter is 1400 kg. One of the versions of the armament is three cannons (including two large-caliber) and six guided anti-tank missiles. These modernized helicopters are dangerous, as they can enter Georgian territories from the North Caucasus through the gorges (without being noticed by radar) and can deploy intelligence or assault groups, for example, in the Pankisi Gorge.
The information regarding the new armaments (airplanes and helicopters) that have filled the Russian bases located north of the Georgian border should be vitally important for the Georgian Ministry of Defense in order to avoid dangerous surprises in case military actions resume.
Editorís Note: Irakli Aladashvili is
Editor-in-chief of Arsenali, the military analytical magazine
By Irakli Aladashvili