Author`s name Olga Savka

Russian Military Aviation Declining

The Russian military aviation lost more than 100 aircraft in recent three years

Twenty-two people have died this year as a result of air crashes in the state aviation system. That was said by Lieutenant-General Sergey Solntsev, chairman of the Flight Safety Service of the Russian Federation Armed Forces. The general clarified, the state aviation includes the aviation of the armed forces and other military structures. Thirteen accidents have been registered in the state aviation this year, nine of them occurred to defense ministry's aircraft.

There is a special statistics as far as Chechnya is concerned. Only nine air crashes have been registered there: four aircrafts were downed with firearms, two accidents happened because of technical malfunctions and three air crashes took place because of the human factor.

According to the information from the Flight Safety Service of the Russian Air Force, up to 18 air crashes took place in Chechnya on a yearly basis until 1998, and the number of them reduced to 10-13 accidents a year after 1998. August of 2002 became a catastrophic month in this respect, when Mi-26 helicopter was downed in Chechnya. The crash killed 121 people. The Office of the Military Prosecutor brought down negligence charges against commander Anatoly Kudyakov, although the terrorists were found. Mi-26 was flying from Mozdok to Khankala with 147 people aboard instead of the allowed maximum of 80 people. The commander was also accused of the absence of the convoy. The trial on Anatoly Kudyakov started in May of 2003 and it still continues.

Another air crash took place in August of the current year. Two Mi-24 helicopters crashed during a military exercise, in Russian defense minister's presence. Probably, the accident happened because of the human factor, but a technical malfunction was  possible too. Mi choppers are 22 or 25 years old.

Sergey Solntsev believes, similar statistics is typical for the operation in Afghanistan, it is also typical for the American army and other armies that participate in such conflicts. Solntsev believes, 80 percent of air crashes is connected with the human factor. It goes about pilots' mistakes, technical preparations, organizational aspects, and so on. Four emergencies have happened in the air because of technical defects this year.

According to the program of the Russian Armed Forces, there will be several items of the defense technology bought until 2010. Military men are left to preparing and modernizing the old aircraft. About 50 percent of all Russian military helicopters are out of date. Twenty-five percent of choppers have been modernized to serve for five more years. However, if there is no new aircraft, if there are no funds to repair the old ones, no helicopters will be left in Russia by 2015.