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Russian Air Force to be modernised by 2020

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MOSCOW (BNS): Russia will equip its Air Force with new generation air-defence systems by 2020 to thwart possible air and space attacks by any potential foreign power, the country’s Air Force chief has said.

“By 2030...foreign countries, particularly the United States, will be able to deliver coordinated high-precision strikes from air and space against any target on the whole territory of Russia,” Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

“That is why the main goal of the development of the Russian Air Force until 2020 is to create a new branch of the Armed Forces, which would form the core of the country's air and space defenses to provide a reliable deterrent during peacetime, and repel any military aggression with the use of conventional and nuclear arsenals in a time of war,” General Zelin said.

“We are planning to conduct a gradual transition of Air Force units to a constant combat-ready status...and accomplish this task by 2020,” he said.

The transition phase would involve bringing combat units to full strength, equip them with modern weaponry and also improving the combat training of military pilots.

The Air Force would induct air-space defense brigades who will be equipped with advanced S-400 and planned S-500 air defense systems.

“In line with the new air-space defense concept, we have already formed a number of brigades, which will be armed with S-400 and S-500 air defense systems,” Zelin told reporters here.

The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers, twice the range of the US MIM-104 Patriot, and 2 1/2 times that of Russia's S-300PMU-2.

The system is also believed to be able to destroy stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is effective at ranges up to 3,500 kilometers and speeds up to 4.8 kilometers per second, the report said.

The fifth-generation S-500 air defense system, which is currently in the blueprint stage and is expected roll out by 2012, would outperform the S-400 as well as the US Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system.

“The S-500 system is being developed under a unique design...and will be capable of destroying hypersonic and ballistic targets,” the general said.

Besides, the Soviet-era MiG-31 Foxhound supersonic interceptor aircraft is likely be used as part of the new air-space defense network. “We are upgrading this system to be able to accomplish the same (air-space defense) tasks,” the report quoted Zelin as saying.

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