The author is military analyst of the national daily Izvestia.
Russia’s new Aerospace Firing Range in the Crimea will be a unique venue for year-round training of Su-24M and Tu-22M3 bomber pilots in missile and bombing weapons against waterborne and shore targets.
As the editor of the magazine Arsenal Otechestva, Victor Murakhovsky told Izvestia, a new structure will become part of the Chkalov Flight Test Center in Aktyubinsk, where new methods, systems and armaments are developed.
“The most difficult part of training is air strikes at shore and water targets from the sea, when planes operate from shore,” Victor Murakhovsky told Izvestia.
“Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Air Force had been deprived of this possibility. Chauda’s advantage is that it has a maximum amount of sunny days so that flights are almost on a kind of assembly line.
“Operating missile systems and armored column positions resulted from fighter-bomber combat experience during the Syrian campaign. Killing waterborne targets is the latest thing,” – Murakhovsky underlined.
According to this expert, the elements not only of air battles but also against complex ground targets – mobile command posts, cruise missiles batteries at the prelaunch stage, tank and vehicle columns on the march, and also water targets – were first implemented during combat training.
Aerospace commanders withheld details of pilot training; however, as the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Vzlyet, Andrei Fomin, told Izvestia, including both practical bomb-dropping and so-called "electronic" launches of anti-ship cruise missiles. The Su-24M and Tu-22M3 carry a combat load of several tons – dummy air bombs ОFАB-250 and FАB-1500. Besides, the Tu-22M3 is capable of following this blow with X-22 and X-15 cruise missiles.
“Bombing of waterborne targets is likely to be confined to electronic launches,” according to the expert.
“The price of anti-ship cruise missiles is too high to slather them. At the same time, today electronic control allows the recording of pilot preparation to launch data, targeting parameters, target lock-on and possibility kill – to a high degree of precision.
According to Victor Murakhovsky, the new training center will influence not only lead-ups to bombardments. Preparation of the first regiment of deck-based fighters Mikoyan MiG-29K at the ground testing and training complex in Saky has begun. NITKA, as the military men call it for short, is a sort of ski jump for strike aircraft and a full-fledged landing field that imitates the deck of the aircraft-carrier Admiral Kuznetsov with all its controls and braking systems for practicing line-oriented shipboard take off and land.
“The Mikoyan MiG-29K is the only strike aircraft capable of applying two brand-new anti-ship cruise missiles X-31 and X-35. The new firing range will also offer new possibilities for deck-based pilots to self-improve their practical skills.”
The head of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Victor Bondarev, has already stated that pilots will improve high seas aircraft piloting in empty view areas, but also the use of naval arms.
As the official representative of the Black Sea Fleet, Vyacheslav Trukhachev told Izvestia, training of Mikoyan MiG-29K pilots will last til July 1st. In mid-summer the regiment will be relocated to the aircraft-carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, and will go into combat service in the Mediterranean.
“The Defense Ministry has shown videos where Russian bomber aircraft knock-out the terror organization infrastructures in Syria,” according to professor Vadim Kozyulin of the Academy of Military Science, who shared his opinion with Izvestia. “Now we can also practice in the Crimea. In the context of the American National Anti-Missile Defense base that appeared in Romania, this will be a message to the US and NATO, which have been warned that Moscow wouldn’t leave their unfriendly actions at Russia’s borders unanswered.