The renowned British journal Flight International has released the World Air Forces 2021 guide, dedicated to assessing air forces around the world. The document covers the activities of world air forces during the coronavirus pandemic and provides detailed data on the air fleets of 160 countries of the world.
The handbook notes the significant impact of the pandemic on the activities of the Air Force. “Rather than carrying out normal day-to-day activities and combat commitments, the world's air forces, armies, and navies had to respond quickly and adapt to the health crisis that is rapidly sweeping across the globe,” the report says.
The authors of the handbook name the following new tasks assigned to the Air Force in a pandemic:
- Strategic and tactical transport aircraft have been transferred to more important supply flights, delivering personal protective equipment, medications, and ventilators
- Along with commercial airliners, transport aircraft were used to return citizens who found themselves abroad as a result of the emergency closure of state borders, as well as to perform medical evacuation tasks.
- A fleet of attack helicopters was used to transport vital equipment or help transport critically ill patients to hospitals
According to World Air Forces 2021, since September 2019, the number of transport aircraft in service has increased by 36 to become 4,301, which is approximately 8% of the global aviation fleet. In general, the number of military aircraft in the world decreased by 327 and amounted to 53,563 units.
However, the situation is not the same across different world regions. For example, the Air Force of Russia and the CIS countries in the current period was replenished with 13 aircraft, and their total number increased to 5,029.
The Russian army is armed with the second largest fleet of military aircraft in the world: 4,143 pieces of equipment make up 8% of the world air force. The directory notes that the Russian air fleet has decreased by 20 units, but this did not prevent it from retaining its second place in the global ranking. The first place in it is occupied by the USA - 13,232 units of equipment make up 25% of the global military fleet. The third is China, which accounts for 3,260 units of equipment, which is 6% of the global military fleet.
The United States is leading not only in the overall ranking - in all six types of aviation highlighted in the World Air Forces 2021, the United States occupies the first place. Russia's positions in this rating range from the second to the fourth place.
Thus, Russia ranks second in the number of transport aircraft (429 units, 10%) and combat helicopters (1548 units, 8%), ranks third in the number of combat aircraft (1531 units, 10%), special ships (130 units, 7% ), and combat training aircraft and helicopters (494 units, 4%), and ranks fourth by the number of tanker aircraft (19 units, 2%).
The World Air Forces 2021 guide provides a ranking of the Top 10 aircraft for each type identified by the authors (by the number of units of the total number of units of the world air force). Some Russian-made aircraft were also included in the Top 10.
- In the category "Combat aircraft" in the Top-10 were 4 aircraft created in Russia. These are Su-27/30 (2nd place - 1057 units, 7%), MiG-29 (5th place - 817 units, 6%), Su-25 (7th place - 470 units, 3%) and Su-24 (10 place - 389 units, 3%).
- In the category "Special Aviation" Il-18 took 10th place (49 units, 3%).
- Il-78 (35 units, 4%) took 6th place in the category of “Tanker aircraft”.
- Il-76 is presented in the category “Transport aviation” (6th place - 203 units, 5%).
In the category "Combat helicopters" the second place is taken by the Mi-8/17 (2906 units, 14%), the fifth place is taken by the Mi-24/35 (962 units, 5%).
Russian-made aircraft and helicopters are not represented in the Top-10 category "Combat trainer aircraft and helicopters".
The report also describes in detail the air forces of individual countries. The table includes data on aircraft in service, as well as aircraft for the supply of which firm contracts have been concluded or for which approval or signing of contracts is expected (data on these aircraft are marked in the tables "*").
For Russia, this table, according to Flight International, looks like this:
|Type of Aircraft||Active||Signed Contract|
|Multifunctional transport aircraft||100*|
|Combat training aircraft & helicopters|
|Russian naval aviation|
|Aircraft Type||Active||Signed Contracts|
|Combat training aircraft and helicopters|
You can read the full WORLD AIR DORCES 2021 report here.
Read more about Russian Air Force military equipment in the Arms Catalog (available only in Russian). You can find articles about aviation in the following sections: