The Russian Air Force will reportedly receive five new fighter jets this year as part of a major modernization effort, The Moscow Times reported Friday. Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev announced five Sukhoi T-50 jets will join an already massive fleet that includes 20 Su-30SM fighter jets, as well as upgraded Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic missile carriers and Mi-28 and Ka-52 attack helicopters.
And by 2020, the air force expects to add more than 900 new planes and helicopters, deputy commander of Russia’s Aerospace Forces and Lt. Gen. Pavel Kurachenko said. The purchases have been approved despite a report late last year of intended budget cuts. They are firmly in line with President Vladimir Putin’s intention to advance his military’s reach around the globe. All told, Russia has allotted $335.7 billion to modernize its military between 2011 and 2010.
Putin seems keen on expanding Russia’s global reach. A permanent military base was opened in Syria last year and earlier this week the Russian Navy announced it would also add 100 new airborne vehicles by 2020.
The announcements also come one day after the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense released plans to develop laser weapons for both ground and aerial defense – though it stated the new weapons won’t be ready until 2019 and weren’t in development due to any specific threat – as well as the U.S.’s development of laser technology over the last several years.
Russia’s expected additions do somewhat fly in the face of a report from November 2015 that stated Moscow would have to decrease military spending in 2017. The Financial Times unearthed a proposed draft budget that showed spending would dip from $61.69 billion to $45.6 billion, which would actually make Russia’s military budget similar to that of the United Kingdom. The report also found that Russia’s budget would dip by roughly 15 percent between 2015 and 2019.