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Russian Su-30 fighter jets criticized by Belarus, they want F-16 – Defence Blog


Russia has started implementing a contract on the delivery of a batch of its newest Su-30SM multirole fighter jets to Belarus, but some analysts raised concerns about costs over the entire life cycle of the aircraft, from fabrication to maintenance.

The publication Lenta.ru reported Friday that a wide range of renowned experts has expressed their concerns regarding Belarus selected Russian-made combat aircraft to replace ageing Soviet-era MiG-29 fleet.

Andrey Porotnikov, BelarusSecurityBlog’s project leader, said that operating and support costs of Russian aircraft are more expensive than U.S.-made F-16 fighter aircraft.

Usually, the combat aircraft life-cycle cost for an estimated life of 35 years is 2-2.5 times its purchase price, as a result of which the total cost of maintenance of each Belarus’s Su-30SM will cost $100-125 million.

“And now, to sum up, the price of aircraft [about $ 50 million], the maintain of airworthiness and modernization. We get the amount from 185 to 210 million dollars for each (!) aircraft in the next 35 years. And the squadron [12 aircraft], respectively, from 2.22 billion to 2.52 billion dollars. The amount is not small, ”- Andrey Porotnikov stated.

Another disadvantage of the fighter manufactured in Russia is its AL-31FP engines, which six units “eat” during the Su-30SM life cycle (two of them are already installed and paid for at the time of purchase). This circumstance in the publication is explained by the fact that “Soviet (Russian) aircraft engines are traditionally inferior to Western ones not only in fuel efficiency but also in between-repairs and operating life cycles.”

“The Polish Air Force simultaneously operates the Soviet twin-engine fighter MiG-29 and the American single-engine F-16. It is assumed that the American fighter will fly off all 35 years with the same engine that was originally installed on it. Unfortunately, this does not work out with the MiG-29: eight engines will have to be replaced in the same period, ” explained analyst.

Photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan Bevan

According to TASS, the Su-30SM is a generation 4++ serial-produced and upgraded two-seat super-maneuverable fighter jet. The Su-30SM is furnished with two AL-31FP thrust-vectoring reheated double-flow turbofan engines. The fighter has an operating range of 1,500 km and flight endurance of 3.5 hours without refueling.

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U.S. Air Force retired integral component of long-range strategic bombing capabilities – Defence Blog


The U.S. Air Force retired an integral component of the United States’ long-range strategic bombing capabilities – the final Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile (CALCM) package.

The CALCM missile package is retired at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 20, 2019.

Initially beginning design in 1974, the CALCM missile has been employed in combat operations to include Desert Storm, Desert Strike, Desert Fox, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Decades later, the final missile package was disassembled to become demilitarized.

“It’s incredible to see the tail end of a weapons system come full circle,” Tech. Sgt. Carlos Solorza, 2nd Munitions Squadron weapons system bay chief said during the final upload of the CALCM weapon system. “I don’t think I’ll ever be apart of another weapon retirement and the fact that I’m here right now is pretty special.”

The CALCM missile is a small, winged missile powered by a turbofan jet engine, able to fly complicated routes through terrain with the guidance of a GPS aided inertial navigation system.

“I’ve loaded this weapon system well over 300 times,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Paul LaFlame, former weapons superintendent at Barksdale. “This has been the primary weapon system on the B-52 for decades now.”

Although missile design began in the mid-1970s, CALCM wasn’t employed in combat until January of 1991, during Operation Secret Squirrel, a mission in which seven B-52G Stratofortresses took off from Barksdale toward Iraqi targets, launching 35 CALCM missiles.

Opening the first strikes of Operation Desert Storm, the then-new CALCM missiles devastated Saddam Hussein’s forces and marked the first time GPS has been used to guide a missile to a target.

Former members of the mission, retired Cols. Trey Morriss and Warren Ward alongside LaFlame were in attendance for the final download of the last CALCM missiles.

“It’s awesome to see these young Airmen, it makes me feel young,” said Ward. “It’s always great to interact with young troops, they’re phenomenal. It’s great to see the Air Force still moving along seamlessly, with great people who still get the job done,” LaFlame added.

The CALCM weapon system is to be replaced over time as more advanced Long-Range, Stand-Off (LRSO) weapons enter the active stockpile.

Photo by Airman Jacob Wrightsman

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