Moscow Times: Russian air force suffering under Kremlin political drive (1)
Six Russian military aircraft have been involved in accidents in little over a month leading to speculation that Russia's air force is being stretched under Kremlin's political goals.
The latest accident took place just a few days ago, when a Tu-95 strategic bomber of the Russian Air Force crashed near the Chinese border, killing two pilots, the second accident involving a Tu-95 since the beginning of June, the Moscow Times reported.
The main reason lies in the heightened tempo of patrols and exercises since the beginning of the Ukraine crises last year, experts told the daily.
In 2014, NATO intercepted 400 Russian military aircraft near its borders, 50 percent more than during the previous year. Russia is testing NATO's reaction time not only around Estonia, but near the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Southern Europe and even near the United States and Canada.
“Russian aircraft were never designed for maintainability, they were designed to be flown 10 years and then thrown away,” Mark Bobbi, a defense expert, said, adding that Russia has not been able to renew its fleet despite President Vladimir Putin launching a 320-billion-euro rearmament program.
A lack of experienced pilots was also quoted as a reason for the numerous accidents, which before the crisis averaged one every two months. Experts told the daily that poor or irregular maintenance of aircraft was also to be blamed.