41 Kursk Air Group

Kursk Air Group

Posted on March 30, 2012 by

On March 12th, 2012 Russian people celebrated the 96th anniversary since foundation of the first fighter air group. Today we want to visit Buturlinovka, the Voronezh Region, where Kursk Air Group featuring fighters Mikoyan MiG-29SMT and MiG-29UBT is temporary stationed.

4+ generation crews are preparing for practice shoot. Graduates of flying schools have started practicing.

The VKK-6M is a high-altitude compensating suit that compensates for excess pressure in the pilot’s lungs.

R. Kupchin was appointed commander of Kursk Air Group in 2010. He says his pilots have about 112 flight hours a year. In general, they are satisfied with their aircrafts although some of them have “child diseases” which are easy to fix.

Since January, 2011 Kursk Air Group has been stationed in Buturlinovka because the runway in their hometown is currently under reconstruction.

These planes were designed and manufactured for Algeria which refused to accept them. As a result, they were assigned to Kursk’ and Lipetsk’ airbases.

Algeria alleged some defects and stopped accepting the planes (the MiG-28SMT and MiG-29UBT) which later became the pride of the Russian Air Force. “Algerian” planes had spent less than 80 hours in the air before they were returned to the producing country.


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41 Responses to “Kursk Air Group”

  1. ayaa says:

    “The pilots are rather young. The majority of them were born in 1983 or later.”

    So, Testiculese. What do you have to say about that? Still convinced that all Russian pilots are in their thirties and fourties?

    • Testicules says:

      I say look at the last picture and tell me that guy is a posterchild for fitness.

      • ayaa says:

        I say go to Buturlinovka AFB, and see how the regular pilots look like.

        Of course only the best (usually this means the most experienced ones) make it into the elite squadrons like aerobatics teams or the Kuznetsovs air wing.

  2. Osip says:

    “The K-36DM of the 2nd generation is one of the best ejection seats in the world.”

    Is this the seat so often demonstrated at airshows?

  3. Matlok says:

    Interesting post!

  4. Yubin Yankinov says:

    Almost every person shown in these photos looks like they’re WAY older than claimed here. There are a few younger guys in the back of the briefing room images but most of them look 35-50.

  5. JZ says:

    I like the Russian airplanes, they look so smooth and nice, makes them look like they are built for defence.
    American airplanes look aggresive and ugly, like a real attack plane should look.
    European planes just look ugly…

  6. Apu Gupta says:

    ah at least an airforce regiment that doesn’t look that rusty/wornout, those MiG-29SMT and MiG-29UBT are recent i guess

  7. al says:

    Excellent planes. Not as good at Su-27 variants or any the US has in its inventory now, but still good.

    And 2 grand a month? That’s waitress money in the EU or US. Pay your pilots more. They deserve it.

    • ayaa says:

      Not as good any the US has in its inventory now? How exactly do you figure that? Pls explain.

      • jeffrey pigden says:

        He can’t because they aren’t! The F22 brings the US up to where the Russians were in 2000. The F35 puts them ahead in some things, behind in others.

        • ayaa says:

          “He cant because they aren’t!”

          Is that supposed to mean that he can’t because the Migs aren’t as good as any fighters in the US inventory, or did you mean something else? It’s just unclear.

  8. Alvis says:

    Does MiG-29 have reliability issues? my country airforce just scrap it to go for new Sukhoi too

    • moo says:

      No reliability issues that I can think of. What country are you from, maybe they bought Flankers because the MiG-29’s have exceeded there airframe life. Also MiG-29 is more considered a point defense fighter and the Su-27’s are considered more long raged air superiority fighters.

  9. Orion says:

    Lots of haters. 1983 would put the pilots at 29 or older, so yeah, I guess most of them would be in their 30’s or above. So what?

    The MIG is a pretty aircraft and I appreciate you showing it off here! My unit flies Chinooks, which are, of course, the best aircraft in the world, but one would be hard pressed to call them pretty. :)

    I’m quite sure that in any one-to-one duel, it’s going to come down to the pilot, not the airframe.


  10. Stavrowsky says:

    I suspect the Russian planes are like everything else Russian. Built rough. Poor fit and finish…. but work well enough. Like an AK-47 compared to an M-16. The AK is more reliable, but the M-16 is MUCH more accurate. That’s why no Russian-made plane has ever shot down an F-15, while F-15s have literally killed hundreds of MiGs. The Russian planes perform well, and the Russian pilots are as good as any (and probably better than most), but their weapons and avionics just aren’t as good.

    • ayaa says:

      In what way are Russian weapons and avionics not as good?!

      Ps. Every single “russian-made” fighter that was shot down by a F-15 or F-16, were export versions. In other words, they had only a fraction of the capabilities of the RuAF versions.

      • ayaa says:

        Plus, the Mig-29 was intended to be used in a defensive role (holding off enemy fighters and preventing them from getting within range of friendly ground units) while the heavier and more powerful Su-27 was intended to actually engage in air-to-air combat with the enemy fighters (and because of their greater range they could take the fight to the enemy, something which the Mig-29 would find hard to do).

        Su-27 ≈ F-15
        Mig-29 ≈ F-16

      • Stavrowsky says:

        The Russian radars, computer systems, and over-the-horizon missile technology has always been behind that of the West. When Victor Belenko flew his RuAF MiG-25 to Japan, they discovered the electronics on the plane were a good 30 years behind the West in technology. The radar was still using vacuum tubes, for Christ’s sake. I’m sure they’ve caught up a good deal, but they are still not on a par with the first-line American, French, British, and Israeli stuff, and heven’t been since the late 70s.

      • Stavrowsky says:

        And a lot of them were shot down by American ‘export versions’. If you had maybe a two to one ratio, I’d probably agree with you. But when the ratio is hundreds to zero, there’s a qualitative advantage at play. In over ten thousand collective combat sortees, only ONE F-15 has ever been lost, and that was to a surface-to-air missile at low altitude. I don’t care what your biases are…. that’s a damned impressive record, and it didn’t happen by accident.

        • ayaa says:

          F-15 C, D and E’s are export versions?! Hard to believe.

          In what actual conflict did F-15’s or any other western aircraft shoot down hundreds of Mig-29s?!! If you look at the Gulf War alone, Iraq flew less than 40 Mig-29s, all of them export versions. “that’s a damned impressive record” Thats a damn flawed record.

          And you claim that “Russian radars, computer systems, and over-the-horizon missile technology has always been behind that of the West”. Yet no evidence to support your claims. Only the defected Mig-25. In case you didn’t know the Mig-25 was designed so crudely to keep prices down and also because the vacuum tubes wouldn’t be affected much by a EMP from a nuclear blast.

          • Testicules says:

            The Isrealis have killed the Syrians in very large numbers in the air.

            • ayaa says:

              And not one of them was a Mig-29. The actual combat record of F-15s vs Mig-29 is something like 12-0, not hundreds-0.

              • Stavrowsky says:

                MiG-21s are mach 3 capable jets. Close-quarters maneuvering ability doesn’t matter a great deal when you are engaging at over the horizon distances with hypersonic missile technology. At certain combat ranges, any jet is really nothing more than a weapons platform.

                I have never said the Russian jets were not good planes, and nobody argues their pilot capability (though US pilots do generally receive a lot more training… just because of more available funding for it I’m sure). So you are left with the weapons and electronics.

                When the Syrians lost 87 jets (mostly 21s, but some export 23s and SU 20s as well)in the ’82 Bekaa Valley air campaign to the Israelis losing 0 during a month of air combat, the Israelis were flying Mirages, KFirs and F-4s, with a smattering of F-16s and F-15s. Credit on both sides was given to superior western missile technology….. particularly in the air-to-air engagement capabilities. The ‘black boxes’ on the Israeli planes were also very capable at neutralizing the Syrian SAMs that were fired at them as well.

                There was a great cartoon floating around after Reagan’s air raid on Libya. It showed Khadafi on the phone with Gorbachev saying, “No! No! I don’t want any more surface to air missiles. I want some surface to aircraft missiles!”

                • ayaa says:

                  Those Syrian planes (in addition to being ancient export models), were using ancient K-13 and R-23 missiles with a smattering of a handful of R-60s. Out of those, only the R-60 is left in limited use with the RuAF.

                  Look up the R-27, R-33, R-37 and R-77 missiles. All of them easily matching up with their respective equivalents in the so-called west.

                  As for electronics, again look up the Su-35, Mig-35 and the PAK FA for MODERN RUSSIAN equipment. Not thirty year old ones used by second-class (at best) airforces, and used against western planes a generation ahead.

                  • Devon Stavrowsky says:

                    All I know is the combat record is the combat record, and when I’ve sat in the O club and get about half toasted with a USAF fighter jock and asked him (when he’s about half ‘in the bag’ telling it like it is – in vino veritas) if it would actually be problematic going up[ against the Russian Air Force, the response I got was invariably something along the lines of, “Unless they got us significantly outnumbered…. it’s not really an issue. And even then it might not be.”

                    Could just be bravado, but I go the distinct impression they know whereof they speak.

                    It could just be bravado

                    • ayaa says:

                      “All I know is the combat record is the combat record”. And what record is that hundreds to zero?

                      Maybe you should go to a town hosting a Russian air base, go to a bar and ask the Russian pilots what they think of going up against the USAF. Lol.

      • Stavrowsky says:

        I often read posts by Russian jet aficionados claiming the planes used by the Russian Air Force are VASTLY superior to their export models. Only in the above article, the Kursk Air Group fields planes that WERE export models… that Algeria rejected. So which is it? Are the planes basically the same, or is the RuAF now flying inferior equipment? Has to be one of the two.

        • ayaa says:

          They are the export versions all right, but they are heavily upgraded with RuAF standard equipment, stuff which would never be sold to other countries.

        • ayaa says:

          But then again, in recent years, those that can afford the high-tech can get it, like India with the Su-30MKI, which is technically the export version of the domestic Su-30, but is capable of matching the Su-30.

  11. John says:

    What is that ‘thing’ on the rear canopy?

  12. Bunny butt says:

    How many of you ‘experts’ have ever flown a high performance bird?

  13. ayaa says:

    “I don’t care what your biases are”

    Who exactly is being biased here? I’m just giving my arguing my case, without claiming that the F-15 or F-16 is crap and American avionics and radar are rubbish. Yet you are the one preposterously claiming that Russian equipment is 30 years or so behind the so-called west.

    Do a little research into the PAK FA, the Su-35 and the Mig-35 to get a REAL idea of Russian avionics and radar, and then compare it to their equipment

  14. laddybuck says:

    Interesting dialogue of both half informed and sophisticated analysis, thoughtful and entertaining. Just a couple of thoughts: any who have ever seen Russian demo pilots perform at the Paris Air Show must testify to their raw audacity. Any who saw the Thursday and Saturday demos of the new Sukhoi (32MK?) at Paris in 2000 will recall the wonder of the vectored thrust demos, the appalling lapse of the Saturday crash, and the amazing performance of that K36 ejection system. All of which said to me, respect what the Russians are up to; never, ever, underestimate what any technically capable society may accomplish, and always try to learn from history. How many of us knew what a marvel was the little YAK 3 of W.W.II? Only much later did I learn that it was so dangerous at middle altitude that Me-109 drivers were forbidden under severe penalty to engage them below 1500 metres. Thanks for the fun.

  15. jet jock says:

    I ferried a lot of Bell made P-39s from Casablanca to Bari Italy during WW II where women Russian pilots picked them up. They LOVED ‘em. Equipment arguments and prejudices aside. The jock flying the machine will determine the outcome of the battle.

  16. Joe says:

    Aircraft and operators matter much less now. Air to air engagements have long ago passed the line-of-sight dogfights of old. As radar and missile technology improve missiles are fired from further and further away. Nowadays, the first pilot to detect, lock on, and fire his missiles will be the one that wins. In this case the F-15 and the F-22 have a huge lead.

    • vorontsevich (f/k/a ayaa) says:

      How so?! Compare the F-15 to the Su-35 or Mig-35, or even to the Su-30, and you will see that they have largely equal capabilities (if anything the Su-35 and Mig-35 are superior, mainly due to them being recent designs). Same story with the missiles.

  17. Stavrowsky says:

    It looks to me like we’re going to have proxy wars going on in the Middle East for some time now. I’ll be very surprised if there are not air engagements between western aircraft and Russian aircraft occurring. Putin is telling Obama not to try to initiate a no-fly zone, or he’ll sell the Syrians the latest Russian SAMs, and may even send in Russian generation five fighters. If that happens, and the Russian planes are shot down in great numbers, I don’t want to hear more whining about them being ‘export’ models, because Putin would not send in ‘export models’ under those circumstances.

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