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Russian Tactical Aviation since 2001

Russian Tactical Aviation since 2001 Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2017 Title Russian Tactical Aviation since 2001
Author Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov Publisher Hikoki Publications
Published 2017 ISBN 9781902109527
Format 304 pages, hardcover MSRP (USD) $56.95


At the peak of the Cold War, aviation historians and modelers alike were forced to work from small monographs of Soviet aircraft illustrated with grainy black and white or poor-quality color photos along with questionable illustrations/color profiles. Many of these monographs, limited though they may be, were treated as gold since there were few alternatives for coverage of (then) modern tactical aircraft. I still have many of these monographs in my library today, but mostly for nostalgia purposes. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the so-called 'Iron Curtain', many of the subjects of interest behind the Iron Curtain suddenly came into clear view as previously unavailable information started flowing.

After the turn of the century, a new series of monographs about Soviet/Russian combat aircraft started to appear from Polygon Press written by Yefim Gordon. Little did I know at the time that I would wind up owning almost every title he's published. Together with Dmitriy Komisarov, Yefim Gordon started collecting and publishing larger and larger works that ranged from individual aircraft monographs to full histories of the different Experimental Design Bureaus (OKB), and from operational histories from the Great Patriotic War (WWII) to contemporary operations of various Soviet/Russian air arms.

Five years ago, the authors published 'Soviet Tactical Aviation' which examined the organization and aircraft of the tactical air arm of the Soviet Air Force (VVS) from the end of World War II to the fall of the Soviet Union, with an outstanding look at combat operations in Afghanistan. This title sold out relatively quickly and if you look on Amazon for this title, it can be found from third-party resellers for almost ten times its cover price. And you thought eBay was bad...

Here is the follow-on to Soviet Tactical Aviation, hot off the press. Russian Tactical Aviation provides clear insight into the state of Tactical Air Forces, from organization and composition, to operations and hardware. In this informative title, the authors start their coverage by walking through each of the units, where they are located, what aircraft they operate, and even what bort numbers are assigned. There is even a detailed look at the forces deployed into Syria in 2015.

The title walks through the aircraft that are in service with the Russian Tactical Air Forces including the Su-35 Flanker, Su-34 Fullback, Su-25 Frogfoot, Su-24 Fencer, MiG-29 Fulcrum, MiG-31 Foxhound, MiG-35 Fulcrum, Mi-28 Havok, Ka-52 Hokum, and Yak-130 Mitten. Each subject provides a wealth of current color photographs as well as color profiles for illustration as well as explanations and illustrations for various airframe markings from the modern VVS Russia, civil registration numbers, bort numbers, and unit symbology (where applicable).

If you have seen Soviet Tactical Aviation, you remember the photos of the aircraft and crews deployed in combat operations in Afghanistan. In this volume, there is excellent coverage of the combat operations in the invasion of Georgia and the support of Syria. Descriptions of operations are provided as well as mishaps and losses, including an Su-24 lost in Georgia and another Su-24 downed by Turkey over Syria. Color and black and white strike camera images are included as well as photos and descriptions of several mishaps/crashes.

With a look to the future, there is excellent coverage of the PAK-FA T-50 including color images of the various prototypes and early production examples. What does the T-50 look like with external weapons? There are good photos here as well. Looks at other future variants are also included including the Su-34, MiG-35, and Yak-130. The future coverage also looks at the next generation of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons that are coming online to support current and future tactical aviation.

If you're looking for a comprehensive reference of contemporary Russian tactical aviation, this is the title for which you've been waiting. This is an excellent sequel to Soviet Tactical Aviation (if you can find a copy) and dovetails nicely with the other service and aircraft-specific titles published by these prolific authors. Buy yourself a copy today (I did)!


My sincere thanks to Specialty Press for this review sample!