Every Plane in Russia’s Air Force

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for well over a year, but its advance has been stalled. Some analysts are speculating that President Vladimir Putin may soon take to the skies to push the balance of power in Russia’s favor as its air force has always been a strong means of projecting power. (See the 19 wars Russia has lost from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin.)

The Russian air force, a key element of Russia’s military power, boasts an extensive and varied fleet of aircraft designed for specific roles and capabilities. Despite the challenges faced after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian air force has maintained its operational effectiveness and continually modernized its aircraft inventory. 

To identify all of the planes in active service in the Russian air force, 24/7 Wall St. referenced the 2023 report World Air Forces from FlightGlobal, an aviation and aerospace industry website. We ranked aircraft by the number of units in active service. We excluded combat helicopters and trainer aircraft from this list. Supplemental data regarding the type of aircraft, how many units are in active service, and how many are on order came from FlightGlobal. Data on each aircraft’s first flight came from various military and historical sources.

Combat aircraft are indispensable to the Russian air force’s strategic vision, with both multi-role and specialized platforms. The Sukhoi Su-27 and its derivatives, the Su-30, and Su-35, are the primary air superiority fighters in the inventory. The Su-27, a highly capable and maneuverable aircraft, has proven its efficiency in various operations since its introduction in the 1980s. 

The MiG-29 and MiG-35 are another set of vital combat aircraft in the Russian air force, serving in various roles that include air policing, interception, and ground attack. Both aircraft are known for their maneuverability and speed. To compare, here are the most expensive planes in the U.S. Air Force.

Apart from fighter and attack aircraft, the Russian air force also has strategic and tactical transport as well as aerial refueling. The Ilyushin Il-76 and Antonov An-124 are heavy-lift transport planes that perform strategic airlift, while the Ilyushin Il-78 offers air-to-air refueling for long-range missions.

Rounding out Russia’s fleet are its long-range bombers like the Tupolev Tu-95, Tu-160, and Tu-22M, which are integral to Russia’s nuclear deterrence and strike capabilities. These bombers are capable of carrying nuclear and conventional cruise missiles, ensuring Russia’s ability to project power across vast distances.

Overall the Russian air force boasts a diverse array of active aircraft and is known as one of the strongest in the world by sheer numbers, capable of maintaining strategic balance domestically and abroad. 

Here is a look at all the planes in active service in the Russian air force.

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