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Russian Federation Pilot Training

It begins with three years of academic class room studies. Only after are selected to enter into the two-year pilot training program. They are given about 200 flying hours in Czech L-39 jet trainer. After this the cadets are transferred to an operative squadron, where they are given type training to the aircraft with which they will seek combat pilot rating. Many schools have supplemented their training fleet with old double-seat combat aircraft.

After graduation the pilots were transferred to a new airbase to one-year type training of their future aircraft type. The average flying time per cadet during training is about 50 flying hours, which facilitates only the elementary pilot skills.

All pilots in every regiment are split into three groups: those who can fly and who are considered the best trained specialists, those who are allowed two or three flights a season and no more, and finally, the "youngsters" who do not fly at all. Every now and then some of them are chosen to replace men from the first category who retire. Even the word "youngster" is relative; there are officers for example in Marinovsky base with three or four years of service behind them already. The last time they flew aircraft was in military school.

The Russian Air Force has three different kinds of flying instructors: inspection pilots operating in operative regiments, type instructors providing conversion-to-type training, and VVAUL instructors giving basic training. In operative units, flight commanders and senior commanding staff have flying instructor rating for the type of aircraft they are flying. All operative regiments organize instructor courses and the flying instructors belong to class I pilots. Type instructors all have operative flight experience. The VVAUL instructors belong to the lowest caste among the flying instructors, and often it is impossible for them to change tasks. Majority of the VVAUL instructors are graduates from the pilot schools, who have directly been put to a year´s instructor course and then straight to a training position without having a chance to gain any operative experience.

Advanced Training of Fighter and Attack Aircraft Pilots

Flying operations in operative squadrons are regulated by the handbook of flying operations and the combat training course handbook "Kurs boyevoi podgotovki". The first specifies the quantity and quality of sorties required for readiness pilot rating in different sortie categories ranging from instrument approach to launch profiles of different air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. The latter is a program on how new pilots should be trained to combat aircraft types and how they can achieve the readiness pilot rating. It contains over 200 different air combat, attack, formation, and so forth, sorties.

The pilots have traditionally been divided into three readiness categories:

Class III pilots:

To become qualified as class III pilot, the pilot has to complete one year of training after the VVAUL. The requirements are 600 sorties and 350 - 400 full flying hours. The pilot is qualified for daytime operations only and the weather minimums are cloud base at 250 meters and 2,500-meter visibility. The pilot can fly exercises ranging from small section formations to squadron formations of the maximum of sixteen aircraft. In order to acquire class III pilot rating, the normal requirement is that the pilot has completed 52 first flight program steps or exercises from the combat training course.

Class II pilots:

It can take even three to four years after graduation to achieve the class II pilot rating. The requirements are 770 sorties and 450-500 flying hours. Class II pilot is qualified for readiness duty both in daytime and at night. He has instrument flying qualifications and status to fly controlled attack and air combat exercises. The daytime weather minimums are the same as for class III pilots, and at night the minimums are cloud base 500 meters and visibility five kilometers. Class II pilot is authorized to participate in all attack missions.

Class I pilots:

To earn class I qualifications, the pilot has to have 1,200 sorties and 550 flying hours behind him. It can take six to seven years after the VVAUL before this is achieved (if pilot training is properly dimensioned, same qualifications can be achieved in two years). Class I pilot has full instrument flying qualifications and he can fly any mission given to him. The weather minimums are 150-meter cloud base and 1500-meter visibility. In order to maintain his class I rating the pilot has to fly the minimum of 50 hours per year, which includes 10 hours of instrument flying.

In addition to the categories mentioned above, both the Air Force and the Air Defense Force use even a higher rating, "sharpshooter pilot", reserved for a limited number of experienced pilots. It is not so much a formal qualification, but rather recognition of proven skills. Sharpshooter pilots have to have class I rating and the minimum flight experience of 1,500 hours (19).

In addition to pilot classification, the air force has one honorary ranking, "honored military pilot". Typically this rating is granted to the highest command and most promising regiment commanders.

The squadron performance is measured according to how well it can carry out the training program and how many class I pilots it can maintain. The combat training handbook specifies which are the entry requirements to each pilot class. This handbook, which is revised about every five years, is meant to provide nationwide standards for training methods and qualification procedures. However, in practice regiment commanders set their own standards thus causing variations. These, on the other hand, have given rise to much criticism at the executive level.

Daily flying operations are carried out according to the combat training handbook, but in readiness inspections the performance is judged on the basis of the handbook of combat methods and regulations. These two differ in many places and cause dangerous situations and accidents during inspections. Under the pressure of an inspection, the squadrons aiming at more realism in combat action start taking risks they have not learned to manage during daily routine training. The executive echelon has already proposed that the regulations be harmonized so that realistic combat situations could be practiced already during normal training. Then it would no longer be necessary to suddenly change from routine performances to risky tactical situations and back.

Russia`s flying training programme with four years operational pilot training scheduled.

Updated On: 12.02.13