Soviet Air Power 1945–80

  • M. J. Armitage
  • R. A. Mason


In 1980 the Soviet Air Forces (SAF) were equipped with some 10,000 modern fixed-wing aircraft and 4,000 helicopters.1 The Soviet aviation industry was producing a further 1,800 planes each year. The result was that Soviet air power was a vitally important element in any assessment of the military balance between East and West and, moreover, was increasingly permitting the Soviet Union to demonstrate a potential for military influence far from its own national boundaries. Indeed, the comparative growth in Soviet air power since 1945 far exceeded that of any other country. Its progress, generally shrouded in secrecy but occasionally exposed for dramatic international effect, has often been both underestimated and overemphasised. Problems of contemporary analysis remain, but its evolution from the aftermath of the Second World War, through the debates of the Khrushchev period to the current expansion under Mr Brezhnev is now much more clearly discernible.


Nuclear Weapon Ground Force Rear Area Military Aviation Soviet Foreign Policy 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Alexander Boyo, The Soviet Air Force since 1918 (London: Macdonald & Jane’s, 1977) p. 111.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    V. D. Sokolovsky, Military Strategy, Soviet Doctrine and Concepts ( London: Pall Mall, 1963 ) p. 158.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    I. V. Timokhovich, The Operational Art of the Soviet Air Force in the Great Patriotic War (Moscow, 1976 ) pp. 8–9.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    J. Alexander, Russian Aircraft since 1940 ( London: Putnam, 1975 ) p. 18.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Asher Lee, The Soviet Air Force ( London: Duckworth, 1961 ) p. 72.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    Quoted in T. W. Wolfe, Soviet Power and Europe, 1945–1970 ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1970 ) p. 63.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    A. Yakovlev, The Aim of a Lifetime ( Moscow: Progress Press, 1972 ).Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    N. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers ( London: André Deutsch, 1974 ) p. 39.Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    R. F. Futrell, Ideas, Concepts and Doctrine in USAF 1907–64 (Air University Maxwell, 1974 ) pp. 167–71.Google Scholar
  10. 26.
    Colonel General of Aviation Nikitin, Soviet Aviation in Military Thought 2–49, p. 62 quoted in R. L. Garthoff, Soviet Strategy in the Nuclear Age (Atlantic, 1958) p. 173.Google Scholar
  11. 31.
    F. Gibney (ed.), The Penkovsky Papers ( London: Collins, 1965 ) p. 169.Google Scholar
  12. 58.
    R. L. Garthoff, Soviet Military Policy (London: Faber & Faber, 1966 ) p. 120.Google Scholar
  13. 62.
    Biryuzov, Lessons of the Beginning Period, p. 44. Military Thought 8/64, quoted in J. D. Douglass Jr, Soviet Military Strategy in Europe ( London: Pergamon, 1980 ) p. 94.Google Scholar
  14. 81.
    T. W. Wolfe, ‘The Military Dimension in the making of Soviet Foreign and Defence Policy’, statement to the United States House of Representatives Sub-Committee, 11 October 1977, pp. 35–40.Google Scholar
  15. 83.
    These increases may be plotted from the London source of the annual Military Balance published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, or in the collective statistical comparisons of J. M. Collins in American and Soviet Military Trends (Georgetown, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  16. 84.
    J. H. Hanson, ‘Development of Soviet Aviation Support’ in International Defence Review 5/1980, p. 683.Google Scholar
  17. 101.
    See the comprehensive summary by Captain J. E. Moore in Erickson and Feuchtwanger (eds), Soviet Military Power and Performance ( London: Macmillan, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  18. 108.
    N. A. Lomov (ed.) The Revolution in Military Affairs (Moscow, 1973) translated by USAF ‘Soviet Military Thought’ series, no. 3, p. 6.Google Scholar
  19. 109.
    A major Soviet publication, recommended to all officers was V. V. Druzhinin and D. S. Kontorov, Concept, Algorithm, Decision published in Moscow in 1972 and translated as no. 6 in the USAF ‘Soviet Military Thought’ series. During 1980 three excellent articles on developments in Soviet command and control were ‘Command and Control and the Soviet Military System’ inDefence Attaché and ‘Soviet Command Technology’ inJane’s Defence Review 1/1980, both by John Erickson, and ‘Soviet C3’ by N. Polmar inAir Force Magazine, June 1980.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© M. J. Armitage and R. A. Mason 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Armitage
  • R. A. Mason

There are no affiliations available

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