Soviet Air Power 1945–84

  • M. J. Armitage
  • R. A. Mason


In 1985 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 followed by the expansion of the 1970s to the re-equipment and reorganisation of the 1980s is now much more clearly discernible.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Alexander Boyd, 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. 31.
    F. Gibney (ed.), The Penkovsky Papers (London: Collins, 1965) p. 169.Google Scholar
  11. 58.
    R. L. Garthoff, Soviet Military Policy (London: Faber & Faber, 1966) p. 120.Google Scholar
  12. 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
  13. 84.
    J. H. Hanson, ‘Development of Soviet Aviation Support’ in International Defence Review, 5/1980, p. 683.Google Scholar
  14. 90.
    As quoted by W. Sweetman, International Defence Review, 1/1984, p. 37.Google Scholar
  15. 105.
    See the comprehensive summary by Captain J. E. Moore in Erickson and Feuchtwanger (eds), Soviet Military Power and Performance (London: Macmillan, 1979).Google Scholar
  16. 107.
    W. Schneider Jr., ‘Soviet Military Airlift’, article in Air Force Magazine, March 1980.Google Scholar
  17. 109.
    I. Sidelnikov, ‘Peaceful Co-existence and the People’s Security’, Red Star, Moscow, 14 August 1973.Google Scholar
  18. 112.
    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. 115.
    Colonel V. A. Uryzhnikov, ‘In a complex situation’, Red Star, 1 January 1977, translated in Soviet Press, Selected Translations distributed by the USAF, p. 97.Google Scholar
  20. 2.
    JCS 1725/1, 1 May 1947 quoted in T. H. Etzold and J. L. Gaddis (eds) Containment, Documents on American Policy and Strategy 1945–50 (New York: Columbia, 1978) p. 302.Google Scholar
  21. 3.
    R. F. Futrell, Ideas, Concepts Doctrine: A History of Basic Thinking in the United States Air Force 1907–1964 (Alabama: Air University Maxwell Air Force Base, 1974) p. 109.Google Scholar
  22. 8.
    Beaufré, NATO and Europe (London: Faber & Faber, 1967).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    R. N. Rosecrance, Defence of the Realm (New York: Columbia, 1968) p. 160.Google Scholar
  24. 39.
    Air Commodore J. H. Knoop, NATO’s Fifteen Nations, April/May 1971, p. 70.Google Scholar
  25. 40.
    General Maxwell D. Taylor, The Uncertain Trumpet (New York: Harper & Row, 1960) p. 145.Google Scholar
  26. 41.
    Quoted by W. W. Kaufman, ‘The McNamara Strategy’ in Head and Rokke (eds), American Defence Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1973) p. 73.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Sir Michael Armitage and R. A. Mason 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Armitage
  • R. A. Mason

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations