Cold War Samurai – The 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1987 – 1991

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National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day 2017

Today is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day on this, the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan in the Philippines, 1942.  President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation for this day, which is viewable at:

Although the 14th TFS did not have any assigned members captured during the Cold War years in Japan, the squadron throughout its long history has three pilots who became POWs in World War II (as 14th PRS) and three RF-4C aircrew who became POW’s in the Vietnam War (14th TRS) who warrant remembrance:

Acosta, Hector M. On 9 December 1972, First Lieutenant Hector M. Acosta, 14TRS, was a Photo Systems Operator in the back seat of RF-4C 68-0597 was shot down on his 90th mission by a surface-to-air missile just north of Vinh, North Vietnam was captured and spent some months in the Hanoi Hilton before being repatriated on 29 March 1973.

Dixon, Robert J. Circa 15 February 1945, Capt. Robert J. Dixon, 14PRS Commander, shot down by flak on a recon mission in Spitfire PR Mk XI, serial number PL866 (MACR 12324) to Merseburg, Germany. He stayed in the Air Force after the war and eventually rose to four-star rank, and saw combat again in Korea and Vietnam.

Gauntt, William A. On 13 August 1972, RF-4C pilot Captain William A. Gauntt, 14TRS, was nearly done with his combat tour and on a recon mission in RF-4C 68-0604 over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) when he was shot down by anti-aircraft artillery. He was repatriated on 27 March 1973.

Hillborn, Robert B. On 5 September 1944, Lt. Robert B. Hillborn, 14PRS, was shot down by a Luftwaffe Me-262 jet fighter while flying Spitfire PR Mk XI PL782 (MACR 6687) on a mission to obtain bomb damage assessment pictures of Stuttgart, Ludwigshafen and Karlsruhe. He was attacked by two Me-262’s near Stuttgart, hit, and bailed out of his stricken aircraft near Feurbach. He was a POW at Luft Stalag I, Barth, Germany.

Ruhling, Mark J. On 3 November 1968, RF-4C recon systems operator Captain Mark J. Ruhling, 14TRS, was shot down in RF-4C 66-0445 near Dong Hoi while on a recon mission against a Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) site in North Vietnam.

Van Wart, Franklin I. On 1 March 1944, Lt. Franklin I. Van Wart (or Franklyn K. Van Wart), 14PRS, was shot down in Spitfire PR Mk XI MB945, named “Lu Mar II.” (MACR 2744)

So on this National Former POW Recognition Day, 2017, let us render a hand salute to these men and all those men and women who served and sacrificed as a POW for our country.  These former captives deserve our recognition and appreciation.

P.S.  Regrets to all readers for the absence of new material in recent months.  A sudden family health crisis required priority attention and still does, so updates will likely be slow for the foreseeable future.  But if you have found this web log, please do look through all the material posted already and you will surely find something else that is interesting.


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The Bismarck of the Pacific

When one hears the name of the warship Bismarck, one thinks of the mighty German battleship that drew the attention of the British Royal Navy’s Home Fleet and more when she broke out into the Atlantic Ocean in 1941. Before she could be stopped she sank the famous British battlecruiser Hood and battered battleship Prince of Wales.


The German battleship Bismarck seen before her dramatic breakout from the Baltic Sea into the Atlantic Ocean in May, 1941.  (

But in the late Cold War in the Northwest Pacific area there was another warship which stood out; she was the biggest, meanest, most heavily-armed surface warship the Soviet Union had afloat. Kind of like the Bismarck of the Pacific with her vast array of sensors and weapons. She was the Kirov-class nuclear-powered guided-missile battle cruiser (CGN) Frunze (Фрунзе), the second ship of the class, named after Bolshevik leader Mikhail Frunze. No one in their right mind flying over the ocean blue, whether fixed or rotary wing, prop or jet, wanted to be anywhere near her in a time of war.

Kirov-class_battlecruiser Frunze

Soviet nuclear-powered guided-missile battlecruiser Frunze is seen enroute to the Soviet Pacific Fleet in 1984.  She was the largest surface combatant assigned to the Soviet Pacific Fleet during the Cold War (Wikipedia)


Not to say that was the case in a time of peace, as various US and friendly nation ships and aircraft were keen to view this vessel. After Frunze was commissioned on 31 October 1984 she joined the Soviet Pacific Ocean Fleet in December, 1984, visiting Angola, Yemen and Vietnam along the way.

Adm Lazarev and Chinese DD Chungking

The Soviet battlecruiser Frunze passes near a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) guided-missile destroyer DDG-133 Chungking enroute to join the Soviet Pacific Fleet.  (

Vessels like the four completed CGN’s of the Kirov-class inspired the modernization and return to service of the US Navy’s four Iowa-class battleships in the 1980s.


US Navy battleship Iowa (BB-61) fires her main battery of 9 x 16-inch naval rifles in this 1980’s photo.  She was also armed with 12 x 5-inch guns, 4 x Phalanx 20mm Close-In Weapons Systems (CIWS), 32 x Tomahawk cruise missiles and 16 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.  (


Frunze’s arrival in the Pacific was definitely noted by the 432nd TFW which activated at Misawa just a few months before. And as the 13th TFS came on line (1 Jun 1985) and then the 14th TFS (1 Jan 1987), they too noted her presence in the Soviet Pacific Fleet’s order of battle across the Sea of Japan.

What made this vessel so fearsome? (info tailored to Frunze; sister-ship armaments differ)

Frunze schematic admiral-lazarev-project-1144-orlan-battlecruiser-ex-ussr-frunze

Schematic of Kirov-class battlecruiser Frunze / Admiral Lazarev.  She is fitted with a slightly different array of sensors and weapons as compared to her sisters.  (

Anti-Ship Missiles
20 x SS-N-19 SHIPWRECK (P-700 Granit)

Peter the Great SSM firing

Kirov-class battlecruiser Peter the Great fires a SHIPWRECK anti-ship missile, capable of Mach 3 flight.  (

Surface-to-Air-Missiles (SAM)
12 x octuple vertical launchers for SA-N-6 GRUMBLE (S-300PMU Favorit) long-range SAM (96 missiles)

SAN6 Grumble

SA-N-6 GRUMBLE missile canisters which contain one GRUMBLE missile each are seen suspended beneath the octuple rotary missile launchers aboard a Kirov-class battlecruiser.  (Foxtrot Alpha website)

The missiles are ejected vertically from their launch canister after which the rocket motor ignites and propels the missile on its way.  Seen immediately below is the view of one such SA-N-6 GRUMBLE missile just out of the canister right before the rocket motor kicks in, possibly taken from Peter the Great. (Source:

SAn6 Grumble liftoff

Below:  16 x octuple vertical launchers for SA-N-9 GAUNTLET (3K95 Kinzhal) point-defense SAM (128 missiles)


A pair of SA-N-9 GAUNTLET point defense SAMs emerge from the forward octuple vertical launcher aboard Admiral Lazarev.  (Wikipedia, Tor missile system entry)

2 x twin rail launchers for SA-N-4 GECKO (4K33 OSA-M) point defense SAM (44 missiles)

SAN4 Gecko

Retractable twin rail launcher for SA-N-4 GECKO point defense missile in the intermediate position, with two GECKO missiles loaded, launch rails elevated outside circular storage base, but not yet extended out for firing.  (Foxtrot Alpha website)

Dual-Purpose Guns (anti-air and anti-surface)
2 x 5.1 inch (130 mm)/L70 guns (one gun turret with twin gun mount)

AK-130 130 mm L70

Twin 5.1-inch (130mm) guns on the Russian nuclear-powered guided-missile battlecruiser Peter the Great.  (

8 × AK-630 six-barreled 30 mm/L60 point-defense gatling guns


A Dalek-like AK-630 point defense gatling gun.  (Wikimedia Commons)

Anti-Submarine Weapons
2 × RBU-1000 305 mm ASW rocket launchers

2 × RBU-12000 (Udav-1) 254 mm ASW rocket launchers

10 x 533 mm ASW/ASuW torpedo tubes, Type 53 torpedo or SS-N-15 STARFISH ASW missile

3 x Ka-27 HELIX ASW helicopters

Although the Soviets built four of these vessels, only Frunze served in the Pacific, though some sources state Admiral Nakhimov did also.  Not as active as a US Navy equivalent vessel, she occasionally ventured out from her homeport in the Vladivostok area into deeper waters, but it didn’t seem often, and not for long, offering limited opportunities to get acquainted with US airpower in the region.


A US Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft  flies past Soviet battlecruiser Frunze in the 1980’s.  (JDR Military Service on


Her first commander was Captain 1st Rank Eugene G. Zdesenko, who remained her skipper until September, 1987 (or 1988, depending on source). He was succeeded by Captain of the 1st Rank Mikhail Shcherbakov.

On 22 April 1992 she was renamed Admiral Lazarev (Адмирал Лазарев) after Russian admiral Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev, as some things changed after the fall of the Soviet Union. She continued service until July, 1999, when she was inactivated and placed in caretaker status due to fiscal constraints.

On 6 December 2002, she apparently suffered a four-hour fire in the forecastle area before it was extinguished. Perhaps as a result of the damage, circa 2004-2005, components of her nuclear powerplant were removed, impacting her ability to return to service. In 2008 her commanding officer was 1st Class Captain Andrei Granin.

Reports in 2011-2012 that the ship would be returned to service did not pan out. A Russian source indicated there is not a facility in the Far East that can accomplish the work needed to modernize Admiral Lazarev and it is a long tow to Severodinsk at the other end of Russia for such work. A video posted in Youtube circa 2011 showed a vessel in perhaps a less than optimum state of preservation, with less than excited sailors pitching a little bit of snow from her decks, in this video titled “Admiral Lazarev:”

адмирал лазарев

As recently as 2014, her location was reported as in the Russian mothball fleet in Abrek Bay, near Fokino, Primorski Krai. She is only about 3.7 miles (6km) away from the Chazma Bay nuclear ship decommissioning facility. In August, 2014, she received new paint to help preserve her. See a short video in Russian language of the commemoration of the ship’s 30th birthday (giving an impression of German battleship Tirpitz in a snowy Norwegian fjord…) and a splendid new coat of paint, in a video titled  “Admiral Lazarev” celebrated the 30th anniversary of the first ascent moisture (sorry, using Google translate!), at:

«Адмирал Лазарев» отпраздновал 30 лет со дня первого подъема влаг

Some reports that came out in 2015 which indicated Admiral Lazarev, technically outdated and worn, would be scrapped in 2016. For now it appears the 14th Fighter Squadron Samurai won’t have to face the same prospective seaborne-threat their Tactical Fighter Squadron predecessors did in the Cold War. And that’s OK, really….

Today, only one vessel of the original four Kirov’s completed is active, Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great, the ex- Yuriy Andropov) as the flagship in the Russian Northern Fleet.

cgn099-Pyetr Veiky 001b

The flagship of the Russian Northern Fleet, the battlecruiser Peter the Great, maneuvers at sea with Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov  in the background.  (Jeff

But reports indicate a second vessel of the class, Admiral Nakhimov (ex-Kalinin), is being refurbished and updated for service after being laid-up for 15 years. Russia’s newest anti-ship, anti-air, and surface-to-surface missiles will be fitted on the vessel, expected to be available by 2019, including the Kalibr, Zircon hypersonic missiles (ready by 2020), and a naval variant of Russia’s S-400 missile system. More details on the extensive refit are at:

Russian media says that after Admiral Nakhimov returns to service Pyotr Veliky will be docked to undergo similar weapons upgrades, which could take three years. Meanwhile, Admiral Lazarev awaits her fate – will she return to life like Lazarus? Time will tell…

Kirov-class battlecruiser, Wikipedia entry, at:

Russian Battlecruiser Admiral Lazarev, Wikipedia entry, at:
Admiral Lazarev, Russian language entry in Wikipedia (with reference to 2002 fire), at:

Admiral Lazarev to be disposed of in 2016, at:

“Admiral Lazarev” – Kirov Class Battlecruiser, at:

Memories of the Future. Modernization of the nuclear eagles, at:

Russia is bringing back the world’s largest surface-combatant ship, at:

Kirov Class Battle Cruiser: The World’s Largest Surface Combatant, at:

Ships of the Soviet Navy : Kirov class, at:

SA-N-6 GRUMBLE missile, mislabeled SA-N-9, at:

Bismarck picture at:

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A Tub’s Still Flying!

It’s not often these days that one can see a current photo of an original Misawa C/D-model Viper from the 1980s, much less one that is still operating. But this picture immediately drew this writer’s attention when he saw 14TFS F-16D 85-1571 in a beautiful afterburner takeoff pic in the livery of the 301st Fighter Wing’s 457th Fighter Squadron (AFRC).


F-16D 85-1571, one of the original 14th TFS “family models” from the 1987 era, lifts off during her career with the 457th Fighter Squadron at NAS JRB Ft. Worth (aka Carswell)  (Courtesy
Alas, a check of the database confirms that 571 is no longer operational. After going to the 457th FS in October 1996 and serving well for over 17 years she was placed into storage in the boneyard on 20 December 2013:

But, after clicking on the picture and going to the Fighter story about movie actor Hugh Jackman (X-Men’s Wolverine character) getting an F-16 flight with the 301st Fighter Wing, the video showed that the tub he flew in was not the Samurai’s former 571 as suggested by the story’s intro pic but the Panther’s former F-16D 85-1513, which has been with the 457th FS since November, 2001:

And this DV flight was only three days ago on 19 February 2016! Pretty good for an older Block 30! See the Fighter story and link to a video about the flight at:

We have to give a hat tip to the men and women of the 13th AMU back in the Cold War days for keeping their family model in good shape, and to the pilots of the 13th TFS who flew her safely. They enabled successor operators of F-16D 85-1513 to keep her flying like she does.

Reference website, author page for Scott Wolff, accessed 22 Feb 2016 at:

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A Samurai look at Christmas

Christmas in Japan is celebrated in different but enjoyable ways as compared to the United States. It wasn’t always this way, and modern Japanese Christmas “traditions” developed after World War II, during the American occupation period. New Years is still the big day in Japan, as compared to Christmas, but you will definitely know it is Christmas in Japan

FEAMCOM Christmas

Cover art for a Far East Air Materiel Command (FEAMCOM) Christmas menu at Tachikawa Air Base in 1949 shows the integration of American and Japanese elements.  Christmas colors of red and while blend together well in Japan.  (Courtesy

Although December 25th remains a regular day in Japan, even a workday during the workweek, Christmas decorations and music abound in public places.


Colorful Christmas lights in Tokyo.  (Courtesy

During the Christmas season of 1987, popular singer Seiko Matsuda’s “Pearl White-Eve” song was playing on the television and radio, aimed for the younger Japanese, many of whom look at the Christmas season with a romantic viewpoint:

Lyrics translated at:

Unlike the somewhat PC-constrained environment of modern America, where some are afraid to even say “Merry Christmas” for fear someone may be offended, this irrational fear isn’t a problem for the Japanese, as you can see and hear in this more recent (2010) Christmas song “Jin Jin Jingle Bell” by Nozomi Sasaki and friends – warning – this is one of those fun songs that will drive you crazy when you first hear it, but then you may find yourself repeating the chorus with glee!

Song lyrics translated at:

During the Christmas season people shop for gifts, often food, drink and desserts, and young couples spend bucks on date nights at restaurants and the like. Even one of the icons of japan, Godzilla, is in on Christmas!


And while many Americans look forward to turkey, ham or even steak, there is a rather strong desire among Japanese for Kentucky Fried Chicken, which makes for an easy way for a family or friends to have a Christmas meal, especially during a regular workday evening. Christmas Day is KFC’s biggest sales day of the year in Japan.


Kentucky Fried Chicken is immensely popular in Japan at Christmastime.  (Courtesy

In Misawa, chances are virtually certain one will enjoy a White Christmas, whether you want to or not! That was certainly the case during the Cold War Samurai era at the base. When the winter descends on the Tohoku region, one has to adapt. Wonder what the intervals between takeoffs are for a launch like this? (Leave it to a Panther…)

Misawa operations after dark

An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off before dawn with Capt. Cory Farrer at the controls on the final day of an operational readiness exercise Feb. 3, 2010, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The jet’s afterburners kicked up a plume of steam and snow as Captain Farrer lifted the nose of the F-16. Captain Farrer is with the 13th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse)

On the base you will see the big plywood Christmas cards that various units on base will post at the headquarters circle during the season.

Tree Lighting Ceremony

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Units from around the base show their holiday spirit by creating Christmas cards for display during the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 4 (2009) at Risner Circle. The 35th Civil Engineering Squadron received the award for “Best Christmas Card.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad C. Strohmeyer)

As they celebrate Christmas, the American military communities in Japan often invite Japanese neighbors and citizens to join in on the cultural activities. This year marked the 54th annual commemoration of lighting the base Christmas tree at Misawa. Again, no matter what the PC-obsessed types say as they try to neuter and spay American culture, history and traditions, this is still called a Christmas tree – we don’t celebrate “Holiday,” we celebrate Christmas! And that’s OK… really…

Although different from the US, Christmas in Japan during the Cold War Samurai era was definitely enjoyable and a memorable event, and surely remains so. So on this Christmas, 2015, and on the cusp of a new 2016 year, a season’s greeting to all readers of this web log:

14TFS Xmas 2015

Occupation era Christmas card, see more examples, at:

Christmas Tree lights, at:

Godzilla, at:

KFC for Christmas in Japan, at:

Misawa Viper in the Snow, at:

Misawa Christmas card boards, at:

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Remembering the Cold War Samurai on Veterans Day, 2015

To the men and women of the 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cold War Samurai who served and sacrificed to deter the Bear, a hand salute!  Your dedication to duty, whether freezing in a Northeast Asia winter, or sweating in a Southeast Asia summer, ensured a top notch fighter capability through that twilight of the Cold War.  Though you never fired a shot in anger against our prospective adversaries, your contribution was key to keeping the peace that we enjoyed in that time.  Thank you, and may God bless you, one and all!


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Once in a while on patrol out in the internet you run across a familiar name or face. In the case of 14TFS Samurai, it happens too.

For example, in a recent patrol, this web log writer came across the image of John “Skipper” Hyle. He was one of the replacement pilots that came into the squadron circa early 1989 as the original members who got it started in 1987 began to PCS out. Skipper wasn’t his first call sign in the squadron, but it is the one that stuck after one memorable morning launch, maybe it was for going to a Cope Thunder exercise in the Philippines.


John “Skipper” Hyle and his Viper, late Cold War (Courtesy

If memory serves correctly, he provided this writer a cassette tape of Vietnam War fighter jock Dick Jonas songs that certainly are a creative reflection of our military aviation heritage.  Some of these songs might be thought of as politically incorrect today by the overly sensitive members of our society.  But considering how warfare often converts human beings into hair, teeth and eyeballs, it is obvious that some people lack perspective on the big picture in life, as well as the context, or environment, in which these songs are sung at aviator gatherings.  Dick Jonas might be considered by some to be rather tame compared to some of the bawdy tunes from Dos Gringos, or even Oscar Brand, who sang well before either of them.  But song is one way to recount experience, and Dick Jonas and other similar “bards” have a lot of great aviation songs without obscenity to fret over.  Some of the songs are incredibly poetic and reflective, as many readers may know from having heard them.

This web log won’t address the issue of any lewd, vulgar or obscene lyrics from any fighter pilot songbook such of the type to garner adverse attention in recent years, or of efforts to ban such things; don’t really recall any controversy in those days at Misawa or places around the Pacific.

For an example of a fighter pilot song that was on that tape from Skipper Hyle, try the Dick Jonas version of “Dear Mom,” please be warned of an obscenity or two which may offend but which pale in comparison to what war does to human beings, at:

In the image above is another non-PC thing, a MAU-mounted (Miscellaneous Armament Unit, MAU-12 typical) cluster bomb unit (CBU) loaded onto Station 3 of the Viper that Skipper Hyle is standing with. It appears to be a CBU-52, though it could be a CBU-58 or CBU-71 as they all share the SUU-30B/B dispenser (or canister, can for short) – the number differences would reflect the various cluster munitions (aka bomblets) and/or fuzing options. Could have been something older even as a lot of older munitions would be expended in training. Hundreds of bomblets spewing forth from a dispenser are one effective way of covering an area target.  They won’t bust any bunkers but will demolish anything light caught on the surface when they detonate.

Cluster Bomb Unit (CBU), opened up and showing release and dispersion of some of the many bomblets carried within. (Courtesy

Cluster Bomb Unit (CBU), opened up and showing release and dispersion of some of the many bomblets carried within. (Courtesy

Back in the Cold War days it was considered as a conventional ordnance option for dealing with things such as vehicle or troop concentrations, air defense sites (AAA, SAM), naval ships and small craft, etc.

One half of a North Vietnamese SA-2 Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) site being blanketed by cluster bombs from F-105 Thunderchief Wild Weasels. (Courtesy USAF)

One half of a North Vietnamese SA-2 Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) site being blanketed by cluster bombs from F-105 Thunderchief Wild Weasels. (Courtesy USAF)

It was a weapon available in the Cold War and there were many suitable prospective adversary targets in the Far East for such a munition in those days. These days there are moves internationally to ban the use of cluster munitions but the US has so far wisely retained the option to employ them, even if it hasn’t, reportedly, since 2003. Given the chaotic nature of the international environment today, these weapons may come in handy again.

So there it is, a little flashback to the late Cold War era from a random spotting of a 14TFS pilot, John “Skipper” Hyle. Hand salute to him and all those Cold War Samurai Warriors who helped keep us free from the godless Commies!

The Pilot (Skipper Hyle), at:

Federal Lawsuit Threatened over Fighter Pilot Songs, Traditions, at:

CBU-52B/B; CBU-58/B, A/B; and CBU-71/B, A/B, Vipers in the Storm website, at:
CBU-52, FAS website, at:

Cluster Munition, Wikipedia entry, at:

Computer generated image of cluster bomb opened, at:

CBU attack on SAM site, at:

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A Yogi Berra reminder on Far East FLANKERs

It seems rather fitting in October, as the baseball season is the playoffs headed for the World Series, to paraphrase the late, great, Yogi Berra, sometimes it seems like déjà vu all over again!

The famous New York Yankees baseball player, Yogi Berra strikes a deja vu -like pose.  (Courtesy Pinterest)

The famous New York Yankees baseball player, Yogi Berra strikes a deja vu -like pose. (Courtesy Pinterest)

Such is the case these days with a nascent Cold War between the US and Russia, what looks to be proxy wars in places around the world in Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, etc. Not to mention China on the march building their sandcastles in the South China Sea, North Korea unveiling a modified ICBM that can maybe strike the US west coast whilst Iran tries out an MRBM reaching out 1,000 miles. Seems like the entire planet is off-kilter and headed toward World War III, either by deliberate plan or stupid accident.

Back when the US had real and effective leadership with President Reagan in the 1980s, the old Cold War had its similar challenges, and handled them very well compared to the addled minds in DC today. A report out today was a “déjà vu” reminder that we’ve been here before, as Russian Air Force Su-35 FLANKER E fighter aircraft were reported as exercising over the Kuril islands off the northeast coast of Japan, according to this 15 October 2015 Russian government press report:

New Russian Su-35 Jets Carry Out Drills Near Kuril Islands

09:22 15.10.2015

Russia’s new Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets carried out military exercises near the Kuril Islands in the west Pacific Ocean to drill air action, Eastern Military District’s spokesman Alexander Gordeyev said early Thursday.

Sukhoi Su-35 FLANKER E in flight. (Sputnik/ Artyom Zhitenev)

Sukhoi Su-35 FLANKER E in flight. (Sputnik/ Artyom Zhitenev)

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Gordeyev emphasized in a statement that combat training was pre-planned and complied with international regulations.

“During training flights pilots performed several elements of advances aerobatics, piloting at maximum and minimum heights and drilled above-the-water air action,” said the military spokesman of the Eastern District based in the Khabarovsk region.

Gordeyev emphasized in a statement that combat training was pre-planned and complied with international regulations.

The Su-35 fighter jet was first introduced to a foreign audience at the Paris Air Show in 2013. It is an upgraded version of the Su-27 multirole fighter.


Earlier this year, another Sputnik state media report mention activity by the Su-35 Flanker:

Russian Military Relocates Su-35s to Primorsky Territory for Drills

14:10 09.04.2015(updated 14:15 09.04.2015)

Sukhoi Su-35 (Flanker-E) supermaneuverable multirole fighters have been relocated from the Khabarovsk Territory to the Primorsky Territory to take part in the tactical flight training, involving fighter jets and assault aviation, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said.

The aircraft strengthened the air power of Su-27s and MiG-31s providing fighter cover to troops and ground facilities from “enemy” aircraft. Multifunctional Su-35 fighters equipped with medium-range missiles are used to gain air superiority by eliminating manned and unmanned flying vehicles.

On Wednesday, Su-27 and MiG-31 jets were scrambled to protect the airfield and the regiment during the first phase of the exercises.

“Su-27 (Flanker) multi-function jets and MiG-31 (Foxhound) interceptor jets participated in air combat attacks against Su-25 (Frogfoot) jets simulating enemy aircraft,” the Eastern Military District said in a statement.

After warding off the attack and performing advanced aerobatics the aircraft landed at a tactical airfield.
Approximately 500 servicemen and over 30 fighter jets are taking part in the drills, which will end on April 11. The Russian Defense Ministry has announced plans to conduct at least 4,000 military exercises throughout the country in 2015.


Back in the old Cold War (Cold War One?), the SU-35 FLANKER E’s predecessor, the Su-27 FLANKER B, was present in the Soviet Far East, operating from three bases on the mainland, according to old orders of battle:

1st Air Army (like an old Tactical Air Command numbered air force)
216th Fighter Aviation Regiment (Kalinovka (Kalinka or Blagodatnoye) ESE of Khabarovsk)

11th Air Defense Army (PVO, like old Air Defense Command numbered air force)
47th Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO (Zolotaya Dolina (Unashi), Primorskiy Kray)

60th Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO (Dzemgi (Komomolsk) in Khabarovsk Kray)

A typical Soviet fighter regiment had 45 aircraft designed, mostly single seat fighters with a few two-seaters for training purposes (but still combat capable).

One could expect the PVO units to provide a dedicated air defense of the Motherland, allowing the tactical aviation folks to stretch their legs against a prospective adversary. Depending on where all the aircraft ranges and flight paths connected, any operations up north had to contend with up to 135 Su-27 FLANKERs in the neighborhood. Do the math, with the 432TFW having about 50 Vipers on hand, or about 1 F-16 for each 2.7 Su-27’s back in the day there in the Far East. Not to mention any of the FOXHOUNDs or FLOGGERs, etc. present out there at various bases!

A U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-16A Block 15G Fighting Falcon aircraft (s/n 81-0772) from the 186th Fighter Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, escorts a Soviet Su-27 Flanker fighter aircraft to the Canadian border after an air show at Paine Field, Washington State, USA, 1 August 1990.  (Wikipedia)

A U.S. Air Force General Dynamics F-16A Block 15G Fighting Falcon aircraft (s/n 81-0772) from the 186th Fighter Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, escorts a Soviet Su-27 Flanker fighter aircraft to the Canadian border after an air show at Paine Field, Washington State, USA, 1 August 1990. (Wikipedia)

The good thing was these bad boys were spread out a bit, so the likelihood of encountering any huge concentration of FLANKERs at any particular point, given the vast distances of the Far East, was probably low.

But even in low dosage, a prospective Su-27 encounter could be considered a challenge, given its robust armament including AA-10 ALAMO radar-guided air-to-air missiles. Back in those Cold War days before the F-16 received the AIM-120 AMRAAM, Vipers might have had to rely on having some escort with a radar missile capability, avoidance, perhaps some electronic jamming or if pressed, smart tactical engagement for optimum employment opportunity of own AIM-9 SIDEWINDER infra-red air-to-air missiles – it was going to be sporting, to say the least.

We thought we had the better pilots, better tactics, but had to beware of the old Russian numerical advantage and remember that at some point, numbers make a difference, as Joseph Stalin said: “Quantity has a quality all its own.”

Hopefully current events won’t spill out into some unwanted chocolate mess. It sure seems like we’ve been through all this before. Doesn’t anybody learn anything from history?

Sputnik (news agency), Wikipedia page, at:

1st Air Army, Wikipedia page, at:

11th Air Defense Army, Wikipedia page, at:

11th independent Red Banner Air Defence Army, at:

47th Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO, at:

60th Fighter Aviation Regiment PVO, at:

Dzemgi Airport, Wikipedia page, at:

Yogi Berra, at:

Montana Viper and Flanker, at: