Russia’s military will get 1,600 new warplanes and helicopters by 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday, as part of efforts to strengthen the country’s armed forces. Putin has worked hard to restore pride in the Cold War-era superpower’s military since his first election in 2000.
The planned addition of 600 military planes and 1,000 helicopters is part of a 23 trillion ruble (US$720 billion) program to re-equip a military still weakened by spending cuts prompted by the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
“We are talking primarily about providing our forces with state-of-the-art modern technology,” Putin said at an air show on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the country’s air force.
Putin, who began a new six-year presidential term in May, said that in addition to the new planes and helicopters, existing military aircraft would be “modernized.”
In his address at the air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Putin thanked air force officers, veterans and industry workers he said “helped our aviation endure the very difficult times of the 1990s and early 2000s.”
A former Soviet KGB officer who has often used warnings of external threats to rally, Putin said during his presidential campaign that Russia needed a stronger military to protect it from foreign attempts to stoke conflicts around its borders.