Russia's air war in Chechnya

by Benjamin S. Lambeth


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The Russian Air force experienced its first trial by fire during the 1994-1995 fighting in Chechnya. Considering its diminished assets retained in the wake of the USSR's collapse, its airlift arm performed well. However, as the war unfolded and stresses mounted due to weather complications, its ground attack performance was spotty at best, starkly revealing the effects of three years of consistently underfunded training. The extent to which it was strapped in fulfilling its tasking in a relatively low intensity local flareup indicated that, as long as it remains financially deprived, it will constitute only a regional air arm with little sustainability or capacity for high technology combat.

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Originally published in: Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, v. 19, 1996, pp. 365-388.

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