Vladimir Putin watched demonstration flights of the last generation aircraft performed by Russian Air Force aerobatic teams, and vintage aircraft flights.
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Address at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Russian Air Force
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
Tomorrow, on August 12, we will celebrate a truly momentous event – the 100th anniversary of the Russian Air Force. This is a great milestone in our national history and the history of the Russian Army and Navy.
In August 1912 the Staff of the Aeronautic Unit of the Russian Army General Staff was established. The Russian military aviation was born. It was created to protect our skies, our country and our people.
The glorious history of the Russian Air Force is rich in examples of extraordinary courage and sacrifice, dedicated work and ingenious technological breakthroughs.
Starting with the first flight units, the first squadron of the famous Ilya Muromets bombers, our military aviation tempered and strengthened its traditions, the traditions of heroes and victors, the true soldiers of their Fatherland.
The annals of the Russian Air Force are made up of pioneers’ exploits such as Nesterov and Pugachev, who gave their names to the most complex aerobatics. They tell us about military pilot Yury Gagarin, the first man to venture into space.
They are testimony to such prominent aircraft designers and creators as Tupolev and Sukhoi, Ilyushin and Sikorsky, Mil, Kamov, Lavochkin and Yakovlev, who built the best aircraft in the world for our country and for our Air Force.
We will never forget the courage of our airmen during World War II. Their contribution to victory is huge: they defended Moscow and Leningrad, went into ram and frontal attacks, fought at Stalingrad and the Kursk Arc, and paved the way to Berlin for our troops.
The pilots who fought and won in Afghanistan and other hotspots around the world were worthy of their glory. I am certain that the current generation of Russian military pilots, the entire staff of the Russia Air Force look up to them.
Combat aviation has always had a special standing in our country. Nowadays, as we implement ambitious plans to re-equip the Army and Navy, one of our key priorities is to develop and upgrade the Air Force, whose importance will only grow over time.
Today I want to express our gratitude to those who helped our aviation to survive in a very difficult, challenging time in the 1990s and the early 2000s, remained faithful to your traditions and your calling at a time when aircraft stayed idle for long periods of time.
Now flight crews and units are undergoing intensive military training. Our strategic aircraft have resumed regular flights. Work is underway to modernise the ground infrastructure and airfields. New air bases and multi-purpose aircraft groups have been established.
Our first priority is to supply advanced, modern technology to the troops. More than 600 new planes and 1,000 helicopters will come into service by 2020, and these numbers do not include the modernised systems.
Special emphasis will be placed on the creation of advanced aviation systems for long-range aircraft, operational, tactical and combat aviation, the introduction of precision-guided weapons, electronic warfare, and unmanned combat and reconnaissance aircraft systems. These efforts, which have already been launched at our design bureaus and defence companies, will ensure that our aviation has a great future.
We will certainly continue to focus on improving the social security for Air Force servicemen and veterans, as well as their families.
The people who dedicated their lives to protecting their homeland, their nation, must enjoy a high standard of living that is adequate to the importance and scope of the challenges facing them.
A unique air show in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Air Force will be held here in Zhukovsky, whose history is inextricably linked with aviation. Legendary veteran aircraft will take part in the air show, machines that served our country faithfully in the past, as well as the most modern planes, the latest generation of aircraft.
I am sure each of us will once again feel a sense of genuine pride for our country, for the people who create and fly such equipment. Their example must inspire young people, help them find their dream, and an honourable and elevated aim, both literally and figuratively.
Many of those present here today have dedicated their lives to the Air Force and the upcoming anniversary is first of all your holiday.
I sincerely congratulate all the Air Force servicemen and veterans, your families and friends, all those whose love and devotion you take with you into the sky, hence they are always with you on all of your flights. I wish you health, prosperity and family happiness. We are proud of you.
Glory to the Russian Air Force!