Russia merges air and space operations in Aerospace Forces

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu yesterday announced the creation of Aerospace Forces, a new branch of Russia’s armed forces that brings the air force and the recently created Aerospace Defense Forces under one unified command. The merger has been prompted by a “shift in the centre of gravity towards the aerospace theatre,” he said and was “the best option for streamlining our nation’s system of air and space defence.” 
The new focus reflects lessons learned from NATO’s intervention in Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, according to 
Maxim Shepovalenko, a former Russian military officer and analyst at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.
“Based on what we saw [then], air and space attacks are the first stage of any conflict, be they small, medium or large,” he explained. “[In this regard], the prime reason for the merger is to ensure a prompt response to any attack coming from the air or space with a streamlined and unified command.” 
The creation of the Aerospace Forces comes amid sweeping efforts to overhaul and modernize Russia’s armed forces, which in many areas has hardly changed since the Soviet era and has seen the government pledge $320bn to the replacement of of 70% of military hardware by the end of the decade.