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VVS (Voenno-Vozdushnie Sili) formed the official designation of the airforce of the Soviet Union.

The VVS was founded as the "Workers' and Peasants' Air Fleet" in 1918. After being placed under control of the Red Army, with the official denomination VVS in 1930, its influence on aircraft design became greater.

One of first big tests of the VVS came in 1938 with the Spanish Civil War, where the latest aircraft designs were put to the test by up-to-date German aircraft.

In 1939, the VVS used its bombers to attack Finland, but the losses and the eventual defeat led to large-scale purges by Stalin.

The main reason of the great amount of aircraft lost was the lack of modern tactics, but time to improve them was short, because the German offensive of 1941 (Operation Barbarossa) pushed the airforce into a defensive position, while being confronted with more modern German aircraft.

As with many allied countries in the Second World War the Soviet Union received western aircraft by lend-lease.

In the early years of the Cold War the VVS focused on escort fighters, point-defense fighters and long-range bombers.

The VVS Aircraft inventory of 1987 comprised:

1210 interceptorss, comprising of
420 MiG-23 Flogger
305 MiG-25 Foxbat
240 Su-15 Flagon
5 Su-27 Flanker
80 Tu-28/128 Fiddler
65 Jak-28 Firebar
95 MiG-31 Foxhound

AWACS aircraft:
7 Tu-126 Moss
1 Il-76 Mainstay

Soviet Air Force:
165 strategic bombers, 150 Tu-95 Bear and 15 M-4 Bison

550 medium bombers:
155 Tu-22M Backfire
260 Tu-16 Badger
135 Tu-22 Blinder

2780 fighterss:
490 MiG-21 Fishbed
1570 MiG-23 Flogger
105 MiG-25 Foxbat
260 Su-15 Flagon
20 Tu-128 Fiddler
20 Jak-28 Firebar
275 MiG-29 Fulcrum
30 MiG-31 Foxhound
10 Su-27 Flanker

2835 attack aircraft: 130 MiG-21 Fishbed
830 MiG-27 Flogger
895 Su-7/17 Fitter
770 Su-24 Fencer
210 Su-25 Frogfoot

50 tankers: 30 M-4 Bison, 20 Tu-16 Badger

658 tactical reconnaissance and ECM aircraft:
65 MiG-21 Fishbed
195 MiG-25 Foxbat
165 Su-17 Fitter
65 Su-24 Fencer
195 Jak-28 Brewer

260 strategic reconnaissance and ECM aircraft:
115 Tu-16 Badger
15 Tu-22 Blinder
4 Tu-95 Bear
102 Jak-28 Brewer
24 MiG-25 Foxbat

3050 helicopters:

1500 trainers and training helicopters

576 transport aircraft 55 An-22 Cock
210 An-12 Cup
310 Il-76 Candid

2935 civilian and other transport aircraft, usually Aeroflot aircraft which were easily converted

340 bombers:
120 Tu-22 M Backfire
190 Tu-16 Badger
30 Tu-22 Blinder

145 fighter and attack aircraft

75 Su-17 Fitter
70 Jak-38 Forger
70 tankers
70 Tu-16 Badger
200 reconnaissance and ECM aircraft (Tu-16, Tu-95, Tu-22, An-12)

480 anti-submarine aircraft:
60 Tu-142 Bear F
100 Mi-14 Haxe A
60 Ka-27 Helix
115 Ka-25 Hormone A
95 Be-12 Mail
50 Il-38 May
465 transports and trainers

Even though these nubers appear huge, the same weakness which haunted the VVS in the Second World War still was apparent in 1987, as it was apparent in the Gulf war of 1991.