Aviation History

Russian Ministry of Defense’s plan to close the Central Air Force Museum in Monino leaked online

Some of the historic aircraft at the Central Air Force Museum will be relocated to Patriot Park and become interactive displays. But former pilots at the Monino museum, however, argue that disassembling the aging aircraft for transport to Patriot Park will irreparably damage them

A plan by the Russian Ministry of Defense to close the Central Air Force Museum in Monino has been leaked online.

Some of the historic aircraft at the museum will be relocated to Patriot Park and become interactive displays.

As reported by The Telegraph, there they will become interactive exhibits in what the defense ministry claims will be the biggest military aviation museum in the world, with over 1 million square feet of territory.

Former pilots at the Monino museum, however, argue that disassembling the aging aircraft for transport to Patriot Park will irreparably damage them.

“What patriots are they if they’re destroying history?” said Alexei Drachyov, a former pilot who flew several fighter jets to the museum. “They’ll cut up the planes and won’t be able to put them back together. It’s old metal, you can’t weld it.”

The five design bureaus that produced most of the aircraft have similarly warned against moving them.

“The planes will lose their historic and technical value, becoming short-lived mock-ups,” said a letter from Ilyushin aviation complex.

The museum’s 194 aircraft offer 250,000 visitors each year a journey through flying milestones, from the first four-engine bomber built in 1913 to the Tupolev Tu-144, which narrowly beat the Concorde to become the first supersonic passenger airliner.

One-of-a-kind planes include the MiG-15 in which Yury Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova, the first man and women in space, learned to fly.

MiG-25PD On display at the Central Air Force museum, Monino, Moscow Oblast, Russia.

While the oldest aircraft are stored in frigid hangars, more than 90 MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets, Tupolev airliners, Mil helicopters and huge Antonov and Ilyushin cargo planes stand nose-to-nose in a field, their wings and rotors heavy with snow.

The museum territory is set to be transferred to the city, raising fears of real estate development in place of the former academy and airfield, which opened in 1932 and hosted a bomber unit during the war.

In response to reports about the move, the defense ministry said a commission was considering measures to preserve the aircraft, which were “suffering the unfavorable effects of weather”. 

“Monino isn’t a museum now, it’s just a car park with planes,” retired air force commander Vladimir Mikhailov told a Russian newspaper.

An employee blamed the poor conditions on a total lack of state funding to maintain the aircraft, however.

This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

The government procurements website showed expenditures only on utilities, building upkeep, a booklet print run and model missiles at the museum.

Volunteers gather every Saturday to clear snow and clean and fix the planes.

In contrast, the government has spent at least £236m on Patriot Park, where spectacular events like an annual tank biathlon show off the resurrection of Russia’s military might under Mr Putin. Last year, more than 2,000 people re-enacted the 1945 storming of the Reichstag by the Red Army.

In light of a 2015 report linking a £12 million pagoda palace to the defense minister, whose family’s declared income for 2010-12 was only £1.8 million, some suspect corruption may be involved in the transfer of the Monino aircraft. 

“What’s the use of this move?” asked Vladimir Yurtayev, an electrical engineer who was visiting the museum with his wife and two children on a recent Sunday. “It isn’t any use to the people, it’s of use only to those who want to line their pockets.”

Sukhoi Alley at Monino

Photo credit: Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK and
and Clemens Vasters from Viersen, Germany via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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