Monthly Archives: March 2011

Russia Not Likely to Buy Ukraina

Slava-class CG Ukraina

Will Russia buy the aging, semi-finished Slava-class CG Ukraina?  Probably not, unless the price is really right, i.e. basically zero.  It’s unlikely Russia will pay Ukraine to complete the cruiser because Russian shipyards have suggested towing it to Russia, refurbishing, and updating there. 

The questions are compelling only because of a recent video, varying reports about the ship and a possible deal, and what this all says about Moscow’s military procurement.

Military parity highlighted Podrobnosti.ua’s video.  Like the photo above, the video shows a major combatant in declining condition.

Nevertheless, according to recent ITAR-TASS, Ukraine’s Defense Minister is optimistic Kyiv and Moscow will finish Ukraina together.  And he claims the ship is 95 percent complete.

By way of review, Ukraina is a 1970s- or 1980s-vintage design being constructed as Fleet Admiral Lobov at Nikolayev’s [Mykolayiv’s] 61 Communards Shipbuilding Plant when the USSR collapsed.  Kyiv failed to find a foreign buyer for the ship, and reportedly spends $1 million every year maintaining it.  So that doesn’t mean a plethora of options or a very strong negotiating position for the Ukrainian side.

Talk of Russia buying Ukraina peaked last year in the wake of the base agreement extension between Moscow and Kyiv.  News outlets noted that the acting chief of the Russian Navy’s Technical Directorate inspected the cruiser and declared it 50 percent ready.  He said Ukraina would need 15 billion rubles for repairs and 35 billion for modernization — $1.7 billion in all.  The Navy’s 50 percent sounds a lot more like the 70 or 75 percent we’ve been hearing for many years than the Ukrainian Defense Minister’s 95 percent.

Reported pricetags for Ukraina, in its current shape, start at $70 or $80 million and run to ridiculous numbers.  In January, Argumenti.ru reported the Russian Defense Ministry would not pay scrap metal prices for Ukraina, but commented that Moscow would accept the ship as a gift.

Then there’s also the issue of whether the Russian Navy really needs it.  It’s an issue often forgotten in procurement debates.  Granted Ukraina is a something of a special case.  But it should also be a pretty easy decision.

Novyy region quoted a couple opinions last May.  Former Black Sea Fleet Commander Vladimir Komoyedov said:

“The ship hasn’t aged 15-20 years yet according to its capabilities.  However, it needs, of course, to be deployed in the ocean, in open theaters, and not in the Black Sea, not in the Baltic — there just isn’t sufficient space for it there.  The ships [Slava-class] are very good, not at all badly designed.  It can’t be said this cruiser belongs just to Ukraine alone.  Ukraine’s share of it, as far as I remember, is 17, a maximum of 20 percent.  Therefore the question’s about the purchase not of a full ship, but of a share — all the rest belongs to Russia.  The purchase issue has stood for a long time, and it needs to be resolved once and for all.  If such a decision is made, it’ll be the right one.  It’s better than the tin can Mistral by a factor of two.”

Defense analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin, on the other hand, said:

“It’s very hard to understand who needs this ship now.  Undoubtedly, for our fleet which is shrinking into nothing, now such a cruiser has already become pointless.  We have to begin, so to speak, from below, and not from above, not with cruisers, but with frigates at least.  Moreover, these cruisers have a very narrow anti-aircraft carrier mission.  They were built exclusively for war with American carrier battle groups.  It doesn’t seem to me that this mission is all that acute for us now.  Therefore, it’s hard for me to comprehend why we need this ship, and where to put it if it is finished.”

All that said, the Russians might buy Ukraina anyway.  If they do, it’ll indicate a new State Program of Armaments gone awry in its first year.

VKO Game On

Yes, it’s game on in the fight for control over Russia’s future unified aerospace (air-space) defense or VKO.

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov’s recent statements sound like he’s hard over on putting VKO under the General Staff’s immediate control.  But the Space Troops (KV) definitely aren’t out of the game, and even the Air Forces (VVS) – running third right now – are still in the competition to own VKO.

Say VKO falls under the General Staff, is it up to the job of running what will amount to a service or major command?  This at a time when it’s been cut back, and refocused on strategic planning?  And, entirely aside from organizing or reorganizing for VKO, there’s an issue how much a unified VKO will actually improve current Russian capabilities.  Acquiring new capabilities is a different problem altogether.

But let’s recall how we reached this point.  In late 2010, President Dmitriy Medvedev set the task of unifying the command and control of VKO under a single strategic command by 1 December 2011.  He cited this as his third major task for the military in his 18 March speech before the expanded Defense Ministry collegium:

“This year a unitary air-space defense system must be established.  It is necessary to unite existing anti-air and anti-missile defense, missile attack warning, and space monitoring systems under common command and control.  Moreover, this needs to be done not in the abstract, on paper or in electronic form, but in the context of the current situation, including the decision of the issue of our participation or nonparticipation in the system of European anti-missile defense which is being established.  It is necessary to form several large air bases, taking into account the deployment of units.  This will increase the mobility of sub-units, and allow for the establishment of military infrastructure echeloned along main strategic axes.”

Medvedev sounds like he’s saying he won’t be fooled by bureaucratic paper lash-ups or procedures.  He wants blood drawn — forces and systems taken from one command and given to the new VKO command, whatever its shape or subordination.  The real sticking point, of course, is anti-air defense assets now under the VVS.

Friday’s Rossiyskaya gazeta reported Army General Makarov and Defense Ministry Serdyukov are currently studying proposals on VKO.  But they’re keeping them within a small circle, and don’t intend to create public debate on the issue.  And the paper thinks the form and control of VKO will be revealed in the next months, if not weeks.

Let’s turn for a moment to what Makarov’s been saying.

Interfaks reported Saturday that the General Staff Chief said flatly:

“Air-space defense will be created in the General Staff, under the General Staff’s leadership, and the General Staff will command and control it.”

Vesti.ru said he dismissed the idea of the KV running VKO:

“The Space Troops are only one element of all the components of this air-space defense.”

Well, you can say that, but they also appear to have three of VKO’s four cited components.

At any rate, Makarov continued, saying VKO:

“. . . has to be multilayered, by altitude and by range, and has to integrate all forces and means that exist, but are very few of now.  We are counting on production taking off, beginning literally next year.”

He also noted:

“No one will take back those means which are now transferring to the districts [MD / OSKs].  This [VKO] will be implemented in Troop PVO.”

The chief of Ground Troops’ Air Defense (ПВО СВ) also said as much in late December.

None of this is very different from what Makarov’s said all along.

Rossiyskaya gazeta summed Makarov up this way on 15 December:

“The thing is various military structures are involved in securing the skies at present.  The Space Troops answer for orbital reconnaissance and the work of missile attack warning stations.  The Air and Air Defense Armies with the aid of radar companies and border posts inform staffs about approaching enemy aircraft.  The Special Designation Command covers the Moscow Air Defense Zone.  Air defense troops and fighter aviation cover other important facilities.”

“The system is built on the service [видовой] principle and is therefore uncoordinated.  We need to make it integrated and place it under the Genshtab’s command.”

Despite Makarov’s strong words, Rossiyskaya gazeta has been told that the leadership is still studying putting VKO under the KV’s control.  Especially since, as noted, it already has 3 of 4 of its components – PRO, SPRN, and KKP.  But, the paper thinks, no one is talking about putting SAMs (ZRK) or Air Defense Aviation (APVO) under the KV.  However, the KV might get independent radar brigades and some SAM units equipped with the S-300, S-400, and the future S-500.

On 24 March, the KV’s spokesman repeated earlier statements from its commander, General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko, saying basic documents setting out the establishment of VKO on the basis of KV have been prepared and presented to the Defense Ministry and General Staff.

On 27 January, Ostapenko told RIA Novosti:

“There’s already a decision that the system of VKO will be built on the base of the Space Troops.”

It might also be worth noting Vedomosti’s Defense Ministry sources were, at least at one point, reporting that KV had the upper hand in the VKO sweepstakes.

Lastly, the VVS remains a possible home for VKO.  The Air Forces might not have much to recommend them over the Genshtab or KV, but they operate the existing VKO prototype in the Moscow region’s Special Designation Command (KSpN).

Defense Ministry Reversal on Spetsnaz

The latest painful walk back started this week on the issue of returning just-moved Spetsnaz brigades from the Ground Troops to the General Staff’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), at least presumably. 

This is not a done deal, and it’s certainly not entirely clear Spetsnaz will go back to the GRU.  The special operations men might go back to the General Staff in some form separate and distinct from the GRU, and answering directly to the Genshtab.

Spetsnaz weren’t gone long enough for anyone to decide that giving them to the Ground Troops and MD / OSK commanders wasn’t a good idea in a military sense.  No, this sudden shift is most likely the product of bureaucratic and political infighting.  And it seems like a blow to those close to the Defense Minister, and, to some extent, to Anatoliy Serdyukov himself.

In all this, one recalls past rumors about carving up the GRU.  The FSB and SVR wanted its agent operations.  And the FSB and Ground Troops wanted its Spetsnaz as part of a large, unified special operations force.  Kvachkov and Popovskikh called for Spetsnaz to be its own separate service branch.

At any rate, the story’s details . . .

On Tuesday, Moskovskiy komsomolets reported that the Defense Ministry intends to return Spetsnaz brigades to Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) control just several months after giving them to the Ground Troops.  The idea of giving them to the army was recognized as a failure, according to the paper.

Spetsnaz officers at the time said it was a crazy idea that wouldn’t bring any positive results.  Just exactly whose concept it was is unknown to the public, but, according to MK, former Ground Troops Glavkom Army General Vladimir Boldyrev lobbied for the change to shore up his position after the five-day war with Georgia, and then-GRU Chief Valentin Korabelnikov wasn’t able to defend his Spetsnaz, and had to give them up.

MK implies the GRU focused on preserving its strategic intelligence operations [i.e. agent networks], and even leaders of its Spetsnaz directorate changed over to agent operations.  The “Senezh” Spetsnaz training center was taken from the GRU and subordinated to the General Staff.  According to MK, the Genshtab appointed former FSB Group A General Medoyev to head “Senezh.”  He was replaced within weeks by General Aleksandr Miroshnichenko, also a Group A or “Alpha” veteran. 

Your present author notes Medoyev’s replacement by Miroshnichenko was published in the presidential decree on military personnel from 26 October.  Medoyev was relieved and dismissed from the service by a decree from 1 October.  Both men were listed only as “assistant to the Defense Minister.”

A Genshtab source tells MK:

“The plan to transfer army Spetsnaz to the ground pounders was recognized as a failure.  For a year, no one managed them [the Spetsnaz], they left everything hanging.  Now on General Staff Chief Makarov’s desk there’s a document on their resubordination [to whom?].  It’s true it still isn’t signed.”

The same GRU Spetsnaz leaders who gave their brigades to the ground pounders are seeking a place in the new Spetsnaz leadership.  One can only imagine what the structure will become with these men participating in it.  A GRU source tells MK:

“Take, for example, General Russkov, whose service term expired long ago, he’s 57, but still in the ranks.  And, probably, not because he’s an outstanding military man.  How many promising young guys did they dismiss, but such “dinosaurs” are still serving.  And he’s the very one who provided the rationale for the intelligence directorate not needing Spetsnaz.  After all our brigades were resubordinated, he became an agent operator.  And his deputies and assistants, Colonels Mertvishchev, Shpilchin, and Sobol, who didn’t do anything to keep Spetsnaz in the GRU structure, are actively vying for the leadership of the new Genshtab structure which is being established.”

Argumenty nedeli’s less-nuanced version of the story followed MK’sArgumenty claims sending Spetsnaz back to the GRU will correct one of the biggest mistakes made by the Defense Ministry’s team of “effective managers.”  Its Genshtab source says the GRU might form a Special Operations Directorate [of course, the Genshtab might form its own instead].  The decision on moving Spetsnaz was made “at the very top,” and it weakens the position of Ground Troops Glavkom General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov.  Argumenty finishes its somewhat rambling version of the story by saying ex-FSB men – specifically “Senezh” Chief Miroshnichenko – will control the army Spetsnaz.

Special Command of the Long-Range Zone

This morning’s Nezavisimaya gazeta picked up an Interfaks report from an “informed Navy Main Staff source” that Russia will establish a so-called “special command of the long-range zone” in the Indian Ocean by 2013.  Such a naval group would have antipiracy as its primary, but not its sole, mission.

The Main Staff representative said the new command would be formed from Black Sea Fleet ships, and would be patterned after the Soviet-era 5th and 8th Operational Squadrons.  It would bear full-time responsibility for securing Russian civilian shipping in the Horn of Africa.

NG says questions about the new eskadra’s material-technical support (MTO) and temporary ship basing are now being considered.  The Soviet Mediterranean (5th) Eskadra used a material-technical support point (PMTO) in Tartus, Syria that represents the Russian Navy’s only current overseas facility.  But the paper notes Tartus is too distant to support Indian Ocean operations.  The Indian Ocean (8th) Eskadra used Yemen’s Socotra Island.

NG adds that Pacific Fleet’s Udaloy-class DDG Admiral Vinogradov, a tanker, and naval tug put in at Port Victoria, Seychelles early this month for replenishment after four straight months at sea.  The paper’s report trails off rather weakly adding that the new command will increase the effectiveness of Russian antipiracy operations.

Trud covered the story too.  Its experts think the new naval grouping’s missions will be broader than antipiracy.  A new command wouldn’t have to rely on ships from different fleets arriving every 2-3 months.  The command might have three frigates, a tanker, and tug at a permanent base in the Horn of Africa or Gulf of Aden.

Former Baltic Fleet Commander, Admiral Vladimir Valuyev tells Trud the 8th Eskadra’s mission was monitoring U.S. Navy ship movements and showing support for regimes friendly to the USSR.  But the paper says its former port infrastructure on Socotra is now in ruins.

Trud’s own Main Staff source says Russia doesn’t plan to return to Socotra, and other basing options are being considered.  It doesn’t even have to be a foreign port since an anchorage in neutral waters could be outfitted sufficiently.  Trud says Valuyev is sure antipiracy is a convenient excuse for Russia to demonstrate a naval presence in the Africa-Middle East region where new post-revolutionary regimes are taking shape.

But maybe it’s also a way to show why Russia needs a Navy as well as what it can do.

Careful How You Read

Be careful what you read, but be even more careful how you read it (or who translates it).

The Russians won’t put both SLBMs and SLCMs on their fifth generation submarines.  Would that really make military sense?  What they apparently intend is to build a multipurpose hull to fit out as either SSBN or SSN.  Now does that raise interesting arms control verification issues?

Several days ago, in advance of March 19 – the 105th anniversary of Nikolay II’s designation of the submarine as an Imperial Navy ship class (i.e. Submariner’s Day since 1996) – a “highly-placed RF Navy Main Staff representative” elected to tell RIA Novosti about work on Russia’s fifth generation submarine.

Production of the fourth generation proyekt 955 SSBNs and proyekt 885 SSNs is just really now reaching the ramp-up stage.  But design and development of fifth generation submarines is included in the State Program of Armaments, 2011-2020, according to RIA Novosti’s Navy Main Staff source.

When you Google “Russian fifth generation submarine,” you get a string of English-language news and blog items that say things like:

“. . . a high-level Russian navy insider said a future ballistic-missile submarine would also carry cruise missiles.”

“Russia is planning to equip its fifth-generation nuclear submarines with both ballistic and cruise missiles, a media report said.”

Even RIA Novosti’s own English-language site bollixed it:

“Russia’s proposed fifth-generation nuclear submarines will be armed with both ballistic and cruise missiles, a senior Navy source told RIA Novosti on Saturday.”

RIA Novosti actually wrote:

“The fifth generation submarine will be standardized for ballistic as well as for cruise missiles.” 

And RIA Novosti’s unnamed admiral actually said:

“The concept for creating a new nuclear submarine (APL or АПЛ) envisages a unified hull both for multirole [i.e. attack] as well as for strategic submarines, therefore design bureaus Rubin and Malakhit which today specialize in designing strategic and multirole submarines respectively are working on its development.” 

Rusnavy.com got it right.  

As always said about new submarines, the unknown admiral said the fifth generation will be distinguished for its lowered noise, automated control systems, reactor safety, and long-range weapons.  But he added:

“I’m not talking about ballistic missiles, we’re talking long-range cruise missiles and torpedoes.”

Symbol of How Things Work (or Don’t)

Is Perminov About to Surrender This Chair?

Your author couldn’t be accused of following military space issues and news too closely.  However, this piece from Ogonek [Огонёк] is pretty compelling stuff,  examining whether Anatoliy Perminov has been, or is about to be, “knocked out of orbit” as Chief of Roskosmos.

Ogonek is part of Kommersant, and has the same standards of quality and independence.  Much of what the article highlights is interesting and significant beyond the confines of space.  It is more widely illustrative of the way things work, or don’t, in Russia generally.  It makes Perminov sound somewhat symbolic of this.

Author Vladimir Tikhomirov begins by concluding the loss of four satellites recently isn’t the only reason for retiring Perminov, but Tikhomirov wants to look at the man and why he causes such controversy in the upper echelons of power.

As recently as 11 March, Perminov said his bosses will let him know when his time is up, but presumably they haven’t yet.  RIA Novosti also apparently published word from a “Kremlin source” who said Perminov’s contract won’t be renewed in April.  It’s said the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight on 12 April might be celebrated with someone else heading Russia’s space agency.

Tikhomirov explores who Perminov is . . . a missile-general trained early to keep his mouth shut . . . to keep the dirt inside the RVSN or military izba . . . he doesn’t talk about extraneous or personal matters.  Born in Kirov Oblast in 1945, his father died early and he worked on a collective farm.  He was excited by Gagarin’s flight and practically his entire class went to military schools . . . he went to the Perm Higher Military Command-Engineering School.  He went from missile unit to missile unit with his wife and son.  The Soviet collapse found him finishing up at the General Staff Academy, and he became Chief of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.  When Sergey Ivanov created Space Troops in 2001, Perminov became their first commander.  President Putin put him in charge of the entire space sector in 2004.

Then Tikhomirov talks about Roskosmos and Perminov’s predecessor.  In 1992, President Yeltsin civilianized a lot of the space industry, and he put Yuriy Koptev — a missile and rocket builder — in charge.  Koptev held his seat for 12 years until Putin became dissatisfied that Russia hadn’t built a single new satellite in 10 years (1994-2004).  Putin was upset when Roskosmos couldn’t support ground operations in Chechnya, and also when plans for the Angara rocket (that was supposed to free Russia from depending on Baykonur) didn’t pan out.

Perminov studied Koptev’s failures, and he pushed through a Federal Targeted Program (FTsP) on Space, 2006-2015.  A steady military hand was supposed to right things messed by civilians like Koptev, and others like RKK Energiya Director Nikolay Sevastyanov who reportedly dreamed of space shuttles, moon bases, and “air launching” rockets from An-124s.  Space research was pushed to the back.  It wasn’t Perminov’s style to risk such things.

Tikhomirov looks at Perminov’s record on fulfilling the Space FTsP.  Eleven of 13 planned fixed comms and broadcasting satellites are in orbit.  Under him, Roskosmos pretty much fulfilled its plan for mobile comms and satellite search-and-rescue, but various scientific launches were pushed off.  Tikhomirov gives him credit for making successful space launch deals for the Europeans and Americans.  Using Soyuz to ferry astronauts to the ISS brought in $753 million.

Then Tikhomirov points out the obvious.  Perminov’s other difficulties and failings are minor compared with GLONASS, which he’s described as Russian cosmonautics’ main achievement over the past 30 years.  Tikhomirov says the constellation has 22 functioning satellites with four in technical reserve and the last 3 launched at the bottom of the Pacific along with the Proton launch vehicle that carried them.  The Proton failure, says Tikhomirov, was especially embarrassing; it broke President Medvedev’s Poslaniye promise to have a fully functioning GLONASS grouping before the end of 2010.  And that’s when the rumors of Perminov’s imminent retirement started.

This wasn’t the first time for this rumor.  There was talk of his retirement in 2006 when there were launch failures and an out-of-order satellite cut central TV broadcasting to the Russian Far East.  These were losses costing billions of dollars.  But the Kremlin cut off the rumors; Perminov was needed.  Today, however, Tikhomirov says the Kremlin is sending different signals.

He says Medvedev’s assistant Sergey Prikhodko basically accused Perminov of failing to appreciate the gravity of the recent space failures.  A Perminov deputy and a chief designer at RKK Energiya were both fired.  Perminov himself got a reprimand.  Medvedev also instructed prosecutors to investigate the state of affairs, and the accounting books, at Roskosmos.

Tikhomirov says Roskosmos blames new products which weren’t tested sufficiently, but some employees say the agency tried to save by using Taiwanese microchips not intended for use in space.

Other interesting things turned up.  As reported elsewhere, Tikhomirov says sons of Roskosmos deputy chiefs are in the business of insuring its satellite launches.  GLONASS’ main designer has sent 40 percent of its state financing to various “pocket” firms.

Tikhomirov says Perminov might have survived all this, but the loss of dual-use Geo-IK-2 may have been the last straw.  And Medvedev recently talked with scientists about their thoughts on outer space research, something Tikhomirov views as a blow to Perminov and the military space priorities he represents.

So who would be the replacement?

Tikhomirov thinks the Kremlin must have a list of candidates . . . some people think First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin, who’s in charge of procuring armaments, he was also Space Troops Commander in his time.  Others say RKK Energiya General Director Vitaliy Lopota.  Still others say none other than Nikolay Sevastyanov — now heading Gazprom Space Systems.  Tikhomirov concludes:

“But all this devolves into one thing:  the new Chief of Roskosmos could be either military or a highly-skilled designer.  But to put the space sector in order, a new Korolev is needed.  Just where can one be gotten?”

Postnikov on the Army and OPK (Part II)

T-90 on Red Square

Continuing with reaction to Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Postnikov last week . . .

Speaking to a RIA Novosti press conference, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (Minpromtorg) Defense-Industrial Complex Development Department, Igor Karavayev answered Postnikov this way:

“Unfortunately, we are encountering unwarranted criticism of the tactical-technical characteristics of Russian military equipment lately.  Allegedly, it doesn’t match its international counterparts.  An objective evaluation of the characteristics and tests conducted, but also the pace at which our exports are growing, attest to the contrary.”  

He said more than a few countries buy Russian tanks, and the T-90A got a positive evaluation from testing in difficult climatic conditions, including in Saudi Arabia, India, and Malaysia.  In Saudi Arabia, according to Karavayev, the T-90A was the only tank to destroy more than 60 percent of its targets after a road march.  Karavayev continues:

“The tests conducted in Saudi Arabia as part of an open tender fully and completely contradict the Glavkom’s [Postnikov’s] assertions.”

This T-90 modification supposedly has a new turret, a 1,000-hp engine, an improved thermal sight, new active defense measures, and a number of other improvements.  Karavayev flatly said neither the German Leopard, French LeClerc, nor American Abrams is equal to the T-90: 

“So to talk about how our tanks are worse than Western equivalents is not completely reliable information.”

“The price Postnikov quoted exceeds by approximately one and a half times the price at which the producer is ready to supply the vehicle [tank] to the troops.  This situation requires additional professional discussion.”

So that’s about 78 million vice 118 million rubles per T-90.

Izvestiya talked to Uralvagonzavod’s chief armor designer, Vladimir Nevolin, who said:

“The main complaints against the T-90 today are connected with its insufficient survivability.  Its deficiency is the placement of people, weapons, and fuel in one compartment.  In any case of armor penetration, the igniting of fuel is unavoidable.  Even with a fire suppression system, such a possibility isn’t excluded.  Therefore, the development of modern armored equipment is going the way of separating people from the fuel and munitions.  Moreover, the employment of remotely-controlled armaments is essential.  These principles were implemented in our future product – “item 195.”  For example, on it, the tank turret no longer had the crew.  But it turns out no one needed such a project.”

Vesti FM asked Igor Korotchenko whether Postnikov’s claim that Russian arms aren’t up to snuff is true.  He said there are objective problems with Russian-designed weapons, and some planned for introduction are really obsolete.  But, according to Korotchenko, the Defense Ministry’s main criticism is that Russian combat vehicles don’t meet survivability requirements.

At the same time, Korotchenko says Russia can’t fall into dependence on the West.  New armor has to be financed and put into serial production.  Limited purchases of Western military technology and licenses for the newest thermal sights and munitions are acceptable in his view, he says Russia’s national technological base for producing major weapons needs to be protected.

Finally, it was Viktor Baranets’ turn in Komsomolskaya pravda.

Baranets noted Postnikov complained quite openly about Russia’s weapons for a military leader of his rank.  And he opined that Moscow is not only competitive, but superior in some military systems.  But Baranets claims the T-90 cost has doubled from 60 million rubles two years ago due to higher electricity and metal prices as well as adding expensive French or Israeli thermal sights.  Nevertheless, says Baranets, Postnikov exaggerated about buying Leopards for the price of a T-90.

Baranets also interviewed Mikhail Barabanov.

Barabanov says the T-90 really is the 17th modification of the T-72, initially called the T-72BU, but T-90 sounded more modern, at least in 1992.  The T-90A has grown old, but could still be updated with a new turret, gun, and weapons control system.  The 118-million-ruble pricetag comes from a small production run, and it’s steep for a tank that’s not the most modern.

Barabanov says for 118 million you could only buy 3 1980s-vintage Leopard-2A4 from the Bundswehr reserve.  And such tanks don’t have any particular advantage over T-90.  A new Leopard-2A6 is more than $4 million, but with service, training, spares and munitions, it can’t be obtained for less than $10 million.

Baranets asks Barabanov if the share of modern ground armaments really be brought up to 70 percent by 2020.  The latter says:

“It’s realistic given fulfillment of the State Program of Armaments.  But its [the GPV’s] fulfillment depends first and foremost on the country’s capacity for high economic growth rates.”