Monthly Archives: November 2014

What’s It Cost? (Addendum)

There’s reason this week to return to the issue of what the S-400 system costs. Specifically, what it might cost China.

Vedomosti reported Wednesday that Russia has signed a deal with China to sell it the S-400 / Triumf.

The business daily’s defense industry source claims the agreement inked by Rosoboroneksport and the Chinese military will send off not less than six battalions of the advanced SAM system for more than $3 billion.

That would be at least $500 million per battalion (against the previously ventured guess of about $320 million).  Or in excess of $80 million per TEL.

The Russian Defense Ministry has consistently maintained that the S-400 won’t go abroad before 2016.

Vedomosti notes China’s last big purchase was 15 battalions of S-300PMU-2 completed in 2010.

RIA Novosti pretty quickly reported that an official of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) said an S-400 contract hadn’t been signed with China as yet.

Rosoboroneksport and Almaz-Antey just declined comment.

S-400 Deployments

S-400 Firing (photo: Interfaks-AVN / Andrey Stanavov)

S-400 Firing (photo: Interfaks-AVN / Andrey Stanavov)

Last week Interfaks-AVN wrote that the Russian military just received two “regimental sets” of S-400 / Triumf SAMs.  They make numbers seven and eight.

One became the fourth “regimental set” of the 4th Aerospace Defense Brigade around Moscow and the other is bound for the 1st Aerospace Defense Brigade on the Kola near Northern Fleet headquarters at Severomorsk.

The Kola brigade is the first in the Western MD to have the S-400.  It falls under the Western MD’s 1st Air Forces and Air Defense Command.

The other three of the eight are the 3rd (Kaliningrad), 7th (Novocherkassk), and 12th (Nakhodka) Aerospace Defense Brigades.

Almaz-Antey General Director Yan Novikov told the Interfaks-AVN that, for the first time, the Defense Ministry will get three S-400 “regiments” in a single year in 2014.

TASS reported even earlier last week that Almaz-Antey will deliver the ninth “regiment” will before the end of December.  It will be the first three-battalion regiment, and is destined for Kamchatka, or the 14th Aerospace Defense Brigade (Yelizovo).

In September, the commander of PVO and PRO for VVKO, General-Major Andrey Demin told TASS that 12 “regimental sets” of S-400 and 72 Pantsir-S would be procured by 2020.

Defense Sector Wages

Interesting item on wages in Russia’s defense industrial sector in NG on November 11.

Alina Terekhova reports average monthly pay in the OPK is 17 percent higher than the country as a whole.  However, defense industry salaries lag employee earnings in other key sectors (i.e. railroads, oil, finance).  Yet they are likely to grow while wages elsewhere will probably begin to fall.

Minpromtorg [rather optimistically] forecasts that the earnings of OPK workers will double over the coming five years.

Defense industry pay grew 13 percent last year [not entirely consistent with the table below] against almost 12 percent in other areas.

Average Pay in the OPK

Average Pay in the OPK

Earlier this year, workers in Russia’s mining industry made nearly 57,000 rubles per month, oil workers 83,000, railroads 41,000, and finance 67,000.  Pay in the defense industries averaged about 38,000 rubles per month during the first half of 2014, according to Rosstat.  Nationwide it was about 32,000.

That 38,000 seems to fit in the context of other salaries (e.g. 30-35,000 for junior officers and contractees).

Rising inflation, Terekhova reports, could reduce real earnings for everyone next year.

She quotes a couple experts, neither of whom expects a decline in OPK wages. Despite the stagnation evident in the economy, the Kremlin will likely continue funding the GOZ generously given increased tensions with the West.  This will keep upward pressure on defense sector salaries.

It’s interesting that the oft-mentioned “cadre famine” in defense industry hasn’t bid wages higher.  But some enterprises report the average age (and presumably the pay grade) of their workers is dropping with the arrival of new and younger employees.

The NTsUO Chief

The Defense Ministry announced in late October that Russia’s new National Defense Command and Control Center (NTsUO or НЦУО) in the old ground troops command building on Frunzenskaya embankment will be fully operational by December 1.  It has operated on an “experimental combat duty” basis since April.

You can read about the NTsUO here and here.  Or you can look at General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov’s description of what it will do.  It’s an incredibly expansive list of oversight, monitoring, and decision-support functions for state defense in accord with the Defense Plan.  As Gerasimov indicates, the NTsUO will inform Russia’s leadership about what’s happening in the world, the country, and the Armed Forces, and propose alternative courses of action in response to changing situations.

The NTsUO will be the apex of the military command and control system. Military includes not just Defense Ministry forces, but also Russia’s numerous militarized ministries and agencies — FSB, FSO, SVR, MVD, MChS, etc.  And more besides.  But it’s not clear to what extent heavyweights like the FSB and MVD have invested themselves in the NTsUO thus far.

Overlooked in the NTsUO is an intent to give supreme commander-in-chief Vladimir Putin better control over his various siloviki in the event of a genuine internal threat to his rule, i.e. coup, “colored revolution,” Bolotnaya march, Maidan, etc.  The NTsUO appears to be something Gorbachev, Yeltsin, or even Yanukovych would have envied during their political crises.

The NTsUO and its chief may have usurped the role of spokesman for the MOD (which retains its official press-service).

Alongside Defense Minister Shoygu, newly-minted NTsUO chief, General-Lieutenant Mikhail Mizintsev took the lead in briefing the MOD’s Public Council on October 28.  His published report was widely replayed by Russian news agencies.

General-Lieutenant Mikhail Mizintsev (photo:  Mil.ru)

General-Lieutenant Mikhail Mizintsev (photo: Mil.ru)

So what about the NTsUO chief?

Mizintsev is a career staff officer with considerable time spent in tactical reconnaissance.  He was born in rural Vologda oblast on September 10, 1962.  He graduated from the Suvorov premilitary school in Tver in 1980, and the Kiev combined arms command school in 1984.

He commanded reconnaissance or motorized rifle troops up to battalion-level in the GSFG / WGF and Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus.

He finished the mid-career Frunze Military Academy in 1996, and served as a “senior officer-operator” [watch officer] in the General Staff’s Main Operations Directorate (GOU) until 2001.  He returned to the schoolhouse and graduated from the senior-level General Staff Academy in 2003.

Mizintsev served as the chief of an unidentified GOU group through 2007. He then became chief of the operations directorate and deputy chief of staff for the Moscow Military District.  He likely came to the attention of Valeriy Gerasimov at this point.  Gerasimov commanded the district starting in 2009.

From 2010 to 2012, Mizintsev occupied the same post in the North Caucasus / Southern MD.

In August 2012, he became chief of the General Staff’s Central Command Post (TsKP or ЦКП) until it disbanded and he took over the NTsUO.

Mizintsev’s rise from O-6 was quick; he became a one-star in December 2011, then put on two-star general-lieutenant rank barely two years later.

Contract Euphoria

Vadim Koval offered words of caution and perspective on contract service in an October 31 NVO op-ed.  Until 2012 or so, the retired colonel was the official spokesman for the RVSN.

Koval suggests you can’t measure contract service by numbers alone, which merely represent “start-up capital” for the professionalization of the armed forces.

He was prompted a recent official announcement that the MOD has signed up an historically high number of contractees this year — more than 70,000 already — with two months left on the calendar.

The MOD reports, for the first time, the number of soldiers and sergeants serving on contract exceeds the number of conscripts in the ranks.  That means something more than 305,000 — based on fall 2013 and spring 2014 draft campaign target numbers.

Success in finding contractees, Koval writes, is due, in no small part, to an aggressive MOD advertising and recruitment drive this year.  But the greatest attraction for young men is increased training, new arms and equipment, and the overall improved condition of the armed forces.  None of which “remain unnoticed among potential candidates for contract service.”

Still, Koval concludes, even in light of record recruiting numbers, it’s obvious “the defense department’s main work with this category of servicemen is still ahead.”  Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu didn’t fall into euphoria over the numbers, and ordered his subordinates to concentrate on the quality of contractee training, according to Koval.

He writes:

“Even statistics graphically confirm that problems with the quality of recruited contractees exist:  the quantity of contract servicemen dismissed from the Armed Forces in 2014 was 18 thousand.”

Koval finishes noting that much depends on the clarity of the MOD’s response to the challenge of getting and keeping suitable and well-trained soldiers in the military.

It’s surely difficult (well, impossible) to make that 305,000 number jibe with numbers we’ve already seen.  If Moscow had 225,000 or 205,000 at the end of 2013, this year’s 70,000+ would make 295,000 or 275,000 contractees.  Neither of those is 305,000.

It could be that Koval’s very interesting 18,000 number plays into this . . . if that many contractees quit or were drummed out this year, maybe that’s why the numbers don’t equal or exceed 305,000. Perhaps the MOD isn’t counting its attrition — only the manpower it added.

If 18,000 is the number of contractees who left the service, that’s pretty low attrition — about 6 percent.  Last year that percentage looked to be 12 or more.