Category Archives: VDV

Surprise Inspection

Army General Valeriy Gerasimov

Army General Valeriy Gerasimov

Complete coverage of General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov’s remarks on the surprise inspection and readiness exercise can be found on Radio Voice of Russia or Mil.ru.

According to the newly-minted army general (four stars), the General Staff planned the inspection on the Defense Minister’s order.  It evaluated command and control organs, formations, and units of the Central and Southern MDs, VDV, VTA, and the 12th GUMO.  It was the largest of its kind in 20 years. 

The inspection began at 0400 on 18 February when operational and unit duty officers received packets with General Staff orders to go to higher states of combat readiness and carry out combat training missions.  This, Gerasimov said, required moving and transporting forces to exercise areas and “unfamiliar terrain” far from their permanent deployment locations.  The inspection included 7,000 soldiers, several hundred pieces of equipment, and 48 aircraft.

The General Staff Chief emphasized that the inspection was a complete surprise to command and control organs and troops to allow for objectively the combat readiness of formations and uncovering problems.

He praised the readiness and performance of sub-units of the VDV’s 98th Air-Assault Division (Ivanovo) and the 4th Air Forces and Air Defense Command (Southern MD / Rostov).  What was likely a battalion tactical group of the 98th loaded in twenty Il-76 transports and flew to Shagol outside Chelyabinsk, marched 100 km under difficult conditions (-20° C / -4° F, broken terrain, deep snow cover) to Chebarkul, and conducted its combat training.  For its part, the 4th VVS and PVO Command’s aircraft conducted bombing exercises with good or excellent results.

There were, however, “a number of systematic deficiencies in the state of combat readiness and lever of personnel training.” 

In practically all evaluated elements, duty officers showed weak skill in transmitting orders via automated combat command and control systems.  They weren’t certain how to receive the order to go to higher readiness.  In the VDV and the 201st Military Base, it took too long to send signals to subordinate troops.

In the Central MD’s 28th Motorized Rifle Brigade, training center graduates, drivers, and mechanic-drivers showed a low level of training.  Tank and BMP crews usually got only satisfactory in firing exercises.  Young officers just graduated from military schools exhibited poor knowledge of weapons and equipment.

Equipment generally performed reliably, given the weather conditions and its age.  Some of it required repair in the field, and, according to Gerasimov, this demonstrated the expedience of the Defense Minister’s decision to reestablish maintenance units.  But they need more training, spare parts, and improved organization.  Factory repair is more problematic:

“Sufficiently efficient work by repair factories and industrial enterprises is a serious problem for the troops.  Equipment coming from capital or medium repair, even under a service guarantee, often breaks down in the first months of its use in line units.  An analysis of deficiencies discovered is currently being conducted.”

Interesting, where does the fault lie?  The factory or troops and young officers who don’t know how to use or repair it?

Gerasimov admitted and lamented that nearly two-thirds of aircraft (in units being drilled?) is out of repair.  He called effective resolution of this problem the most important joint task of command and control organs and industry.

Gerasimov called the BMD-2 both obsolete and worn-out at 20 to 25 years old, or even more.  At 14.2 metric tons, he said the BMD-4M’s weight is at the limit for air transport, and an Il-76 can only carry three.  The General Staff Chief cited repair problems with Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, Su-25, self-propelled Msta artillery, and R-168-5un radio.  He indicated the still experimental Volk armored vehicle doesn’t meet 12 of its TTZs and won’t undergo repeat state testing.

Gerasimov said the Defense Minister has decided inspections like this will now take place on a regular basis.

Putin on Ground Troops and VDV

Meeting on GPV for Ground Troops and VDV

Kremlin.ru has the transcript of President Putin’s introductory remarks yesterday at a meeting on the land armaments portion of the State Armaments Program, the GPV.  This is his second review of where things stand.  Recall in mid-June he held a session on the Air Forces and the GPV.

Noting that “leading countries” are increasing the potential of their ground forces with new reconnaissance, C2, and “highly accurate” systems, as well as modern armor, Putin continued:

“I remind you in the framework of the state armaments program to 2020 it’s planned to allocate more than 2.6 trillion rubles to outfitting the Ground and Airborne forces.  We have to reequip units and sub-units, to fill the troops with new equipment with these resources.  By 2020 its share must be not less than 70 percent.”

“So 10 ‘Iskander-M’ brigade missile systems, 9 S-300V4 army brigade SAM systems, more than 2,300 tanks, nearly 2,000 self-propelled artillery and gun systems, and also more than 30,000 units of automotive equipment alone must enter the Ground Troops.  Besides this, it’s planned to introduce new communications, C2, advanced reconnaissance systems, individual soldier systems.”

As previously, the president stressed that complete fulfillment on schedule and at agreed prices is “very important.”

Then Putin turned to three problem areas.

First, fielding new weapons systems is complicated by the involvement of many sub-contractors.  A breakdown in one contract can cause an entire effort to fail.  Putin cited the VDV’s new BMD and YeSU TZ as examples:

“[BMDs] still haven’t gone through state testing and, as a result, haven’t been accepted into the inventory.  In turn, this is impeding development of practically all the VDV’s weapons sub-systems.  Today I’d like to hear, respected colleagues, why the task of the state program in the area of armor development and supply to the VDV hasn’t been fulfilled.”

“Creating a unified command and control system for troops and weapons at the tactical level [YeSU TZ] is another example.  The test model still doesn’t fully answer the requirements the Defense Ministry set out.  And I’d like also today to hear how this question is being resolved.”

Refer here and here for recent words on the BMD-4M and YeSU TZ.

Second, the Ground Troops and VDV spend too little on R&D (10 and 5 percent of what they spend on serial purchases and repairs respectively).  And the R&D money is put toward a small number of projects.  The president wants more work on advanced soldier systems, infantry weapons, individual protection, and comms.

Third, and finally, there’s a mess in Russia’s munitions industry.  There’s no long-term plan for ammunition makers, and this presents a problem for new arms systems.  The time has come, Putin said, to determine how the Defense Ministry and enterprises in this sector will interact.

President Putin has really seized on the GPV.  It seems near and dear to him.  Or perhaps it seems more tractable than Russia’s political and economic problems.  More amenable to his directive leadership and manual control.

The cases Putin mentioned are longstanding, well-known “poster children” for the problems of the OPK, i.e. easy and logical targets.  One wonders what more pressing and acute, if less publicly advertised, military-industrial difficulties were discussed.  Putin’s focus on R&D is also a bit odd when you consider it’s been blamed for waste and slashed.

Putin didn’t address strong rumors and denials of slipping the schedule for GPV 2011-2020 to 2016-2023.

Does the GPV Look Like This?

If Putin keeps on the GPV, perhaps we’ll gain a somewhat sharper picture of how it’s shared out.  It’d be interesting to learn where the RVSN and VVKO fit.

VDV Vets Rock Against Putin

The disparate parts of the anti-Putin movement probably couldn’t agree on much except their common desire to see the once-and-future president not win the election and a third term on March 4.

Yesterday VDV veterans from Moscow’s Akademicheskiy rayon appeared on the Internet rocking with hard-edged lyrics against Putin.  Livejournal comments indicate these guys are for real.  They were at Sakharov Square, and someone’s suggested they be on-stage at the February 4 demonstration.

Someone was kind enough to transcribe the lyrics here, and here are some English ones:

If you’re a citizen, if you’re president
There’s a law for you, there’s a prohibition for you
Don’t steal from the treasury and never lie
Be open for all, answer for your words
Eight years president and again a candidate
Look us in the eye and surrender your mandate
We believed you, but you lied many years
Employing in everything your KGB secret

You’re just like me, a man not God
I’m just like you, a man not a lout
Let’s not lie more, let’s not steal
We’re a freedom assault, the Motherland is with us
You’re a typical official, not tsar or God
For you a man is a stupid monkey
The ribbon’s color is freedom, for all positive
And only for you…a condom

I’m looking at you, at your portraits
You’re still lying to us just like your bears
We’re tired of looking at the shame of the entire country
With village poverty next to your castles
You destroyed the defense sector, and retired the army
You put it on soldiers, sent officers away
We won’t forgive all your services
We are demanding peacefully – go away tyrant

You’re just like me, a man not God
I’m just like you, a man not a lout
Let’s not lie more, let’s not steal
We’re a freedom assault, the Motherland is with us
You’re a typical official, not tsar or God
For you a man is a stupid monkey
The ribbon’s color is freedom, for all positive
And only for you…a condom

We remember our granddads who fought the SS
We remember our Guards who jumped from the sky
Berlin and Afghan remain in our heart
But the heart of One Russians is their own pocket
Nowadays honor’s not in respect, there’s no virtue
And only the systemic gleam of coins
Global materialism of machines and wimps
This is rotten systemic cynicism
They’ve forgotten culture in YeGE schools
Diplomas for money and bribes everywhere
An old man can’t be treated for free
This is the deadend of a rotten system

You’re just like me, a man not God
I’m just like you, a man not a lout
Let’s not lie more, let’s not steal
We’re a freedom assault, the Motherland is with us
You’re a typical official, not tsar or God
For you a man is a stupid monkey
The ribbon’s color is freedom, for all positive
And only for you…a condom

Of course, it loses a lot in translation.  But even if you can’t follow the original, its anger and power is palpable.

It seems to this author very unlikely Vladimir Putin will depart the scene any time soon.  But the demonstrations and the protest movement (even this song) signify that politics and activism are returning to Russia.

Suit, Countersuit Over GOZ

Kurganmashzavod (photo: Nakanune.ru)

This story should be of particular interest to those following the VDV, Ground Troops, and their combat vehicles.  The specific problems of KMZ illustrate general dilemmas of the GOZ.  The GOZ money trail is slippery.  And it explains why modern, or at least new, weapons and equipment aren’t produced or delivered, and the GOZ is only partially fulfilled. 

RIA Novosti (via Vedomosti) reports the Defense Ministry filed suits against Kurganmashzavod (KMZ), of “Tractor Plants” Concern, for breaking GOZ contracts.  KMZ, in turn, entered three countersuits seeking 1.5 billion rubles from the Defense Ministry for violating its contracts.

KMZ claims the Defense Ministry stopped accepting its products in fall 2010, causing the factory to fail to meet its obligations.  RIA Novosti reports First Deputy Defense Minister Aleksandr Sukhorukov said KMZ would be fined 3 billion rubles for breaking its 2010 contract to produce the BMP-3.  Two billion has also been cited.  The first hearing will be next week.

Nakanune.ru indicates KMZ had no GOZ contracts for 2011, during which the plant counted on 12 billion rubles worth of production.  Instead, it produced only 4.7 billion worth for the first eight months of the year.

In May, Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy pointed to KMZ as a prototypical failure of the GOZ.  The factory got an advance of 350 million rubles but, instead of sending money to its sub-contractors, it used it on internal needs.

Academy of Military Sciences Professor and PIR-Center Conventional Arms Program Director Vadim Kozyulin says:

“I understand that the enterprise’s leadership could have its own reasons.  The plant has many problems which could look more important and pressing from a local viewpoint.  But some way or other the resources to fill the order for the supply of armored equipment for the VDV came in, but went for something else.”

Kozyulin says they have the same problem in other enterprises, “but ‘Kurganmashzavod’ fell right under the chop.”  He says it won’t go well for KMZ, and the Defense Ministry may refuse to give the factory future orders. 

Nakanune also cites CAST analyst Dmitriy Vasiliyev who agrees this isn’t just KMZ’s problem, but a problem of the Gosoboronzakaz as a whole.  Igor Korotchenko suggests KMZ has little chance of winning its case, and needs to seek an out-of-court settlement.  But perhaps it’s too late already. 

It may be that KMZ is being made into a convenient example because others want to take it over.  It is an area of the OPK that could stand some consolidation.

Kozyulin suggests troubled KMZ should merge with Uralvagonzavod (UVZ).  UVZ and Russian Machines are apparently after KMZ parent “Tractor Plants” Concern.  They’ve approached Vnezhekonombank, which owns 100 percent of its shares, about managing “Tractor Plants” Concern, but the choice of a managing firm has been put off until 2012.

It certainly sounds like KMZ is headed downhill.  The dueling law suits, the untangling of KMZ’s management, and, at some point, the reorganization and restoration of its production capability will take time.  This means possibly years of delays in filling armored vehicle orders for the VDV and Ground Troops.

You may recall United Russia member Igor Barinov excoriated KMZ earlier this year for its poor handling of GOZ funds.  VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov also blamed KMZ for delays in getting the first BMD-4Ms for his troops. 

VDV Day

Today was the 81st anniversary of VDV’s establishment . . .

VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov is looking for 20 new An-124 transport aircraft to support his troops by the end of GPV-2020, according to ITAR-TASS

Shamanov told Rossiyskaya gazeta he plans to return to jumping next year, despite injuries received when his vehicle was hit by a truck last fall.

He’s  disappointed the BMD-4M hasn’t completed its evaluation; armor testing remains.  And Shamanov admitted:

“There’s still no firm agreement on the schedules for testing and supplying this equipment to the troops.”

Shamanov’s first deputy and chief of staff, General-Lieutenant Nikolay Ignatov also told Ekho Moskvy a final decision on the BMD-4M’s readiness for combat employment will come after upcoming tests at Kubinka.

Ignatov talked to Ekho about the VDV’s plans for professional sergeants.  He said the VDV will start getting contractees from professional NCO training next fall, and will have only professional sergeants by 2016.  They will be “high class” specialists, and platoon and deputy platoon commanders to compensate for officer reductions.  The chief of staff said base [rank] contract pay will be 15-25,000 rubles per month, supplemented by a range of duty-related bonuses. Contractees will sign up initially for three years, and their units and divisions will decide if they’re offered a second contract.

Ignatov spoke disparagingly of the 2004-2007 contract service experiment, in which the 76th DShD served as test bed.  He said low pay and the lack of service housing for married soldiers bedeviled the program, and the government should have taken responsibility for pay and benefits rather than leaving them to the division.

About conscription, Ignatov said flatly:

“. . . today’s conscript servicemen simply won’t have a chance, he won’t be capable of mastering this equipment [new armaments] fully in all its characteristics.”

Ignatov also spoke at length about a new VDV automated C2 system called Andromeda-D, developed by the Scientific-Research Institute of Communications and Command and Control Systems (NIISSU or НИИССУ).

He describes Andromeda-D as a division-to-soldier system, with stationary points for commanders down to battalion, and vehicle-mounted systems for tactical units.  Andromeda-D has passed troop testing, has been deployed in the 76th DShD, and is in the GOZ to buy it for the 7th DShD, 98th VDD, and 31st DShBr, according to Ignatov. 

He told Krasnaya zvezda the existing Polet-K system will be integrated into the new Andromeda-D system.

He also says the VDV plans to deploy GLONASS receivers in its vehicles as part of its C2 system.

Kachalkin on VTA Prospects

General-Lieutenant Viktor Kachalkin

This week marked Military-Transport Aviation’s 80th anniversary, and VTA (or ВТА) Commander, General-Lieutenant Viktor Kachalkin made a variety of comments regarding the branch’s future.

Now relatively little’s been said about this subject.  VVS CINC, General-Colonel Zelin insists VTA’s a priority, but hasn’t ventured numbers or dates for new aircraft.  His deputy, General-Lieutenant Sadofyev’s alluded vaguely to modernization of existing aircraft and acquisition of 50 percent new aircraft.  But nothing more specific.  If VTA is the red-haired stepchild of the Air Forces, at least the VDV loves VTA – loves to hate it, that is.  General-Lieutenant Shamanov and other VDV officers never tire of saying that shortfalls and shortcomings in air transport are turning their branch into no more than elite ground troops.

At any rate, on to what Kachalkin said . . . he hopes new An-70 and deeply modernized Il-76MD90A transport aircraft will enter the VTA inventory starting in 2014.  The latter is an updated Il-76MD with new PS-90A-76 engines.  It also goes by the name Il-476.  In the more distant future, VTA looks toward buying a new An-124-300 variant.  The VTA commander believes all this will translate into “dozens” of new aircraft by 2020.

Kachalkin also plans on the “deep modernization” of existing transports into Il-76MDM and An-124-100 variants.

In a Krasnaya zvezda interview, he sums it up this way:

“If the volumes of new aircraft and deep modernization of the existing aircraft inventory announced in the program [GPV-2020] are assessed, then the growth in VTA capabilities is obvious.”

Later he adds:

“Despite the fact that the service life of the greater part of the current VTA aviation inventory is figured at 2020-2030s, the percentage share of new aircraft will grow steadily.  In this context, the mobility of the Armed Forces will increase overall.”

In his KZ interview, Kachalkin mentioned the impact of the “new profile” on his base structure.  VTA now has only one first rank air base at Tver, which is home to multiple aviation groups using basing locations at Pskov, Orenburg, and Taganrog.  As recently as late 2009, the VTA commander spoke of first rank bases at Tver and Orenburg, and second rank ones at Pskov and Taganrog.

Kachalkin indicated an aviation group of not less than 15-20 VTA aircraft will take part in the upcoming Tsentr-2011 operational-strategic exercise.

A couple contradictory points worth noting were also made this week . . .

Deputy Air Forces CINC, General-Major Viktor Bondarev predicted An-70 purchases in 2012-2013, according to RIA Novosti.  The wire service also reminded readers that Defense Minister Serdyukov has said not before 2015-2016.  One guesses Kachalkin split the difference with 2014.

Shamanov on the VDV’s GOZ

General-Lieutenant Shamanov (photo: RIA Novosti / Petr Chernov)

Last Thursday VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov returned to a bit of media spotlight for the first time since returning to duty following serious injuries in a collision with a truck last fall.

Shamanov said the VDV’s part of the state defense order (GOZ) isn’t necessarily proceeding well.  But he claims the BMD-4M was ordered.  He lobbied for a piece of the Arctic defense mission.  And he repeated past calls for his own helicopters.

RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS reported Shamanov saying he’s satisfied “on the whole” that the rearmament of the VDV:

“. . . is going according to the strict parameters which were established.  First of all, this concerns the modernization of BMD-1 and BMD-2 and ‘Nona’ self-propelled artillery with automation means.”

But he added:

“The issue of fulfilling the 2011 state defense order for 10 BMD-4M and for 10 standardized ‘Rakushka’ armored personnel carriers, built on a BMD-4M base, is not completely resolved.  The thing is Kurganmashzavod didn’t give a guarantee it would produce them.  Presently, Kurganmashzavod’s financial situation is causing concern.  There are no guarantees that, if all the money comes, the order will be met.” 

Last year Shamanov said the firm was developing and producing the first BMD-4M models on its own to the tune of 200 million rubles.

Still he hopes the problem with fulfilling the 2011 GOZ for the VDV will be resolved soon.  He said there are negotiations, and the problem should be resolved in week or two.

The VDV Commander indicated he’s sending the Genshtab a proposal under which his branch would participate in defending Russia’s Arctic shelf jointly with the Ground Troops.

He told journalists he gave his deputy, General-Major Aleksandr Lentsov,  the task of developing options for VDV units to work with the Ground Troops and Navy in the Arctic.  Shamanov invited the commanders of Naval Infantry brigades and Ground Troops’ air-assault brigades to the VDV’s operational conference in Ryazan the week before last.

Shamanov opined that establishment of an inter-service grouping for the Arctic is “fully possible” but how it might happen remains a topic of discussion.

The press services said Shamanov resurfaced his previous calls for a helicopter regiment co-located with the VDV brigade in Ulyanovsk or division in Pskov.  He said he plans to submit two variants of such a proposal to the Genshtab when it is finished.  

Press sources said he requested the same thing at this time last year.  The Ground Troops-dominated Genshtab apparently frowns on an idea that would eat resources and possibly duplicate the capabilities of the army’s own air-assault brigades.  For his part, maybe Shamanov benefits by repeatedly laying down a marker indicating that the VDV lacks something he considers essential.