Tag Archives: CAST

Pukhov’s Perspective

Thanks to VPK.name’s retransmission of Interfaks-AVN, we can look at Ruslan Pukhov’s latest comments on the State Program of Armaments, 2011-2020 (GPV-2020).  Recall he’s director of the Center of the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.

In a nutshell, AVN concludes Pukhov believes the Russian Army’s rearmament requires much greater resources than provided in GPV-2020, but the country’s economic possibilities don’t allow for spending more:

“Twenty trillion rubles which were proposed to allocate for the purchase of armaments and military equipment by 2020 — this is the minimum amount essential for rearming the army, but at the same time it’s the maximum possible volume of resources which can be spent on armaments, proceeding from the possibilities of the country’s budget and economy as a whole.”

Pukhov goes on to say some experts have said 36 or even 50 trillion rubles would be required to rearm all Russia’s armed services and branches completely.  That, of course, is beyond the economy’s capabilities:

“Even the current plans are highly ambitious and entail very high macroeconomic risks.  In the event of the actual fulfillment of the plans for financing GPV-2020, the average annual expenditures on purchases of arms and military equipment will come to 2 trillion rubles a year, that is nearly €47 billion at the current rate.” 

For comparison, Pukhov told AVN Britain and France, with economic potential similar to Russia’s, each spend less than €20 billion annually on new weapons.

Pukhov sees military spending of 4 percent of GDP when the Armed Forces’ other needs are considered:

“Accounting for the need to realize not just the rearmament of the Russian Army, but also to increase significantly the number of contractees, to improve soldiers’ food, clothing, and pay, to resolve the housing problem for servicemen, it’s impossible to exclude that at some time military spending could reach four percent of GDP.” 

He sees it as a very high share of GDP for a country facing the modernization of health care and education, and also the renewal of all its infrastructure.  Still, he concludes:

“But considering the country’s defense was underfinanced for fifteen years and the high probability of the aggravation of the military-political situation in the post-Soviet space, especially in Central Asia, the military expenditures provided are not only acceptable, but even absolutely essential.”

In these sound bites, Ruslan Pukhov’s views sound reasonable, independent, and nuanced given that he tends to reflect defense sector interests.  He recognizes Moscow’s at the limit of what it can spend on new weapons, and he cites figures you read here or here early this year.  He could have noted that the goal is only to renew 70 percent of the Armed Forces’ inventory by 2020.  He acknowledged it’s a lot of money for a country, and a military, facing other expensive challenges, but he maintains it’s necessary by pointing to the neighborhood Russia lives in. 

It’d be interesting, however, to see an interview or article exploring the possibility that Russia can meet its most likely, most realistic military threats and requirements more efficiently and effectively than envisaged under GPV-2020.  Perhaps some services, branches, and unified strategic commands need more money and modernization than they will get, and maybe others need less.  One doesn’t read much about relative priorities within the Armed Forces beyond the fact that the Navy will be emphasized and the Ground Troops won’t.  The rest of the military apparently will move forward on a very broad front.  It’s probably not the best force modernization approach.

Advertisements

Fox News on the Russian Military

We laughed, we cried, two thumbs way down to Fox News for yesterday’s story on the Russian military.  It makes us wonder what kind of crap they say and write on topics we don’t know anything about.  Well, actually, we already know how bad that drek is too.

Now, no one who frequents this blog will accuse your present author of giving Moscow credit for much.  No, of course not.  But Fox News has succeeded in taking the absurd in Russian defense policy and making it ridiculous.  Fox’s article couldn’t garner a C in a high school journalism class.

At the risk of getting some of the stink on us, let’s examine the piece a little:

  1. Ahem, if you didn’t notice, the Russian military’s been falling apart for a long time.  And, actually, in the most objective sense, experts who’ve watched the process would say Defense Minister Serdyukov and his cronies may have arrested the process some over the last 4 years.
  2. Yes, CAST did put out a new monograph, but it’s a slender volume, and certainly neither comprehensive nor groundbreaking in any sense.  CAST is valuable, but hardly well-known.  And its leadership is probably not fully independent of the current regime.
  3. Fox’s claim that Russia only has 8-10 thousand deployable troops is a ridiculous misreading of intentionally hyperbolic statements in the CAST report.  No serious analyst believes that Russian forces aren’t more ready today than they were 5, 10, or 15 years ago.  But this is a relative comparison.  It doesn’t mean they’re sufficiently ready, in sufficient quantity, to execute the missions they’ve set for themselves.
  4. The Russians have already beat the furniture salesman stuff to death, but one supposes it’s still funny to a nonspecialist audience in the U.S., a country where actors become governors and presidents (and good ones at that).  But even the most basic journalistic accounts normally note that Serdyukov married well, gaining a father-in-law with a strong connection to Vladimir Putin.  And Serdyukov’s no dummy; he probably engineered most of the tax case against Khodorkovskiy.  Not sure Fox knows who Khodorkovskiy is though.  The bottom line is, most people accept Serdyukov as a savvy and tough bureaucrat with talent, who was specifically selected to do a job he’s well-suited for.  Doesn’t mean he hasn’t pissed off Russian military men.  That’s exactly what he was supposed to do.
  5. Fox missed the point that Serdyukov was sent in to stop the stealing, not to cut the military’s budget.  Does Fox realize the $78 billion that DoD’s going to trim over five years isn’t much less than what Russia’s military budget will be over that period?  Duh.
  6. Fox saves itself a little by referring to Felgengauer, but it can’t spell his name.
  7. Russian defense industry has problems, yes, but buying abroad is more complex than Fox’s passing mention.  Fox didn’t bother to Google Mistral either.
  8. Fox’s military expert is wrong; Russia still has a military.  But the U.S. needs to worry about whether and what kind it will have in the future.  We don’t need a “sick man of Eurasia,” and a military vacuum there wouldn’t be good for Americans.  And we also need to worry if there will be a country there, by the way.  Fox’s retired general is right, however, when he reminds that Russia is still a nuclear weapons superpower, and it is relying on nukes heavily for its security.  And its conventional weaknesses increase the risks of miscalculation.  But this has been the case for much of the past 20 years. 

But none of this is a news story.  The news story is that even skeptics have to admit the Russian military is doing a little better, and it’ll be interesting to find out how much better the next time it goes into action.  It’ll be interesting to see if it’s somewhere on the former Soviet imperial periphery, or against another internal threat in the North Caucasus.

The Russian media reactions to the Fox article are just starting, we’ll see if they get interesting.

But thanks Fox for providing something to write about this morning.

Mistral — For and Against

Last Friday, Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s Viktor Litovkin covered a round table discussing Russia’s likely purchase of the Mistral helicopter carrier.  He was also one of the main speakers.  CAST sponsored the meeting, and Konstantin Makiyenko set the table with a general talk about amphibious assault ships and the world market for them.

Igor Korotchenko spoke in favor of purchasing the French ship, but not very convincingly.

According to Litovkin, Korotchenko made the following argument.  The Mistral purchase is part of a political-economic agreement between Moscow and Paris.  And so France will obviously win the Defense Ministry’s coming international tender.  This French ship will be extremely useful to the Russian Navy, and strengthen its combat capability.  Then Korotchenko seemed to imply that Mistral is less important as a naval platform than as a symbol of Franco-Russian military-technical cooperation, and France’s independence of the United States.

This view is a bit Cold War, and not particularly reflective of Moscow’s current effort to buy military capabilities abroad, and use them to improve the armed forces and defense industrial production at home.

Litovkin said the Mistral purchase raises a series of questions.  First, why does Russia need it?  The expeditionary missions for which it’s intended aren’t tasks for the Russian Navy under the new military doctrine, according to him.  If, as First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin has said, Mistral is based in the Northern and Pacific Fleets, it’s senseless because Russia’s not very likely to land its troops on Norwegian, Japanese, or Chinese shores.  Second, Mistral needs to be part of a multipurpose naval grouping by virtue of its weak self-defense.  And Litovkin says Russia isn’t exactly laying down lots of other ships to escort and protect it.  Third, it’s not clear that a new base to support Mistral will be built.  Soviet-built proyekt 1123 and 1143 helicopter carriers (Moskva, Leningrad, Kiev, and Minsk) bobbed at anchor, lacked support, and were ultimately sold for scrap.

Aleksey Bezborodov starts from the state of the state of Russian shipbuilding.  Even if Russia tries to build the third and fourth Mistral units, shipyards won’t be able to manage it because they’ve lost many technical capabilities.  He maintains Russia doesn’t have an enterprise that can make engines for Mistral.

Makiyenko and Ilya Kramnik took issues with these ‘pessimists.’  The former noted that GPV 2011-2012 may include 15 frigates, 20 corvettes, etc.  The latter argued for acquiring Mistral because the Navy’s missions and requirements and Russia’s doctrine could change over the ships’ lives.  He sees it as a good platform for showing the flag and defending Russian interests abroad, and a hedge against future problems.

Litovkin says the discussion only went two hours, and it’s a shame General Staff and Navy representatives weren’t there to share their opinions.

Kramnik on Vostok-2010 and Military Reform

This is complete finally.

Ilya Kramnik’s RIA Novosti piece about the exercise has been quoted by others, but it hasn’t gotten attention as a whole on its own.

So what does Kramnik think?  He cites Makiyenko to the effect that Vostok-2010 showed that reform has been positive for the army, but there are, of course, problems.  Troops aren’t uniformly well-trained, and the failure of contract service has really hurt.  But Kramnik gives Defense Minister Serdyukov a lot of credit, on the order of being a 21st century Milyutin.  But back to the problems again.  Things like contract service, tension over officer cuts and premium pay, military education cuts, and the failure to deliver new weapons have to be fixed.  But Kramnik believes Serdyukov is the kind of guy who’ll go back and fix what he didn’t get right or get done.  Then Kramnik shifts to the type of conflict the military reform is preparing the Russian Army to fight.  Obviously [?] not a nuclear one, but rather, again turning to Makiyenko, a Central Asian local war scenario that might threaten the RF’s internal stability.  The conclusion is that, if reform stays on track and occurs quickly, the army will be able to meet this challenge.  Some, however, might well argue that even a properly and rapidly reformed Russian Army might not be enough to contain and damp down the kind of conflagration Makiyenko describes.  Finally, Kramnik concludes that even the U.S. front isn’t secure; an American regime in 2012 or 2016 might take to renewed active support of new ‘color revolutions’ in Moscow’s back (or front) yard.

Here’s a verbatim text:

“The official results of the just ended ‘Vostok-2010’ exercise are still being reckoned, and this will be done by the Defense Ministry.  Meanwhile, it’s already possible to make some conclusions.” 

“‘Vostok-2010’ was the largest of all in the post-Soviet period of Russian history.  More than 20 thousand men, 75 aircraft, 40 combat and auxiliary ships took part on the ground, in the air, and at sea in maneuvers conducted from Altay Kray to Vladivostok.”

“The aim of the exercise was to check the three-level command structure — operational-strategic command – operational command – brigade, and other new elements in the Armed Forces command and control and support system, and to uncover deficiencies needing correction.  An expert of the Russian Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Konstantin Makiyenko expressed his opinion on the recent maneuvers:  ‘The recent maneuvers fully refuted the propagated myth about how the army is being destroyed as a result of the actions of the current Defense Ministry leadership.  It’s obvious the army is alive and developing.  Units participating in the exercise demonstrated their combat capability, despite the fact that they are not in the ranks of the best military districts, and scarcely armed with the most modern equipment.'”

“‘It’s especially worth focusing on the good morale of the officer personnel — it’s not possible to speak of general enthusiasm, of course, but I didn’t see dim eyes among the officers.  As a group, they are interested in the success of the current reform and hope for its success.'”

“While agreeing with this point of view, one has to note that the situation with soldiers looks a little different, both RIA Novosti’s reviewer [Kramnik] and Konstantin Makiyenko have also noted this.  Very much depends on the branch of troops and the basic training of the soldiers themselves.  Contract-servicemen in a ‘Tochka-U’ operational-tactical missile launch battery look and are trained much better than conscript-soldiers in motorized rifle units.  In the words of motorized rifle officers up to the battalion commander level, the reduction in the number of contractees has negatively affected platoon and company training.  Ideally, the service term of a specialist-soldier (mechanic-driver, weapons system operator, etc.) needs to be three years, that is achievable only on the contract manning principle for these positions.”

“Speaking about the attainability of the announced goals of the reform, one can say the following:   the will of the military leadership which certainly exists, is the main component of success, a firm understanding of the goal is also obvious, and the possession of authority — it’s not possible to doubt this.  As a result, the current Defense Ministry leadership needs only time to realize its ideas.  Overall, the military reform being conducted is the most significant event of Russian history in the last ten years — since the suppression of the separatist rebellion in the North Caucasus.  The Serdyukov-Makarov reform in the military sphere is the most radical and deepest since the time of Mikhail Frunze’s reforms in the 1920s, if not since Dmitriy Milyutin in the 1860s and 1870s.”

“As proof, it’s possible to note the fact that the Defense Ministry leadership is constantly searching and ready to correct those steps which, when checked, turn out to be incorrect or unattainable in real political-economic conditions.  So, the current principles of manning the army will undergo a serious correction:  it’s obvious that neither the organization of contract service, nor, even more, the existing format of conscript service corresponds to the demands of the time.”

“Evaluating the correspondence of the Defense Ministry leadership to its missions, it’s possible to say, that at present Russia has the most appropriate military leadership since the collapse of the USSR.  At the same time, it’s obvious that the radicalism of the reform, the compressed time of its implementation, unavoidable resistance in the environment and hard economic conditions didn’t allow for avoiding a large number of mistakes and excesses.  Among the most fundamental failures it’s possible to name the collapse of the army’s transition to the contract manning principle, serious social tension arising in connection with the rapid reduction of officer personnel, the ambiguous situation with the scale of servicemen’s complaints after the introduction of the differential pay system [premium pay or Serdyukov’s Order No. 400?], the hurried and not completely thought out reform of military education and many, many other things.  It’s  particularly worth focusing on the implementation of the state armaments programs which fail one after another, not being executed in a significant part.  As a result, the lag of Russia’s Armed Forces behind the most developed countries in the level of  technical equipping continues to grow such that in conditions of a quantitative lag it could become very dangerous.  All these mistakes have to be corrected, since they impact on rudiments of the army’s combat capability.”

“For what type of wars does Russia’s new army need to prepare?  Obviously, the time of long wars between the great powers has gone into the past — nuclear weapons haven’t left chances for such a development of events.  The most probable type of conflict in which the Russian Army will be involved is a local conflict on Russia’s borders and the territory of the former USSR, in the course of which there could be clashes with the most varied enemy:  from a regular army to many bandit formations and terrorist groups.”

“In Konstantin Makiyenko’s opinion, Central Asia presents the greatest danger in the future of a possible hot conflict with Russia’s direct participation:  ‘The U.S. and NATO, obviously, are less and less controlling the Afghanistan situation, and it’s not excluded that in the foreseeable future they may have to abandon this country.  The return to power in Afghanistan of the ‘Taliban’ movement looks most realistic in the event of such a development of events.  The arrival of Islamic radicals in power would unavoidably be a catalyst for conflicts on the territory of former Soviet republics of the region already riven by contradictions.  Weak authoritarian regimes in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, not to mention what’s become the ‘failed government’ in Kyrgyzstan, could be easy prey for the Taliban.  As a result, Russia might be forced to consider the likelihood of a large Asian conflagration which it would have to prevent, or if it didn’t succeed — extinguish, at a minimum with the aim of preserving its own internal stability.  One very much wants to believe that the reform will bear fruit before the described situation becomes a reality.'”

“Besides the described scenario it follows to study also the probability of another development of events:  as experience has shown, on the territory of former USSR republics, the rise of openly anti-Russian regimes with external support at their disposal can’t be excluded.  For today, such a situation is a low probability due to the fact that the current administration in the U.S. — the main sponsor of ‘colored revolutions,’ is clearly not inclined to continue the policy of George Bush.  However by 2012, if President Obama loses the election, the situation could change, and this risk is even greater in 2016 when the administration will change in any case.  Meanwhile, you have to note that even the Democrats remaining in power in the U.S. is not a guarantee of a peaceful life:  Obama’s point of view on a coexistence format with Russia is hardly shared by all his fellow party members.  In the worst case, a return to the next variant of Cold War and new spiral of the arms race isn’t excluded.”

“The coming decade isn’t promising Russia an easy life.  The success of military reform is all the more important.”

Old Weapons Good Enough, or Worn Out?

In Tuesday’s Gzt.ru, Denis Telmanov writes that Vostok-2010 features arms and military equipment that is 20, or sometimes 30 years old.  Neither the Defense Ministry nor independent experts see anything terrible about this, though they worry it could become physically worn out.

Telmanov says the exercise relies on old weapons systems like the Mi-24, Tu-22M3, and the Petr Velikiy.  The latter was laid down in 1986, and didn’t join the fleet until 12 years later.  The overwhelming majority of Pacific Fleet ships in the exercise were also laid down in the 1980s, and are at least 20-plus years old.  Even the vaunted Su-34 first flew in 1990, but didn’t go into operational use until 2007.  The remaining arms and equipment were developed in the 1960s and 1970s, and produced at the end of 1980s and early 1990s.

This state of affairs allows the Defense Ministry to show that the Russian military can fight successfully with the equipment it has.  The military’s press service chief wouldn’t comment for Gzt.ru on the age of systems taking part in Vostok-2010, except to say they’re the same as those on combat duty in formations and units in the rest of the Armed Forces.

The spokesman said:

“Today the army uses the equipment that it has.  And one of the missions of the exercise is to show how effectively established missions can be fulfilled in the new TO&E structure with this equipment.  The effectiveness of military equipment really doesn’t depend so much on its age, as on skill in using it and on how it corresponds to the established missions.  The course of the exercise still shows that the equipment is fully combat ready and allows troops to fulfill these missions put before them completely.  But it’s understood that this in no way diminishes the importance of the planned modernization and introduction of new equipment which will enable troops to act even more effectively.”

He cited EW equipment and the Su-34 as new systems being used in Vostok-2010.

Gzt.ru goes on to remind readers that, for over a year, President Medvedev and Defense Minister Serdyukov have taken pains to tell Russians the majority of the country’s armaments are obsolete or worn out.  Serdyukov said the share of modern military equipment in the inventory was only 10 percent.  That’s when he and Medvedev launched the campaign to increase this figure to 30 percent by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020.

CAST Director Ruslan Pukhov says the absence of serious military threats makes the next ten years a good time to do this:

“. . . Russia has a window of opportunity the next 10 years, and it isn’t threatened by war.  It’s necessary to use these 10 years to bring the armed forces into a condition in which they can repulse any threats which arise.”

Pukhov says the Black Sea and Baltic Fleets should be modernized first, Iskanders deployed to deter Georgia, and S-400s in the Far East to counter North Korean missiles [recall General Staff Chief Makarov’s claim last year that S-400s were there?].

Mikhail Barabanov of Moscow Defense Brief says the problem is not age, but physical wear:

“40-year-old ships and 30-year-old tanks are now almost gone.  In reality, the problem of old equipment in our Armed Forces is not so much its age as the amount of equipment wear and tear.  That leads to breakdowns.  For example, in the Vostok-2010 exercise the guided missile cruiser Moskva didn’t succeed in launching its Vulcan [SS-N-27??] anti-ship missiles.  As a result, missile boats with Moskit missiles destroyed the target.”

Nevertheless, Barabanov remains confident that, even with aging weapons, Russia’s military is superior to neighboring armies, including China’s:

“On the whole, the equipment level of Russian units in the Far East is generally adequate to perform defensive missions, although not at the highest level.  It’s another issue that the equipment is badly worn out.”

Barabanov is not against buying new equipment of older designs:

“Even if industry’s existing models can be criticized for deficiencies from the standpoint of modern requirements, the fact remains they will be physically new, with a full service life, and allow for significantly increasing the combat readiness of troops.”

Telmanov ends by reminding readers of President Medvedev’s late 2009 pledge to provide the military 30 land-based  and naval ballistic missiles, 5 Iskander missile systems, nearly 300 pieces of armored equipment, 30 helicopters, 28 aircraft, 3 nuclear submarines, a corvette, and 11 satellite systems in 2010.

Fifth Generation Helicopter

Andrey Shibitov

In a 13 May news conference, OAO Helicopters of Russia Executive Director Andrey Shibitov described the company’s work on a concept for a fifth generation helicopter.  His comments to the press came in advance of HeliRussia-2010 beginning today in Moscow. 

Shibitov said:

“We are actively working on the concept of a fifth generation combat helicopter.  Wind tunnel testing of two aerodynamic designs coaxial [Kamov] and traditional [Mil] has begun.  Initial results have been received.  Which of the two designs we’ll pick will become clear in the first quarter of 2011.”

According to Gzt.ru, Shibitov claimed OAO Helicopters is willing to invest $1 billion in its development, and is looking for state investment beyond that amount.

Neither OAO Helicopters nor the Defense Ministry is talking specifics about the new helicopter, but former VVS CINC Aleksandr Kornukov stated the obvious when he told Gzt.ru a fifth generation helicopter needs to be quiet and stealthy.  According to Newsru.com, Kornukov also stated a preference for two pilots in a side-by-side configuration.

In Gzt.ru, former army aviation commander, retired General-Colonel Vitaliy Pavlov said noise isn’t so significant since Mil’s X-shaped tail rotor already reduced noise on the Mi-28 by 15 percent (in comparison with its Mi-24 predecessor), but he added that reworking the engine could further reduce noise.  Pavlov doesn’t see great importance in increasing flight speed.  He sees the coaxial Kamov design as more reliable, but Mil’s traditional rotor system as more stable.  He also likes the maneuverability of Kamov’s helicopters, but he still thinks it’ll be a difficult choice between the two producers.

Also in Gzt.ru, Defense Ministry critic, retired General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov said the fifth generation helicopter could be stillborn:

“If there isn’t a state order for this aircraft, it will wither.  We’re grasping at all fifth generation aircraft, fifth generation helicopters, but for some reason none of this is coming to the troops, today we have helicopters from the 1970s in the army.  So the country’s leadership shouldn’t just rejoice at new equipment in various air shows, but also buy it for the troops.”

Then Ivashov’s deputy at the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, takes over, citing his definition of a fifth generation helicopter—increased range, ‘fire and forget’ weapons, capability to engage fixed-wing aircraft, low radar detectability, and speed up to 500-600 km/h.  Sivkov sees noise reduction as secondary since radar can detect helicopters at a 150-200 km range.

Sivkov thinks, under favorable conditions—steady financing, cooperative work by the design bureaus and factories—a new helicopter could be developed in 5 years, but, absent those conditions, development could take 20 or 30 years.

Dmitriy Litovkin in Izvestiya covers a lot of the same information on the pre-design research and wind tunnel blowdown of the prototypes.  He says the so-called Ka-90’s ‘dual-contour’ jet engine could develop speeds over 800 km/h, and he cites a system development timeframe of 5-8 years.  According to him, work is focusing on canted blades with thrust vectoring as well as a new blade design.

He believes one of the designs will win out, but there could be a third hybrid design.  But he thinks there’s little time to waste since the U.S. is already testing new designs, albeit unsuccessfully thus far. 

Writing in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, Viktor Litovkin notes three named prototypes–Mi-X1, Ka-90, and Ka-92. 

Shibitov also talked to the press about OAO Helicopters’ record state defense order from army aviation in 2010.  He said:

“A year ago I said it was a shame the Defense Minister wasn’t buying new helicopters.  Beginning this year, I can’t say this.  Finally conscious, sensible purchases of military equipment have begun.”

“We got a record order from the Defense Ministry for purchases of combat, strike, and reconnaissance helicopters in the basic and supplementary order.  Unfortunately, we can’t fulfill the supplementary order because other commercial projects are being completed.”

“From this year, we’re delivering volume for the Defense Ministry comparable with all export deliveries of combat and strike helicopters.  In the course of the coming five years this tempo will continue, and in the period to 2017-2020 the Russian Air Forces will renew its complement of combat, strike, and reconnaissance helicopters by 85-90 percent.”

Aviaport.ru indicated the armed forces will also receive their first Mi-35D, Mi-24D, and Ka-226T helicopters, previously produced only for foreign customers.  OAO Helicopters is reportedly looking at modernizing Ka-29 or Ka-32 helicopters for Mistral, but Ka-52 is another candidate for shipboard helicopter.

CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko puts the armed forces helicopter inventory at 850, of which 90 percent is obsolete.  He estimates it’ll cost $8 billion to renew this force.

There is evidence of life in Russian military helicopter procurement.  Talking about the GOZ, President Medvedev said 30 would be bought this year, and Defense Minister Serdyukov claimed the army got 41 during 2009.  In late 2008, VVS CINC Zelin said the plan was to obtain 100 new helicopters over 4 years, so these numbers would be in that range.

5th Generation Engine Delayed?

Work at NPO Saturn

Marker.ru yesterday wrote about NPO Saturn, FGUP Salyut, OAK, ODK, the Defense Ministry, and development of a fifth generation engine for Russia’s fighter aircraft.

Salyut believes it has basically defeated Saturn in the Defense Ministry’s tender to produce a fifth generation engine for the PAK FA, but Salyut fears development will be given instead to the newly created ODK, the United Engine-building Corporation.

Meanwhile, in OAK–the United Aircraft-building Corporation, they think the Defense Ministry may be considering not making a new engine for the first PAK FA model, and instead concentrating engineering resources on development of a 5th generation engine for future modifications of the new fighter. 

Salyut believes it decisively beat Saturn in the tender’s first phase, but the Defense Ministry has not announced the second and conclusive phase possibly because, according to Salyut’s Dmitriy Yeliseyev, the issue of creating the fifth generation engine was automatically decided when Saturn joined ODK.  But Salyut will insist on completing the tender process to decide who will be lead designer for the 5th generation fighter’s engines.

Yeliseyev says:

“We understand that general direction of the work to create an engine for PAK FA will be under ODK, but we also believe the tender is needed to even decide who will develop the gas generator for the future engine, and basically decide who will drive work on the engine for PAK FA.”

Salyut is now focused on modernizing the fourth generation AL-31 engine.  But test models of PAK FA have Saturn’s 117 engine, a modification of the AL-31.

OAK representative Konstantin Lantratov says the fifth generation engine has fundamentally new requirements, particularly in the areas of radar and infrared signature reduction.  OAK believes the Defense Ministry is not announcing the conclusive phase of the tender to build PAK FA’s engines because it’s waiting for the aircraft’s test results with its current engines.

Marker.ru asks is it necessary to make a 5th generation engine right now?  Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate work on producing engines for aircraft that will follow the PAK FA?  If a new engine starts development today, it will be ready in 5-7 years, about the time modernized or other variants of the PAK FA will be appearing [of course, this assumes the original PAK FA is successful and operational pretty quickly].

OAK’s Lantratov seems to think the Defense Ministry should decide now, if it wants to pay for new engines, and is willing to risk paying and not getting the right results.

Marker.ru consults CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko . . . he thinks the Defense Ministry has no reason to hurry.  ‘Deeply modernized’ fourth generation engines from Saturn and Salyut are meeting VVS and PAK FA requirements, at least during the test phase.

He thinks a real 5th generation engine is 10 years away.  The need for more powerful engines will arise as other variants (2-seat, strike, naval, etc.) of the PAK FA appear.  Over their life cycles, aircraft get heavier and thrust has to keep pace, so more powerful engines would need to appear around 2020 anyway.