Tag Archives: ICBM

Strategic Forces Training

Russia fired two SLBMs and an ICBM today.  Pacific Fleet Delta III SSBN Saint Georgiy Pobedonosets launched an SS-N-18 (RSM-50) SLBM from the Sea of Okhotsk.  Northern Fleet Delta IV SSBN Bryansk fired a Sineva (RSM-54) SLBM from the Barents Sea. 

And a crew from the Vladimir Missile Army’s Bologoye Division launched an SS-25 (RS-12M/Topol) ICBM from Plesetsk.

An RVSN spokesman said this launch allows Russia to extend the service life of this grouping of SS-25s to 23 years or until about 2015, and to conduct a planned replacement of these missiles without overburdening the military’s budget.

Yesterday Tu-95MS and Tu-22M3 bombers launched weapons on ranges in Irkutsk and Komi as part of an Air Forces exercise.

According to some reports, the Navy may test fire the Bulava SLBM for the second time in 2010 tomorrow.

Litovkin on What the GPV Will Buy

Viktor Litovkin (photo: RIA Novosti)

Returning to procurement and the GPV . . . in this week’s Delovoy vtornik, NVO’s Viktor Litovkin also asks what will 19 trillion rubles be spent on. 

He says the answer isn’t simple.  During the last 20 years of ‘starvation rations,’ the armed forces got handfuls of essential combat equipment, and, meanwhile, a dangerous imbalance between strike and combat support systems was created.  And this was obvious against Georgia in 2008. 

Litovkin says this imbalance has to be corrected, meanwhile priorities like strategic nuclear forces can’t be forgotten – not just the offensive triad, but also the missile attack early warning system (SPRN), missile defense (PRO), and aerospace defense (VKO). 

Like Viktor Yesin of late, Litovkin asks how Russia will replace its aging strategic offensive arms to stay up to the limits of the Prague / New START agreement.  Half the Russian force is SS-18, SS-19, and SS-25 ICBMs which will be retired in 7-10 years.  Moscow needs to build 400 strategic systems to replace them.  He doesn’t even mention Delta III and IV SSBNs and their aging SLBMS.  And Russia has only the SS-27, RS-24 Yars, Sineva, and Bulava to replace them. 

Litovkin expects a very large amount of money to be spent not just on replacing strategic systems, but also reequipping the enterprises that produce them. 

He turns to his second priority – also demonstrated by the Georgian war – precision-guided weapons, which in turn depend on reconnaissance-information support and equipment in space, on long-range surveillance aircraft [AWACS], and UAVs. 

Priority three – automated command and control systems (ASU).  He cites Popovkin on linking all service C2 systems into one system over 2-3 years. 

Litovkin says you can’t forget about the Navy, but he mentions just the Borey-class SSBNs, and the need for a wide range of surface ships.  And he makes the point [made by many] that Mistral is all well and good, but it’ll have to have multipurpose combatants operating in its battle group.  They need to be built, and they won’t cost a small amount of money. 

One can’t forget aviation either.  Litovkin cites a $100 million per copy cost for 60 fifth generation fighters [that’s a significant 180-billion-ruble bite out of the GPV].  He notes Vega is working on an updated Russian AWACS (A-100).  And, like Korotchenko, he mentions transport aircraft, but also combat and support helicopters. 

And so, says Litovkin, the question arises – isn’t the country putting out a lot of money to rearm its army? 

Viktor Litovkin (photo: Ekho Moskvy)

Being bold, he says, not really.  He actually uses that accursed 22 trillion figure, which is procurement for all power ministries.  If he used 19 trillion, it would be 1.9 trillion or $63 billion per year for Russia against $636 billion for the U.S., $78 billion for China, $58 billion for the U.K., and $51 billion for Japan.  But he doesn’t say this is annual procurement, the GPV, against the total annual defense budget for these other countries.  A bit of comparing one piece of pie to a whole pie.  Nevertheless, he concludes this makes Russia far from champion when it comes to military expenditures. 

Litovkin’s last word is Russia will remain one of the G8 with a powerful, combat capable, and effective army, but without it, only a raw materials appendage of either the West or East. 

But one wonders, hasn’t Russia long been in the G8 without that kind of armed forces?  Doesn’t breaking away from the raw materials supplier role have more to do with developing an open, attractive, innovative, value-added, and competitive economy (and a political system and society to match) than with military power? 

New 31st Missile Army Commander

The RVSN today announced General-Major Anatoliy Grigoryevich Kulay as the new commander of its 31st (Orenburg) Missile Army.  Kulay had been its chief of staff and first deputy commander since early 2010.  He replaced General-Lieutenant Ivan Reva, who not long ago became the RVSN’s chief of staff and first deputy commander.

Kulay commanded the 33rd (Omsk) Missile Army’s  29th Guards Vitebsk Order of Lenin Red Banner Missile Division (aka the Irkutsk Missile Division), and its three regiments of RT-2PM ‘Topol’ (SS-25) ICBMs between 2006 and 2010.  His division was one of Russia’s two best mobile ICBM divisions based on the results of the 2006 training year.  It was one of Russia’s best again in 2007.  In early 2008, Kulay made one-star.  Prior to 2006, Kulay was an SS-25 missile regiment commander in the former 8th (Yurya or Pervomayskiy) Missile Division, Orenburg Missile Army.

He’s 44, and was commissioned from the Serpukhov Higher Military-Command-Engineering School of Missile Troops.  He’s a graduate of both his senior service school – the Peter the Great Military Academy of the RVSN – and the General Staff Academy.

The RVSN also appointed General-Major Aleksandr Ponomarenko commander of the Omsk Missile Army.  He had been chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Vladimir Missile Army.  More on him later.

More Popovkin on GPV 2011-2020

Does the GPV really mean anything?

One has to recall Popovkin’s announced 20 trillion rubles is just a plan until the Duma allocates the money every year.  Then there’s a big question of whether allocated money is used effectively.

Mikhail Rastopshin and others have written about how every GPV in memory (GPV 1996-2005, GPV 2001-2010, GPV 2007-2015) was revised shortly after it began.  Now we have GPV 2011-2020 being formulated only four years into the previous one.  This overlapping and cascading makes it difficult to see (even for those involved) what’s actually been procured with the funding provided.

Five trillion for GPV 2007-2015 (about 550 million rubles per year) seemed like a pretty good amount in the mid-2000s, but, as Vladimir Yevseyev and others have been kind enough to point out, it didn’t buy that much.  Yevseyev said Russia’s rate of rearmament would only provide for modern weapons and equipment over the course of 30-50 years, if then.  A Defense Ministry official responsible for the GPV and GOZ, Vasiliy Burenok, recently said Russia’s rearmament rate is only 2 percent, and it should be 9-11 percent per annum.

Finally, Popovkin’s deputy, General-Lieutenant Frolov stated flatly, and rather shockingly, that the government’s first offer of 13 trillion for GPV 2011-2020 was barely one-third of what’s needed to rearm Russia’s Armed Forces.  Now, according to Popovkin, and probably after some intense lobbying, the government comes back with a counteroffer of about 20 trillion.  This insight into the current dynamic of civil-military relations is perhaps more significant than the GPV itself.  What will the ultimate figure be?  Does it matter?  No, because GPV 2011-2020 will be superseded and rewritten well before 2015.

It’s possible to assert plainly that no GPV will ever get done if GPV 2007-2015 — coming at the peak of  oil prices and Russia’s economic boom — didn’t lead to very much.

Back to other things Popovkin announced yesterday . . .

He reaffirmed Russia’s intention to build its own UAVs:

“We’ll build our own.  It’s possible that, based on the results of this air show [Farnborough], requirements for Russian UAVs will be refined.”

Popovkin said the world’s UAV makers are now modernizing existing systems rather than investing in developing new ones. 

He also announced that the Defense Ministry will soon select the Russian enterprise and location where Israeli UAVs will be manufactured.

On Russia’s new ICBM, Popovkin told the media:

“We’ve accepted the RS-24 ‘Yars’ and placed it on combat duty.  The first battalion is standing up.”

He said Russia plans to acquire 20 An-124 ‘Ruslan’ transports, while modernizing its existing fleet of them by 2015-2016, and buy 60 An-70 transports as well.  He also said Moscow will procure 1,000 helicopters by 2020, calling them “one of the priorities for us now.”  Special attention will be given to heavy transport helicopters.

Popovkin on Bulava Testing

Newly-minted First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin told RIA Novosti Wednesday that the State Inter-Departmental Commission on the Bulava SLBM completed its work in June, concluding that it’s essential to continue testing the missile.

Speaking at the international forum ‘Technologies in Machinebuilding – 2010’ in Zhukovskiy, Popovkin said:

“The state commission created to study the causes of recent failed Bulava launches completed its work in June and came to a conclusion about the necessity and possibility of conducting further testing.”

As noted in Grani.ru, Popovkin had no comments about other findings by the commission.

Krasnaya zvezda echoed an Interfaks report in which Popovkin was asked whether there will be a salvo firing of two or more Bulava missiles from the same SSBN.  He responded:

“Let us conduct one launch, and then we’ll announce plans for further testing.”

According to this report, Popovkin said the testing program calls for a minimum of three launches in 2010.

Only 5 of 12 Bulava tests have been successful, and its last test on 9 December failed as well.

Recall that in May Defense Minister Serdyukov said renewed Bulava testing would be put off until fall, allowing time to exert control over the missile assembly process to help identify possible technical defects.  He said three identical missiles would be produced in the effort to ferret out flaws in them. 

Meanwhile, on 30 June, a source in the missile and space industry told ITAR-TASS that the RVSN’s new RS-24 Yars ICBM has already been placed on combat duty.  Earlier an MIT source had said one RS-24 was on ‘experimental-combat duty’ with the RVSN.