Tag Archives: MIT

Putin on Nuclear Forces and Aerospace Defense

Today’s meeting on implementing GPV-2020 (the third thus far) was devoted to nuclear forces and aerospace defense.  However, President Vladimir Putin had little specific to say, at least in his published remarks.

He obligatorily noted how VVKO and especially SYaS bear “special responsibility” for Russia’s security, territorial integrity, and global and regional parity and stability.

VKO, the president said, must not only be in permanent combat readiness to defend military and state command and control facilities against a potential enemy’s attack, but also “provide clear and effective coordination with other services and troop branches.”

In other words, lots of air and aerospace defense assets don’t belong to VVKO, and their job is to integrate them into a network.

On the nuclear side, Putin said Russia isn’t looking for an arms race but rather to ensure “the reliability and effectiveness of our nuclear potential.”

To reequip SYaS and VKO, the Supreme Glavk indicated Russia intends to allocate a “significant part” of the total resources for GPV-2020, but, again, nothing more specific.  By 2020, SYaS is supposed to have 75-80 percent modern weapons systems, and VVKO not less than 70 percent.

And that’s all we learn about the meeting.  Or almost all.

Kremlin.ru provided a participant list that’s a bit interesting.  Many officials and industry leaders you’d expect attended.  But some were noticeably absent — missile designers from MIT, missile builders from Votkinsk, and the RVSN Commander.  Surprisingly, the general director of the Makeyev design bureau was present.

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GRU Rumors

Moskovskiy komsomolets reported some rumors about the GRU yesterday.  But one may or may not want to put stock in them. 

MK reports that the country’s leadership is still working over a candidate for chief of the GRU.  General-Colonel Shlyakhturov’s request for retirement was given a month ago, and the president has signed it.  But MK claims the issue of GRU reform is also being decided.

The media’s widely reported that the retiring Shlyakhturov will become Chairman of the Board of the Defense Ministry’s Oboronservis corporation, which is consolidating, civilianizing, and outsourcing most of the military’s logistics and support services.  More recently, it’s been said he’ll occupy the same position with Russia’s lead ballistic missile design bureau, MIT.

MK claims Shlyakhturov isn’t retiring for failing to fulfill his mission, or for disputes with the leadership, or for age reasons (since he was already too old), or for poor health.  According to the paper’s Genshtab source, it’s because a reform awaits the GRU.

MK’s source reports there’s a plan to unify the GRU and SVR into one powerful intelligence center.  The GRU would be cut down to just an intelligence directorate with Russia’s military attaches and intelligence posts around the country, etc.

MK also reports a key appointment.  One general Vladimir Stepanovich Alekseyev has reportedly become First Deputy Chief of the GRU.  He was chief of intelligence for the former Moscow MD, then for the Far East MD.  He returned to Moscow to be chief of the GRU’s 14th Directorate (Spetsnaz), according to MK’s GRU source.  The paper says he could be chief of the GRU in the future.  Alekseyev is from GRU operational agent intelligence inside Russia and the “near abroad.”  Shlyakhturov was from strategic agent intelligence, that is, spies and operations in the “far abroad.”

OK, some of the odd stuff here . . . for one, there’s already been reform in the GRU, so wouldn’t this be more reform, or more radical reform?  MK makes the good point that it’s not clear why Shlyakhturov’s retiring — he’s been too old for a long time, so why now?  Maybe it is a much bigger restructuring that eliminates the “G” in GRU.  There’s long been talk of merging GRU and SVR, but the paper strangely refers to SVR being formally within the FSB’s structure (?!).  Now about Alekseyev . . . perhaps he’s the guy who would head an RU focused on Russia’s strategic approaches and the CIS (i.e. military opintel), while the GRU’s remaining “far abroad” assets chop to the SVR.  This makes some sense since RU-type work and opintel seems to be where the GRU failed in Georgia.  And then SVR gets swallowed by an even bigger fish, the FSB, in a grand reanimation of the KGB for Putin’s third presidential term.  But, as said at the top, one may not want to see too much in all this.

GOZ War Winding Down?

Vedomosti’s Aleksey Nikolskiy sees a possible end to the conflict between the Defense Ministry and industry over the production of strategic nuclear systems.  His OSK source claims a multiyear Defense Ministry contract with Sevmash for proyekt 955 Borey-class SSBNs will be concluded in the coming week.  This would reportedly leave OSK with just one contract remaining to be completed.

Conclusion of a 40-billion-ruble contract for three proyekt 11356M frigates was announced Wednesday.

Vedomosti’s source said the Defense Ministry and OSK also finished a deal for proyekt 885 Yasen-class SSNs several days ago.  The paper once again cites Konstantin Makiyenko’s 500 billion ruble price tag for the new SSBNs and SSNs.

An industry source tells Vedomosti that all MIT’s ballistic missile contracts are complete.

While deals for renovating Russia’s strategic forces are apparently done at last, not all contracts for conventional armaments are finished, particularly those involving Rostekhnologii and its enterprises, according to the director of one of them.

What’s this mean?

The conclusion of submarine / SLBM / ICBM production contracts would be a relief to both sides since their absence has been the biggest GOZ news story.  If all this is done, or almost done, one would expect a major government or Defense Ministry press announcement soon.

If the submarine deals are worth 500 billion rubles, that is, once again, apparently closer to Defense Minister Serdyukov’s price than to OSK’s.

The proyekt 11356M frigates are updated Krivaks (or Talwars for India), and they aren’t exactly cheap.

The issue of incomplete contracts with Rostekhnologii’s enterprises is significant given the size and breadth of their work on weapons and military equipment.  People will ask which enterprises and systems are in question.  It also contradicts Serdyukov’s recent claims that only OSK deals needed to be inked, and implies there are lingering problems and issues in areas other than shipbuilding.

The GOZ This Week

Putin at the Conference (photo: RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskiy)

At United Russia’s interregional conference in Cherepovets on Monday, Prime Minister Putin reported on the Defense Ministry’s failure to conclude all its GOZ contracts by his most recent September 1 deadline.  Putin said, despite Defense Minister Serdyukov’s assurances that only OSK contracts need to be finished, agreements with MIT and OAK are still not finalized.

According to RIA Novosti and the stenogram, Putin told the United Russia audience:

“Unfortunately, full agreement between the Defense Ministry and producers by 1 September didn’t happen, as we arranged.  Disagreements continue there in several areas.”

“I want to direct the attention of all sides to this process:  firstly, we have a colossal amount of money being allocated for strengthening the country’s defense capability.  We’ve generally never allocated such money, well, in Soviet times, when they threw everything at the defense sector, there were comparable figures, but in recent history never, — 20 trillion to 2020.  We are constrained in other places – very many – either to stop or cut our expenditures, but we need to do this to guarantee our defense capability.  But we don’t need to absorb these billions and trillions, we need to provide items quantitatively and qualitatively.”

“At the same time, of course, the profitability of enterprises should also be guaranteed.  The obvious fact is a minimum of 15 percent.  It’s necessary to get this profitability so there are resources for development, for worthy wages for the workers.  I hope that soon, in the course of a week, this process will be concluded in shipbuilding, in missiles, and in aviation.”

“In 2012, orders, advances and other payments should be sent in full measure to enterprises not later than March.  I’m counting on this very much.”

Vedomosti’s source close to the Defense Ministry admitted a week won’t be enough to close contracts worth 500 billion rubles with Sevmash and tens of billions with MIT.

Kommersant’s source familiar with the course of negotiations with MIT confirmed that the process isn’t complete.  Another source said a contract for Yak-130 trainers is almost complete, but one for MiG-29K fighters isn’t.  Konstantin Makiyenko told Vedomosti the MiG-29K doesn’t matter since the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier is headed for repairs.

Most striking is Putin’s call, a plea almost, not to “absorb” the GPV’s 20 trillion rubles without supplying the new weapons and equipment the army needs.  He’s well aware the situation could be like water in sand.

The GOZ Last Week (Part II)

We looked at last week’s news.  What’s it mean?  There wasn’t a lot of commentary about it, but there were two very good pieces.

To backtrack a little, if it looks like Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov might be (just might be)  getting an upper hand on forcing defense producers to his prices instead of vice versa, then the commentaries give insight into what is happening (or may happen) if Serdyukov succeeds in driving hard bargains with the OPK.

Moskovskiy komsomolets’ Olga Bozhyeva asked a general who worked on the GOZ to comment on this year’s situation:

“The Defense Ministry now lacks an organ with responsibility for contracting work, beginning with formation of initial prices and ending with accepting the results.  In the past, the chief of armament’s apparatus performed these functions, currently it’s been transformed into a department with unintelligible functions.  Tax organ officials who’ve come into the Defense Ministry’s key financial posts can’t connect the price of a product with the characteristics of the model being produced and its contribution to the country’s security.  In the Defense Ministry in recent years, three basic methods of calculating the cost of a product have been introduced, but not one of them factors in the substantive part of the work.  They are all built on the principle:  I have a certain amount of money, I want to give you this much of it.  But putting it to concrete use no longer interests anyone.  And it turns out that the methods of calculating prices in the Defense Ministry and in VPK enterprises are different.  The people speak different languages . . . .”

Bozhyeva concludes:

“In a market economy, you have to survive somehow.  Here is not America, where work for the Pentagon brings a good profit.  With us, it only allows you to survive.  And that is if they allow it.  But they don’t let everyone.”

“Here not long ago the Defense Minister got indignant, for example, that shipbuilders [Sevmash] had become so brazen that they also put the cost of kindergartens and other “social benefits” into the price of a missile-carrier [SSBN].”

“I’m not a taxman, evidently, since I don’t understand:  but where can they put it?  Let’s take Severodvinsk here.  It is completely dependent on “Sevmashpredpriyatiye.”  Like it or not, the kindergartens, schools, hospitals, clinics, housing – the factory has to maintain all of it.  And, naturally, they put the upkeep into their production cost.  How can it be otherwise?  If there aren’t kindergartens – there aren’t missile-carriers.”

Editorializing in Nezavisimaya gazeta, Viktor Litovkin writes:

“What are the causes of such an ‘inability to agree?’  In the fact, in my view, that it’s impossible to marry purely administrative approaches to the imposition of concrete military department prices on defense enterprises with largely market relationships which exist for the defense sector today.  With achieving that degree of Gosoboronzakaz profitability in which enterprises have the chance not just to survive, but also develop.  Several defense NII and factory directors, undoubtedly following the example of MIT General Designer Yuriy Solomonov, have already even stopped ‘fearing’ to publicize their disagreements with the Defense Ministry in front of journalists.  General Director of NII Instrument-building named for Tikhomirov, Yuriy Belyy told me ‘in the ordering structures of the military department people have come, who, to put it mildly, don’t understand anything about production and price formation’ (this, by the way, also means Anatoliy Serdyukov. – ‘NVO’ No. 25).  ‘Still they always demand the reduction of invoiced expenditures, reduction of profits, of labor input.  And often arbitrarily disregard prices on final goods.’  This, in his words, is happening all over the defense sector.”

“’If we had the GOZ alone, the enterprise would have died long ago,’ Yuriy Belyy told me.  ‘There are practically no resources remaining for development after GOZ fulfillment.  It isn’t understood that wages take according to some kind of averaging principle.  Invoicing expenses also.  So goes the practical strangulation of the defense sector.  In the country’s leadership they say that the OPK’s profitability is the locomotive of industry, should be not less than 15%, but in fact it’s not more than 5-7%.  And, the main thing, not understood, is with whom to talk in the Defense Ministry.  Completely incompetent people have arrived.  Their mission is not the development of industry, not increasing the country’s defense capability, their mission is to save money by any means.’”

“An enterprise producing a final product, like ‘Dolgorukiy,’ which buys metals, nuclear reactors, various components at market prices from the monopoly producers of these products, can’t give away the good created by its workers lower or a little, one-two percent, higher than its own cost, or lower than its profitability level.  It can’t buy new machine tools, technology, reequip its production line, train and select new highly-qualified personnel, provide them housing . . . .  It can’t not think about tomorrow.”

“And from the other side, if it’s possible to pay the French one and a half billion Euros for ‘Mistrals’ we need or don’t need, then why does ‘Sevmash’ have to give away a strategic submarine extremely essential to the Navy and Russia for free?!”

The GOZ Last Week (Part I)

Let’s start with the news.  In short, Defense Minister Serdyukov told the press all GOZ-2011 contracts, except ones with OSK, were signed.  But most news outlets concluded he failed to meet Prime Minister Putin’s August 31 deadline for finishing the contracting process.

ITAR-TASS reported the Defense Ministry signed its fourth contract with OSK on August 29.  It was with Baltic Shipbuilding Factory “Yantar” for three Proyekt 11356M frigates.  Kommersant reported others are with Admiralty for three Proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines and with Zvezda Shipyard in the Far East for nuclear submarine (probably OSCAR II-class) repairs and modernization.

But the largest and most important contracts with Sevmash for Proyekt 955 Borey-class SSBN and Proyekt 885 Yasen-class SSN production are still not signed.  The contract is supposed to cover two of the former and one of the latter that are already (or almost) complete.  Kommersant says the contracting delay means a fourth 955 and second 885 won’t be laid down until sometime in 2012.

ITAR-TASS concluded there are still differences over pricing although there is progress in the negotiations.  The wire service writes that Sevmash refuses to make concessions taking below a minimum profitability level, while the Defense Ministry calls price increases unjustifiable, and says it will only pay for concrete items regardless of the producer’s profitability.

On September 1, ITAR-TASS reported Serdyukov’s announcement that, on the whole, the Prime Minister’s order to conclude all GOZ contracts had been fulfilled.  It provided some choppy, weaseling quotes from Serdyukov:

“We are reprogramming for other requirements – precision weapons mainly, aviation, air defense . . . some suppliers because of some obstacles can’t provide their products.  . . . now we’re making changes – on the order of 30 billion [rubles].  . . . in essence, this is a formality  . . . .  Essentially, we’ve been through the entire agreed part.  The signing itself occurred yesterday-day before yesterday.  Only the United Shipbuilding Corporation contract remains.  Perhaps that’s all.”

Kommersant added Serdyukov’s comment that:

“We, unfortunately, can’t accept the figures which industry gives us.  For the most part, they are simply unjustified.”

Kommersant’s sources maintain, in addition to OSK, contracting with OAK and MIT remains incomplete, and no one’s willing to guess when this still-difficult process will end.

On September 2, Kommersant’s source said part of MIT’s contracts are done, but it would be premature to say the process is complete.

ITAR-TASS added that Sevmash’s contract is now supposed to be signed in mid-September.  The factory reportedly will agree to current prices for its submarines in exchange for some kind of “coefficient” to offset their rising costs starting in 2013.  The wire service also claimed there are now 6 of 13 OSK contracts signed.  And it put the cost of a Borey-class SSBN at a somewhat hard-to-believe 23 billion rubles.  OAK and MIT sources also told ITAR-TASS their contracts aren’t complete.

Vedomosti cited Konstantin Makiyenko on long-term submarine production costing 500 billion rubles.  If that’s eight Borey– and eight Yasen-class boats, it’s a $17 billion contract, basically $1 billion per submarine.  Thirty billion rubles a boat is a lot closer to 23 billion than the 47 or 112 billion that Serdyukov complained about in July.

Despite indications to the contrary, one has to wonder if Serdyukov isn’t very slowly winning his battle with the OPK.  But ultimately, it’s hard to say before we see what gets delivered, when, and how good it is.

Latest on GOZ Woes (Part II)

To review this week . . . Prime Minister Putin’s current deadline for completing GOZ contracts is August 31, but it’s unlikely to be met, even by loyal Deputy PM and OSK Board Chairman Igor Sechin.  Deputy Finance Minister Siluanov said Defense Ministry contracts are being made on credits and government-backed financing rather than cash.  Putin said the price tag for GOZ-2011 is 750 billion rubles, but 30 percent of projected procurement still isn’t covered by contracts as the final third of the year begins.

How did the government, Defense Ministry, and OPK arrive at an August 31 deadline that’s unlikely to be met?

The latest round of this year’s GOZ woes started in early July when MIT General Designer Yuriy Solomonov told Kommersant that GOZ-2011 was already broken, and Russia’s strategic missile inventory is not being renewed as necessary.  He said there’s no contract for the RS-24 / Yars ICBM, and the late arrival of money makes it impossible to salvage 2011.

President Dmitriy Medvedev responded by calling Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov on the carpet.  According to RIA Novosti, he told him:

“Sort out the situation.  If there’s information that the state defense order is broken, it’s true, organizational conclusions are needed in connection with those who are responsible for this, regardless of position or rank.”

“If the situation is otherwise, we need to look into those who are sowing panic.  You know how according to law in wartime they dealt with panickers — they shot them.  I’m allowing you to dismiss them, do you hear me?”

RIA Novosti reported Serdyukov’s opinion on the “wild growth” in the price of military products, especially from MIT and Sevmash.  He said MIT is asking 3.9 billion and 5.6 billion rubles respectively for Topol-M and Yars ICBMs.  Serdyukov put GOZ-2011 at 581 billion rubles [different from Putin’s figure!], and added that only 108 billion, or 18.5 percent, was not yet under contract.  He said everything would be done in 10 days.

At virtually the same time, Deputy PM and VPK Chairman, Sergey Ivanov told ITAR-TASS 230 billion rubles were not yet contracted out.  OSK piled on Serdyukov, claiming contracts for 40 percent of the Navy’s share of the GOZ weren’t finalized.

In late July, it looked like Northern Wharf (which reportedly produces 75 percent of Russia’s surface ships, and is not part of OSK) might be made into an example for other “GOZ breakers.”  While prosecutors talked vaguely about the misuse of GOZ money, the shipbuilder’s representatives apparently mounted a vigorous defense, asserting that the enterprise has been right on time, even though it’s underfinanced by the Defense Ministry.

Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy said prosecutors uncovered 1,500 GOZ-related legal violations during the preceding 18 months.  He indicated there were 30 criminal convictions, and state losses amounted to millions of rubles in these cases.  The most egregious example  was the theft of over 260 million rubles given to OSK’s Zvezdochka shipyard to repair Kirov-class CGN Petr Velikiy.  Fridinskiy indicated the enterprise director and his close associates apparently had 40 million of the money in their own names.  Recall Fridinskiy earlier said 20 percent of defense procurement funding is stolen.

According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Defense Minister Serdyukov claimed he was on the verge of signing contracts with MIT for Topol-M and Yars production.  Once again, he said all contracting would be finished in two weeks.

In mid-August, OSK enterprises Sevmash, Admiralty Wharves, and Zvezdochka said they would soon be forced to cease work unless the Defense Ministry signed contracts with them.  Putin, Sechin, and Serdyukov met and launched a special interdepartmental commission to set prices for the Navy’s remaining 40 billion rubles in GOZ contracts.  And, according to Kommersant, everyone was once again reassured that all contracts would be completed in two weeks.

And it’s not just all ICBMs, ships, and submarines . . . Kommersant wrote that the Defense Ministry eschewed contracts for 24 or more MiG-29K and more than 60 Yak-130 trainers at MAKS-2011.

So what does the mid-year GOZ picture look like? 

The president and prime minister have fumed and set a series of deadlines, not met thus far.  And the defense minister and deputy prime ministers have assured them they would meet each deadline in turn. 

More interesting, and somewhat unnoticed, is the fact that the prime minister and defense minister (among others) seem to be consistently working from different sets of numbers on the size of the GOZ, and how much has been placed under contract.  The GOZ hasn’t captured this kind of leadership attention at any time in the past 20 years.

Producers are being honest when they say late state contracts mean they can’t do anything (or at least what the Defense Ministry wants them to) in what remains of the year.

Picking up the pieces of GOZ-2011, and trying to put GOZ-2012 on a better footing will occupy the rest of this year.

Lost in everything is what will the Russian military get eventually by way of new hardware, and when will they get it?  And how good will it be?