Tag Archives: Oleg Frolov

Popovkin to Roskosmos?

Vladimir Popovkin (photo: Sobakidendy-news.ru)

Friday Marker.ru reported rumors from its sources saying First Deputy Defense Minister, and GPV 2011-2020 architect, Vladimir Popovkin will relieve Anatoliy Perminov as Director of Roskosmos.  This is interesting because it supposedly features a little tandem tension between President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

Marker.ru’s Ivan Cheberko writes that Perminov will resign at “his own request,” and become a presidential adviser for space issues.  For his part, Popovkin had hoped to replace Sergey Ivanov as Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for the defense-industrial sector.  But Medvedev and Putin couldn’t agree on Ivanov’s fate, according to Cheberko’s report, and they proposed that Popovkin should head Roskosmos.

A source close to Perminov told Cheberko the Popovkin decision was made last week:

“The president and prime minister couldn’t determine Ivanov’s future, and they proposed Popovkin to head Roskosmos.  The Defense Minister has already signed the corresponding paperwork.”

Cheberko’s two independent missile-space sector sources say there have been three candidates for the Roskosmos job — Popovkin, Popovkin ally and deputy General-Lieutenant Oleg Frolov, and Roskosmos Deputy Director Vitaliy Davydov.  Frolov reportedly would have gotten the job if Popovkin took Ivanov’s spot.  Roskosmos rank-and-file lobbied for Davydov in hopes of avoiding changes Popovkin would make.  His views diverge from those of the agency’s current leadership, and he’s expected to make many personnel and organizational changes.  Among other things, Cheberko highlights Popovkin’s strong support for a new liquid-fueled heavy ICBM versus missile designer Yuriy Solomonov’s vocal public opposition to such a plan.

Unfortunately, Mr. Cheberko only dug so deep.  There’s a bit more to this story.

On the eve of the 18 March expanded collegium, Sergey Ivanov told the Federation Council the Defense Ministry was to blame for late placement of the State Defense Order (Гособоронзаказ, ГОЗ, or GOZ) this year.  Even prior, he had lots of sharp public criticism for Perminov, Roskosmos, and their failures.  Of course, Ivanov himself has long suffered at Putin’s hands over GLONASS, so he’s just letting stuff roll downhill, so to speak.

In his collegium speech, President Medvedev railed about problems with the GOZ last year, and demanded a “post-flight debriefing” to identify which industry and state officials are to blame.

Prime Minister Putin followed the collegium with a March 21 government session on the defense order at the Votkinsk missile plant.  Ivanov and Perminov were there, and probably Popovkin too.  The latter was very much on the defensive afterwards, asserting that GOZ-2010 was fulfilled “on the whole.”  And he blamed last summer’s heat wave and forest fires for disrupting defense production.

So where’s it leave us?

As Marker.ru implies, it appears Popovkin’s position isn’t too strong, and he could be headed out of the Defense Ministry after only 8 months on the job.  This would take away one of the louder proponents of buying arms and equipment abroad if necessary.  It begs the question who replaces Popovkin, and what does it mean.  Possibly someone closer to Serdyukov.  Never known for his skill as a political infighter, Sergey Ivanov actually comes out of this looking like a semi-adept bureaucratic warrior.  It’s interesting to imagine Medvedev and Putin discussing Ivanov’s fate when he was once thought the frontrunner in Operation Successor 2008.

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What Will GPV 2011-2020 Buy?

Russian military procurement policy is an obvious focus of what you read here, and there’s lots to write about on this score lately – the GPV, defense budget, OPK modernization and innovation, etc.  It’s not possible to capture it all at once.  Here’s a start, and hopefully it will lead to broader insights later.

Writing for his latest project – the Center for the Analysis of the World Arms Trade (TsAMTO or ЦАМТО), Igor Korotchenko addressed what the new GPV might buy.  His article was picked up by VPK.name, and then a somewhat truncated version ran in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye.  He uses the 22 trillion ruble figure rather than the 19 trillion for the armed forces specifically.  Not that it matters since it’s a wag at best anyway.

In his first broad swipe, Korotchenko forecasts that Russia will buy 500 new aircraft, 1,000 helicopters, and 200 air defense systems among other arms and equipment over the 2011-2020 period.  He admits, even with a fairly generous procurement budget [if approved and fully disbursed every year], it will be impossible to buy everything each service and branch will need after 20 years of very small-scale procurement.

And this is exactly, of course, the point that Popovkin’s deputy, General-Lieutenant Oleg Frolov was making when he argued for 36 trillion . . . .

So, they can’t have everything and will have to prioritize.  Korotchenko gives it a whack, maybe not satisfactory, but it’s a start:

  • Strategic nuclear forces;
  • Precision-guided weapons;
  • Automated command and control systems (ASU);
  • Aircraft;
  • Air and missile defense (PVO / PRO).

Korotchenko doesn’t talk specifics about his first two priorities. On the third, he calls for a unitary military C2 system to enable Russian netcentric warfare.  On aircraft, he somewhat surprisingly emphasizes transport aircraft to move Russia’s million-man army between strategic axes as needed.  And Korotchenko lists PVO / PRO without further commentary.

He supports efforts to overcome Russia’s lag in UAVs, ships, individual protective equipment and soldier systems, and armored vehicles through cooperation with Israel, France, Germany, and Italy.

Then Korotchenko turns back to aircraft, saying they are the thing that will indicate what kind of armed forces Russia will have in 2020.  Based on what’s been said publicly, he counts:

  • An-124 Ruslan — 20
  • An-70 — 50
  • Il-476 — 50
  • Il-112B — ??
  • Su-35S — 48  
  • Su-27SM — 12
  • Su-30MK2 — 4
  • PAK FA — 60
  • Su-34 — 32, possibly 60-80 more
  • Su-25UBM / Su-25TM — 10, possibly 20 more
  • MiG-35 — 30
  • MiG-29SMT / MiG-29UB — 20-30
  • MiG-29K / MiG-29KUB –26, possibly 22 more
  • Yak-130UBS — 120
  • New airborne early warning aircraft — 2-3
  • Be-200PS — 8-10

In all, he summarizes, about 500-600 aircraft by 2020.

Korotchenko doesn’t talk money, so we’ll have to think about what this would cost.  In terms of what’s covered, he’s only talked only about RVSN and Air Forces’ requirements.  You can be sure the Ground Troops, Navy, VDV, and Space Troops have their own lists.  Maybe Korotchenko will address them.

Beyond what they say they need, there are two issues.  Can they buy it all, or at least how much of it?  And, second, can the OPK produce it?  Korotchenko doesn’t get us too far into any of this.

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.

Defense Ministry Claims More Money Needed for Armaments

General-Lieutenant Frolov

Speaking before the Duma yesterday, acting Armaments Chief, General-Lieutenant Oleg Frolov indicated the proposed 13-trillion-ruble State Armaments Program (GPV or ГПВ) for 2011-2020 is not enough to accomplish the Kremlin’s rearmament goals.  RIA Novosti reported the draft GPV will go the government’s Military-Industrial Commission (VPK or ВПК) by the end of this month. 

From the Space Troops like his boss Vladimir Popovkin, Frolov is the Defense Ministry’s Deputy Armaments Chief, and Chief of the Main Armaments Directorate. 

Frolov said 13 trillion rubles will guarantee development of strategic nuclear forces, air defense, and aviation, but the Ground Troops’ requirements for modern weapons will be underfinanced. 

He added that 28 trillion rubles would allow the Defense Ministry to cover the Ground Troops’ needs, and 36 trillion—almost three times the planned amount of the GPV—would fully finance programs for the Navy and Space Troops. 

First Deputy VPK Chairman, ex-general Vladislav Putilin responded that his commission hasn’t heard answers as to why the proposed 13-trillion-ruble allocation is insufficient for the military’s needs: 

“In the Defense Ministry’s opinion, the armed forces will degrade under an allocation of 13 trillion rubles out to 2020.  But we haven’t gotten explanations even though we’re asking:  show us these horror stories.” 

Putilin noted that the GPV is still a ‘working’ document at this point. 

At the same time, the Audit Chamber (a GAO-type organization) told the Duma the Defense Ministry is not succeeding in using its allocated funding.  Lenta.ru reported that, by varying measures, the Defense Ministry executed only 42-65 percent of the State Defense Order (GOZ, Gosoboronzakaz, ГОЗ, Гособоронзаказ) for last year.  Also of interest from yesterday, SIPRI released its estimate of Russian defense spending for 2009–$53 billion (about 1.6 trillion rubles), good enough for fifth place worldwide.  See also Grani.ru for coverage of the Defense Ministry’s difficulty spending the GOZ. 

Newsru.com captured this story appropriately as a Defense Ministry demand for more funding.  Prime Minister Putin and President  Medvedev have vowed repeatedly to increase new armaments, from the current level of 10 percent, to 30 and 70 percent of the inventory in 2015 and 2020 respectively.  What’s unknown is why at least one uniformed military man has decided to challenge the feasibility of his political masters’ long-term rearmament goals.