Tag Archives: PRO

S-500 in 2016?

Predictions of the imminent appearance of the new anti-air, anti-missile S-500 system come with regularity.  Last week’s press reports aren’t novel in this respect.

Deputy Aerospace Forces (VKS) CINC and Chief of Air and Missile Defense General-Lieutenant Viktor Gumennyy [Goo-MYO-knee] says Almaz-Antey is completing development work on the S-500, and the VKS will receive it “soon.” Hard to argue. We know it’s in development, and he doesn’t say what “soon” means.

TASS and RIA Novosti covered Gumennyy’s comments on Rossiya 24 television.

The prevailing forecast is that the S-500 will complete development, and appear with operational units on an “experimental” basis in 2017.

As recently as early 2015, Deputy Defense Minister and procurement chief Yuriy Borisov predicted the S-500 wouldn’t complete development until 2017.

However, TASS reminds that VKS CINC General-Colonel Viktor Bondarev has said deliveries will start in 2016.  He’s an inveterate optimist; in 2012, he said 2013.

In any event, it’s a chance to review what’s claimed to date about the S-500.

The typical advertisement for the S-500 calls it a new generation, long-range surface-to-air missile with increased capability for high altitude (200 km) intercepts against ballistic missiles and RVs.  It can reportedly engage ten ballistic missiles simultaneously at a range of 600 km.  The S-500 is supposed to be superior to both the S-400 Triumf and U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3).

The system is supposed have 40N6M (possibly a longer-range mod of the S-400’s 400-km missile?) missiles as well as hypersonic 77N6-N and 77N6-N1 missile interceptors.  TASS reported that these anti-missile missiles were successfully tested in mid-2014.

According to Interfaks, GPV 2011-2020 calls for procurement of ten battalions (or five “regimental sets”) of the S-500.  Almaz-Antey’s original contract called for initial deliveries in 2015.

Noted by the regime or not, this is “GOZ breaking.” Some producers get in trouble for it; important ones sometimes don’t.

General-Lieutenant Gumennyy also reported that testing of the S-350 Vityaz SAM continues, and initial launches confirmed the system’s performance.  The S-350 will replace older Russian S-300PS SAMs.

Gumennyy said the share of “modern” SAMs and radars in Russia’s inventory is 45 percent.  Last December, the MOD indicated that 52 percent of all VKS weapons and equipment was “modern.”

P.S. President Vladimir Putin’s assistant for military-technical cooperation confirmed for Izvestiya today that Russia is negotiating sales of the S-400 system to China and India.

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Realities of Rearmament

Pantsir-S (photo: Topwar.ru)

RIA Novosti yesterday quoted a VVKO spokesman who indicated a second battery of Pantsir-S anti-aircraft gun-missile systems will go into service this fall around Moscow.  For the record, he stated:

“At present, alongside an A-150 missile defense [PRO] division, two    S-400 anti-aircraft missile regiments in two-battalion configurations, deployed in Elektrostal and Dmitrov, provide Moscow with anti-air and anti-missile defense.  One of them already has a ‘Pantsir-S’ battery in its composition, in September-October, the second regiment will also receive the same battery complement.”

The spokesman added that, in August, the new Pantsir-S battery, along with its  S-400 regiment at Dmitrov, will be in Ashuluk to perform ‘test’ live firings against low-altitude targets.

Novosti has some video of the Pantsir as does a background piece by Arms-Expo.ru.

Let’s add things up as best we can.

First Deputy Defense Minister Sukhorukov has said the army will get 28 Pantsir-S systems in 2012.  The VVS CINC said there would be two more S-400 regiments (for a total of four) before the end of 2011.  But, there are, as the VVKO spokesman says, still only two.  The CINC also said the next six Pantsir-S systems would be for the Moscow area.  The first four went to Novorossiysk.

Recall there was some question whether ten delivered in 2010 were for Russian forces or some foreign customer.  Have we somehow lost track of six of those ten?

Now all these numbers are pretty low when there’s talk that 200, 600, or possibly (incredibly?!) as many as 1,000 Pantsir-S might really be required.

The case of the Pantsir-S is a good example of how, for all the worry about a massive Russian rearmament program, this rearming has been pretty slow thus far.

Zelin’s Update (Part III)

In the middle part of General-Colonel Zelin’s incredibly long NVO interview, he reacts to Defense Minister Serdyukov’s high command changes and other structural realignments over the last couple years.  He also shares thoughts on the state of VVS training.

Zelin speaks to interviewer Viktor Litovkin like a 58-year-old three-star who’s surprised to have stayed at his post as long as he has.  He speaks like he isn’t concerned about being retired.

Asked what he and his Main Staff do now that the VVS operate under the four MD / OSK commanders, Zelin responds that plans to create an automated C2 system (ASU) haven’t quite gotten there.  He talks and is online with the district commanders often.  But, he says:

“The main thing is combat training remains with the VVS Main Command. Organizational development (stroitelstvo or строительство) of the service and combat training.  And without combat training what kind of employment can there be?”

There were, he continues, arguments and unresolved issues:

“But during the decisionmaking I proved my point of view, my vision of present problems, sometimes they had to agree, sometimes they had to listen on several issues, but, since now decisions have been made, we have to fulfill them.  To get to work.”

But he grouses a bit more.  He sounds like a man with responsibility who lacks authority.

The ASU isn’t working, but service central command posts (TsKP or ЦКП) were eliminated.  Regardless, Zelin says he has to organize and control training.  Every day 70-80 units have aircraft flying, and they have to be tracked.  They can’t just be given a mission and forgotten.

Asked about the newly-established Aerospace Defense (VKO) Troops, Zelin claims interestingly, that only PVO brigades in Russia’s central industrial region — the old Moscow AD District, KSpN, or OSK VKO — went over to them.  He says MD / OSK commanders got the rest, and he equips and trains them for regional commands to operate.  His view seems to be VKO is limited to strategic and theater MD.  You can’t, he opines, have PVO without air defense aviation integrated into it.  According to Zelin, a single national system of air defense, including Troop Air Defense, is needed, but a decision’s been made and it’s left but to fulfill it.

Before talking more about training, Zelin reiterates that a single system of net-centric strategic C2 and decisionmaking is the goal, but they aren’t quite there.

He seems envious of the large-scale, largely automated airspace control systems he’s seen in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

On training and flight hours, Zelin says he’s got no problems with material support (i.e. POL), but problems addressing aircraft service life support [ресурсное обеспечение].  He states frankly he worries about maintenance provided (or not) by civilianized, outsourced Oboronservis affiliate Aviaremont.  There is plenty of money for maintenance, but those responsible aren’t getting it done.  While the Glavkomat has heartache about aircraft serviceability:

“Our other structures for some reason are responsible only for financial flows.”

Zelin was asked earlier if 130 flight hours was the VVS goal.  He says last year pilots got 340,000 hours, or 90 per pilot.  That makes roughly 3,800 pilots, if they’re shared evenly (they’re not).  Eighty percent of young pilots got not less than 100. In some cases, it was harder and they got a little more than 50.  Zelin adds this is still better than the 1990s.

Not Enough Resources

Konstantin Makiyenko (photo: Radio Mayak / Kirill Kurganov)

Still parsing reaction to Prime Minister Putin’s manifesto on the army . . . there are lots of positive reviews and recapitulations.  But commentators who don’t exactly agree with Putin are far more interesting and illuminating.

One particularly fitting this description is Konstantin Makiyenko, who makes succinct, obvious, and bravely ventured points.

Makiyenko, Deputy Director of CAST, is by no means anti-regime.  He is, however, honest.  His observations appeared in Interfaks-AVN, and you can read them courtesy of VPK.name.

He concludes simply that Russia may not have the resources for the plan of major army and defense industry modernization Putin laid out in his campaign article:

“The Russian economic system, which, with oil prices at 100 dollars a barrel, provides only four percent GDP growth, isn’t capable of being the base for realizing the plans outlined.”

AVN says Makiyenko doesn’t exclude that, owing to insufficient budgetary resources, the Finance Ministry will have to work out plans for future cuts in spending on national defense.  But, at the same time, he apparently said Putin’s manifesto on the army wasn’t populist, and he has “no objection” to majority of the Premier’s proposals.

But Makiyenko lays down a sharp, if understated, critique of Putin’s stewardship of Russia’s defenses since 1999.  Agreeing that nuclear deterrence has been the only guarantee of Russia’s security, Makiyenko continues:

“In this relation, the current situation is in no way different from the state of affairs in the 1990s, when, as it’s justly noted in [Putin’s] article, ‘other weighty material arguments didn’t exist.'”

“. . . adequately evaluating the situation now, one has to admit that even today other ‘material arguments’ haven’t appeared for Russia during the last 12 years.”

“In this connection, the thought about how one should particularly attentively follow the appearance of new technical means, for example MD systems and long-range, precision non-nuclear means, capable of devaluing Russia’s nuclear deterrence potential, are very important.”

So, conventional weakness drives Russian objections to MD, one supposes.

AVN also indicated Makiyenko is skeptical of Putin’s call for public-private partnerships and more private capital investment in the OPK given that the once-and-future Supreme CINC nationalized first-class companies like Irkut and Saturn.

First Get Some Rockets

Iskander

How do you rattle your rockets?  First get some rockets. 

President Dmitriy Medvedev’s address last week underscored the extent to which Russian foreign and defense policies are hampered by the condition of the OPK and its shortage of production capacity.

Medvedev’s description of Russian steps in response to U.S. and NATO missile defense in Europe certainly didn’t surprise anyone, though it may have forced them to conclude the U.S.-Russian “reset” is wearing thin.

To refresh the memory, the first four were (1) put the Kaliningrad BMEW radar into service; (2) reinforce the defense of SYaS with VVKO; (3) equip strategic ballistic missile warheads with capabilities to overcome MD; and (4) develop measures to disrupt MD command and control.

Then fifth, repeating several previous assertions to this effect, Medvedev said:

“If the enumerated measures are insufficient, the Russian Federation will deploy in the country’s west and south modern strike weapons systems which guarantee the destruction of MD’s European component.  One such step will be deployment of the ‘Iskander’ missile system in the Kaliningrad special region.”

And, ultimately, of course, Medvedev also noted the dispute over MD could lead Russia to withdraw from new START.

Russianforces.org was first to write that Medvedev’s enumerated steps represented nothing more militarily than what Moscow already intends to do, with or without U.S. missile defense in Europe.

Kommersant recalled the difficulty of making threats with the Iskanders:

“The problem is by virtue of its limited range (several hundred kilometers) ‘Iskander’ missiles can only threaten [Russia’s] neighboring states, but in no way the U.S. MD system as a whole, and on this plane, they have little influence on the strategic balance as such.  Moreover, the Russian military has promised to begin deploying ‘Iskanders’ massively since 2007, but since then the deadlines for their delivery to the army has been postponed more than once.  The army now has a single brigade of ‘Iskanders’ – the 26th Neman [Brigade], which is deployed near Luga.  This is 12 launchers.  There is also a 630th Independent Battalion in the Southern Military District.  In GPV-2020, ten brigades more are promised.”

So, Iskander deployments, including probably in Kaliningrad, will happen anyway, regardless of MD, when Moscow is able to produce the missiles.

Interfaks-AVN quoted Ruslan Pukhov on the missile production capacity issue.  If Russia wants to deploy Iskander in Kaliningrad or Belarus or Krasnodar Kray as a response to European MD, then:

“. . . it’s essential to build a new factory to produce these missiles since the factory in Votkinsk can’t handle an extra mission.”

“Productivity suffers because of the great ‘heterogeneity’ of missiles [Iskander, Bulava, Topol-M, Yars].  Therefore, if we want our response to MD on our borders to be done expeditiously, and not delayed, we need a new factory.”

Vesti FM also covered his remarks:

“’Iskander’ is produced at the Votkinsk plant.  The ‘Bulava,’ and ‘Topol-M,’ and multi-headed ‘Yars,’ are also produced there.  Therefore, such heterogeneity in missiles leads to the fact that they are produced at an extremely low tempo.”

The 500-km Iskander (SS-26 / STONE), always advertised with significant capabilities to defeat MD, was accepted in 2006.  But the Russian Army didn’t  complete formation of the Western MD Iskander brigade or Southern MD battalion until the middle of last month, according to ITAR-TASS.  The army expects to get a full brigade of 12 launchers each year until 2020. 

But Iskanders still aren’t rolling off the line like sausages.  This spring Prime Minister Putin promised to double missile output, including from Votkinsk, starting in 2013, and pledged billions of rubles to support producers.  In early 2010, Kommersant wrote about Votkinsk overloaded with orders, trying to modernize shops to produce Iskander.

Votkinsk and Iskander are, by the way, not the only defense-industrial problem relative to countering MD.  Nezavisimaya gazeta pointed out VVKO will need lots of new S-400 and S-500 systems (and factories to produce them) to protect Russia’s SYaS.  But we digress . . . .

What do defense commentators think about Medvedev’s statement and Iskanders? 

Vladimir Dvorkin calls them a far-fetched threat:

“There are no scenarios in which they could be used.  If Russia used them in an initial preventative strike, then this would signify the beginning of a war with NATO on which Russia would never embark.”

Aleksey Arbatov says relatively short-range missiles don’t scare the Americans, but could spoil relations with Poland and Romania.

Aleksandr Golts says the slow pace of Iskander production makes it not a very serious threat.  He notes Putin’s restraint on threats over MD:

“Being a rational man, he perfectly understands that an attempt to create such a threat will get an immediate response, which, considering the West’s potential, will create a much bigger problem for Russia.  That is, there’ll be a repetition on another scale of the history with the deployment of Soviet medium-range missiles in Europe.”

One supposes rather than driving a wedge between the U.S. and MD-host countries, Russian threats might reaffirm the wisdom of having a tangible U.S. presence on their territory.

Lastly, Leonid Ivashov reacts to Medvedev’s reminder that Russia could withdraw from new START:

“When President Medvedev says that we will withdraw from SNV [START], the Americans just smile.  They know perfectly well the state of our defense-industrial complex.”

Team VKO Taking Shape

Team VKO is taking shape according to Kommersant.  Last fall, President Medvedev, of course, ordered the establishment of a unified VKO.  Since then, it’s become clear that Space Troops (KV) Commander, General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko would head it.

And KV will be the base for the new service [vid or вид].  According to the Genshtab plan, VKO will unite all PVO and PRO systems.  And it will control the current KV, Moscow-based OSK VKO, and PVO units from the Air Forces.

The paper’s Defense Ministry source says VKO’s top officers have been identified, and paperwork was sent for Medvedev’s signature last month.  So expect a decree soon.

General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov will be in charge of PVO and PRO for VKO.  He’s a 50-year-old career SAM officer, who commanded PVO divisions or corps in the Far East, Volga, and Moscow MDs.  From 2007-10, he commanded the Far East’s 11th AVVSPVO.  He became commander of the OSK VKO about this time last year.

General-Major Oleg Maydanovich is a 47-year-old KV missile engineer who will head VKO’s space monitoring.  He has long service at Plesetsk and Baykonur, and has been chief of both.  He’s now chief of Russia’s space systems testing and control center.

Colonel Andrey Ilin will be chief of the VKO’s command and control post at Krasnoznamensk.  He served many years at the space tracking post in Shchelkovo.  He’s been chief of staff at Plesetsk since last year.

Ashurbeyli Interviewed (Part II)

The rest of former Almaz-Antey chief Igor Ashurbeyli’s interview with RIA Novosti . . .

Asked about the future of PVO, PRO, and VKO, Ashurbeyli says he sees the role of ground-based systems declining, and future “fire means” — after the S-500 — will be air-based.  Part of them, he claims, are already in RDT&E.

Returning more to the present, the former Almaz-Antey head says the Defense Ministry asks the impossible of weapons developers.  They have to sign contracts they know they can’t complete in the stipulated time frames, otherwise they’d have no work.

Ashurbeyli goes on to explain Almaz-Antey’s current production quandary.  The S-300 has been made only for export over the last 15 years.  One foreign order has just been filled, and only one remains.  So Ashurbeyli sees a gap between S-300 and S-400 production, and he predicts a decline in the factory’s operations in 2013 or even late 2012.

The lead-time for producing S-400 components is 24 months.  So, without budget advances today, there won’t be anything to produce in 2013.  In 2011, Ashurbeyli says, not a single supplementary S-400 production contract has been signed.

Ashurbeyli sounds a lot like former MIT head and solid-fuel ICBM maker Yuriy Solomonov who announced in early July that the 2011 state defense order is already broken.  Is it a coincidence both men were unseated from their general director and chief designer duties?

Ashurbeyli says:

“At the same time, the load on the plant today is far from full and the absence of contracts doesn’t allow for further renewing equipment and technology.  We have to understand that the S-400 is made on the very same equipment as the S-300.”

In response to another question, Ashurbeyli makes his case for consolidating the structure of aerospace defense industries.  He calls for a unified industrial corporation, a Concern VKO, to execute the Defense Ministry’s orders, and it’s needed, he continues, when a unified VKO is established [before 2012].  Organized like OAK or OSK, Concern VKO would bring in VKO-related weapons developers who aren’t part of Concern PVO Almaz-Antey. 

Ashurbeyli says this fall he’ll propose his view on how to integrate these enterprises and how to build the future VKO system to the country’s leadership.

So, where does this leave us?  If Ashurbeyli’s description is realistic, there’s no shortage of Almaz-Antey production capacity and no real need for new plants.  The problem is the lack of orders from the Defense Ministry.  For all the hype about increased defense spending and 20-trillion-ruble GPV 2011-2020, the absence of orders could be due to the military’s lack of cash or its difficulty arranging bank financing.  Or, despite Defense Minister Serdyukov’s talk about streamlining the GOZ, it could be that bureaucratic sclerosis (or corruption) is hindering the issuance of new contracts.