Tag Archives: Putin

Putin Boosts Su-57

Putin walks the flight line at Akhtubinsk on May 14

Putin walks the flight line at Akhtubinsk on May 14

Russia’s Supreme CINC boosted the fortunes of the country’s fifth generation Su-57 fighter declaring yesterday that Moscow will procure 76 of them. Until now it appeared the VKS might only receive a handful and forego series production altogether.

According to Kremlin.ru, Putin said:

“Multipurpose fighters Su-35S and Su-57 are in the final phase of state testing. These aircraft have unique characteristics and are the best in the world. It’s essential to fully rearm three Aerospace Forces regiments with the future aviation system fifth generation Su-57.”

“At the range [Akhtubinsk] yesterday the Minister [of Defense Shoygu] and I talked about this. Under the arms program to 2027 it’s planned to buy 16 of such aircraft. We analyzed the situation yesterday, the Minister reported. As a result of the work we did, as a result of the fact that we agreed with industry, — industry has practically reduced the cost of the aircraft and weapons by 20 percent, — we can buy many more of these combat aircraft of this class, of this, essentially, new generation. We agreed that we will buy over that time period 76 of such airplanes without increasing the cost. We have to say that in such volume, but the volume isn’t even the thing, the thing is we haven’t done anything like this new platform in the last 40 years. I hope the corrected plans will be fulfilled. And we’ll soon complete the contract for the systematic delivery of 76 of these fighters equipped with modern aviation weapons and the essential supporting ground infrastructure.”

Seventy-six is an odd number. Seventy-two would make three two-squadron regiments (24 fighters per).

Looks like Putin laid down a hard line with Sukhoy and KnAAPO. But hardware price issues have a way of persisting even after the Supreme CINC has spoken. Industry, after all, has to recoup its development costs and keep up with rising prices for components, etc.

Presumably, the 76 Su-57 fighters will have the “second phase” engine giving them true fifth generation maneuverability. That engine is still in testing that won’t finish til 2023. Could make for quite a backloaded production scheme.

Capture

A Russian defense industry source has told Kommersant that a 170 billion ruble contract will be signed at the MAKS-2019 air show in August. That’s making 76 Su-57s for a fly-away price of $34 million per plane. The F-22 was $150 million in 2009. The F-35 is at least $100 million. Even adding the 20 percent back in makes the Su-57 only $41 million a copy. We should be skeptical about this plan.

Maybe saying Russia will produce reams of Su-57s is no skin off Putin’s nose. In 2024, he’ll be out of office unless he officially makes himself president-for-life. Still Putin can’t fight time; he’ll be 71 when [if] the 2024 election happens. When those 76 Su-57s are supposed to be done, Putin will be 76 years old. Ironic.

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The Most Recently Promoted

New Russian general and flag officer promotees have been added to the list. They show 12/13/2014 for a date of rank.  KZ ran a copy Putin’s ukaz.

Some notes:

  • The Pacific Fleet commander put on his third star.
  • Newly-minted General-Colonels Lentsov and Dvornikov look like possible candidates to command military districts / unified strategic commands in the future.
  • Four army commanders — Gurulev, Kaloyev, Kuralenko, and Teplinskiy — put on their second stars.
  • Chiefs of some specialized branches (comms, coastal defense, missile troops and artillery, air defense) got promoted.
  • RVSN, Airborne, VKO, Spetsnaz, and motorized rifle formation commanders got their first stars.
  • Friend-of-Putin and head of Russia’s military police Sidorkevich also got a star.

Military Housing Promises

“By 2010 the question of permanent, and by 2012 of service housing for servicemen must be finally resolved.”

So declared President Vladimir Putin in his Poslaniye on May 10, 2006.

According to RIA Novosti, at United Russia’s interregional conference in Cherepovets today, Prime Minister Putin declared:

“Throughout Russia from 2011 to 2013, servicemen will be presented nearly 77 thousand apartments, that will allow the housing line for the armed forces to be eliminated completely.”

Putin had 5 years, 7 months, and 22 days to keep his original military housing promise.  Even though he admits he failed to keep it, he actually still has 118 days remaining on the original deadline.

He now has 1 year, 3 months, and 27 days to keep his new pledge.

Now many will argue that, when it comes to apartments and housing for Russian military men, the Putin regime’s glass is half, two-thirds, or mostly full, or something like that.

But it can also be argued that this was a pretty straightforward task, and that, with proper management, with adequate funding, and without inordinate corruption, it should have been accomplished pretty easily.

It’s another question altogether whether Russian voters keep track of political pledges and broken promises . . . and whether it means anything when they point them out. 

In any event, the military is a small constituency no politician really worries about offending.

Serdyukov’s New First Deputy

Aleksandr Sukhorukov

As rumored in mid-summer, President Medvedev announced today former KGB and FSB officer Aleksandr Sukhorukov, most recently Director of the Federal Service for the Defense Order (Rosoboronzakaz), will be First Deputy Minister of Defense.

According to ITAR-TASS, Defense Minister Serdyukov introduced the 55-year-old Sukhorukov during a working meeting with Medvedev in Stavropol.

Medvedev and Serdyukov noted Sukhorukov will be responsible for arms procurement and the beleaguered state defense order.

He’ll be sitting in the hot seat right away.  Medvedev told him:

“. . . this is a very delicate process:  on one side, you need to understand the realm of the Armed Forces, the field of modern military technology, on the other, you need to build relationships with suppliers correctly.  But it’s not always simple to do, the current history of concluding contracts shows this.” 

RIA Novosti elaborated:

“Last night, RF Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s deadline for concluding all Gosoboronzakaz-2011 contracts expired.  On Thursday, the media reported that this task was not completed.”

Sukhorukov takes the post vacated by Vladimir Popovkin, who took over the Russian space agency Roskosmos.

Sukhorukov was with Serdyukov at the Federal Tax Service.  He followed the Serdyukov team to the Defense Ministry, becoming Deputy Director of Rosoboronzakaz in mid-2008, and Director a year later.  But he kept a low public profile at that agency.

He was born November 11, 1955 in Kasli, Chelyabinsk Oblast.  He graduated from the Chelyabinsk Higher Tank Command School in 1977, and later a KGB Higher School.  He apparently worked for the KGB in the Armed Forces, retiring as an FSB lieutenant colonel in 1996.   

From 1996 to 2004, he was deputy director, then director for the Finance Ministry’s northwest regional center for hard currency and export control.  He was a deputy director and director of a territorial directorate (probably northwest again) of the Federal Service for Finance-Budget Oversight in 2004-2006. 

In 2006-2007, he worked for then-Federal Tax Service Director Anatoliy Serdyukov as Chief of the Organizational-Inspectors Directorate.

In 2007, Sukhorukov followed Serdyukov to the Defense Ministry as an advisor.  He became Chief (not surprisingly) of its Organizational-Inspectors Directorate.  Serdyukov made reference to this directorate in his 2010 year-ender when he described how he checks on implementation of his policies. 

But, in late 2007, Sukhorukov jumped ship to the government, becoming assistant to then-Prime Minister (and Serdyukov’s father-in-law) Viktor Zubkov, and then Director, Department for Control and Verification of Fulfillment of RF Government Decisions.

In mid-2008, he arrived at Rosoboronzakaz.

You can find bio data here, here, and here.

In the Russian context, Sukhorukov seems like someone who knows how to find out if people are getting things done, and presumably what to do to them if they’re not (shoot them, send them to work in the fresh air, or fire them).  He seems very much a Putin man, an archetypal silovik.

He doesn’t, however, seem like someone who can help people figure out how to get things done.  Perhaps the Defense Ministry could have used someone with not just investigative, accounting, or legal experience, but maybe with an engineering, industrial, scientific, or technical background in the OPK.

It’d be interesting to know what Sukhorukov did in the army / KGB / FSB . . . he might have been a run-of-the-mill osobist, a “special section” guy monitoring some unit’s reliability and loyalty, or helping secure its secrets.  But he might have served in a defense plant, or been detailed to work in anti-corruption efforts.

Limited Productive Capacity, High Demand for Arms and Equipment

Surprisingly little attention, beyond routine press service reports, went to last Tuesday’s (16 February) government conference on the State Armaments Program, 2011-2020 (GPV-2020).  RIAN and older media reporting indicates the GPV-2020 will be adopted next month.

Prime Minister Putin told the attendees, “We are talking about the time frames and kinds of weapons systems we need to provide to our army and fleet, that have to be put into the arms inventory.”  Noting that nuclear deterrence forces, space, and air defense would be emphasized, Putin also said:

“We have to satisfy, as I already said, the troops’ need for modern communications, command and control, reconnaissance and, of course, complete the fifth generation aircraft, new combatant designs for the Navy.”

He reiterated earlier declarations that modern armaments in the forces must be 30 percent by 2015, and 70 percent by 2020.

Other Putin sound bytes:

“We have to provide essential financial resources for this task.  The Finance Ministry, the Economic Development Ministry have made the necessary calculations, and today we’ll need to analyze them.  Right off I want to note that we can’t allow any inflated estimates, ineffective expenditures.”

“The State Armaments Program has to give long-term guidance for developing the defense-industrial complex itself.  This must enable our enterprises to embark on a corresponding modernization.”

“We’ve conducted a whole series of meetings on these issues, but the Defense Ministry must provide the corresponding technical parameters.  We have to support the technological equipping of our defense-industrial complex exactly under these parameters.”

Finally, Putin indicated defense orders will go to enterprises that will be in a condition to produce truly competitive systems in terms of combat power, range, and protection.

Participants in the conference also reportedly discussed a new draft Federal Targeted Program (FTP or ФЦП) on the Development of the OPK.

On 15 February, Putin met with Industry Minister Khristenko and Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTС or ФСВТС) Mikhail Dmitriyev.  Khristenko told Putin last year OPK enterprises received 148 billion rubles in state support (6 billion in credits, 60 billion in capital injections, 76 billion in state-guaranteed credits, and 6 billion in subsidized interest rates on export credits).  According to Khristenko, this support allowed the OPK to increase its production 10 percent.

Unnamed Defense Ministry sources said the 76 billion rubles in state-guaranteed credits are difficult to use, and not all were used.  The 60 billion rubles in capital injections were basically a direct budgetary grant, and, according to one aviation plant manager, 20 billion of it went (get this!) to compensate RSK MiG and other producers for the fiasco with their 34 faulty MiG-29s sold to, and returned by, Algeria.

FSMTC Director Dmitriyev told Putin the volume of Russia’s current arms export contracts is $34 billion, and exports will be $9-10 billion over the next two years.

Aleksey Nikolskiy writing for Vedomosti indicated Dmitriyev said several enterprises have orders for some systems scheduled out to 2017, and some foreign customers have raised the issue of quicker deliveries.  He argued that additional production capacity is needed, but Putin proposed only to review the issue of synchronizing domestic and export orders for arms.  He said, “We have to understand in what time frame we can and have to produce for ourselves and our foreign partners.”

A source close to Rosoboroneksport said the issue concerned limitations in production capacity for the S-300PMU2 and S-400 air defense systems, the Su-35 fighter, and surface-to-surface missiles that don’t allow for simultaneously meeting the demands of foreign customers and the Russian Armed Forces.  Vedomosti noted that VVS CINC Zelin already complained about limited productive capacity for the S-400.  A similar jam exists with the Su-35, which is supposed to enter the VVS and some foreign air forces by the end of 2011.  A Defense Ministry source said there’s a proposal to build two new factories for air defense systems, and to enlarge existing enterprises producing critical equipment, and the government might soon adopt the proposal.

Konstantin Makiyenko of CAST (ЦАСТ) told Vedomosti, for the past 2 years, Rosoboroneksport has received more orders than what it has supplied abroad, and the lack of sufficient productive capacity has become the main limiting factor on the growth of arms exports.  He says either increase the capacity or the army will have to wait for arms it doesn’t need too much, but air defense systems and fighters don’t fall into the category of things not urgently needed.

As Mikhail Rastopshin and others have been so kind to note, there have been a raft of OPK development and armaments programs over the years, but they don’t seem to get completed, each melding into the next albeit under a longer deadline.   In early 2009, Dmitriy Litovkin estimated no more than 20 percent of any arms program has ever been accomplished, even during the years of high oil revenues.

And you can’t do an armaments program without OPK development, and Russia’s defense-industrial base has been increasingly poorly positioned to support the arms program in recent years, according to Rastopshin and others.  And don’t forget about declining RDT&E.  Hard times for research institutes and design bureaus could mean that, rather than modern or futuristic weapons based on ‘new physical principles,’ new units of obsolete designs could be produced under an armaments program.

Here’s a telling reminder.  The  much-vaunted 2003 Urgent Tasks of the Development of the Russian Armed Forces document called for modern weapons at the level of 35 percent in 2010, 40-45 percent in 2015, and 100 percent by 2020-2025.  And now Moscow’s talking 30 percent by 2015 and only 70 percent by 2020.

As recently as 2006, the Russian military claimed 20 percent of its weapons inventory was modern.  But in March 2009, Defense Minister Serdyukov admitted the starting point was actually lower:

“. . . the bulk of [arms and equipment] are physically and morally obsolete. Natural loss is not being compensated by procurement.  As a result, the proportion of modern arms and military equipment is around 10 percent.”

This was when President Medvedev said large-scale rearmament would begin in 2011.

Nevertheless, in his November 2009 address to the Federal Assembly, Medvedev said:

“One of the most difficult yet fundamental tasks is reequipping the troops with new systems and models of armaments and military hardware.  There is no need to discuss some abstract notions here: one needs to obtain these weapons.  Next year, more than 30 land and sea-based ballistic missiles, five Iskander missile systems, about 300 modern armored vehicles, 30 helicopters, 28 warplanes, three nuclear submarines, and one corvette-class combatant must be delivered to the troops, as well as 11 spacecraft.  All this has to be done.”

A pretty daunting list when foreign customers are asking for their weapons too.

Retired Officer Rails Against Army’s ‘Sergeantization’

One retired Colonel A. A. Karasev, deputy of the Saratov city duma and chairman of the Saratov branch of the Union of Soviet Officers, has written in KPRF.ru about communists and former servicemen picketing Prime Minister Putin’s reception office in Saratov on 17 February.

According to him, they demonstrated their concern about ruinous army reforms and carried signs saying “Putin!  Return Serdyukov to the Furniture Store.”  And, of course, they addressed an open letter to Putin.

Their letter said they’d taken to the streets before what used to be Soviet Army and Navy Day to make their woes, pains, and demands known to the head of government, and to defend the army, OPK, veterans, and their families from the outrages committed by bureaucrats and Duma deputies.

Their particulars included:

  • The U.S.-Russian balance of strategic forces is broken.  The leadership’s rush to a new strategic arms agreement is only reducing Russia’s security.
  • The OPK continues to be destroyed.  Defense factories in Saratov have closed.  Remaining plants get financing only in late spring or summer each year.
  • The Defense Ministry has not thought out its reforms of the army in the American mold.  The combat possibilities of Russia’s brigades are less than those of the formations and units of the ‘probable enemy’ [they really think the U.S. and Russia will go head-to-head?].
  • ‘Sergeantization’ [i.e. officer cuts and efforts to create professional NCOs] of the army means its enfeeblement.  There isn’t a sergeant with an intermediate specialized education [i.e. vocational high school diploma] who can replace an officer from a higher command or engineering school.  Promising contract-sergeants 20-30,000 ruble pay after training only adds extra tension to their relations with officers.
  • Military pensions have fallen to the level of pay for the least qualified workers, and below the subsistence minimum in many cases.
  • Military wives have not received social guarantees to compensate for their inability to work in many garrisons.

They want all these problems rectified, of course, but want to start with firing Serdyukov and his team.

The tension over what they’ve termed ‘sergeantization’ is interesting. 

In the Defense Ministry’s view, officers who’ve been cut, or turned into sergeants themselves, either weren’t needed or weren’t performing officer work or supervising troops.  So officers have been cut, and those that remain will really be officers with real units to command.  Some of them will get premium pay to reward them for now, and, from 2012, much higher base pay, for example, maybe 60,000 rubles for a lieutenant.  Meanwhile, as the Defense Ministry sees it, there won’t be any problem with newly-minted professional sergeants entering the ranks and earning higher pay [which still won’t approach that of officers].

The KPRF has an alternate scenario for the future.  It sees many officers, who were needed, put out of the service and replaced by some poorly trained contract sergeants who will earn more than before.  Two-thirds of officers don’t get premium pay for now, and the KPRF is probably skeptical that greatly increased pay for all remaining officers will be actually be delivered in 2012.  The future it sees has a mass of officers and sergeants, not differentiated by much of anything, including pay.  While the officer-NCO interaction was long ago worked out in Western armies, it’s still a troubling vision for an army in the throes of major structural changes and lacking a professional NCO tradition.

The Russian Military Housing Shuffle

Who knows what the military housing shuffle would sound like, but it would have to be a catchy tune.  Watching the official dancing on Russian military housing is really great sport.

Today it was the turn of Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin himself.  At an RF Government Presidium session, the duo announced that they were plunking down an additional 35.2 billion rubles to finance 18,500 GZhS for military men, about half of whom are retiring this year and would presumably otherwise add to the military housing queue.

Basargin said, “Our target is to provide housing for retired military by January 1, 2012, and we’ll meet it 80 percent this year.”  Wait a minute Viktor…Vladimir Vladimirovich (and Dmitriy Medvedev) have said repeatedly that retired military men are to receive permanent apartments in 2010, not by 2012.  2012 is the goal for service apartments.

Basargin also made a point of saying this is the first time in six years that such an amount has been laid out in February, with the idea that the work might actually be completed in the same calendar year.

At any rate, Putin chimes in, calling it a timely emission of budget money, not an early one.  And he said, “We’re allocating large additional resources, the [Defense] Ministry will conduct a corresponding tender, and a large scale one at that.”

These GZhS would be worth 1.9 million rubles each for 35.2 billion rubles total.  For an average, smallish permanent military apartment of 39 square meters, that’s a little less than 50,000 rubles per square meter.  A little pricy by the Defense Ministry’s standards but not Moscow or Petersburg prices.

Back on December 30, Putin said 44.4 billion rubles would be spent in 2010 to obtain 45,000 military apartments.  This is more like 988,000 rubles per apartment (vice 1.9 million) and the price per square meter of average, smallish military apartment is more like 25,000 rubles–about what the military wants to pay and a good average for Russia as a whole.  Just as an aside, this day Putin said, “In 2010, we must resolve this [military housing] problem.  People are tired of waiting years for the resolution of this problem.”

Here’s where it gets really interesting [if it ever actually does].  If you take those, let’s call it a round 18,000 apartments Basargin and Putin are talking about and you put them together with the roughly 27,000 [not 45,614] apartments that most knowledgeable and semi-independent observers say the Defense Ministry actually received in 2009, it’s enough to get the military up to the level of housing acquisition it claimed last year (18,000 + 27,000 = 45,000).  So one could suppose that this extra is just catch-up for what wasn’t actually accomplished last year and one could also guess this year’s 45,000 won’t be met, and will have to be finished in 2011, or whatever.

Just as a reminder, who said 27,000?  Well, Vadim Solovyev said it in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye on 29 January.  On 25 December, NVO had an editorial saying the Defense Ministry came up 17,000 short.  On New Year’s Eve, Izvestiya said only 28,000 were obtained in 2009.  Gazeta reported on December 23 that the Audit Chamber [Счётная палата] had found only 21,000 apartments had been acquired as of 2 October 2009.  And even Krasnaya zvezda on 10 December said that only 25,000 of the planned 45,000 were procured by the end of November.