Tag Archives: Rheinmetall

Shoot Better

Among changes (and changes of emphasis) in his first year, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu stressed something as basic as shooting better.

Putting metal on target more often.  Something that takes time, practice, and money.

Shoygu broached the issue while reviewing last summer’s exercises in the Eastern and Central MDs.

Defense Minister Shoygu Reviewing Exercises (photo: Mil.ru)

Defense Minister Shoygu Reviewing Exercises (photo: Mil.ru)

Shoygu told the assembled brass:

“In the first place, it concerns poor results in destroying targets from TO&E weapons.  One of the main causes of this is an insufficient quantity of ammunition allocated for combat training of brigades according to existing norms.  We already talked about this problem.  Therefore today we need to adopt a clear mechanism to resolve it.”

Shoygu spoke publicly about the need to increase ammunition expenditure “by several times” from the current norm of 20 rounds per tank or artillery crew.  And more explicitly:

“Our colleagues in other countries shoot 160 shells a year per crew.  We have to increase our indicator at least five times.  We have every possibility for this.”

He and his subordinates mulled the irony that Russia destroys old munitions while not enough new ones are manufactured.  Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov said more money is going to ammunition production.

However, NVO’s Viktor Litovkin noted a different problem — practice firings too routine for crews to learn anything about shooting in combat:

“The first deficiency on which Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu focused is ‘we still shoot poorly.’  The causes here are several.  One of them is the fact that tankers, as a rule, conduct combat firings from training tanks.  Three-four of them per battalion.  The tank range on the brigade training area has been studied down to the last knoll, so that every sight setting is thoroughly well-known.  And how to fire at what distance.  And all targets are well-known.  Behind the sight of a TO&E tank, on unfamiliar terrain, people are lost.  And unacceptable mistakes ensue.”

So, the military leadership is more occupied with the quantity than the quality of training.

There’s a personnel policy connection here too, curiously  unmentioned by the leadership.

There are legions of former conscripts who rarely, if ever, fired live rounds from weapons locked in storage rooms of the barracks during their year of service.  But the planned expansion of contract service should produce many enlisted who stay long enough not only to learn to shoot better themselves, but to teach other contractees and conscripts.

Then there’s always technology.

Recently, Mil.ru reported that the Central MD’s Samara-based peacekeeping brigade [15th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade] increased the effectiveness of fire training by 20 percent after introducing laser simulators into the process.

This isn’t the first time the army’s used simulators, but it isn’t noted often.

Soldier Outfitted with 9F838 Tselik Laser Fire Simulator (photo: Mil.ru)

Soldier Outfitted with 9F838 Tselik Laser Fire Simulator (photo: Mil.ru)

It shouldn’t be news.  It’s been 34 years since the U.S. Army started using MILES.  What’s surprising is how late this technology is reaching Russian troops.  Mil.ru indicated the 15th IMRB got its simulators through new 2013 procurement.

The system is standard fare.  It looks a tad cumbersome, but it can reportedly be used with any infantry weapon, grenade launcher, or ATGM.

Russia is not so far behind in the technological sense, but more so in simply producing and using laser simulators.

One short dissertation says work on laser simulators began at TsKB Tochpribor in 1986.  Simulators for infantry weapons, BMPs, and tanks were fielded quickly.  The author concludes Soviet ones didn’t lag behind their U.S. or NATO counterparts.

But (he doesn’t note) just around the corner were the USSR’s disintegration and a long hiatus in Russian military procurement.

Still, Tochpribor stayed at the problem, developing new simulators (especially lighter ones) and an automated combined arms training system for up to 900 infantrymen and 180 combat vehicles called Barelef-SV, which passed state testing in 2008.

But domestic development and production like Tochpribor’s cannot fare well against Germany’s Rheinmetall and its €100-million-plus contract to build Moscow a brigade-sized live combat simulation and marksmanship training center slated to open this year in Mulino.

Parts of Russia’s defense industry are getting protection from the possibility of foreign competition (opened up by ex-Defense Minister Serdyukov), but apparently not this part.

Not that Tochpribor and Rheinmetall are in the same league.  The latter’s a world class designer and integrator of military simulators.  A system like that intended for Mulino is network-intensive, and it’s probably beyond Tochpribor’s competence.

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German Armor

Serdyukov Wants Troops to Ride Inside

Reports about Russia looking abroad for light armored vehicles and not buying BTR-80s and BMP-3s in GVP 2011-2020 came into better focus this week . . .

On Tuesday Defense Minister Serdyukov announced Russia will buy armor for vehicles and light armored equipment from Germany.  In his meeting with representatives of public organizations, he said:

“The RF Defense Ministry will proceed from the need to guarantee the protection of personnel.”

“We have forced KamAZ and other Russian companies to enter into contacts with foreign firms.  They’ve already begun to make contact in order to buy light armor and use it in reconnaissance vehicles, BTRs, BMPs and other transport means.”

Kommersant talked to KamAZ officials who didn’t know anything about buying armor for vehicles abroad.

Serdyukov said, in particular, they were talking about purchasing light armor from one German company (reportedly Rheinmetall).

ITAR-TASS said Serdyukov was referring to poor protection of personnel inside Russian armored vehicles when he warned:

“We, of course, won’t buy Russian vehicles and armored equipment in the condition they are in.”

“We want Russian industry to produce what we need and what the times demand, so that they (OPK enterprises) will modernize their production and create quality equipment.”

In Stoletiye.ru, Sergey Ptichkin writes that Rostekhnologiya’s Sergey Chemezov and FSVTS’ Mikhail Dmitriyev have concluded that the purchase of foreign arms for the Russian Army is a ‘done deal’ at this point.  Dmitriyev said in particular that the political decision to buy Mistral has been made, and the contract will be signed this fall.

Ptichkin concludes:

“In connection with this, by all appearances, a large number of domestic military programs are being rolled up.  Billions are needed to support the import of ships and weapons.”

Chemezov also said, reluctantly, that Russian armor really doesn’t meet the Defense Ministry’s sharply increased requirements, therefore purchases from Germany are justified.  Ptichkin wonders what Rostekhnologiya’s [Chemezov’s] specialty steel holding will do if Germany supplies Russia’s defense industries.

Media sources alluded to past statements by Deputy Defense Minister, Chief of Armaments, Vladimir Popovkin to the effect that foreign purchases would only be to ‘patch holes’ in the Russian Army and OPK.  They imply that either arms imports have expanded beyond ‘hole patching,’ or the ‘holes’ are bigger than originally thought.

Nezavisimaya gazeta writes that buying armor abroad will be catastrophic for Russian metallurgy.  Without part of the GOZ, they reportedly won’t be able to modernize.  Uralsib metals analyst Nikolay Sosnovskiy said, without state orders, enterprises which still produce something won’t be able to survive.  He said buying foreign armor for BTRs and BMPs will lead to buying it for tanks, which is much more costly.  Sosnovskiy says armor orders were ‘second tier’ for the past 20 years, so no one was working on new types.  On the other hand, Aleksandr Khramchikhin thinks the competition posed by foreign armor will force the Russian industry to improve.

Despite this little uproar, it seems unlikely that the Defense Ministry or Russian government are suddenly ardent fans of free trade in all things.  Moscow’s economic management remains more paternalistic and state-directed than that.  Rather purchases abroad are probably viewed as the only way to:  (a) rearm Russian forces quickly with badly needed high-quality arms and equipment; and (b) shake the OPK enough to get it started on the road to competitiveness.