Tag Archives: State Armaments Program 2011-2020

A Swedish Defense Debate

Two Swedish observers recently engaged in an exchange of opinion pieces regarding the connection between a supposedly more muscular and threatening Russia on the one hand, and an allegedly feckless Swedish defense policy on the other.

Here we are, of course, more interested in their divergent views of Russian military power rather than in (as they are principally and rightly concerned) its affect on Sweden’s defense.

Stefan Hedlund

Stefan Hedlund

Uppsala University professor Stefan Hedlund wrote first.  His article appeared originally in Svenska Dagbladet.

Hedlund concludes the Swedish legislature is radically changing its long-held view of Russia as relatively benign to one of Moscow as a growing threat to Sweden’s national security.  Proponents of this view, he says, point most often to Russia’s militarization and its increasingly autocratic political system.

However, he says President Vladimir Putin himself basically admitted the government’s 20-trillion-ruble State Armaments Program is failing.  Failing because the OPK, on the whole, cannot produce weapons and equipment of requisite quality, in necessary quantities, according to specified deadlines.

He cites the Bulava and Yuriy Dolgorukiy.

Just one good example among many he could have picked.

Then Hedlund concludes:

“Perhaps it was simply naive to think that the Russian military industry could pick up where it left off two decades ago, after standing at a virtual standstill, and all of a sudden produce weapons system [sic] at high international standards.”

He turns to politics, and the fragmentation of the Russian political elite just beneath Putin.

He sees it this way:

“These political developments don’t add up to the picture of an every [sic] more strong-fisted leader [Putin] who hasn’t ruled out waging war on his neighbours.  It is much more probable that Russia will be paralyzed by infighting for a long time to come, and an ever degrading economic outlook will mean the government may have to retrace it steps on promises to keep up salary developments and shore up pensions.  There might simply not be money left for the military.”

Hedlund hits key elements of the problem with Russia’s alleged militarization:  the OPK’s inability to deliver arms and a clearly evident Finance Ministry rearguard action to rein in military procurement spending.

Finally, Hedlund concludes it’s essential to discuss Sweden’s defense policy problems “without muddling it up with incorrect perceptions about the development [sic] in Russia.”

Political science PhD candidate Annelie Gregor responded to Hedlund with this essay.  Ms. Gregor neglected to add that she is, apparently, an employee of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Annelie Gregor

Annelie Gregor

Gregor argues Hedlund claims Russia is not in the midst of a military build-up and is turning away from authoritarian rule.

This is not at all what Hedlund said. 

Hedlund maintains Russia’s militarization isn’t effective and Putin’s autocratic style masks concerns about domestic politics that are more important to him than building up the armed forces or attacking a non-contiguous Nordic country.

Gregor’s first point about the recent surprise readiness evaluation in the Far East simply has to be ignored.  Not because of her primarily, but because of how others have futzed it up. 

She says it “involved” 160,000 troops.  Others have said Russia “mobilized” or “deployed” this number.  The entire manpower contingent of the Far East Military District (probably some 160,000 men) certainly wasn’t “involved” in those exercises, and those troops certainly weren’t “mobilized” or “deployed.”  They already actively serve in the region where the exercise took place. 

It is true to say recent Russian exercises have featured some re-deployments and equipment movements from other districts, but they are limited to what Russia’s strategic mobility resources can manage.

Difficult as it is to believe, Gregor cites Russia’s performance in the five-day war with Georgia as evidence of a threat to Sweden.

The same Russian Armed Forces that were caught off guard, and initially acquitted themselves so poorly that a major military reform program started immediately afterwards to improve their readiness and capabilities.

As more evidence, Gregor recalls this spring when “two Tu-22M3 Backfire heavy bombers simulated a large scale aerial bombing on Sweden.”

Two Backfires with nuclear-armed cruise missiles would be more than enough to ruin Sweden’s day.  But one notes they are not “heavy bombers” nor do two constitute anything “large scale.”  The incident was, perhaps, more about flying time and asserting Moscow’s right to use international airspace.

Gregor then argues with Hedlund about whether revenues from oil, gas, and arms sales will be adequate to support Russia’s “militarization” in the future.

This part of Hedlund’s article was, unfortunately, not translated.

One contends, however, that if Hedlund said the Russian defense budget will decline as its oil earnings decline, he’s right.  In fact, one could go further and say the budget is irrelevant.  What does matter is what Moscow actually buys or gets for it.  

The Russians are getting more training (because they can buy more fuel), but they aren’t getting new weapons on the schedule they originally laid down.  

And corruption remains a huge tax on the budget, just check on the criminal cases against former Defense Minister Serdyukov’s former deputies. 

And it’s obvious to serious observers that arms sale profits don’t go to the big white building on the Arbat.  They go to Rosoboroneksport which is connected more to high-level political infighting than to the Defense Ministry.

Hedlund never said Russia is turning from authoritarian rule as Gregor alleges.  Hers is a classic “straw man” fallacy.

Hedlund responded to Gregor’s response.

He argues Moscow’s “increasingly bellicose [anti-Western and anti-NATO] rhetoric is for domestic consumption” and its “aggressive actions, such as simulated nuclear strikes on Warsaw, indicate weakness and a desperate clamoring for attention.”

Anti-U.S. and anti-NATO speech will probably always be popular in Russia.  Simulated nuclear strikes are warnings to Europeans of the consequences of cooperation with the U.S. in missile defense (or anything else for that matter).

Hedlund says he’s done anything but argue that Russia is turning from authoritarian rule.  He concludes:

“What I have argued is that there is a very large difference between present-day Russia and a truly militarized authoritarian regime that would constitute a true danger.”

Eloquently put.  Putin’s regime is a clumsy, capricious, and ineffective brand of authoritarianism.  It recalls the late years of the Tsars more than Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s USSR.  Dangerous to a degree, but not an existential danger.

Perhaps there’ll be yet another installment in this debate.

Advertisements

Inflation, GOZ, and GPV

RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik has some thoughts on this issue.  Inflation has disrupted Russian rearmament efforts for years, and this year it’s likely to remain in the 9 percent range, or higher.  But, besides inflation, Kramnik notes, the way arms prices are formed and tenders are conducted also create higher prices and complicate the process of obtaining new weapons and equipment.

Kramnik attributes delay in adopting the GPV to the problem of reaching agreement on constantly rising prices for arms and military equipment.  These price increases, he notes, actually outstrip the official inflation rate and devalue the much-touted growth in the military’s budget.

A just-signed law (402-FZ) modifies the budget code and the law on the State Defense Order (GOZ), allowing this year’s GOZ to be financed without an adopted State Program of Armaments (GPV).  The law is also supposed to limit price increases on the OPK’s products.

According to Kramnik, in 2007, the Russian government ordered a 25 percent limit on profits from arms production, based on prices registered with the Federal Tariff Service.  This didn’t work too well.  The T-90 tank’s price tag increased from 42 to more than 70 million rubles, and the cost of the Steregushchiy (proyekt 20380) corvette rose from 1.8 to 5 billion rubles during its construction.

However, increased costs aren’t always attributable to more complex and expensive systems, or to inflation, or to small production runs.  Prices for military equipment are formed through “informal means” or personal ties between those who order and those who produce it.  Kramnik doesn’t utter the word corruption, but that’s what these informal ties lead to. 

At any rate, this is why the Defense Ministry’s been divided into military and civilian parts — to break the link between uniformed buyers and factory directors.  But who’s to say civilians can’t take the military’s place in a corrupt relationship?  To his credit, Kramnik concludes:

“We’ll see soon enough how much this series of measures will slow the growth of prices for military equipment in Russia.”

Kramnik also notes serious problems with GOZ tenders and the government procurement law.  Competitive tenders have to be conducted even when there’s only one supplier, leading to time wasted, and to the rise of middle-man firms that pass orders to sub-contractors who actually do the work.  To fix this, changes in the state purchase law (94-FZ) are needed, but haven’t come in many years.

And the problem of funding multi-year work still hasn’t been solved, and long-term, science-intensive project and RDT&E prices have to be renegotiated annually.

Kramnik sums up:

“All these ‘holes’ lead to budget money too often accumulating in vain in treasury accounts, or else too actively being ‘turned’ and ‘sawed off’ — the ineffective expenditure of state defense order resources in recent times has reached many tens of billions of rubles.  The coming year will become a real test for the reformed Defense Ministry — the degree of effectiveness of military budget expenditure will demonstrate how much Anatoliy Serdyukov and his team have managed to fulfill the tasks set before them.”

A Thoroughly Modern CINC

You have to like Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin. 

He’s open and candid about what Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s ‘new profile’ reforms mean for him and his service.  He’s talked earlier, more often, and longer about it than his Ground Troops or Navy counterparts.  He’s matter of fact and accepting of the entire process. 

Serdyukov’s changes turned General-Colonel into a trainer and force provider, and he nonchalantly admits as much. 

At 57, Zelin understands he can be replaced at any time, or allowed to serve three more years or even longer. 

If he were a tad younger, he would have been the right kind of general to command one of the new military districts / unified strategic commands (OSK / ОСК), say the Western or Central.  An air or air defense officer would have been just the right choice for a potential future war on those axes.  Instead, the Kremlin has three Ground Troops generals and one admiral (a step in the right direction).  It’s hard to argue against Ground Troops leadership in Russia’s restive south.  But Air Forces (VVS or ВВС) would have been a really good choice in the Western or Central Military Districts . . . a missed opportunity for now.

But back to Zelin.  On Tuesday, he addressed a foreign military attaché audience (and the Russian media) about the future of the VVS.

According to Gzt.ru, Zelin said the VVS will be reduced by a third and spread among the four new  OSKs.  And its Main Command (Glavkomat) will be responsible only for combat training.  The OSKs are in charge of employing the VVS in their theaters.

The VVS now consist of the Glavkomat, 7 operational commands, 7 first-rank air bases, 8 second-rank air bases, and 13 aerospace defense (VKO) brigades.  Before the ‘new profile,’ the Air Forces consisted of 72 regiments, 14 air bases, and 12 independent squadrons and detachments, with a third more aircraft than the VVS now have.

Four of today’s 7 operational commands are subordinate to the new OSKs.  Army Aviation also falls under them.

According to Zelin, in the future, the VVS Main Command (Glavkomat or Главкомат) could become a “branch department” of the General Staff responsible for the combat training of the Air Forces and Air Defense, while the OSKs employ the trained forces.

Zelin says VVS personnel will number 170,000 with 40,000 officers, nearly 30,000 sergeants, and the balance conscripts or civilian specialists.  He says today’s personnel training system doesn’t satisfy him, and so he’ll probably change the system of flight schools.  Only four remain today.  Voronezh will be the main training center.  Flight training will also be conducted in Krasnodar and Lipetsk.  Yaroslavl will remain home to air defense officer training.

According to the CINC, the VVS airfield network won’t change.  Base airfields will be first priority for reconstruction and modernization.  Zelin says civilian airfields could be used for operational purposes in the future.

He noted the VVS plans to go to a fully automated command and control system in the future, and, of course, develop its VKO forces.

Lenta.ua quoted Zelin’s remarks to Interfaks.  Zelin said the VVS will renew 30 percent of its inventory by 2015, and 100 percent new in some areas and 80 percent new overall by 2020.  He doesn’t say where the VVS are today in this regard, but recall Defense Minister Serdyukov has said only 10 percent of equipment in the Armed Forces is modern.

Zelin said the VVS will get new aircraft, air defense, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare systems, but modernization of some existing systems is still part of the plan.  Although the State Armaments Program 2011-2020 and its 19 or 20 trillion rubles have to be finalized, Zelin repeated that 10 T-50 (PAK FA) will be acquired in 2013-2015, and 60 more from 2016.  He mentioned Military-Transport Aviation (VTA or ВТА) is a priority – including the An-124 Ruslan, Il-112, Il-476, Il-76M, and An-70 – but he doesn’t venture any numbers or dates for new production.  Zelin does give a target of 400 new and modernized helicopters in the inventory by 2015.

Who knows what was or wasn’t covered in these media contacts, but it seems odd there’s still no mention of more S-400 deliveries.  Zelin was still talking about getting 5-6 more battalions in 2010 earlier this year.  But no sign of them.  It’ll be a big deal when or if they appear.  Also, no mention of S-500 development.

46 Percent More or 47 Percent Short?

On Sunday, Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov apparently told Bloomberg that Russia plans to spend 19 trillion rubles on its State Armaments Program 2011-2020.  Recall not long ago Finance Minister Kudrin said a final number had been worked out with the Defense Ministry, but he didn’t release it.

Bloomberg let Serdyukov advertise the plan [repeat, plan — the money has to be allocated in every annual budget] to spend 19 trillion rubles over the next 10 years as 46 percent more than Kudrin’s original offer of 13 trillion.

Serdyukov didn’t describe 19 trillion as 47 percent short of what the uniformed military says it needs to rearm.  Recall Deputy Armaments Chief, General-Lieutenant Frolov told the press 36 trillion was required to rearm all services and branches fully.

In fairness, Serdyukov admitted:

“This is the minimum we need to equip our armed forces with modern weaponry.  We could ask for a bigger number, but we need to understand that the budget cannot afford such spending, so 19 trillion is a serious amount of money that will provide considerable orders for our defense industry.”

OK, good.  There are limits on what the military can have, and this shows civilian control over the armed forces.  But what about saying this “will provide considerable orders for our defense industry.”  Isn’t the point for the armed forces to get some, or most, of what they need from industry, not simply ensuring the OPK has defense orders?

The 19 trillion rubles is not trivial.  If (a very big if) . . . if this gets approved and executed every year, it’s almost 4 times the amount in GPV 2007-2015.  But we know the GPV is always rewritten before it’s completed, so it’s very difficult to say what has or hasn’t been, or can be accomplished with any given amount of funding.

With Russia borrowing abroad to plug deficits, it’s not surprising the amount wasn’t what the military wanted.  And the state of its economy over the next couple years will determine if it actually gets this planned amount for procurement.

No One, Except Us!

VDV Day Revelry

No service (or branch), except the VDV, generates this kind of media attention for its anniversary.

On 2 August, the VDV will celebrate its 80th birthday, and to mark this nice round number, the holiday will actually be a three-day fiesta running from 31 July.

Also marking the occasion, a new documentary film entitled ‘Landmarks of History, 80 Years of the VDV’ has been released, but, surprisingly, it wasn’t picked up by theaters or television. 

According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, the Moscow city government paid for its production.

VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov stars in the documentary, providing lots of the commentary, noting that the VDV are already ‘new profile’ since they are permanently ready, mobile, and physically fit.  Including its generals.  Shamanov told press conference he just recently made two jumps.

A VDV press-service representative told Nezavisimaya gazeta:

“Unfortunately, the VDV anniversary film will hardly be shown to a broad central TV audience at present.  For some reason, the central television channels have no particular desire to reflect this day comprehensively, but of course they will show people in striped tee shirts swimming in fountains.”

Ah, yes, the fountains . . . General-Lieutenant Shamanov told the press mobile groups of VDV and Moscow OMON troops would work together to keep airborne guys from bathing in the capital’s fountains on the branch’s birthday.  Interestingly, he had to admit to ITAR-TASS that he was perplexed by an announcement that the police have permitted dips in fountains for several years, having found that trying to prevent them only led to conflicts.  Police also said they would be on-hand to make sure nothing happens to bathers, according to Nakanune.ru.

While sounding reasonable and accommodating, the Moscow OMON Commander also noted that OMON, the GUVD’s 2nd Operational Regiment, and VV troops were ready to “respond to events.”  He expects 5,000 VDV revelers.  About 1,700 police, including 350 OMON (of whom 109 are former VDV themselves), will be on duty, according to Svpressa.ru.  It claimed former and current VDV officers would also help in keeping order.  The OMON Commander told Vesti.ru, “In recent years we’ve come to mutual understanding largely thanks to VDV veterans who now serve in the Moscow police.”

Of course, it doesn’t do for the regime to have two elite silovik forces square off in the capital.

Beyond announcing that the VDV is already fully subscribed when it comes to the ‘new profile,’ Shamanov also made his obligatory statement / promise that the VDV preserves its independence and  role as the reserve of the VGK to reinforce strategic directions.

He commented to ITAR-TASS on the VDV’s capacity for air drops:

“In realizing the measures in the State Program of Armaments – 2020, the VDV will be capable of landing by parachute an airborne or air assault division.  Now the question hinges on the degree of readiness of the existing fleet of Il-76 military-transport aircraft, but also on how these possibilities will be after the realization of the State Program of Armaments, calculated out to 2020.  A month ago we agreed on the draft GPV.  The modernization of the existing fleet of Il-76 aircraft and an increase in their number is in there.  It also provides for the purchase of Russian-Ukrainian An-70 aircraft, refurbishment of existing An-124 aircraft and the construction of 20 new aircraft of this type.”

He continued:

“. . . we also need to use the American experience in using civil aviation aircraft in the interests of the military.  All this would allow us by 2017 to establish the possibility of landing a full airborne or air assault division.”

“. . . it’s possible to solve it even more quickly by a combination, when the first echelon is approximately 30 percent airborne – landing by parachute, the rest by runway.  We could accomplish this task in three months after receiving the order.”

Answering a question about helicopters and air mobility for the VDV, Shamanov said:

“With the General Staff, we’ve defined a concept for establishing an army aviation brigade in the VDV in the future.”

And on army aviation’s transfer to the Air Forces in 2002:

“It would be the right decision to return army aviation to the Ground Troops, as it’s done throughout the world.”

Shamanov also told RIA Novosti 120 men from 104th Parachute Regiment of the 76th Airborne Division will stay in Kyrgyzstan until parliamentary elections are held.

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.

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.