Tag Archives: Tanks

Ivashov on the Army and Putin

Leonid Ivashov

Leonid Ivashov recently talked to Narodnyy politolog on a variety of army topics including reforms, the possibility of a big war, rearmament, president-elect Vladimir Putin, and his military program.  Segodnia.ru also printed the interview.

Once Russia’s top military diplomat, now avowed geopolitician, the former three-star thinks Putin fears externally-driven regime change and is improving the army to forestall such an eventuality.  Ivashov sees a U.S.-led West depriving Russia of allies before focusing on Russia itself.

Asked about army reforms, Ivashov says they have succeeded in cutting forces, but not in rearming them or improving their social conditions.  Reforms have degraded and weakened the army.  Military men mock the New Profile reforms saying, “There’s a profile, but not armed forces.”  Ivashov calls reforms craziness, and says it’s like servicemen have lived in a house under continuous repair for 25 years.

Following up his comment on mobilization reserves cut to the bare minimum, NP asked the retired general-colonel if a big war is possible today.

Ivashov says yes.  Citing how “they” are beating up Russia’s strategic allies (Syria and Iran), he says “What is this if not war?”

Ivashov foresees a large conflict between the U.S. and China and possible spinoff regional and local wars.  He cites a Chinese specialist who calls for a Russian-Chinese alliance to deter a big war and curb the appetite of the West and international oligarchs.

Is Russia ready for such an eventuality?  Ivashov answers:

“I think Putin understands perfectly how military weakness and the absence of strategic allies can be the end for Russia.  Clearly, the Libyan situation ‘helped’ him understand this, just like what is happening now in Syria, and what they are preparing for Iran.  If you can’t defend the country, you are subjecting yourself to a great risk personally.”

“Now Putin is making a sharp turn to the side of strengthening defense capability.  One can only welcome this.  Because today they don’t simply beat the weak, they destroy them.”

Ivashov calls Putin’s military program ambitious, if not systematic.  The regime’s been in a “light panic” since Libya.

He intimates that more than 20 percent of the state armaments program will be stolen since the amount of theft cited by the military prosecutor covers only cases under investigation, not all corruption.

Ivashov suggests lobbying has replaced forecasts of future military actions as the driver of arms procurement.

The case of Mistral, which one wonders where it will be built and how it will be used, Ivashov says well-connected lobbyist structures ensure what gets produced is exactly what their enterprises make.  He was somewhat encouraged that Putin, at Sarov, entertained turning to specialists and experts to examine the army’s requirements.

On GPV 2020, Ivashov concludes it’ll be a serious step forward if only half of what’s planned gets produced, but it can’t be equipment designed in the 1970s and 1980s.  He sees OPK production capacity problems too.  He questions whether Votkinsk can produce 400 solid-fueled ballistic missiles by 2020.

Returning to the big war, he questions a focus on defensive operations for Russian conventional forces, saying offensive capabilities are needed to deter potential enemies.  He claims reduced force structure and mobilization capability have become a joke in the General Staff:

“The main problem for the Chinese in a conflict with us is not defeating our brigade, but finding it.”

Ivashov’s just a little up in arms over the armor situation.  He all but accuses the General Staff Chief of being a paid (or bribed) lobbyist for foreign tank and armored vehicle makers.  He suggests that Army General Makarov should be placed in cuffs if he says the Leopard-2 is better than the T-90 [what about Postnikov then?], and the Main Military Prosecutor should investigate him.

So what is to be done first and foremost to strengthen the country’s defense capability today?

Ivashov replies get rid of Serdyukov and Makarov who have done great damage, and strengthen cadres in the OPK and military by replacing “managers” with those who can apply military science (as Ivashov was taught) to the problem of developing new weapons.

The always provocative Ivashov doesn’t venture whether he thinks  the current emphasis on defense capability will continue or have the intended results.  He seems sincerely to believe in a possible Western intervention in Russia’s internal affairs.  But it’d be more interesting to hear him talk about whether the army would fight for Putin’s regime in something less than that maximal contingency.  Ivashov, unlike some critics of Russia’s defense policy, shies away from blaming the once-and-future Supreme CINC for at least some of the current military state of affairs.

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The Winner Is . . .

Putin, politics, and industrial policy.

One loser, for sure, defense policy.

Putin got his 63 percent.  He didn’t need fraud to get 50+ percent and avoid a second round, but he (or someone) wasn’t willing to take that chance.  The cheating should have drawn a flag for piling on or unnecessary roughness.  That it happened says something about Putin’s fear of being out of power.  But we digress.

Politics won over policymaking, not least of all in defense policy.

Yes, Russia is not the only place this happens.  It happens in most of the world’s democratic states.  This doesn’t prove Russia’s a democracy; it just proves Russia has politics.  But so did the USSR.  It had fights between industry and the military.

But back to our story.

Promises and populism secured votes for Putin in Russia’s industrial centers where they’ve waited years for serious defense orders.  He’d have won here without writing checks his treasury might not be able to cash.  But the once-and-future Supreme CINC made pledges he may hope factory workers forget before 2018.

If they don’t, working class disgruntlement may mingle with urban, middle class discontent in an increasingly flammable political mixture.

The case in point here is tanks and Uralvagonzavod in Nizhniy Tagil.  Did Putin court anyone, or any defense enterprise, more than the General Director of UVZ Oleg Siyenko?  Did anyone get comparable preelection attention?

The closest we get is Putin’s intervention between the Defense Ministry, OSK, and Sevmash to solve their submarine pricing dispute last fall.  But industry didn’t exactly get everything it wanted in that case.

Siyenko Casts His Ballot

In an election day press-release, this industrial chieftain all but admitted his employees were ordered to vote for Putin.  Most probably never entertained the thought of doing otherwise.  UVZ likely didn’t have to organize “carousels,” but  “corporate voting” might have occurred.

On February 20, Putin declared 2,300 “new generation” tanks will be produced (by UVZ) under GPV 2020.

It was just February 15 that Putin had a meeting with Defense Minister Serdyukov and Siyenko.  It was actually more of a beating, for Serdyukov.

Putin With Serdyukov and Siyenko

The Defense Minister had to back down publicly from everything he’s said about tank acquisition over the last couple years.  He acknowledged, as Putin said, there will be a new tank from UVZ in 2013 that will enter series production in 2015.  And, for good measure, Serdyukov said the manufacturer will receive 100 percent advance payment on the GOZ.

As recently as January, the Defense Minister was lamenting huge stocks of old tanks and repeating his willingness to wait for fundamentally new armor rather than “new” T-72 or T-90 models.  In mid-2011, he criticized tank makers (UVZ) for dressing up old ideas, and said the army would just settle for updating its existing armor inventory.

Yes, everything changed sometime between then and now.

It was just prior to this Putin-Serdyukov-Siyenko session that General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov again criticized the tanks offered to the army and argued for the military’s predominance in weapons procurement decisions.  Deputy PM Dmitriy Rogozin objected fiercely to Makarov’s public airing of dirty linen, and declared himself chief of acquisition.

All official doubts and complaints about Russian tanks heard in 2009, 2010, and 2011 were swept away in a stroke by Putin’s announcement.

It seems the Ground Troops — its supporting industry actually — were feeling left out of the GPV and GOZ.  Tanks were never one of Russia’s  priorities as enumerated by former armaments chief Vladimir Popovkin.

What do 2,300 tanks mean for the world’s largest country?  One that once measured sufficiency in tanks by the tens of thousands?  Is staving off a NATO ground attack really a top concern?  Would Moscow entertain putting most of its new tanks opposite China?  There’s been plenty written (including by Russians) about the end of the tank era.

What do these tanks mean for the GPV?  If they cost 200 million rubles per, the cost of the production run (if it actually happens) will cost close to 500 billion of the GPV’s 19 trillion rubles for procurement.  It’s a lot for one system.  The Putin-brokered sub deal in November was worth only 280 billion rubles.

So to return to the original point of this meandering post, these tanks are about industrial policy, updating the human and technical capital to make them, keeping a significant industrial center quiescent, and retaining the capability to sell tanks abroad.  There are, after all, other armies possibly facing big tank battles in the future.

When politics and defense intersect, the latter yields.  Nothing shocking in that, one admits.

One last thing.

Siyenko’s an interesting character.  The 46-year-old former bike racer and past President of the Russian Cycling Federation spent most of the 2000s as General Director of Gazprom subsidiary Gazeksport (Gazprom Eksport), selling natural gas to the Europeans.  From 2003, he was a deputy chairman of the shady gas intermediary Itera.  Itera Chairman Vladimir Makeyev too is a one-time world-class rider who succeeded Siyenko as the cycling federation’s head.

But suddenly in 2009, Siyenko changed tracks, and went to Sverdlovsk Oblast and UVZ in Nizhniy Tagil.  There must be a story explaining why he’d abandon gas for tanks and railcars.

Makarov’s Press-Conference (Part II)

Krasnaya zvezda provided a summary of General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov’s press-conference yesterday.  The rest of us are still parsing and digesting.  Let’s look at more complete press reporting to do justice to Makarov’s remarks.

Gazeta.ru cited RIA Novosti in adding to Makarov’s comparison of French and Russian artillery systems:

“In France, we were shown the work of an artillery battalion which was ready to fire 30 seconds after a march.  Our analogous norm is 15 minutes.  The difference between one minute and 15 minutes is huge.  I think over this time an entire artillery battalion could be destroyed.”

But Gazeta noted Makarov said Moscow doesn’t intend to buy the French Caesar howitzer.

Gazeta, citing Interfaks this time, expanded on this comment on buying Western military technologies:

“We need to understand what to get, and what to acquire, but to acquire the technologies, and to produce on Russian territory.  Some technologies certainly have to be bought in the West.”

Igor Korotchenko explained to Vesti FM what Makarov and the Defense Ministry will or won’t buy:

“If suddenly for some reasons those models which industry proposes don’t correspond to declared requirements, the Defense Ministry will toughen its demands.  But on the whole the mainline remains – reliance on the domestic defense-industrial complex.  Makarov has spoken clearly about this.”

“Meanwhile, we’ll buy some leading technologies which will be required in Russia’s armed forces in the West.  In principle, these announcements are fully anticipated, they correspond to that policy that both Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov have conducted since 2008.”

Gazeta and Novyye izvestiya contrasted Makarov’s criticism of Russian tanks with Putin’s praise for them.  Both news outlets see President Medvedev, Serdyukov, and Makarov lining up to make tougher demands on the OPK while Prime Minister Putin defends it. 

They cited RIA Novosti this way with Makarov’s comments:

“The T-90 turret calls for our serious respect, it doesn’t lag the leading foreign analogs, and in a number of characteristics exceeds them.”

“The T-90S still has a number of flaws which need to be fixed soon.”

“Experimental-design work to perfect this tank will continue.”

At Nizhniy Tagil, Putin sympathized with tank builders as they described their latest developments, saying:

“This is just what the Defense Ministry always complains about.”

Rounding out the tank news, Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Viktor Litovkin talked about the Defense Ministry’s continuing refusal to buy modernized versions of old tanks. 

He says it wants a new class of armored vehicles on a common tracked or wheeled chassis to simplify operation and maintenance, and different combat modules as needed – BMP, tank, reconnaissance, self-propelled artillery, or ATGM launcher – mounted on the same basic platform. 

Litovkin suspects, though, that this good idea could be ruined by “interdepartmental contradictions,” and a lack of leadership vision. 

He concludes that, while Makarov was critical of their product, Putin was promising Russia’s tank builders 64 billion rubles in government support.

Quoting Tolya

Tolya’s remarks to the press today made quite a few headlines, and left a few useful benchmarks for the future.  Defense Minister Serdyukov addressed procurement and manpower issues.  Here are his quotes from RIA Novosti and ITAR-TASS.

Tanks for Nothin’

“We met the designers who proposed their preliminary work to us.  60 percent of what was proposed is old work.  Therefore, we still declined these proposals.”

“Now it’s more expedient to modernize our country’s tank inventory than to buy new ones, for example the T-90.”

Cold Water on Carriers

“We have no plans to build aircraft carriers.”

“Only after this [a preliminary design of what this ship might look like], the Genshtab together with the Navy will make a decision on the need for such a ship.”

SSBNs Aren’t Automobiles

“‘Bulava’ flew, this is good news.  We understand precisely that it’s possible to launch serial production of the missile on this variant.”

“We got the result, now it’s possible to load SSBN ‘Yuriy Dolgorukiy’ with ‘Bulava.'”

“We’d like to do this [test Bulava from Aleksandr Nevskiy], but we understand that to plan this precisely is impossible.  A nuclear submarine isn’t an automobile.”

Bullish on Arms Deliveries

“Deliveries of strategic missiles ‘Topol-M,’ ‘Yars,’ ‘Avangard’ will increase three times, ‘Bulava’ and ‘Sineva’ missiles for strategic submarines one and a half times, aircraft four times, helicopters almost five times, air defense systems almost two and a half times [in 2011-2015 compared with 2006-2010].”

Not Going Below a Million Men

“There are no such plans, there are no questions of cutting manpower.  We’re striving for the entire army under the million number, and it isn’t planned to cut this figure.”

“On account of this [increasing contractees from 2014], we’ll manage without fail to get through the demographic hole which is anticipated in 2014.”

Two Arctic Brigades

“The Genshtab is now developing plans to establish two of these formations.  In the plans, deployment places, armaments, manning, and the infrastructure of these brigades need to be specified.”

“It’s possible this will be Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, or another place.”

Postnikov on the Army and OPK (Part II)

T-90 on Red Square

Continuing with reaction to Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Postnikov last week . . .

Speaking to a RIA Novosti press conference, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (Minpromtorg) Defense-Industrial Complex Development Department, Igor Karavayev answered Postnikov this way:

“Unfortunately, we are encountering unwarranted criticism of the tactical-technical characteristics of Russian military equipment lately.  Allegedly, it doesn’t match its international counterparts.  An objective evaluation of the characteristics and tests conducted, but also the pace at which our exports are growing, attest to the contrary.”  

He said more than a few countries buy Russian tanks, and the T-90A got a positive evaluation from testing in difficult climatic conditions, including in Saudi Arabia, India, and Malaysia.  In Saudi Arabia, according to Karavayev, the T-90A was the only tank to destroy more than 60 percent of its targets after a road march.  Karavayev continues:

“The tests conducted in Saudi Arabia as part of an open tender fully and completely contradict the Glavkom’s [Postnikov’s] assertions.”

This T-90 modification supposedly has a new turret, a 1,000-hp engine, an improved thermal sight, new active defense measures, and a number of other improvements.  Karavayev flatly said neither the German Leopard, French LeClerc, nor American Abrams is equal to the T-90: 

“So to talk about how our tanks are worse than Western equivalents is not completely reliable information.”

“The price Postnikov quoted exceeds by approximately one and a half times the price at which the producer is ready to supply the vehicle [tank] to the troops.  This situation requires additional professional discussion.”

So that’s about 78 million vice 118 million rubles per T-90.

Izvestiya talked to Uralvagonzavod’s chief armor designer, Vladimir Nevolin, who said:

“The main complaints against the T-90 today are connected with its insufficient survivability.  Its deficiency is the placement of people, weapons, and fuel in one compartment.  In any case of armor penetration, the igniting of fuel is unavoidable.  Even with a fire suppression system, such a possibility isn’t excluded.  Therefore, the development of modern armored equipment is going the way of separating people from the fuel and munitions.  Moreover, the employment of remotely-controlled armaments is essential.  These principles were implemented in our future product – “item 195.”  For example, on it, the tank turret no longer had the crew.  But it turns out no one needed such a project.”

Vesti FM asked Igor Korotchenko whether Postnikov’s claim that Russian arms aren’t up to snuff is true.  He said there are objective problems with Russian-designed weapons, and some planned for introduction are really obsolete.  But, according to Korotchenko, the Defense Ministry’s main criticism is that Russian combat vehicles don’t meet survivability requirements.

At the same time, Korotchenko says Russia can’t fall into dependence on the West.  New armor has to be financed and put into serial production.  Limited purchases of Western military technology and licenses for the newest thermal sights and munitions are acceptable in his view, he says Russia’s national technological base for producing major weapons needs to be protected.

Finally, it was Viktor Baranets’ turn in Komsomolskaya pravda.

Baranets noted Postnikov complained quite openly about Russia’s weapons for a military leader of his rank.  And he opined that Moscow is not only competitive, but superior in some military systems.  But Baranets claims the T-90 cost has doubled from 60 million rubles two years ago due to higher electricity and metal prices as well as adding expensive French or Israeli thermal sights.  Nevertheless, says Baranets, Postnikov exaggerated about buying Leopards for the price of a T-90.

Baranets also interviewed Mikhail Barabanov.

Barabanov says the T-90 really is the 17th modification of the T-72, initially called the T-72BU, but T-90 sounded more modern, at least in 1992.  The T-90A has grown old, but could still be updated with a new turret, gun, and weapons control system.  The 118-million-ruble pricetag comes from a small production run, and it’s steep for a tank that’s not the most modern.

Barabanov says for 118 million you could only buy 3 1980s-vintage Leopard-2A4 from the Bundswehr reserve.  And such tanks don’t have any particular advantage over T-90.  A new Leopard-2A6 is more than $4 million, but with service, training, spares and munitions, it can’t be obtained for less than $10 million.

Baranets asks Barabanov if the share of modern ground armaments really be brought up to 70 percent by 2020.  The latter says:

“It’s realistic given fulfillment of the State Program of Armaments.  But its [the GPV’s] fulfillment depends first and foremost on the country’s capacity for high economic growth rates.”

Master and Commanders

Major media outlets covered President Dmitriy Medvedev’s dialogue with five commanders (three Ground Troops, two Navy) at Gorokhovets.  But one’s own look at what was said, and how it was said, is sometimes better.

The Supreme CINC took some surprisingly forthright views and questions from his commanders.  He didn’t make specific promises about providing the troops new assault helicopters, better protected combat vehicles, or tanks.  He just kept saying the GPV will be fulfilled.

Medvedev told one commander “we all know well what kind of army we had” before this most recent reform began in late 2008.  This is funny since it’s a slam on Vladimir Putin, who was responsible for the army’s condition for most of this decade.

Much of the dialogue depends on an artificial dichotomy between combat (combat training) and noncombat (housekeeping) officers, and on the need to shed the latter.  It is easy now, of course, to belittle officers in the 1990s, and much of the 2000s, who tried to keep their subordinates paid and housed, and conscripts from beating or killing each other, at a time when there was not enough money, fuel, equipment, or even troops for training.  A lot of officers neglected those housekeeping duties and turned to private schemes, crime, or corruption in those days. 

The two naval officers practically beg Medvedev for contractees because their conscripts can’t learn their jobs in one year.  The Supreme CINC is supportive, but he won’t do it until the concept is fiscally viable (not a bad idea since the most recent contract service effort was spoiled by failure to deliver pay and benefits that would attract professional enlisted).

And, finally, Medvedev revealed he is committed to finding Russia access to naval facilities abroad to support the Navy’s deployments.

But let’s look at exactly what was said . . .

VDV Colonel Igor Timofeyev, commander of the 56th Independent Air-Assault Brigade, told Medvedev his troops would like Army Aviation to have new helicopter types, for landing troops and providing effective fire support, i.e. all-purpose assault helicopters.  He also said his companies depend on UAZ vehicles for transport, which lack sufficient personnel protection, and can’t mount extra firepower.  Then he gets to his point . . . having seen new vehicles at Gorokhovets, he hopes he will have them in his own formation soon.

Medvedev avoids responding directly:

“Of course, the fact is what we have today is undoubtedly better than what we had at the beginning of this decade, but all this is still very, very far from what we are aiming for.  You mentioned ‘UAZy.’  I could also name other vehicles, I simply won’t do this in order not to put anyone in an awkward position.  But, unfortunately, the degree of their protection from very simple types of armaments, including infantry-type armaments, is practically nil.  We haven’t even been working on proper armor plating for a very long time, because we considered it expensive.  The mission now is to ensure that all transportation means, all our light and heavier types of transport means receive an effective defense against infantry weapons and, if possible, against heavier types of weapons.  This is definitely more expensive, but these are the lives of people, the lives of our servicemen, this is ultimately the effectiveness of the employment of the Armed Forces.  Therefore it’s essential for us to work on this, just as we will, of course, work on and fulfill the State Program of Armaments as a whole.”

The Supreme CINC doesn’t address the colonel’s call for better air support, and he admits the VDV’s vehicles are inadequate, but promises only that everyone’s transport means are going to receive more protection.  But nothing specific.

Next it’s the turn of Colonel Yakov Ryazantsev, commander of the 57th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.  Ryazantsev talks about the difficult process of dismissing officers who forgot about combat readiness and combat training or weren’t prepared to work under ‘modern conditions.’

Medvedev took this opportunity to say this is the reason for much criticism of the military reform process:

“Often in the media and in the statements of independent analysts we read very severe things about how the reforms are being conducted, about the condition of the Armed Forces’ combat capability.  This is normal, undoubtedly, because there should be critical stories, should be investigation of what is being done.  We have an open society, and the Armed Forces cannot appear like a closed corporation in this sense.  Nevertheless, sometimes these judgements bear an exceedingly severe character.  Some of them concern dismissals from the ranks of the Armed Forces.  In this context, I have a question for you:  what number of servicemen in your view in percentage terms were dismissed from your brigade?”

Ryazantsev goes one better and gives precise numbers:  415 officers of 611 in the former 81st Motorized Rifle Division were dismissed.  He says they were officers who focused on ‘everyday problems’ rather than the fulfillment of military service duties.

Meandering a bit, Medvedev returns to the issue of combat training vs. housekeeping, saying:

“And we all know well what kind of army we had.  We were just talking about ‘paper’ divisions and cadre sub-units.  That’s all there was.  And not just, by the way, in latest Russian history, but in the Soviet period it was, since every year the number of cadre units increased and increased.  How did this reflect on our combat capability?  It’s clear how.  And officers, unfortunately, who served in such places, were occupied mainly with housekeeping tasks.”

“But today those who aren’t prepared to serve are not allowed to serve.  So what you just said, once again strengthens my certainty in this.”

Next Colonel Valentin Rogalev, commander of the 74th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, tells Medvedev he can’t say his arms and equipment are fully adequate, especially when it comes to tanks and BMPs.  Referring to the GPV and plans to modernize 30 percent of equipment by 2015, Rogalev says:

“And we hope, Comrade Supreme CINC, that fundamentally new types of tanks and BMPs with greater firepower and also increased crew protection will enter the arms inventory soon, not as single units, but systematically.  This will significantly raise the brigade’s combat possibilities.”

In his response, Medvedev talks about galvanizing the OPK to produce what the army needs, about the GPV, and about spending money wisely, but he doesn’t promise Colonel Rogalev anything.

Then the Navy took over.  Captain First Rank Sergey Pinchuk described the condition of his Baltic Fleet surface ship brigade:

“In the ship formation I command, 10 years ago there were ships with an average service life of 10-15, but some even with 25 years.  They were mainly technically inoperable, technically unready, insufficiently manned, with minimal supplies, ships generally didn’t go to sea for years.  Today new ships have entered the formation.  They are multipurpose corvette class ships for missions in the near ocean zone.”

“The armaments and military equipment mounted on the new ships allows us to cut personnel on the ship substantially, practically by three times.  And the requirements on this personnel have increased significantly.  Besides officers, these are contract servicemen.  You talked about them today.  In the fleet, large effort on their training, education, creation of favorable service conditions is being conducted.  However, one would like to see that this category of servicemen has also found support at the state level.”

In his response to Pinchuk, Medvedev acknowledges that “we are still just preparing” to support contractees in terms of competitive pay and normal service and living conditions.

One wonders how long it will take to get ready . . . they spent most of the past decade preparing to implement contract service before pulling the plug earlier this year.

Nevertheless, Medvedev insists “I understand this and the Defense Ministry leadership understands,” and we “will return to the issue of supporting contractees in the near future.”

Again, no commitment.

Last up is Captain First Rank Ildar Akhmerov, commander of the 44th ASW Ship Brigade.  Akhmerov describes greatly increased underway time and Horn of Africa antipiracy operations by his four ships, and then concludes the sea time and servicing of complex shipboard equipment and systems are increasing the requirements on the training of all crew members.  The price of a mistake far from Russia is too high.  As formation commander, he says he has to increase the number of contractees on deployed ships by taking them from other ships, because conscripts can’t master complex equipment in their short time.  So in the fleet and the district, they’ve made great efforts in selecting contractees, and providing them housing.  But at present, this issue remains highly important not only at the level of a fleet formation, a district, but even on a state level.

Akhmerov continues saying his ships in the Gulf of Aden need higher quality rear and technical support than other ships.  But Russia has no bases in foreign countries in the Indian or Pacific Ocean where his ships could take on supplies, repair, and get some kind of rest for their crews.  This is presently done by support ships in the detachment of ships, but a shore base would increase the quality of rear and technical support and reduce costs.

Medvedev responds:

“On contractees, I just told your colleague.  We, of course, understand this problem.  And the fact that you have to pull contractees from other ships is not very healthy.  Now we simply have to understand what sum will be sufficient to motivate contractees.  We have discussed this more than once in Sovbez sessions, the Minister and Chief of the General Staff participated in this discussion.  I think here we will need to some degree to proceed from lieutenant’s pay, but for this we need to prepare so that this decision will be financially supported.  But, I repeat yet again, without modern, well-paid, socially motivated contractees in the army, nothing, of course, will occur in the Armed Forces.”

On the issue of foreign bases, he said:

“As you know, bases on the territory of foreign states aren’t created on the order of President of the Russian Federation.  For this, it’s necessary to conduct complex political-diplomatic work . . . .”

“I won’t hide from you that we have some ideas on this issue, but I won’t say them out loud for understandable reasons.  But it’s obvious that when, let’s say, support ships follow ships, this is very expensive and the expenditures are really huge.  And this is very often ineffective when this support train has to drag itself over the territory of the entire world ocean.  In this sense, our current partners have much better conditions, because they have staked out bases in the most varied parts of the world, visit and replenish themselves.  Generally, this is an issue which demands really attentive state interest.”

Light Armor Acquisition Still Undecided

RIA Novosti reports the Defense Ministry is still undecided about purchasing European-made light armor for its military vehicles.  Defense Minister Serdyukov has said Russia might buy it from a German company.

Monday Deputy Defense Minister, Armaments Chief Vladimir Popovkin visited Italian firm IVECO’s display at Eurosatory-2010 in Paris.  IVECO uses German technology in fabricating light armor. 

Popovkin said:

“Issue of acquiring light armor and technology for its fabrication still isn’t decided.  Domestic scientific-research institutes still haven’t answered us about whether they’re ready and capable of making such armor.  If they make it, then we’ll use it, if they don’t, we’ll search for ways of getting Western technology for its subsequent production in Russia.”

Popovkin also indicated leading military producers are actively developing a new class of wheeled armored vehicles.  He said in the Russian Army’s modernization there are plans to establish light, medium, and heavy brigades.  Light brigades will have wheeled, medium wheeled and tracked, and heavy only tracked vehicles.  

A RIA Novosti source said:

“A lot depends on the deployment locations of these brigades and the combat missions they’ll be given.  This will be the determining factor for supplying brigades with this or that equipment.”

As an example, he mentioned IVECO’s development of a 29-ton wheeled tank with composite armor and a 120-mm main gun.