Tag Archives: UAVs

Defense News

Some Russian defense news from August 6, 7, and 8, 2012 . . .

Sukhorukov’s Press Conference (photo: Mil.ru)

Mil.ru provided a wrap on the First Deputy Defense Minister’s press-conference on GPV-2020.

Sukhorukov “particularly turned attention” to media reports that the program’s funding will be cut.  He told journalists such a step isn’t foreseen, and the government is talking only about “optimizing” the budget load between years by using good old state-guaranteed credits for the OPK.

Sukhorukov claims 95 percent of GOZ-2012 has been contracted, and 82 percent of funds disbursed.

Arms-expo.ru also covered this story.  It emphasized Sukhorukov’s statement that the rate of defective arms delivered by producers isn’t declining.

According to RIAN, Sukhorukov said Russia won’t buy more Israeli UAVs beyond its current contract.  He reiterated the Defense Ministry believes the BMD-4M doesn’t meet its requirements, and won’t buy it.

Sukhoy reports it’s now testing the new Tikhomirov phased array radar on PAK FA, T-50-3 to be exact.  See RIAN’s story.

Sukhoy also announced that its Su-35S is in “combat employment” testing within the process of state acceptance testing at GLITs.  The company says it meets all established requirements, and has flown more than 650 times.

New Navy CINC, Vice-Admiral Chirkov made an interesting visit to the State Missile Center named for Academic V. P. Makeyev on Monday.  The Makeyev design bureau is home, of course, to liquid-fueled SLBM development.  Could not find the last time this happened.  Might be prior to 2007.

Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy told the GenProk collegium yesterday that abuse or dedovshchina in the ranks is down a third this year.  But, according to ITAR-TASS, Fridinskiy noted that general crimes exceed purely military offenses by a factor of two.  Specifically, he said murders are up by half, bribery has almost doubled, and drug offenses have increased 27 percent.

Fridinskiy also said nearly 3,000 GOZ corruption cases and losses worth 400 million rubles were investigated in the first half of this year.  He said, for example, Dagdizel received 3 billion rubles in defense orders, but hasn’t sent a single product to the military, and bought farm equipment and building materials with the money.  He cited losses in purchasing apartments for military men at inflated prices as well as the problem of unfinished housing projects.

Izvestiya claims a large number of young pilots are leaving the Air Forces because the lion’s share of increased flight hours and promised higher pay are going to their commanders and older officers.  Could this be a continuation of Igor Sulim’s travails at Lipetsk?  The paper also reports a number of cleaning companies say the Defense Ministry owes them 5 billion rubles for housekeeping work outsourced over the last year.

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Serdyukov and Baranets

Anatoliy Serdyukov (photo: Vladimir Belengurin)

Komsomolskaya pravda’s Viktor Baranets got to prompt Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov for a few statements on various topics in today’s paper.  It doesn’t seem like he really got to ask questions.

Serdyukov claims all but about 3% of GOZ-2011 has been placed, and 100% advances to the defense sector for 2012 will make for a smooth year of orders and production.  He “dodges the bullet” on not ordering Kalashnikovs.  He returns to the possibility of giving serving officers and contractees money to rent their own apartments, but this never worked well in the past.

Serdyukov says the first phase of military reform involved changing the Armed Forces’ org-shtat (TO&E) structure.  Now, he says, the second phase has begun, and it’s connected with rearming the troops.

On the state defense order (GOZ), Serdyukov says:

“During the formation of the Gosoboronzakaz, we had two issues with the defense sector — the price and quality of armaments.  We got them to open up their production “cost history.”  That is, they showed us everything transparently.  We needed to understand what they were getting and from where.  After long arguments, a compromise was found in the end.  We settled on quality criteria.  The Gosoboronzakaz is almost completely placed.  Of 580 billion rubles a little more than 20 billion was left ‘to settle.’  But we’ve also drawn conclusions from the lessons of this year.  Now the next Gosoboronzakaz will be formed in the Defense Ministry before December with such calculation that they will begin to fulfill it in January.  At the same time, we’re trying to make the Gosoboronzakaz 100% paid in advance to the defense sector.  Not another country in the world has such comfortable conditions for its VPK.”

Serdyukov says the Defense Ministry is still working on MPs, their regs, missions, training, structure, and size.  They’ll be responsible for discipline and order in garrisons and investigations.

The Defense Minister opines that Russia’s Israeli UAVs aren’t bad, but they are looking at Italian ones while domestic development continues.

Serdyukov confirmed that two new factories for producing the S-400 system will be built.  They are designed, and, he hopes, will begin production by 2015.

On tanks, the Defense Minister says they’ve taken the position that they can modernize T-72s to the level of a T-90 or better for 38 million rubles.  He believes it’s cost effective.

On the AK-74, Serdyukov claims they aren’t rejecting it, but they have depots overflowing with 17 million automatic rifles.  He says they’ll be used or modernized, some will be sold, and others transferred to other power ministries.

Serdyukov believes the draft military pay law now in the Duma will raise pensions by 50 or 60 percent.  Active military pay will be as advertised:  a lieutenant is supposed to get 50,000 or more rubles a month.  Contract enlisted will start at 25,000 or more depending on their duties.

Serdyukov hopes the problem of housing for retired servicemen will be concluded in 2013.  Then he can focus on service housing for contractees.  He proposes paying contractees to rent apartments while the Defense Ministry acquires or builds service housing.  “Apartment money” is a possibility but it has to be thought out.

Makarov’s Press-Conference (Part III)

Army General Makarov (photo: RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskiy)

Still plumbing General Staff Chief Makarov’s Monday press-conference . . .

Makarov indicated Russia’s Israeli-made UAVs will be used in the Tsentr-2011 exercise.  According to Krasnaya zvezda, he once again worked Vega over for wasting years and money without meeting the military’s requirements, forcing it to turn to Israel to obtain unmanned aircraft.

According to Interfaks, the General Staff Chief asserted Russia won’t buy anything but PGMs for its combat aircraft:

“The purchase of conventional [unguided] means has stopped.  We are buying only highly-accurate means.”

“Western countries conduct military operations almost without ground forces.  Aircraft operate outside the air defense zone and sustain minimal losses.”

Izvestiya noted, however, replacing Russia’s dumb bombs with smart weapons won’t be cheap.  Tens of thousands of rubles versus millions.  But one of the paper’s interlocutors concluded:

“The Defense Ministry believes there’s money for buying them, contracts for the first deliveries of new munitions have already been concluded.”

He estimates they will comprise perhaps half of Russia’s aviation weapons inventory by 2020.

Izvestiya quoted Ruslan Pukhov to the effect that guided ASMs made up only 1 percent of Russia’s stockpile in the five-day war with Georgia, and Russian aircraft had to brave Georgia’s air defenses on most missions, losing four Su-25, two Su-24, and a Tu-22M3.  He added, however, that a Su-34 employed an anti-radar Kh-31P to destroy a radar in Gori.

Lenta.ru recalled General-Lieutenant Igor Sadofyev’s late 2010 comments about plans for a radical increase in PGMs and UAVs in the Air Forces by 2020.  You can refresh your memory here.

Some military commentators and news outlets managed to tie together Makarov’s comments on Arab revolutions, Central Asian exercises, snipers, and sniper rifles in interesting, but not always accurate, ways.

KZ summarized Makarov pretty simply as saying the armed conflicts in Arab countries were difficult to predict, and similar events can’t be ruled out in Central Asia.  In its replay of his remarks, he said:

“. . . we should be ready for everything, therefore we are working on this in the exercises.”

So, Moscow’s pretty obviously looking at the possible repetition of a Libyan or Syrian scenario somewhere in Central Asia . . . no surprise there . . . makes sense.

Komsomolskaya pravda said:

“Our military isn’t hiding the fact that current exercises are directly linked to the probable export of military aggression from Afghanistan into the Central Asian republics after NATO troops withdraw from there.”

It cites Makarov:

“[The exercises] envision developing variants for localizing armed conflicts on the territory of these countries.”

That doesn’t really sound Libyan or Syrian, does it?  It’s not internal.  It’s good old external spillover.  Oh well, as long as it’s “localized” on someone else’s territory, and doesn’t cross Russia’s borders.

ITAR-TASS’s version of Makarov got people more spun up:

“The world situation is complex, quickly changing, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East.  It was difficult to forecast what happened in a number of countries of this region, events developed with great speed.  Now no one can say what will happen next.  But this is a signal for all states.  We military men need to be prepared for the worst scenarios.”

This led a few outlets to take the next step on their own, i.e. a repeat of the Arab scenario inside Russia.

You can read likely exaggerations of what Makarov really said in Gazeta.ru or Rbcdaily.ru.  In its version, the latter claimed Makarov didn’t exclude internal unrest following the Arab example in Russia, and the army has to be ready for the worst case scenario of political developments inside the country.

Pouring gas on the fire it lit, Rbcdaily introduced the sniper issue here.

Of course, snipers are great for urban warfare or urban unrest.  Rbcdaily’s Defense Ministry source says Makarov plans to put independent sniper platoons in every brigade.  They’ll be armed with British rifles, of course.  And the snipers themselves will have to be long-term professionals – contractees, so that’ll have to wait until the middle of next year.

Igor Korotchenko tells Rbcdaily:

“A sniper is a piece of work, he can’t be trained in a year, therefore they must absolutely be professional contractees.  We can’t count on conscript soldiers here, like in the old days when there were enough gifted guys who learned to fire the SVD well among the conscripts.”

KZ didn’t mention Makarov talking about snipers.

Just to finish this off, Makarov’s Syrian comments weren’t construed or misconstrued as much.  KZ said simply that he said Russia is not planning a military presence in Syria, nor the introduction of extra security measures at its material-technical support base in Tartus.

ITAR-TASS put it this way:

“This base remains in our hands.  Besides it, our advisors work in Syria.  That’s enough.  We don’t intend to adopt any preventative measures.  . . . we have to watch closely those forces opposing the government.  There are legal demands, and there are opposition demands which, in our view, need to be ignored because they are illegal.”

Zelin’s Press Availability

Air Forces CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Zelin made a variety of remarks to the media this morning.  It’s not clear where yet, but it might have been a press-conference at ITAR-TASS.  It’s the season for such things with Air Forces Day and MAKS-2011 just ahead.

At any rate, Zelin had a lot of information on the status of different VVS programs and plans:

  • Army aviation will expand by more than 1,000 helicopters by 2020.  The number of army aviation bases will grow from 8 to 14 during that time.  He mentioned reestablishing production of Mi-26 transports in a POL supply variant.  Zelin doesn’t sound like he’s willing to surrender the VVS’ hold on army aviation.
  • Zelin mentioned getting 8 or 6 new Su-34 this year.  ITAR-TASS gave both numbers, but we’ve seen six elsewhere.
  • The VVS CINC criticized work on the Su-35, saying it has a number of problems.  PAK FA / T-50 is going on schedule, but he wouldn’t say when he expects it to enter the inventory.
  • On UAVs, some drones will go to the Ground Troops per a Genshtab decision, but Zelin says operational-tactical unmanned aircraft will stay at air bases under the control of military district commanders.
  • Without mentioning S-500 development, Zelin talked about new Morfey and Vityaz SAMs.  Morfey is a short-range system mentioned before as part of S-500.  Zelin described Vityaz in greater detail, calling it an improvement on the S-300 with greater capabilities and 16 missiles per launcher.  See ITAR-TASS for this.
  • Zelin said there will be four S-400 regiments by the end of 2011.  He said the second one, the 210th Air Defense Regiment, went on combat duty with it last week, so two more are expected.  The CINC said the manufacturer’s had problems with the system’s long-range missile, but there is an understanding on how to resolve them.  The Air Forces, he says, still want Almaz-Antey to build another production plant.  Interfaks posted on this.
  • The next 6 Pantsir-S gun-missile air defense systems will go to the OSK VKO around Moscow.  Zelin said the first 4 went to the 4th Air Forces and Air Defense Command at Novorossiysk.
  • Another flight demonstration group will be formed using Yak-130 trainers.
  • Zelin expects to get a new A-100 AWACS aircraft, based on the Il-476, by 2016.  He says it will have both air and ground surveillance missions.  The plan has Genshtab and financial support, according to Zelin.

Serdyukov’s Year-Ender

Anatoliy Serdyukov (photo: Izvestiya / Vladimir Suvorov)

ДОРОГИЕ ЧИТАТЕЛИ ! ! !

С НОВЫМ ГОДОМ ! ! !

Thanks for reading and commenting this year.

This one could have been entitled, The Army’s Great Scourge or Reform Isn’t Utopia or We Straightened Them Out.  Great quotes, but you’ll have to read to the bottom.

Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s year-ending interview in Monday’s Izvestiya is a good read.  The paper asked some harder-hitting questions than Serdyukov normally gets.  And, though they aren’t necessarily new, his answers are pretty direct and revealing.  There are problems with a lot of them though.

Let’s look first at what Serdyukov said, then we’ll look at the deeper meaning of his answers.

Asked about this year’s command and control changes, the Defense Minister says:

“The most important thing is that we already changed the entire troop command and control system.  From one side, we tried to minimize the command and control levels; from the other side, to equip them technically.  Now the next task is before us – to tie it all into a single system so that every district commander answers not just for the ground, but also for the air, and air defense, and naval component.  The next step is we are trying to conduct exercises in such coordination between districts.  I think 2011 is key for us on this plane.”

On the decision to move to four unified strategic commands (OSKs) and cutting levels of command, Serdyukov said:

“This is the General Staff’s idea.  Before going to the president with such a proposal, we discussed this initiative since the end of 2007.  At the same time, we had conferences at various levels, consulted with experts, important military leaders, and studied international experience again – both American and NATO.  We tried to analyze the situation from every angle and arrived at the fact that this is really useful for various reasons.” 

“First and foremost, the transition to the OSK should be reflected in the controllability of the army.  A simple example:  at the beginning of the transformations, an order from me to a battalion commander had to go through 17 levels.  So you understand this influenced the speed of their transmission, and the content of the information itself.  Now we have three levels in all. If one wanted, it would be possible to calculate how much was saved both on communications nodes, and on communications systems themselves, and in speed.  And as a result – the army’s combat capability rose 50 percent.”

Asked about what will happen in combat situations now that more civilians occupy military support jobs, the Defense Minister says:

“Several factors converge into one point here, therefore, we came to the conclusion that we could and should divide directions of responsibilities – operational and support.  It’s not an accident that the Defense Minister has a first deputy – the Chief of the General Staff and a first deputy – a civilian who handles the direction connected with supporting the operational component.  Everything’s been thought out, and there won’t be any kind of failures.  Neither peacetime, nor wartime frightens us.”

On General Staff Chief Makarov’s assessment that the commander’s slovenliness caused 150 conscripts to get ill in Kemerovo, Serdyukov takes the opportunity to describe the pains he’s taken in establishing systems to monitor the implementation of military reform:

“Unfortunately, we are getting started.  Actually, when we launch any process, we try to organize the monitoring system and incentive system in the final result.  But this doesn’t always work.  We’ve established a series of structures for monitoring.  They are, for example, the financial inspectorate, which checks the use of budget resources.  Then the personnel inspectorate – occupied with the activity of every officer and civilian specialist.  There is the military inspectorate, which checks those measures which should go on in this or any military institution.  There is an organizational-inspector directorate occupied with checking fulfillment of all directives, orders, decrees, laws, etc.  This is that system of monitoring which gives the capability to influence internal army processes, and to move them.  Naturally, an entire system of regulations exists where the duties of every colleague, every sub-unit are strictly prescribed as is the corresponding period for fulfilling the orders.”

Asked about indicators of the fulfillment rate for Defense Ministry orders:

“All orders are being fulfilled.  The question is different:  are they on schedule?  And for the last half year, the picture generally doesn’t look bad.  The schedules we are establishing are holding on the whole.  Inside the ministry, we changed our entire workflow, accordingly this entailed a cut in signatories on this or that issue or project.  We are introducing electronic workflow which allows us at any stage to check how this or that directive or order is being fulfilled.”

“But there are also breakdowns.  Recently we had a collegium in Khabarovsk.  We listened to the report of an army commander who should have implemented 87 different measures, but implemented all of two.  What kind of combat readiness and discipline can you speak of if an officer doesn’t fulfill his own duties?”

“When we embarked on reform, both I personally, and many of my colleagues strove to understand:  what kind of problems really could be blocking the army’s development – housing, lack of money, lack of equipment, of soldiers?  Now there’s everything.  If you serve, then according to order 400 the money is very respectable.  We are providing housing.  There’s one hundred percent in equipment.  Almost one hundred percent – give or take one-two percent – in servicemen.  There you have it:  if you chose this profession, then serve.  But here we are stumbling over weak managerial discipline – the army’s great scourge.  And even here we’re trying, from one side, to stimulate work, and from the other – to severely demand fulfillment of service duties.”

Is Russia buying weapons abroad because the systems are really needed or is it being done out of political considerations:

“There is a certain requirement for foreign military equipment, because in a series of types of armaments, we, unfortunately, will fall behind.  Our models don’t meet the demands presented by the times.  It’s important also to understand how to formulate the tactical-technical tasks and characteristics of this or that essential production.  Therefore, we’re also trying to familiarize ourselves with those modern models of equipment and armaments which our partners have.  For this, in fact, we are buying equipment in small amounts – as in the case of UAVs.”

“However, besides equipment, it’s also necessary to have trained personnel, and a command and control system.  We don’t have many models of armaments, but to work on their development, spend time and money on their adoption is simply irrational, it’s simpler to buy, to study, and later begin to develop our own production.  Those Israeli drones gave a serious impetus to developing domestic industry.  Not long ago, the president was at the test range and there we showed him Russian models that are sufficiently reliable.  They are fully suited to us.”

“We don’t have ships like the Mistral.  We never built them.  But to try to catch up now is senseless.  We plan to buy the license and technical documentation for their production.  Moreover, there’s an agreement that, starting with the third ship, we’ll build the helicopter carriers in Russia.”

Doesn’t such an approach hurt Russia’s defense industry?  Wouldn’t it be better to finance and support our own enterprises:

“In the new state program of armaments, for four years, we laid out 600 billion rubles which will be allocated according to a new credit system for enterprises under a government guarantee.  Now  discussion is going quite actively on the subject of how this should happen, with what credit requirements and conditions.  This is one of the forms of financing which has a relationship not so much to support of enterprises as to the system of paying the state defense order itself.  It allows for transferring the load from the second half of the GPV to the first and vice versa.  Or to take off the peak load, meanwhile working out forms of active participation in financing by the Ministry of Finance and the banking system.  Incidentally, the reaction is fully positive, we already have trials with the largest banks – with Sberbank and VTB.”

On inter-ethnic conflicts in units and the possibility of creating nationality-based units:

“This isn’t today’s or yesterday’s problem.  If the commander fulfills his duties completely, then time and energy for conflicts simply won’t remain.  If they’re occupied with physical training for a minimum of four hours a day in every unit , and the remaining time is combat training, as it’s stipulated, then no kind of misunderstandings will arise.  It’s not important where you’re from, which nationality, and religion, if you just fall in your rack after exercises.  The problem again is in the commanders.  Some of them are simply estranged from working with personnel – they see that there are many physically strong, willful guys in the unit, and give over control of the barracks to them.  But those ones become abusers.”

What happens with commanders like these:

“We’ll dismiss them, get others.  An officer must be physically and morally very well prepared and engender only respect.”

Has the army rid itself of dedovshchina with the move to one-year service:

“We now are trying to get away from this term.  There is no longer such a phenomenon.  There is simply hooliganism, crude violation of the law.  If a man served three months, what kind of ‘ded’ is he?  The roots of dedovshchina are much deeper than commonly believed.  In Soviet times, when people served three-five years, then it was the rule:  a man just called up, and a man looking at demob in six months, have different training.  Here then is this phenomenon, really, and its origin.  Now this is pure hooliganism, legally punishable crime which we have fought and will fight without compromise.  Here it’s important that the commander in the sub-unit should fulfill his duties completely.  Then there can’t be any kind of conflicts by definition.”

Asked about accidents with munitions dismantlement over the last year, and how is the problem being resolved now, Serdyukov says:

“The problem is very serious.  For long years, munitions were stockpiled to excess, calculated for a multimillion-man army.  Besides, in the last twenty years, virtually no attention was given to combat training and firings, but the norms of munitions stockpiling remained as before.  As a result, so much ended up in excess that we have work for several years.  To dismantle them by industrial methods is quite complex – there aren’t enough enterprises.  Besides, this is very expensive and not safer than destruction.”

“Therefore, we’re now preparing special teams, certifying equipment, and selecting officers.  They mainly need to be combat engineers.  We’re picking ranges.  We’ve figured where, in what volume, and what we need to blow up, and worked out safe techniques.  We need at a minimum two, maybe three years of such work.  Yes, this will create some temporary discomfort and difficulties.  But it’s impossible to not do this.  If the entire arsenal at Ulyanovsk had blown up, the trouble would have been much more serious.”

Asked about demographic problems, a potential shortage of conscripts, and possibly cutting more deferments, the Defense Minister answered:

“We won’t revoke anything.  As far as demographic problems go, it goes without saying that they exist and we will take them into account.  How do we solve this problem?  I think if the country’s financial situation allows, then we will still try to return the issue of a contract army.  No one has revoked this program, we didn’t realize it because of a lack of resources.  We haven’t  rejected the idea itself.”

Serdyukov tells his interviewers flat out, there’s no longer opposition to his reforms in the army.  What happened to his opponents:

“We straightened them out.  Of course, this was difficult, especially at first.  Now a team of like-minded people has been laid down which itself is generating reform ideas.  Something’s already started to come from it.  People see this and understand:  reform is not utopia, but completely concrete matters.”

After four difficult years in the Defense Ministry, where does Serdyukov see himself:

“I still haven’t finished my service, so I can’t begin to talk about what’s been achieved and what hasn’t.  We’re now in a transitional phase.  There’s not a single direction of the ministry’s activity that modernization, the transition to a new profile wouldn’t affect.  We are working everywhere – in all spheres:  armaments, scientific-research activity, education, organization of daily service, military-technical cooperation.  I can’t say now what we’ll succeed in, and in which direction we’ll lag.  It seems to me that everything’s going pretty well.  We’re on schedule, there’s no deviating.”

Let’s deconstruct some of this shall we? 

Serdyukov and company seem to be obsessed with eliminating layers.  You know sometimes redundancy is good, and prevents making mistakes.  In a net-centric army, every layer sees the picture, but doesn’t necessarily have it for action.  It’s very hard to believe Serdyukov’s claim that just cutting command levels increased combat capability 50 percent when you look at everything that’s factored into the Russian definition of combat capability. 

Yes, we know operational and support stovepipes have been created.  But Serdyukov completely dodges the question of what happens when the combat tooth depends on a civilian tail.  There are obviously answers to this, but the Russians aren’t accustomed to this.  He brushes it off saying there just simply won’t be any failures.  That’s reassuring.

 On the soldiers in Kemerovo and slovenliness, Serdyukov goes a bit non-sequitur.  It’s great hearing about his monitoring system and the implementation of orders, etc.  One wonders, however, if electronic workflow in the Defense Ministry was as important as many things that needed to happen in the troops this year.  But then it gets really interesting.  We start to hear in Serdyukov’s words some of the animus he has for officers.  Why did he ever have such an army commander as the one he vilifies?  He really lays into officers, saying he’s given them everything they need now, they just need to do their jobs.

Serdyukov really avoids the question on buying arms abroad and hurting domestic producers.  He monologues about some convoluted credit provision scheme for paying out the GOZ.  This issue of real money for producers to make weapons and equipment is significant.  Even with the GOZ and a new GPV in place, all anyone can talk about is extending credit to the OPK in 2011.  Hmmm, interesting.

He blames commanders again for inter-ethnic conflicts in the army.  If they were doing their jobs, it couldn’t happen.  If they just wore the boys out properly, it wouldn’t occur.  There is some truth in this, yes, but it’s more complex than just that.  But saying any more might have taken the Defense Minister into a social and political minefield.

On dedovshchina, again Serdyukov blames officers for not taking care of the problem.  Serdyukov’s insistence on just talking about hooliganism makes some sense, yes, but there is still dedovshchina going on.  And, by the way, dedovshchina was never just purely hazing, making the juniors do the crappy jobs; it always had more violence, abuse, and crime in it than Serdyukov is willing to allow.

Serdyukov doesn’t say how he’s addressing the real civil-military relations problem he’s got in Chelyabinsk with regard to the explosions at Chebarkul.  But at least it’s a little like the problems his counterparts face in normal countries, and one has to credit him for taking on a lingering military problem all his predecessors simply ignored.

Wow, is Serdyukov cocky on vanquishing his opponents in the military!  He ought to watch it, it could come back on him.  But as we’ve seen, large-scale, public political demonstrations are going to come from other sources (i.e. the soccer fan bunt or pogrom).  The purely military ones (i.e. the Russian Airborne Union, etc.) tend to be more farcical.  But veterans and even serving officers could provide critical mass in a bigger social protest.  And there’s always the chance that some disaffected Kvachkov could fire a grenade at the Defense Minister’s limo.  Yes, yes, I can hear you — this is just by way of playing out one scenario on what could happen in the future.

One has to respect Serdyukov’s reticence to judge his legacy right now.  It may be possible he’ll leave the big marble building on the Arbat one day thinking how much he’s changed everything, thinking he’s a 21st century Dmitriy Milyutin.  And he may be, at least in comparison with any other choice.  He is making essential changes, and some progress.  More than this analyst thought he would back in early 2007.  But, on close inspection of the military, we may discover that less will actually have changed and improved than we think right now.

How much longer will Serdyukov continue in this burn-out job?  He’s pretty stoic, but he’s definitely more frayed than 4 years ago.  The issue probably comes down to the larger context of the Putin-Medvedev tandem and team — changes in high-level personnel could be more difficult now with every passing day.  Perhaps Serdyukov will remain through a fifth year, and the seating of the next Russian president.

It’s a great interview.  We got some real insight into the Defense Minister’s thinking.  Never could have gotten this 20 or 30 years ago.

Litovkin on What the GPV Will Buy

Viktor Litovkin (photo: RIA Novosti)

Returning to procurement and the GPV . . . in this week’s Delovoy vtornik, NVO’s Viktor Litovkin also asks what will 19 trillion rubles be spent on. 

He says the answer isn’t simple.  During the last 20 years of ‘starvation rations,’ the armed forces got handfuls of essential combat equipment, and, meanwhile, a dangerous imbalance between strike and combat support systems was created.  And this was obvious against Georgia in 2008. 

Litovkin says this imbalance has to be corrected, meanwhile priorities like strategic nuclear forces can’t be forgotten – not just the offensive triad, but also the missile attack early warning system (SPRN), missile defense (PRO), and aerospace defense (VKO). 

Like Viktor Yesin of late, Litovkin asks how Russia will replace its aging strategic offensive arms to stay up to the limits of the Prague / New START agreement.  Half the Russian force is SS-18, SS-19, and SS-25 ICBMs which will be retired in 7-10 years.  Moscow needs to build 400 strategic systems to replace them.  He doesn’t even mention Delta III and IV SSBNs and their aging SLBMS.  And Russia has only the SS-27, RS-24 Yars, Sineva, and Bulava to replace them. 

Litovkin expects a very large amount of money to be spent not just on replacing strategic systems, but also reequipping the enterprises that produce them. 

He turns to his second priority – also demonstrated by the Georgian war – precision-guided weapons, which in turn depend on reconnaissance-information support and equipment in space, on long-range surveillance aircraft [AWACS], and UAVs. 

Priority three – automated command and control systems (ASU).  He cites Popovkin on linking all service C2 systems into one system over 2-3 years. 

Litovkin says you can’t forget about the Navy, but he mentions just the Borey-class SSBNs, and the need for a wide range of surface ships.  And he makes the point [made by many] that Mistral is all well and good, but it’ll have to have multipurpose combatants operating in its battle group.  They need to be built, and they won’t cost a small amount of money. 

One can’t forget aviation either.  Litovkin cites a $100 million per copy cost for 60 fifth generation fighters [that’s a significant 180-billion-ruble bite out of the GPV].  He notes Vega is working on an updated Russian AWACS (A-100).  And, like Korotchenko, he mentions transport aircraft, but also combat and support helicopters. 

And so, says Litovkin, the question arises – isn’t the country putting out a lot of money to rearm its army? 

Viktor Litovkin (photo: Ekho Moskvy)

Being bold, he says, not really.  He actually uses that accursed 22 trillion figure, which is procurement for all power ministries.  If he used 19 trillion, it would be 1.9 trillion or $63 billion per year for Russia against $636 billion for the U.S., $78 billion for China, $58 billion for the U.K., and $51 billion for Japan.  But he doesn’t say this is annual procurement, the GPV, against the total annual defense budget for these other countries.  A bit of comparing one piece of pie to a whole pie.  Nevertheless, he concludes this makes Russia far from champion when it comes to military expenditures. 

Litovkin’s last word is Russia will remain one of the G8 with a powerful, combat capable, and effective army, but without it, only a raw materials appendage of either the West or East. 

But one wonders, hasn’t Russia long been in the G8 without that kind of armed forces?  Doesn’t breaking away from the raw materials supplier role have more to do with developing an open, attractive, innovative, value-added, and competitive economy (and a political system and society to match) than with military power? 

What Will GPV 2011-2020 Buy?

Russian military procurement policy is an obvious focus of what you read here, and there’s lots to write about on this score lately – the GPV, defense budget, OPK modernization and innovation, etc.  It’s not possible to capture it all at once.  Here’s a start, and hopefully it will lead to broader insights later.

Writing for his latest project – the Center for the Analysis of the World Arms Trade (TsAMTO or ЦАМТО), Igor Korotchenko addressed what the new GPV might buy.  His article was picked up by VPK.name, and then a somewhat truncated version ran in Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye.  He uses the 22 trillion ruble figure rather than the 19 trillion for the armed forces specifically.  Not that it matters since it’s a wag at best anyway.

In his first broad swipe, Korotchenko forecasts that Russia will buy 500 new aircraft, 1,000 helicopters, and 200 air defense systems among other arms and equipment over the 2011-2020 period.  He admits, even with a fairly generous procurement budget [if approved and fully disbursed every year], it will be impossible to buy everything each service and branch will need after 20 years of very small-scale procurement.

And this is exactly, of course, the point that Popovkin’s deputy, General-Lieutenant Oleg Frolov was making when he argued for 36 trillion . . . .

So, they can’t have everything and will have to prioritize.  Korotchenko gives it a whack, maybe not satisfactory, but it’s a start:

  • Strategic nuclear forces;
  • Precision-guided weapons;
  • Automated command and control systems (ASU);
  • Aircraft;
  • Air and missile defense (PVO / PRO).

Korotchenko doesn’t talk specifics about his first two priorities. On the third, he calls for a unitary military C2 system to enable Russian netcentric warfare.  On aircraft, he somewhat surprisingly emphasizes transport aircraft to move Russia’s million-man army between strategic axes as needed.  And Korotchenko lists PVO / PRO without further commentary.

He supports efforts to overcome Russia’s lag in UAVs, ships, individual protective equipment and soldier systems, and armored vehicles through cooperation with Israel, France, Germany, and Italy.

Then Korotchenko turns back to aircraft, saying they are the thing that will indicate what kind of armed forces Russia will have in 2020.  Based on what’s been said publicly, he counts:

  • An-124 Ruslan — 20
  • An-70 — 50
  • Il-476 — 50
  • Il-112B — ??
  • Su-35S — 48  
  • Su-27SM — 12
  • Su-30MK2 — 4
  • PAK FA — 60
  • Su-34 — 32, possibly 60-80 more
  • Su-25UBM / Su-25TM — 10, possibly 20 more
  • MiG-35 — 30
  • MiG-29SMT / MiG-29UB — 20-30
  • MiG-29K / MiG-29KUB –26, possibly 22 more
  • Yak-130UBS — 120
  • New airborne early warning aircraft — 2-3
  • Be-200PS — 8-10

In all, he summarizes, about 500-600 aircraft by 2020.

Korotchenko doesn’t talk money, so we’ll have to think about what this would cost.  In terms of what’s covered, he’s only talked only about RVSN and Air Forces’ requirements.  You can be sure the Ground Troops, Navy, VDV, and Space Troops have their own lists.  Maybe Korotchenko will address them.

Beyond what they say they need, there are two issues.  Can they buy it all, or at least how much of it?  And, second, can the OPK produce it?  Korotchenko doesn’t get us too far into any of this.