Tag Archives: Vityaz

Ashurbeyli Interviewed (Part I)

Igor Ashurbeyli (photo: RIA Novosti / Sergey Pyatakov)

Former Almaz-Antey General Director Igor Ashurbeyli gave RIA Novosti a long interview published on Monday.  Ashurbeyli was replaced at Almaz-Antey in early 2011, and he’s now a co-chair of the “Extradepartmental Expert Council on Aerospace Defense.”

He’s an accessible figure, having had extended sessions with the media in 2010 and 2009.  And his view of things has been pretty consistent.

This most recent Ashurbeyli interview spawned a number of sound bites saying that the former lead designer (among other things): 

  • called for establishing an overarching VKO industrial concern; 
  • offered the S-500 for European missile defense; and
  • said S-300 production has ended.

He actually had a lot more to say that might be worth a look.

Asked about Moscow’s anti-missile defense, Ashurbeyli replied that the service life of some Russian strategic interceptor missiles expired, while others [53T6 or Gazelle missiles] had their nuclear warheads removed per the decision of former President Yeltsin. 

Then Ashurbeyli gets to his point — the need for a new anti-missile defense (PRO) led to work on the mobile S-500 system.  Under the contract, it’s supposed to be accepted into the arsenal in 2015.  A schematic draft is complete, and technical design is being conducted.

On air defense, he says the S-300 and S-400 cover Moscow, but the service life of S-300PS systems will expire in the next year or two, and the new Vityaz system won’t be ready to take its place in the PVO network.

Ashurbeyli adds that Vityaz is expected in 2014-2015, but delays are possible due to problems with the new missile.

But, insists the former Almaz-Antey chief, there have never been any technical problem with the long-range missile for the S-400.  He says the problems have involved financing, preparing prototypes, and targets.  More targets and an updated target complex were needed.  And he foresees possibly the same problems with Vityaz testing.

Ashurbeyli tells his interviewer Vityaz, unlike the S-400, has just one base missile.  It will cover the same missions as the S-300PS and S-300PM.  The latter were last manufactured in 1994, and several dozen of the “freshest” will still have life for the next 7-10 years.  Most were updated to the Favorit (S-300PMU2) level but they aren’t new.  So, Ashurbeyli concludes, Russia needs to produce enough Vityaz to replace fully its S-300PS and S-300PM inventory.

The interviewer says relatively less has been written about Morfey.  Ashurbeyli obliges.  Morfey, he says, is a super short-range system and part of Russia’s echeloned defense.  While Vityaz is a medium-range system, and Pantsir and Tor are short-range weapons, Morfey is super short-range.  If developed as envisioned, Morfey will be unique.  It will have an omnidirectional cupola-type radar instead of a rotating one.

In sum, Ashurbeyli believes Morfey, Vityaz, S-400, and S-500 will be sufficient for the ground-based component of VKO for 20-25 years.  The tasks for Morfey and Vityaz were set in 2007 when the VPK decided to develop a single fifth generation surface-to-air PVO-PRO system.  The more complex S-500, he notes, will be longer in development.

More later.

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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.

Kornukov’s VKO Concept

In Izvestiya yesterday, Dmitriy Litovkin wrote that today Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov will receive a new, large-scale concept for establishing Russia’s global aerospace defense system for his review. 

According to Litovkin, the concept’s drafters picked 9 August because it’s the 60th anniversary of the USSR Council of Ministers decision to create the Soviet strategic air defense system.  He adds that Izvestiya is the first to study this just now declassified seven-page document.  It called for Soviet designers to develop an air defense system for Moscow codenamed ‘Berkut,’ in an improbably short period of two and a half years.

Litovkin quotes former Air Forces CINC Anatoliy Kornukov:

“Today we’ve developed and given the Defense Ministry an analogous document, setting down goals and tasks in the area of developing the country’s VKO system – this is a draft of a presidential decree on establishing VKO.”

In this case, the ‘we’ is the Extradepartmental Expert Council for Air-Space Defense (VKO) Problems, which Kornukov chairs.

Of course, Kornukov is a well-known critic of the state of Russia’s current aerospace defenses, who also advises air defense system producer Almaz-Antey.  One might, therefore, logically conclude that Kornukov’s concept will accord with Almaz-Antey’s current plans.

Litovkin goes on to relate stories of Laventiy Beria’s and his son’s involvement in those early air defense development efforts, and the prize money offered to the designers and their teams.

He tells about the Soviet / Russian A-35 and A-135 nuclear-armed ABM interceptors made obsolete by the S-400.  The S-400 he describes as a direct successor to the S-300, but with modern electronics:

“The tactical-technical characteristics of the S-400 were confirmed in the course of large-scale exercises ‘Combat Commonwealth-2009’ and ‘West-2009.’  S-400 combat crews successfully destroyed targets analogous to modern and future air attack systems.  The correctness of the Defense Ministry’s decision on creating air-space defense brigades was confirmed at the same time.”

Litovkin quotes Almaz-Antey Chief Igor Ashurbeyli:

“In modern conditions even the S-400, if you go the way of endless modernization, will end up in a technical dead end.  The system is indisputably effective, it will be modernized in the future, but up to a certain reasonable limit.  Its combat potential will be raised, but it won’t go beyond the bounds of ‘conventional’ PVO-PRO systems.  Today we have the mission of covering the country from the greatest number of potential threats.  On the Defense Ministry’s order, we’ve started development of the fundamentally new S-500 system.”

As stated many times, Litovkin notes the S-500 is to complete development by 2015, but its characteristics haven’t been disclosed, beyond it having a new active X-band phased array radar.  Supplemental short- and medium-range SAMs (Morfey and Vityaz) will be developed.  The S-400, S-500, and these systems are supposed to cover ranges from 5 to 400 kilometers, at heights from 5 meters to near space.