"The Soviet knight is dying inside his armor.
You are in danger only from our lies."
John le Carre "The Russia House" - 1991
A New Arms Race??
|Stratgic Rocket Forces|
|RS-24 SS-29 - Barguzin||RS-22 - RT-23 - SS-24 - SCALPEL replacement||Barguzin was not included in the State Armament Program (GPO) until 2027 [GPV-2027]. The trial design work has been carried out and the catapult test had been carried out successfully. If there is an urgent need, the missile train could be quickly put into service. However, it will be placed on hold for the time being.|
|F-22 stealth fighter|
|no more than one PAK-FA squadron, buying Su-35S instead, and the Su-30SM wil gradually replace its predecessor the Su-27|
Long Range Aviation
|B-21 Long Range Strike|
|deferred in favor of Tu-160 restart|
|C-17 transport aircraft|
|Project fell apart after Ukraine pulled out, leaving not much more than a slogan for an IL-76 upgrade|
"Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks" - PAK - is a strange phrase, as "Perspektivnyi" directly translates as "promising", whereas "prospective" or "future" might be more appropriate.
|Project 677 submarine||replacement for the popular KILO submarine, with a surface displacement of only 1,750 tons compared to 2,300, and faster... aimed at export market||taking forever, given ambitious goals - first unit comissioned in 2005 but still in trials in 2016. Only two to be built, foreign customers not interested in unproven and increasingly antiquated design.|
|Project 22350 Gorshkov||4,500 ton frigate||taking forever - first unit launched in 2010 but still on trials in early 2016|
|Project 11356 Grigorovich||3,900 ton frigate||a Krivak design from the 70's - construction of project 11356 stopped after the 3rd vessel due to non-delivery by Ukraine of gas turbine engines.|
|Heavy Ground Combat Vehicles|
|T-14 Armata main battle tank||
|T-15 (Object 149) heavy infantry combat vehicle||
|2S35 Koalitsiya-SV Self-Propelled Howitzer||
||SPH turret seen mounted on T-72 chasis, but as of early 2016 still not seen on Armata chassis|
|Medium Ground Combat Vehicles, Tracked|
|Kurganets-25 medium infantry combat vehicle||
||Russian Defense Ministry is due to receive over 200 new BMP-3 before the end of 2017|
|Medium Ground Combat Vehicles, Wheeled|
|Bumerang medium infantry combat vehicle||
||BTR-82 remains in very active production|
|Light Ground Combat Vehicles, Wheeled|
||so far, only samples|
The new Russian arms race started slow and petered out fast. Putin's Russia announced a series of ambitious arms programs to develop new counterparts to many Western systems. But by 2015 these new inititatives had largely fizzeled. Experts estimated that in 2005, 70-80 percent of Russian military equipment was obsolete. Many weapons systems production have fallen behind schedule, are turning out poor quality equipment, or have major cost overruns.
Russia's steps in 2008 to flex its military muscles were designed both to impress the Russian public in an election year that Putin had re-established Russia as a major player on the world stage, and to underscore that Russia will no longer engage NATO and the West from a position of weakness. Putin's "2020" speech to Russia's State Council 08 February 2008 accused the "most developed countries" of starting a new arms race, and claimed Russia would invest the necessary resources to begin production of new weapons. But inflation, inefficiency, corruption and, above all, Russia's lack of a modern strategic military doctrine and leaders to implement it continue to erode efforts to realize Putin's goal of modern, effective armed forces.
In his February 8 "2020" speech, Putin said "finally, Russia has returned to the world stage as a strong state, a country that others heed and that can stand up for itself." He stressed that in response to "new challenges," Russia would begin production of new types of weapons, the quality of which would be "as good and in some cases even surpass those of other countries." He also emphasized that Russia would rethink its strategy on how the Armed Forces were organized, and work to improve the quality and reputation of military service.
The Russians stopped buying new military hardware with the end of the Cold War, and only resumed aquisition on a modest scale after 2010. So the Russians now are increasingly keen to find enemies and threats everywhere [Georgia, Poland, America, etc] to justify a major increase in procurement of military hardware. The Russian problem is four-fold:
- If Russia does not undertake a massive increase in military spending soon, their military will be about as capable as the Pope's Switzers - nice to look at, but no threat to anyone. This the Party of Power does not like to contemplate. The armored forces are equipped with a large number of tanks of various kinds, but very few meet modern standards. The average Russian tank is over 20 years old, and a significant number are 40 years and older. Much the same can be said of Russian combat aircraft, which were for the most part designed in the 1970s and built in the 1980s.
- Since the end of the Cold War, Russian defense industry has largely relied on international sales to stay in business. During the Cold War it was said that American military hardware was 10 years ahead of the Soviets and 25 years ahead of the Chinese. Now the Chinese have pulled just ahead of the Russians [the Chinese seem to have more Flankers than the Russians], the latest CHICOM guided missile destroyer has RCS reduction features like the US Arleigh Burke, but more extensive than anything on a Russian major surface combatant, and the CHICOM ASAT test in Jan 2007 was a more sophisticated technology than anything the Soviets ever tested, etc etc. Having sold the Chinese the store and the factory, Russian industry is losing their best customers. By 2004, India had become the owner of a larger number of modern Russian tanks than the Russian army itself. India had 310 modern T-90s, while Russia had no more than 150 T-90s at that time. By 2008 Russia had 321 Su-27 Flankers, and plan to buy no more. The Chinese had 420 Su-27 Flankers, and planned to buy hundreds more. Russia's arms exports grew from less than $3 billion in 2000 to $6.1 billion in 2007. At that time Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms exporter, had around $20 billion worth of contracts, which would ensure the operation of defense-industry enterprises for another five to seven years. But the end of Russian reliance on international sales to sustain the industrial base is in sight. A total of 237 billion rubles (US$ 8.8 billion) was set aside for military arms and equipment in 2006, as compared with 183 billion rubles (US$ 6.7 billion) the previous year.
- The longer the erosion of the Russian defense industrial base is allowed to continued, the more difficult it will be to halt and reverse the decay. A substantial fraction of the workforce drifted away some time ago, in search of better career opportunities, and those who remain are generally older workers contemplating retirement. Part of the problem is the lack of subcontractors and skilled personnel able to carry out Russia's ambitious projects. Safranchuk explained that during the 1990s' cutbacks in defense spending, many subcontractors went out of business or scaled back production lines dramatically due to lack of orders. Specialty and highly-skilled workers left for other fields. There is a major effort to bring production lines back into service, but it would be years before they are able to operate at the necessary capacity. Similarly, there are efforts to increase technical training and provide incentives for young Russians to enter technical fields, but again it is a long-term process. Increasingly elderly design and production facilities are suited for legacy weapons, rather than world standard designs. Oil and natural gas exports have had the perverse effect of encouraging the imports of European manufactured goods, leading to the de-industralization of the Russian economy. The emerging Russian Rust Belt cannot sustain a world class machine tool industry, which would be the foundation on which a Russian arms industry might be revived.
- Oil and natural gas revenues will not solve this problem. Petroleum revenues to the Russian state budget total about $100 billion annually, with no substantial increase in prospect, and decline forecast by some. The Russian military budget has doubled in recent years, from $25 billion in 2006 to $50 billion in 2009. But this compares to a US military budget of over $600 billion annually. In 2006 2006 a new state armaments program, which will span 2007-2015, was agreed upon for an estimated 4.9 trillion rubles (US$186 billion). OF that total, 63% [$117 B] was to be allocated over nine years for the procurement of modern weapons and euipment and 27% [[$69 B]] towards defense research and development. In Fiscal Year 2007, the US defense budget for that year alone was $134 Billion for procurement and $77 Billion for research and development.
- A little money will not solve this problem, only a lot more money will have much impact. Today's Russia is saddled with the Cold War defense industrial base of the Soviet era. The vast majority of enterprises that were designing and producing weapons when the Cold War ended have continued in this line of work, only at a vastly reduced [and thus extremely inefficient] pace. The military contest with the West was a great burden on the Soviet economy in no small measure due to the extreme inefficiency of Soviet defense industry. In retrospect, the debate over the magnitude of the Soviet defense effort must be seen as an argument over the efficiency of Soviet defense industry. It was not a debate over outputs [tanks, planes, etc], but rather over the efficiency with which economic inputs were translated into these outputs. The "hawks" who argued that the Soviets were spending a substantially greater fraction of their GDP on their military were contending, in essence, that Soviet defense industry was extremely in-efficient, while the "doves" assumed that Soviet defense industry was extremely efficient. The hawks were right, and Russian defense industry is extremly in-efficient compared to that of the Soviet Union.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Mar 12, 2016 that budget cuts prompted by Russia's economic difficulties will not impact Moscow's military modernization plans. He made the remarks during an address to Russia's top military authorities as well as top executives of the country's arms industries. Putin said the military received hundreds of new warplanes, missiles and armored vehicles last year as part of the Kremlin's weapons upgrade program. He also revealed that in the past year, the Russian military had received 96 new aircraft, 81 helicopters, 152 air defense systems, 291 radars as well as over 400 armored vehicles and artillery systems. Putin said Russian defense industries have significantly reduced their dependence on imports, but continue to remain reliant on some foreign-manufactured parts.
Hopes for the fielding of the BMPT were dashed in 2010 when the Russian MoD announced that funding for BMPT had been cancelled. Initially, it was reported that cause of the cancellation stemmed from the Russian defense minister’s (at the time, Anatoly Serdyukov) desire to build a more “Western” military. In short order, the BMPT, BTR-90 and further T-90S tank acquisitions were all cancelled. In 2011, the T-95 Black Eagle program was cancelled, but the cancellation was attributed to the development of a new universal chassis, the Armata, which was intended to incorporate many of the T-95’s features.
In early 2018, Putin announced that Russia was well underway in upgrading its strategic defenses amid NATO's increasing deployments by Russia's borders, US efforts to build a missile defense shield in Europe, and Washington's plans spend over a trillion dollars to modernize the country's nuclear arsenal.
In early July 2018, deputy prime minister in charge of the defense and space industry, Yuri Borisov, listed half a dozen new Russian weapons systems already deployed or in the final stages of development, which he said were superior to existing and prospective foreign analogues. These, he said, include the Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, the T-14 main battle tank, built on the Armata platform, the Su-57 fifth-gen stealth fighter, the S-500 air defense system, the Nudol anti-ballistic missile defense system, and the Tirada-2S satellite jamming system. All these systems are expected to begin seeing large-scale deliveries to the military by 2027.
Later in July 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry released videos of the testing and/or deployment of six new Russian weapons systems, including the Sarmat, the Poseidon nuclear torpedo, the Burevestnik nuclear cruise missile, the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile, the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, and the Peresvet laser system.
The Russia House
In Moscow, a sheaf of military secrets changes hands. If it arrives at its destination, and if its import is understood, the consequences could be cataclysmic. Barley Blair is a down-at-heels, jazz-loving London publisher impresses a dissident Soviet physicist during a drunken evening at a Moscow Book Fair. The physicist attempts to have Barley publish his insider's study purporting to prove Soviet defense systems are unworkable.
The Soviet scientist wants to pass on some vital information: the West has nothing to fear – not because the USSR is a peace-loving power, but because their rockets cannot reliably hit their targets. “Our [Soviet] backwardness is our greatest military secret.”
Washington and London should rejoice, right? Think again – vested interests would be seriously threatened if the menace from the East were to disappear. While the West feared Soviet power, the military-industrial state derived its justification from that very threat.
British intelligence steps in. Barley, after extensive vetting by both MI5 and the CIA, is made the go-between for further invaluable information. Along the way it has an explosive impact on the lives of three people: a Soviet physicist burdened with secrets; a beautiful young Russian woman to whom the papers are entrusted; and Barley Blair, a bewildered English publisher pressed into service by British Intelligence to ferret out the document's source.
The evocation of Moscow at the end of the Soviet era captures the city’s decay, despair and dysfunction, memorably evoked in the hospital ward where a phone remains untapped chiefly because it has been forgotten. The clinic was “designed by Dante and built by Franz Kafka.”
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