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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Arsenal of the 21st Century: With What Weapons Will Russia Greet the 21st Century? This Is a Vital Question That Is Determining the Fate of the Russian Defense Industry

by Aleksandr Pikayev
in Russian No 39, Sep 94 (Signed to press 27 Sep 94) pp 12-14

The experience of Russian policy of the reform period gives us the opportunity to predict the basic military-political priorities for the near future. Among them are joint maintenance, with other former Soviet republics, of stability within the Eurasian space by strengthening Russia's special role there.

Furthermore, Russia will continue a gradual rapprochement with the West. The goal is the insurance of maximum security and also access to the West's financial resources, its technologies and new markets.

And, finally, it is probable that the leading countries of the Third World will be viewed as a balance to the West's dominant role. However, the rapid strengthening of some of these states, first of all the Asian states, is capable, on the contrary, of accelerating Russian drift in the direction of Western military-political alliances.

All of this will, in the final analysis, determine changes in the structure of the armed forces and in the content of future weapons production programs.

Strategic Offensive Weapons

From all appearances, Russia will do everything within its power to attempt to maintain approximate parity with the United States. Strategic offensive weapons that are comparable to American strategic offensive weapons will permit Moscow to maintain its superpower status and also will not let go of the trump cards that are so necessary with regard to the new world "centers of power" that are gaining strength.

Impressive strategic nuclear forces will help Russia to preserve a special role in the eyes of the now sole overseas superpower and, isn't it paradoxical, will promote a continuous dialogue between Moscow and Washington and further progress in their mutual relations.

The structure of Russian strategic offensive weapons (SOW) will be changed under the influence of, first of all, the consequences of the disintegration of the USSR and, secondly, of the START I and START II treaties. Although neither of them has yet gone into effect, they have already had an impact on the planning of Russian nuclear programs.

Loss of the two largest Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile production plants and four missile bases in Ukraine and in Kazakhstan along with treaty limitations will result in the fact that, already at the beginning of the next century, the ground component of the strategic nuclear forces will lose its significance as the foundation of the Russian strategic forces. More than 700 of the more than 1,000 intercontinental ballistic missiles that were deployed on Russian territory in the middle of 1991 must be eliminated by the beginning of the 21st Century due to the expiration of operating periods and in accordance with treaties. The number of warheads on them will be reduced by a factor of 4-5.

According to the terms of the START II Treaty, the sides are authorized to have only single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles. Among them are the only type of missile that Russia has -- the SS-25 ground mobile missile that is manufactured at the machine building plant at Votkinsk. Furthermore, a portion of the multiple-warhead silo-based SS-19 systems that have "excess" warheads removed from them can remain in the inventory.

According to various assessments, there are from 400 to 500 such missiles in Russia and Belorussia at the present time when the provisions of the START II Treaty permit us to have over 1,000. In other words, during the course of the next 10 years, both of the intercontinental missile production enterprises remaining in Russia will be able to produce no less than 500 new "items". Instead of the SS-25, the plant at Votkinsk can begin the production of an improved mobile system and the Plant imeni Khrunchev in Moscow could produce silo-based single-warhead missiles.

In the event of the implementation of the START II Treaty, for the first time the largest number of warheads will be concentrated in the naval component of the strategic forces even though the number of strategic missile submarines will be reduced by a factor of three by the end of the century (entirely due to obsolete systems). However, structural changes will not be so profound here in order to supply enterprises at Severodvinsk, Zlatoust, and Krasnoyarsk with enough orders for the construction of new submarines and sea-based ballistic missiles.

After the removal of "excess" warheads, the newest missiles of this type, the SS-N-18 and SS-N-23, that are deployed on "Kalmar", "Tayfun" and "Delfin" class submarines, respectively, will completely fill the limits prescribed by the treaty and will remain in the inventory for no less than 10 years. So, tests of a new type of these missiles can be delayed as a minimum until the end of the 1990's.

As for heavy bombers, after the disintegration of the USSR, a large portion of the most modern aircraft turned out to be outside Russia's borders. At the same time, the START II Treaty permits Moscow to deploy a significant number of warheads on aircraft delivery systems. With the withdrawal of obsolete Tu-95K systems from the force composition, Russia could place a weighty order at Kazan Aircraft Production Combine which would provide the opportunity to nearly double the number of Tu-160 heavy bombers on hand (including Ukrainian).

Despite that, according to certain data, Russia has not produced a single new strategic bomber since the middle of 1992. Mobile intercontinental missiles and submarines are quite vulnerable for a surprise disarming strike when located at bases and in hangars and therefore ensuring the survivability of the strategic nuclear forces acquires increasing significance. We need to increase the effectiveness of the early warning system (ground-based and space components) and preserve a certain number of silo-based intercontinental missiles The anticipated radical "shift to the sea" of Russian offensive weapons requires the fundamental improvement of the strategic submarine command, control and communications system. The problem consists of the fact that, due to imperfections in the command, control and communications system, missile submarines -- in the event of the destruction of the supreme high command -- can generally find themselves incapable of conducting a retaliatory strike which makes their very existence senseless. This can be prevented by constructing super-low frequency communications centers and mobile and hardened command posts, as well as through their overall modernization.

The New Role of Nuclear Weapons

In the past, the shortcomings of conventional armed forces were compensated for through numerical superiority. By the present time, that strength reserve has practically been exhausted. What is more, demographic difficulties, complications with the draft, and also the delay with the shift to contract manning of the Army are forcing us to assume further unavoidable armed forces personnel strength reductions. In contrast to the level of the middle 1980's, the strength of the Army has been reduced by more than a factor of two.

While considering the size of the country's territory and its frequently unpredictable neighbors, we can say that the Russian nonnuclear potential can turn out to be inadequate to repel a large-scale nonnuclear attack. It is therefore entirely natural to rely on the country's nuclear might so that it, under new conditions, accomplishes functions of deterrence -- of not only nuclear but also of large-scale nonnuclear aggression.

If an enemy has nuclear weapons, then the nuclear strike that is inflicted in response to aggression must program retaliation that is insignificant in scale. First of all, the size of the losses inflicted on the aggressor cannot be too great and, second, we must not employ strategic weapons. We think that the nuclear forces that are unused in the first strike, while threatening the enemy with a series of new, more destructive strikes, will deter the enemy from massive retaliation... This means that the role of tactical nuclear weapons will increase in the future. A potential theater of military operations can turn out to be outside Russia's borders or in Russian regions where storage of tactical nuclear weapons is impossible in peacetime due to political considerations.

Therefore, we will have to stress those types of weapons which can be airlifted to the theater of military operations in a short period of time.

Tactical nuclear warheads installed on short range ballistic missiles and also on aircraft air-to-ground tactical missiles will acquire special significance.

Destruction of enemy nuclear weapons is another method to reduce the scale of retaliation. This method is most effective against a weaker nuclear power that has a small number of facilities that are subject to destruction.

Since many nuclear facilities are hardened targets, the weapons for their destruction must be highly accurate or have a high-yield warhead. The former is preferable...

Delivery systems must also ensure surprise -- otherwise, they can destroy already empty targets after the enemy has carried out the launch of his own nuclear weapons. The primary factor that ensures surprise is undetectability in flight, "stealthiness" for enemy early warning and defense systems. Long range missiles and also stealth aircraft armed with aircraft bombs with an autonomous guidance system and short range air-to-surface missiles meet all of these requirements. Ballistic missiles with short flight times can also play their role.

However, even the most stealthy and accurate delivery systems will turn out to be powerless without an effective target detection system, first of all a space target detection system. Consequently, modernization of reconnaissance satellites is one of the defense industry's priorities.

Nonnuclear weapons systems that are capable of destroying hardened targets will evoke increased interest. The development of precision-guided delivery systems equipped with high-yield conventional warheads would permit us to deprive the enemy of his nuclear potential, without pressing the nuclear button.

Third, the most natural method to reduce losses during a retaliatory strike consists of the deployment of highly effective air defense (PVO) and antiballistic missile defense (PRO) systems. However, in practice organizational and treaty-legal regime factors will obviously impede the development of these systems in the near term.

The anticipated abolition of the National PVO [Air Defense] Forces as a separate service of the armed forces will significantly weaken the positions of the adherents of defensive weapons within the Russian military establishment. And as for antiballistic missile defense systems, the ABM Treaty, the reconsideration of which is improbable, imposes strict limitations on the development and deployment of such systems. At the same time, the growing interest in the United States in tactical antiballistic missile defense could also serve as a stimulus to corresponding Russian developments.

Conventional Weapons

The significant reductions in the armed forces and conventional weapons that were caused by the 1990 Paris Treaty, the disintegration of the USSR and economic-demographic realities will not permit the development of deeply echeloned defense systems in the future like those that existed on the western strategic axis during the Cold War.

More compact armed forces will most likely be deployed in several "defended areas" in order to be prepared to be airlifted to threatened axes and to conflict areas. The trend toward an increased number of highly mobile, first of all airborne assault, units and formations will be preserved. The primary load will lie precisely on them to accomplish peacekeeping missions and also other missions in the near abroad to prevent and resolve conflicts, and to prevent foreign military intervention.

Mobility will become a very important requirement facing the armed forces as a whole. This mission can be accomplished by a build up of military transport aviation, acceptance of a lighter type of armored vehicle into the inventory, and through overall modernization of the country's transportation system.

Being a continental power, in the future Russia will need a significant number of heavy weapons in the event of large-scale foreign intervention. These types of military equipment could be stored on potentially threatened axes.

The priority will be not so much the purchase of new types of weapons as the introduction of organizational measures and technical systems which would increase the effectiveness of the armed forces without conducting their large-scale reequipping. The difficult economic situation will hardly permit military industry to begin the production of new types of weapons in this decade. At the same time, Russia is interested in preserving its positions as one of the world leaders of scientific-technical progress in the military sphere. For this purpose, it could continue scientific research and experimental design work (NIOKR) and also tests of new models of weapons (which will not require significant financial expenditures), having delayed their expensive production until better times.

So, during the second half of the 1990's the Russian military-industrial complex will have to reorient itself from the customary production of highly materials consumption-based [materialoyemkiy] ballistic missiles, submarines, heavy bombers, tanks and artillery pieces toward the development, testing and, in the future, production of scientific-intensive products, first of all command, control and communications systems, and also high-yield conventional weapons.

At the same time, the production of certain traditional types of weapons, for example intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy armored equipment, will be continued, although in significantly reduced volumes in contrast to the past. An unprecedented number of strategic and conventional weapons, and also nuclear warheads will be removed from the force composition.


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