New Dry Dock

SSK Zvezda has completed a massive dry dock at Bolshoy Kamen, reportedly four years ahead of schedule.

The Rosneft-owned facility will build ships to support Russian oil and gas extraction and transport.

The dock is 485 meters long, 114 in width, and 14 deep. It is outfitted with internal gates to create separate compartments that can be flooded independently. Besides the massive 1,200-ton gantry crane, the dock has four 60-ton tower cranes.

This image from May shows the new dock in the lower left, and the existing buildingway (also pretty new) just right of center adjacent to DVZ Zvezda. Recall DVZ Zvezda is Russia’s sole sub repair yard on the Pacific Ocean.

Shaposhnikov Trials

Marshal Shaposhnikov enroute to factory trials

Marshal Shaposhnikov enroute to factory trials

Mil.ru reports Russian Pacific Fleet Udaloy-class destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov departed Dalzavod shipyard in Vladivostok yesterday after an overhaul and modernization which took five years to complete. The original plan was three.

The 35-year-old ship will conduct factory trials in the Sea of Japan.

Below is Izvestiya’s video.

 

The destroyer’s hull and fittings were repaired and new equipment was installed, according to Mil.ru. More than 20 percent of the superstructure was dismantled and refurbished. Trunk cables were partially replaced.

Most significantly, the modernized destroyer became a land-attack and anti-surface warfare platform whereas it was primarily ASW before. It received long-range Kalibr-NK (SS-N-27 Sizzler) missiles and Uran (SS-N-25 Switchblade) ASCMs.

TV Zvezda also had a long video in which Shaposhnikov’s new armament is easy to see.

The destroyer is supposed to rejoin the Pacific Fleet’s order-of-battle before the end of 2020.

Russian media have claimed four of the Navy’s other seven Udaloy (pr. 1155) destroyers will be modernized. But the Russian MOD and Navy may not have committed to this yet, waiting perhaps to absorb how the process turned out and exactly what it cost. The upgraded Shaposhnikov could be a stopgap for a fleet awaiting more new corvettes and possibly frigates.

Updated Promotion List

Here’s an updated promotion list. Over 600 general and flag officers from the Russian Federation Armed Forces. Never as up-to-date as one would like, but at least it’s bargain-priced.

And make no mistake, this is a time-consuming and never-ending process. Just learned that General-Lieutenant Sergey Yudin died suddenly at 59 on June 10, 2019. So, off the list.

A couple wrinkles this time.

First, generals and admirals are in the process of being color-coded — green, yellow, red, and orange.

The “stop light” colors are a WAG at likely, uncertain, or unlikely career progression in the future.

What, you ask, are indicators of probable advancement? One is, ironically and simply, a recent promotion. An officer promoted to one-star rank is in the running for a second star, etc. But also whether an officer is in a line or staff position, his age (where we have it), and his past career progression.

Orange is for those without an identified position or post (probably some are GRU and their names are kept out of the media).

Second, a folder of photos of promoted officers (at least some so far) has been added.

New Airborne Armor Deliveries

ROC priest blesses new BMD-4M delivered in January

ROC priest blesses BMD-4M delivered in January

Russia’s VDV got its ninth battalion set of new BMD-4M and BTR-MDM armored vehicles on June 19, according to media in Pskov — home of  the 76th Air-Assault Division’s 234th Air-Assault Regiment. The tenth battalion set will reach troops in Stavropol before the end of 2020, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Here’s some info on when and where these new airborne infantry fighting vehicles and personnel carriers were delivered.

Click on the image for a larger table where you can click the links therein.

Army General Dvornikov

RF President Vladimir Putin yesterday, on the eve of this year’s delayed Victory Parade, promoted Southern MD commander, General-Colonel Aleksandr Dvornikov, to four-star Army General rank. Here’s the ukaz, and Interfaks-AVN carried the news this morning.

Here’s Dvornikov’s ru.wiki bio.

Aleksandr Dvornikov

Here’s a quick reaction.

Dvornikov joins General Staff Chief Valeriy Gerasimov and Ground Troops CINC Oleg Salyukov as the only other real military army generals (i.e. not converted civilians) in the RF Armed Forces.

He won’t remain in the Southern MD where he’s been for four years at that rank. So, he’s likely to replace either Gerasimov or Salyukov. More likely the latter. Salyukov turned 65 on May 21 and is ready for a sinecure. He was in charge of this morning’s parade.

Prediction: Look for Army General Aleksandr Dvornikov as the next Russian Ground Troops CINC.

Gerasimov’s 65 in early September, and his turnover is more critical and will take more time to prepare.

More difficult and perhaps more interesting — which general will take over in the Southern MD?

Not many candidates at the three-star level. Perhaps Sergey Kuralenko, currently COS / FDC in the Eastern MD, but he’s already almost 59. Maybe.

General-lieutenants are harder to gauge. Maybe Dvornikov’s first deputy, Sergey Kuzovlev will move up. Perhaps Mikhail Teplinskiy, who’s in the same post for the Central MD, and he has lots of Southern MD experience.

At any rate, the rare fourth star for a real military man is interesting.

Russia Day Promotions

RF President Putin wasn’t terribly generous with military promotions on the eve of Russia Day. For the MOD, he promoted one three-star, four two-stars, and 14 one-stars. Putin’s alternative army, the National Guard got one three-star and two one-stars.

Gennadiy Valeryevich Zhidko

Newly-minted General-Colonel Zhidko

Eastern MD Commander Zhidko got his third star, catching him up with the other Russian MD commanders.

New General-Lieutenant Arutyun Darbinyan is deputy commander of the 8th CAA. General-Lieutenant Konstantin Kastornov commands the Black Sea Fleet’s 22nd Army Corps.

Konstantin Kastornov

Kastornov

The director of the MOD’s Information Systems Department, Oleg Maslennikov also received a second star. The head of Pacific Fleet’s rear services became a general-lieutenant.

New general-majors include:

  • Commander, 39th Missile Division, RVSN.
  • Commander, 13th Missile Division, RVSN.
  • Commander, 127th MRD, Eastern MD.
  • Chief, Main Space Reconnaissance Center, VKS.
  • Chief, Engineering Troops, Central MD.
  • Chief, 185th Combat Training and Combat Employment Center, VKS.
  • Chief, 6th Directorate, Main Personnel Directorate (handles appointments to General Staff, central command and control organs, and higher military educational institutions).
  • Chief, Organization-Planning Directorate, Main Military-Medical Directorate, RF Ministry of Defense.

Two new rear-admirals:

  • Chief, Combat Training Directorate, Northern Fleet.
  • Chief, Organization-Mobilization Directorate, Southern MD.

No precise current posting could be found for four promotees.

Worth noting that Northern Fleet combat training chief, new Rear-Admiral Stepan Kelbas was previously deputy commander of the fleet’s 31st Submarine Division (SSBNs), and once commanded Delta IV-class SSBNs Novomoskovsk and Tula.

Demobbing [Corrigenda]

Here’s a mulligan after fouling the current authorized strength of the Russian Armed Forces on the first cut….

On May 26, Mil.ru noted the Russian Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps is demobbing about 2,000 servicemen after a year of conscript service. It’s not often the MOD site gives figures on troops going into the reserves.

Troops living well in stylish Kaliningrad barracks

Troops living well in stylish Kaliningrad barracks

If 2,000 are demobbing, a roughly equal number should remain to finish the last six months of their draft terms. So the 11th Army Corps has about 4,000 conscripts. 

The 11th Army Corps is one of four large ground formations established in Russia’s four fleet areas in the mid- to late 2010s.

By way of maneuver elements, the 11th is composed of a motorized rifle brigade, MR regiment, and tank regiment. It was rumored the MR regiment would become another brigade but it hasn’t happened yet.

The 11th is supported by tactical missile and artillery brigades, a SAM regiment, and recce battalion.

Here are a couple manning scenarios for the corps:

Possible 11th Army Corps Manning

The lower level is what Russian units looked like in the 2010s. The higher represents a more standard Soviet-era organization, similar to a division numerically.

What do 4,000 conscripts mean in the grander scheme of things?

If Russia’s Armed Forces are manned at 95 percent of the authorized number of 1,130,000 1,013,628, they have 1,075,000 962,950.¹ In last year’s conscription campaigns, 267,000 men were drafted. That’s 25 percent of 1,075,000 28 percent of 962,950.

Are conscripts 25 28 percent of the 11th Army Corps’ manpower?

At the lower postulated level — about 8,800 — 4,000 draftees would be 45 percent. At the higher — about 12,600 — they would be 32 percent.

If those 4,000 are 25 28 percent, how many personnel are in the 11th Army Corps? 16,000 Roughly 14,300. Certainly conceivable and this number sounds more like a corps even if the organization doesn’t look like one.

But if undermanning persists, perhaps 80-90 percent, conscripts are a more substantial share of 11th Army Corps manpower. In a corps of 12,600 on paper, manned at 85 percent of strength (10,700), 4,000 conscripts are over 40 percent of the force. In one of 16,000 manned at 80 percent (12,800), draftees are a third.

Full insight here is lacking, but if forced to make a judgement, it seems very possible the actual manpower of the Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps is lower and the percentage of conscripts in it higher than the Russian MOD would be willing to admit.


¹ President Putin’s ukaz of March 28, 2017 ticked the Russian MOD’s uniformed personnel upward from 1,000,000 to 1,013,628. Just nine months before, by ukaz, he dropped the number of MOD servicemen to 1,000,000 from 1,134,800 — where it had been since early 2008. 

Demobbing

On May 26, Mil.ru noted the Russian Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps is demobbing about 2,000 servicemen after a year of conscript service. It’s not often the MOD site gives figures on troops going into the reserves.

Troops living well in stylish Kaliningrad barracks

Troops living well in stylish Kaliningrad barracks

If 2,000 are demobbing, a roughly equal number should remain to finish the last six months of their draft terms. So the 11th Army Corps has about 4,000 conscripts. 

The 11th Army Corps is one of four large ground formations established in Russia’s four fleet areas in the mid- to late 2010s.

By way of maneuver elements, the 11th is composed of a motorized rifle brigade, MR regiment, and tank regiment. It was rumored the MR regiment would become another brigade but it hasn’t happened yet.

The 11th is supported by tactical missile and artillery brigades, a SAM regiment, and recce battalion.

Here are a couple manning scenarios for the corps:

Possible 11th Army Corps Manning

The lower level is what Russian units looked like in the 2010s. The higher represents a more standard Soviet-era organization, similar to a division numerically.

What do 4,000 conscripts mean in the grander scheme of things?

If Russia’s Armed Forces are manned at 95 percent of the authorized number of 1,130,000, they have 1,075,000. In last year’s conscription campaigns, 267,000 men were drafted. That’s 25 percent of 1,075,000.

Are conscripts 25 percent of the 11th Army Corps’ manpower?

At the lower postulated level — about 8,800 — 4,000 draftees would be 45 percent. At the higher — about 12,600 — they would be 32 percent.

If those 4,000 are 25 percent, how many personnel are in the 11th Army Corps? 16,000. Certainly conceivable and this number sounds more like a corps even if the organization doesn’t look like one.

But if undermanning persists, perhaps 80-90 percent, conscripts are a more substantial share of 11th Army Corps manpower. In a corps of 12,600 on paper, manned at 85 percent of strength (10,700), 4,000 conscripts are over 40 percent of the force. In one of 16,000 manned at 80 percent (12,800), draftees are a third.

Full insight here is lacking, but if forced to make a judgement, it seems very possible the actual manpower of the Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps is lower and the percentage of conscripts in it higher than the Russian MOD would be willing to admit.

Army-Level Spetsnaz Training

Mil.ru often highlights counter-sabotage training by Russian forces, particularly RVSN mobile missile regiments on combat patrol. It frequently relates how “anti-terrorist sub-units” prevented a notional act of sabotage by hostile elements or naval base personnel foiled an attack by “submarine sabotage forces and means.”

But on May 29, the MOD site posted doubly rare news — a brief mention of a tactical sabotage exercise by a Spetsnaz group subordinate to the 20th CAA

Here’s what Mil.ru wrote:

Spetsnaz of Western MD combined arms army sabotaged riverine base facilities of notional enemy in the course of training in Tambov oblast

For the first time the special designation group of Western military district (WMD) combined arms army sabotaged riverine base facilities of the notional enemy in the course of a tactical-special exercise in Tambov oblast.

According to the design of the activities, servicemen conducted a covert landing on the shore, eliminated sentries, and also mined the territory and energy facilities of the notional enemy. In the framework of the exercises spetsnaz also practiced landing on the shore in boats without SCUBA, and airdrops with the D-10 parachute system.

More than 100 special designation servicemen of the WMD combined arms army participated in the exercise.

The earlier announcement that Spetsnaz are now part of a WMD army (the 20th) indicated the contingent is about 100 men, i.e. a Spetsnaz company or group. It also said the sub-unit would train with the 16th Spetsnaz Brigade in Tambov.

An airdrop with D-10 parachutes

An airdrop with D-10 parachutes

The scenario of sabotaging an enemy riverine base is fairly elementary, especially because it was likely a daylight evolution. Had it been conducted at night, Mil.ru would have said so.

More challenging future training scenarios for the independent Spetsnaz company will probably feature long-range reconnaissance and the destruction of enemy tactical nuclear weapons, precision strike systems, C3, and logistics in support of 20th CAA objectives.

Leader in Combat Aviation?

Videoconference on help to the aviation industry

On May 13, RF President Vladimir Putin conducted a videoconference from his “bunker” in Novo-Ogarevo on support to Russia’s aviation industry in the pandemic and economic crisis. He directed his ministers to shift civilian, and possibly some military, aircraft production “to the left” to give work to struggling enterprises.

In the process, he said:

Domestic aircraft compete on equal terms with foreign analogues, with world market leaders in many of their characteristics, and by the way, in some [characteristics] — in combat aviation — is considerably superior to them.

Putin’s assessment of Russia’s place as the (or a) leader in military aviation spurred Militaryparitet.com to editorialize. The comments are worth a few moments.

Deputy PM Yuriy Borisov used the occasion, Militaryparitet writes, to ask once again for Putin to erase defense industry’s chronic debts. And nothing in Borisov’s plea smells like the competitiveness Putin claims.

The site continues:

This announcement [about Russia’s lead in military aviation] is highly interesting, but it has been repeated like a mantra for two decades already. So where is Russia outpacing its competitors in combat and military aviation?

First, Russia still hasn’t gotten its fifth-generation fighter, the Su-57, into the force. The U.S. long ago jumped ahead with its F-22 and F-35, and even the Chinese claim they have 40 series-produced J-20 fighters.

Second, Russia’s fourth-generation fighters are laggards. Not a single one has an active phased array radar. This is no longer an innovation for the U.S. The French have it. And China also asserts success in putting it on its fighters.

Third, the Indians are unhappy with Russia’s R-77 air-to-air missiles they purchased. New Delhi says they lack the range and effectiveness of U.S. AIM-120 and European Meteor missiles.

Fourth, with respect to strategic bombers, Russia is renewing production of the existing Tu-160 Blackjack. A new design PAK DA will require “remarkable patience” at a minimum and, with a long-term recession looming, it probably won’t happen at all.

Fifth, Russia hasn’t managed to put an active phased array radar on its AEW aircraft because of its almost total lack of commercial electronics and microelectronics industries.

Sixth, for transports, Russia continues to rely on the Il-76 while the U.S. introduced the C-17 with nearly double the cargo capacity in the 1990s.

Seventh, Russian unmanned aviation is a complete bust. There is the single S-70 Okhotnik, but you couldn’t see a Russian analogue to Global Hawk “even with a telescope.”

Militaryparitet sums up:

So what kind of Russian leadership in combat (military) aviation is Putin talking about every time? Russia has long been on the margins of progress in this sector, and there is no hope to get to the cutting edge “by its own efforts.” We are living in a time when you can’t do anything good without cooperation . . . .

But . . . is there all of a sudden an area where Russia is overtaking the entire world in combat aviation? If there is, speak up, please. We’ll celebrate together.