Interviewed in yesterday’s Svpressa.ru, defense analyst Anatoliy Tsyganok expressed his doubts that trillions of rubles can save Russia’s OPK, its defense-industrial complex.
A quick summary. Tsyganok seems to make the point that, while there’s an armaments plan, the OPK is still in a woeful state of neglect, i.e. the Bulava’s producers may actually be better off than many defense enterprises. Much of what is leaving the factory gates still heads for foreign buyers or requires expensive repairs because quality is lacking. Perhaps the OPK development (or maybe rescue) program needs attention before the GPV. Tsyganok takes fewer Indian and Chinese purchases as a sign of quality problems. Lastly, he says Moscow needs to rethink how it’s most likely to fight before picking what to make and who will make it.
But back to the article, Tsyganok gives his views on what might be bought with 20 trillion rubles in State Armaments Program (GPV) 2011-2020. He mentions (sometimes without specific numbers or costs):
- An-124 Ruslan — 20.
- Combat and transport helicopters — 1,000.
- PAK FA — 70.
- Yak-130 combat trainers.
- Su-35 and Su-30 — 60 (80 billion rubles).
- MiG-29K — 26 (25 billion rubles).
- Su-34 — 32 (35 billion rubles).
- Proyekt 885 Yasen SSNs.
- Proyekt 955 Borey SSBNs.
- Bulava SLBMs.
- Proyekt 11356M frigates — 3.
- Proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines — 3.
- T-90 tanks — 261.
There are, of course, lots of systems required that he doesn’t take time to mention. New ICBMs, advanced conventional munitions, communications systems, satellites, etc. He notes that the Navy’s needs alone come to several hundred billion rubles, and several ships and submarines he mentions are for the Black Sea Fleet. The Ground Troops don’t get too much attention from Tsyganok.
Asked whether the OPK can produce modern combat equipment of the necessary quality and quantity even with sufficient financing, Tsyganok responds:
“Unfortunately, it has to be recognized: many OPK enterprises are already incapable of series production of high-technology weapons systems. The woes of the unfortunate strategic missile ‘Bulava’ are proof of this. The picture is generally nightmarish. A fourth of Russia’s strategic enterprises are on the verge of bankruptcy. The tax organs have already issued liens for the recovery of debts against 150 defense plants and organizations. Baliffs have already been sent there. Who can work on the state armaments program there?”
“And don’t let the fact that in the first half of 2010 fully respectable growth of 14.1% in production was registered in the defense-industrial complex deceive you. Mainly, as before, everything put out went for export. Let’s say, over six months, our country produced 54 helicopters. Of them, 31 went abroad.”
Asked if the poor state of defense plants is affecting the quality of their products, Tsyganok says:
“It affects it in the most immediate way. Expenditures on eliminating defects in the course of production, testing, and use of our military products today goes up to 50% of the general volume of expenditures on the corresponding defense budget article. In economically developed countries, this indicator does not exceed 20%. The main reason is monstrous equipment depreciation. And there’s no ray of hope visible there. The rate of renewing the production base in the Russian defense sector, despite growing financial inputs of recent years, is not more than one percent a year. In order somehow to get out of this hole in which we find ourselves, we would need to increase this rate by 8-10 times. Incidentally, the reduction in quality of arms and military equipment produced is already noticeably reflected even in Russia’s military-technical cooperation with our traditional partners in this area. With India and China most of all. They are already not so intently signing contracts with us as before.”
What about design bureaus and scientific-research institutes?
“Also nothing to brag about here. The fact is what the Russian defense-industrial complex can offer the Armed Forces in the near future, with a few exceptions, is already no longer the world’s best models. And all this is because in the USSR’s time our country allocated up to 4.7% of GDP to basic research. In today’s Russia, in all 0.16% goes to this business. At the same time, in China, for example, annually ten times more is spent on scientific-research and experimental-design work. And, as expected, next year it will catch up with the U.S. As a result, in many military technologies, Russia is currently at a 1970s-1980s level.”
Finally, Tsyganok’s interviewer asks if there’s any way out of these dilemmas:
“There’s always a way out. First of all, it’s essential to promptly review the goals and missions of the weapons complex. We really have to understand whom we intend to fight, and what types of armaments are necessary for this. Then the state defense order [GOZ] will take on more accurate contours. As long as we don’t have this understanding, the situation will only get worse.”
The problem with the Russian Military Industrial Complex is that it seems to be seperate from the Russian military.
There is clearly no direct communication there.
Another problem is that for the last two decades it has not been producing products, all it has been doing is showing prototypes and making minor progress on development because of a lack of money.
It seems the Russian military thinks it was a light switch and can just simply be turned on by actually paying bills, but the reality is that it will take both time and money.
Any idiot would know that it is not equipment that makes a force… there are various Arab states with lots of money and the best equipment that wouldn’t last very long at all in a real conflict.
A MIC gets better at production by investment in tooling and training and experience with production, learning new techniques while building.
Handing over money will not make a Russian engine maker suddenly able to compete with the worlds best, but spend money on that engine maker even if its products aren’t world standard now means they can improve. If they don’t bother improving then licence production is clearly the best answer… but just spending on licence production for everything will be far too expensive.
It wont be the end of the world if the Russian Armed forces get upgraded equipment that is 20 years old in design terms… as long as it is new. The money spent on that old production stuff will go into the MIC and can be used to improve tooling and upskill workers and the military can talk to the makers of their equipment and start asking for what they want improved or changed. The MIC can look abroad and see what everyone else is doing and decide if that is worth offering to the Russian Military.
Russian companies also need to work together to standardise things more so there is less wasted effort. There is no reason for 152mm guided artillery shells for the Navy to be invented from scratch when the Army already has them for example. New ammo types for 30mm cannon can be applied to all the armed forces 30mm guns rather than each being developed separately.
The Russians need an organisation that manages the MIC and talks to the military to maximise the productivity of every rouble spent and to make sure for example that things like helmet mounted optics systems can be shared from helos to aircraft to armoured vehicles. Situational Awareness is important whether you are hovering in a helo at night or flying a fighter or commanding a tank. Having a video view from a UAV fed directly into your field of vision for all three applications would be useful so why spend money separately to develop the technology? A SAM unit commander could use such a helmet with such a display to get a “god” like view of the surrounding airspace with the range and position of his missile vehicles included and nearby radar and SAM sites so he doesn’t have to visualise the situation in his head. A similar aerial view taken from satellite or a UAV for a tank commander will give him a much better view than sticking his head out the turret hatch. These helmets can be used by a wide range of users and should be standardised as much as possible… that wont happen by accident.