Daily Archives: December 27, 2010

Shamanov Leaves Hospital

VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov was discharged from the Burdenko Main Military Clinical Hospital this morning, nearly two months after his BMW-525 was hit by a truck near Tula on 30 October. 

Shamanov’s spokesman said he’s already held his first staff meeting, and participated in a commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of VDV founder Margelov’s birth.  He called Shamanov’s condition normal following the accident and more than one surgery, according to ITAR-TASS.  Shamanov had several hours of surgery on his hip on 1 November. 

The spokesman said it’s completely possible Shamanov might return to duty earlier than his doctors have directed.  He said Shamanov completed his hospital rehabilitation, will take routine medical leave, and continue rehabilitation as an outpatient.

The acting commander of the VDV’s 106th Airborne Division in Tula, Colonel Aleksey Naumets, even more severely injured in the crash, transferred from intensive care to a general ward yesterday.  A source told RIA Novosti that Naumets has regular visits from fellow servicemen, and is interested in what’s going on in the division, but it’s still hard to say when he might be discharged.

A preliminary hearing in the criminal case against Dovlatsho Elbigiyev, the driver accused of hitting Shamanov’s car, will take place Wednesday in Tula’s Zarechenskiy Rayon Court.

Corruption in 12th GUMO?

Is corruption the cause for the recent spate of decrees on military personnel?

In today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vladimir Mukhin reports a Defense Ministry source says the recent dismissals of high-ranking military men are connected to corruption by them or their subordinates.  He puts the sudden retirement of 12th GUMO Chief Vladimir Verkhovtsev in this category.  He reminds that the 12th GUMO is responsible for the safety, security, storage, testing, and reliability of Russian nuclear weapons, and is also primary recipient of years of U.S. taxpayer funding through the Nunn-Lugar Act.

Though he’s headed the 12th GUMO for the last five years, General-Colonel Verkhovtsev’s a relatively young 55, and could still serve 5 years under the law.

Mukhin says Defense Ministry sources say Verkhovtsev’s going down for corruption and theft by General-Major Viktor Gaydukov, commander of a nuclear weapons storage site, who together with his wife managed to steal 20 million rubles worth of U.S. aid intended for engineering work for “improving the secure storage and accountability of nuclear weapons.”

Gaydukov was the first to fall for failing to report his income and assets accurately under the provisions of the latest government anti-corruption campaign.  However, the authorities’ discovery of his theft of money intended for nuclear security was purely incidental.

Mukhin cites Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov’s persistent proponent, Igor Korotchenko:

“To the Defense Minister’s credit, he didn’t hide these facts and continues to sign dismissal paperwork for all officers and generals discovered mixed up in corruption.  That’s why there are so many retirements of military chiefs figuring in the president’s decrees.”

An anonymous 12th GUMO officer says:

“In Russia and the U.S., there are few ordinary people who know that, almost 20 years after the USSR’s collapse, Washington gives unreimbursed aid to the RF for the defense and support of its nuclear-technical facilities.  Why aren’t such activities promoted – it wouldn’t do to talk about them.  In Russia, they’re afraid that so-called patriots [Tea Party types?], the opposition, U.S. taxpayers wouldn’t like it.”

Mukhin says Moscow has spent much less on these facilities than the U.S. ($11 billion over two decades), but no one knows how much for sure because that budget article is still secret.  He says the Russian government may soon have to say whether the money’s been used as planned and effectively.

Viktor Litovkin called Verkhovtsev and asked him to react to claims his dismissal is linked to misuse of Nunn-Lugar funding.  He responded:

“My retirement has no relationship to this issue.  And to link it to the Nunn-Lugar program would be incompetent.  This is some kind of gibberish.  I personally made the decision to retire.  I wrote a request addressed to the Defense Minister at the beginning of November.  And I also recommended a man for my post.  He is a very good specialist whom I know well through joint work and service.  I’m sure that he’ll manage very well.”

Sounds like he’s pretty sure he won’t be facing any prosecutor. 

One should also observe that it might also be very convenient for a Defense Minister to label as corrupt anyone who opposes his policies and actions.  To complete the picture of possibilities, it’s also possible some are both corrupt and oppose Serdyukov on principle.

A short post-script . . . it’s a pity Mukhin didn’t also explore General-Major Fedorov’s move from one nuclear facility to another . . . Korotchenko credits Serdyukov for not hiding information about corrupt generals, but if he isn’t hiding it, where are the details of their crimes?

GLONASS as Dolgostroy

Viktor Myasnikov authored an interesting piece in the 17 December Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye regarding the loss of three GLONASS-M satellites in the Pacific on 5 December. 

Myasnikov said the ten-year Federal Targeted Program (FTsP or ФЦП) “Global Navigation System” has spent $4.7 billion since 2001, but GLONASS has confirmed its status as a ‘long unfinished work’ [dolgostroy or долгострой] in space.

Myasnikov pointed out Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s long personal interest in the system’s restoration, and Putin’s description of it as a sine qua non for development and deployment of modern precision weapons systems.  Myasnikov noted the government’s intention to invest 48 billion rubles in space and ground infrastructure for GLONASS in 2010-2011.

He said the 3 ill-fated GLONASS-M and now-delayed GLONASS-K, originally intended for launch on 28 December, were supposed to bring GLONASS to a complete constellation of 24 satellites and full global coverage. 

President Dmitriy Medvedev had just promised that the GLONASS grouping would be fully formed before the end of 2010, and its large-scale use would begin in the next two years.

After the 5 December failure, Medvedev ordered an investigation of GLONASS, its financing, and who might be responsible for the 5 December mishap.

Myasnikov also explored the insurance scheme for the 5 December launch.  It turns out insurance was provided by the ‘Sputnik’ Insurance Center, which just happens to be run by the sons of current and former deputy chiefs of Roskosmos.  ‘Sputnik’ has assured everyone that the GLONASS loss was reliably reinsured, but it provided no specifics.  Roskosmos Chief Anatoliy Perminov, however, said the launch was partially insured, and a settlement will be collected but only after a long and drawn-out process.

Myasnikov spends some time discussing possible causes of the 5 December accident which largely boil down to an upper stage improperly fueled with too much liquid oxygen.  He concludes that, while a couple scapegoats might be found at RKK ‘Energiya,’ no one associated with GLONASS at Roskosmos is worried about his job.

And so he recaps where this leaves GLONASS.

By 2008, GLONASS reached 18 satellites and complete coverage of Russia.  A fully deployed GLONASS of 24 spacecraft should have covered the planet by the end of 2009.

Russia counted on a service life of 7 years, but the satellites are only lasting 3-1/2 to 5 years, so the system couldn’t be completed.  The system officially has 20 operational, and another 5 are held as “being studied by the General Designer.”  The oldest satellite is 71.7 months old, one is 60 months, and two are 47.4 months.

So, Myasnikov concludes, even if 6 satellites are orbited, a complete system will likely need 8 over the next two years, leaving GLONASS a ‘long unfinished work.’  GLONASS-K is coming, and it’s supposed to have a 10-year service life.

Then he turns to the global positioning system market.  GLONASS has only a 1 percent share of a $60-70 billion market.  In the future, if Russia captured 15 percent, this would be $9-10 billion annually, more than Russian arms sales.  But it isn’t likely.

In 2014, the European ‘Galileo’ system will begin operations.  This will be a serious competitor for GLONASS.  And the Chinese ‘Compas’ will be fully deployed by 2020.  And GPS is already moving to the next level – 48 satellites and 0.9 meter accuracy.

Myasnikov sums up:

“Russian cosmonautics is living through a serious crisis.  It has turned from high technology, science-intensive sector into simply capital-intensive.  Global scientific projects lead to project-mongering, while plans for real earth and space research are regularly delayed.  Almost nothing new is being created.  To replace some multibillion projects come others which cause even greater enthusiasm among the budget recipients.  The reusable ‘Angara’ has already been in development for ten years, cosmodrome ‘Svobodnyy’ is first closed, then opened.  So GLONASS is just the tip of the crisis iceberg.”

“In four months, the country will proudly note the 50th anniversary of Yuriy Gagarin’s flight.  But what’s being done now that we’ll proudly note after the next 50 years?  Certainly not GLONASS in a halo of lies.”