Monthly Archives: July 2011

Bulava News

Today Navy CINC, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy announced four more tests of the Bulava SLBM this year.  According to Interfaks, Vysotskiy said plans call for a salvo launch either this year or next, depending on the state commission overseeing the Bulava’s testing.

Last Wednesday, a defense sector source told Interfaks to expect the next Bulava test in a month.  Originally, the source said, it was supposed to be a salvo launch a month after the successful June 28 test from Yuriy Dolgorukiy.  But analysis of the June flight test and preparation for the next took longer than expected.  This source said the 16th test will be in late August, or possibly even fall.  He said Dolgorukiy will fire two Bulava SLBMs, one after another. 

On June 30, Vysotskiy claimed the second proyekt 955, Borey-class SSBN Aleksandr Nevskiy will finish sea trials, and test fire a Bulava this year.  But he didn’t repeat the claim today.

Navy Day

Sankt-Peterburg Submarine in the Bolshaya Neva (photo: http://www.flot.com)

In honor of Navy Day — the 315th anniversary of the Russian Navy’s establishment — here are this week’s sound bites from Navy CINC, Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy.  RIA Novosti will publish a complete interview with him tomorrow.

Vysotskiy says the Navy expects “not less than eight” proyekt 885 SSNs by 2020.  Some sources maintain the number is six.

Unit 1 Severodvinsk is preparing for sea trials in August, and unit 2 Kazan is expected by 2015.  They’ll have to pick up the pace to get eight by 2020.

Vysotskiy says work on a new destroyer will begin in 2012, and be completed in 2016.  This is the one he suggested might be nuclear-powered.

The CINC’s other comments covered the Black Sea Fleet. 

He claimed the BSF will get six proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines in the coming years.  Its sole submarine now, proyekt 877 Varshavyanka-class SS Alrosa is currently in the Baltic for repair.

RIA Novosti recalled Vysotskiy’s past comments about obtaining 15 frigates and diesel submarines for the BSF by 2020 in a 60-30 proportion.  He also said a frigate and submarine were specifically laid down for the BSF in 2010, and would be every year henceforth.  He claimed the fleet would be renewed by 2020 through new construction rather than inter-fleet transfers.

Moskovskiy komsomolets and Newsru.com reported on the BSF’s drastic ten-fold decline since 1997.

This week TsAMTO cited a Baltic Fleet press release saying it expects to get the Neustrashimyy-class FF Yaroslav Mudryy, proyekt 20380 Steregushchiy-class FFLs Steregushchiy, Soobrazitelnyy, and Boykiy, proyekt 677 Lada-class SS Sankt-Peterburg, as well as assault ships and other craft.  The BSF may be expecting to get some of these ships as well.

Three-Month Combat Training

Three-and-a-half years after it started phasing in one-year service, the Russian Army’s condensing combat training into three months so it can put draftees in line units for their remaining months.  One wonders what they’ve tried to this point, or if they’re just now addressing the implications of the shortened draft term.

Twelve weeks of basic training is about the norm by world standards for draftee armies.  But the Russians have compressed what they previously taught over a longer period, so the question is how well conscripts absorb, retain, and employ their lessons.

Officially, Russia’s three-month accelerated combat training program is experimental.  Krasnaya zvezda reports, since June, the 19th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade in North Ossetia, has been trying a new program to take new draftees and turn them into professionals, ready to serve in combat sub-units [подразделения], in three months.

The army daily claims these new conscripts focus exclusively on the combat training course, which now reportedly includes 1.5-2 times more “practical exercises” than in the past.  The course covers 90 days (536 hours).  It retains the traditional first month of individual training, and the last two consist of training and coordination [слаживание] of sections, platoons, and companies (batteries).  The course ends with several days of test exercises, sub-unit combat firings, and company-tactical exercises.

The brigade’s deputy commander says:

“In the new program, theory has been practically thrown out, the stress is on the practical part.  In connection with cutting the conscript service term to one year, the task of preparing, in three months, a coordinated sub-unit, ready to fulfill missions in various conditions, stands before us.”

The choice of the 19th IMRB wasn’t accidental.  As KZ notes, the formation saw action in the five-day war with Georgia.  It has a “reinforced company-tactical group” of BMP-3s fueled for a 500-kilometer roadmarch ready to depart garrison within 30 minutes, according to KZ.

KZ then describes how outsourcing repair and support work has enabled draftees to focus entirely on combat training.

This week, Mil.ru updated the experiment.  It said the brigade is currently finishing platoon coordination and beginning company coordination, which will continue until mid-August.  The Defense Ministry says the Ground Troops’ Main Combat Training Directorate is monitoring the accelerated program.  In late August, it will oversee the company tactical exercises, and determine their capabilities for action under combat conditions.  Conclusions about the three-month combat training program will come in September.

Writing in Nezavisimaya gazeta yesterday, Vladimir Mukhin questions whether it’s possible to train professionals in three months.  He notes the Southern MD was supposed to be 70 percent contractee-manned by now, according to the Defense Ministry old contract service plan.  Parents of green soldiers feel like their sons are serving in a “hot spot,” according to Mukhin.  Conscripts from this formation died in the Georgian conflict.  The onus is on the political leadership, says Mukhin, rather than military commanders to explain why units here aren’t manned with professionals.

Mukhin quotes former Ground Troops’ Chief, General-Colonel Yuriy Bukreyev:

“If a conscript soldier has basic military training, then it’s possible to give him the skills to employ him in combat conditions in the North Caucasus.  I’m giving the same conclusion from the Soviet Afghan experience again, when I headed the staff of the Turkestan Military District.  But then soldiers served two years.  At first, they were in training sub-units, they underwent additional mountain training in special training centers.  Only afterwards, that is when they’d served in the troops a year or more, were they sent to Afghanistan.  Today conditions are a little different.  The conscript soldier’s service term’s been shortened to 12 months.  And this means the intensity of combat training should increase.  The Ground Troops’ Glavokomat is just conducting an experiment in training first-year soldiers to carry out missions under the conditions of an armed conflict.  We’d like to hope that raw soldiers won’t be drawn into resolving such missions.  Professional sub-units would appear more effective here.  But, unfortunately, in our Armed Forces reliable conditions for the mass recruitment of contractees into the troops still haven’t been established.”

Who Will Own VKO (Part II)

Returning to former General-Major Tazekhulakhov’s article in NVO . . . to make VKO an integral organism under unitary leadership and command and control, with personal responsibility for solving the tasks laid on the system, Tazekhulakhov believes it best, in the current Armed Forces structure, to concentrate troops (forces) and VKO system resources in one service or troop branch.

The ex-Deputy Chief of VPVO then reviews five possibilities:

  1. Give VVS PVO (including air defense aviation) to KV, and turn KV into a new branch called VVKO.
  2. Disband KV, give RKO to the VVS and space launch, monitoring, and other supporting structures to RVSN.
  3. Using KV as the base, create a new branch VVKO by including those VVS forces and resources currently in OSK VKO (the old KSpN, Moscow AVVSPVO, Moscow Air Defense District, etc.).
  4. Without transferring or resubordinating any of VVS or KV, establish a Strategic Command of VKO (SK VKO), and designate a commander to whom every MD / OSK, and every PVO, RKO, and REB resource would be subordinate for VKO missions in peace and wartime.
  5. Divide VKO along the existing MD / OSK lines with each of the four commanders responsible for the mission with common command and control exercised by the RF Armed Forces Central Command Post (ЦКП ВС РФ).

Tazekhulakhov says none of these possibilities is ideal.  Currently, VKO elements belong to different services, troop branches, Armed Forces structures, and even civilian departments.  PVO and RKO forces and resources aren’t evenly distributed throughout the RF.  And some are operationally subordinate to regional MD / OSK commanders and others (RKO and REB) to the center.  Triple subordination — administrative, operational, and support — violates one-man command for the VKO system.

Tazekhulakhov says the first three variants ask service or branches to perform missions outside their traditional competence.  Variant four would require agreement on the authorities of the VVS CINC, MD / OSK commanders, and the SK VKO commander.  Variant five makes it hard to find one commander responsible for VKO.

Of all variants, Tazekhulakhov finds variant two best.  It keeps the current integrity of VVS, and cuts one branch and reduces command and control organs.

But he’s found another problem not yet addressed — how to treat operational-tactical PVO and PRO of the MDs and fleets.  For it to operate on the same territory and with the same missions as strategic VKO, reconnaissance and warning information exchange and command and control and REB coordination has to be worked out.  And MD / OSK commanders won’t want to subordinate their forces, plans, and responsibilities to a VKO commander.

Lastly, Tazekhulakhov steps back to look at a bigger picture.  Why develop VKO?  With whom and how is Russia preparing to fight?  He concludes, from all appearances, U.S. missile defense won’t seriously impede Russian strategic nuclear forces, and, to some extent, Moscow has wasted time worrying about it:

“Russians need to stop getting harnessed, it’s time to get moving, and not simply waddle, but race full speed.  The result of our procrastination is obvious:  Russia is still trying through negotiations to find a compromise between its and NATO’s positions on missile defense, under cover of the protracted negotiating process, the American missile defense system in Europe is already approaching very close to Russia’s borders.  Evidently, it doesn’t do to waste time, hope and focus on NATO.  It’s essential to take serious military-political decisions and do what’s needed and useful for Russia, without looking at others.  No one, first and foremost the U.S., will give us anything, especially in the armaments area.  We have to rely only on ourselves.  Russia, undoubtedly, has no other way.”

Latest on Sulim and Premium Pay Extortion

The Tambov military garrison prosecutor has told Kommersant charges have been lodged against Sergey Sidorenko, deputy commander of a unit at the elite Lipetsk pilot training center.  Sidorenko and others allegedly extorted 3 million rubles of premium pay from other officers at Lipetsk since the beginning of 2010.

According to Senior Lieutentant Igor Sulim, who wrote about the situation at Lipetsk in his blog in May, the training center’s chief of staff, Colonel Eduard Kovalskiy and his deputy Sergey Tereshin organized the scheme, and Sidorenko carried it out.  Sulim maintains the entire leadership of the unit [center?] and local law enforcement knew about the extortion racket.

After Sulim went public, investigators substantiated his accusations, and the Defense Ministry reportedly began to check premium pay distribution in other military units.

Last week, Main Military Prosecutor Sergey Fridinskiy acknowledged that extortion in the distribution of supplementary pay in army units is ubiquitous, “beginning in company sub-units and ending with higher staffs.”  He continued:

“Criminal cases on the facts of extortion are being investigated in practically every district and fleet.”  

He also criticized the Air Forces for pressuring the victims:

“Instead of conducting rapid checks and adopting severe measures toward bribe-takers, VVS Glavkomat officials, essentially, began pressuring the personnel for bringing situation out of the shadows.”

For his part, Sulim says:

“The center’s leadership headed by General Aleksandr Kharchevskiy is trying to dissociate itself from this story.  Kharchevskiy, for example, announces he didn’t know anything about extortion from pilots.  At the same time, he tries to sully me, publicly calling me first deranged, then a homosexual.  Meanwhile, they’ve hardly let me fly since May 14, and this means soon essentially I’ll have to learn to fly again.”

During the Defense Ministry’s check for similar problems elsewhere, the only other situation to receive press attention was a case involving some Black Sea Fleet aviation units.  See Komsomolskaya pravda and Novyy region.

Who Will Own VKO (Part I)

Retired General-Major Aleksandr Tazekhulakhov — Deputy Chief of Troop Air Defense in 2005-2009 — has written on military reform (and on VKO) before, but his piece in Friday’s Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye caught one’s attention.

Let’s get to the main points of his very long, but interesting, article.

Essentially, Tazekhulakhov asks whether trying to decide which service or branch will own VKO isn’t the most expensive and useless project.

The former air defender suggests that, if the character of future wars, dangers, and threats are considered:

“. . . it is essential to give priority to the development and improvement not of separate services and troop branches of the Armed Forces, but of strategic and operational-strategic reconnaissance-combat (offensive and defensive) systems, which are being established on the basis of troop (force) groupings on strategic axes with concrete combat missions.”

Tazekhulakhov says President Medvedev is looking for a unified VKO system, while Defense Minister Serdyukov is planning to deliver VKO Troops [войска ВКО].  The former one-star says:

“Considering that the creation of a system of aerospace defense (VKO), or of VKO Troops could turn out to be the most visible, expensive and at the same time most senseless and useless project, it’s essential to review once more the existential problems and variants for solving this complex mission.”

He stresses that the national missions of VKO can only be resolved according to a common concept and plan, under united command and control.  And he argues against near- or medium-term thoughts of providing equal defense for all Russian territory and borders.  He cautions against thinking the combat potential of VKO systems might someday compare with that of strategic nuclear forces:

“No country in the world today has or can foresee in the medium-term future a missile defense [ПРО] system which would be capable of repulsing a mass (counterforce) missile-nuclear strike, or even a strike consisting of several ICBMs.  Therefore it’s expedient to limit the scale of employing VKO systems to the following framework:  repulsing strikes employing single or small groups (3-5) of ICBMs, IRBMs, operational-tactical missiles, tactical missiles, single, group, or mass strikes by other means of air attack, destruction (suppression) of satellites and other space objects.  Limiting the scale of VKO system employment will allow for reducing expenditures on its maintenance, for making combat missions specific, and for concentrating efforts on developing the most important system components.”

Establishing the VKO system, according to Tazekhulakhov, is a two-fold task. 

Firstly, PVO, PRO, PRN, and KKP [air defense, missile defense, missile attack early warning, and space monitoring] systems have to come under unitary command and control.  This, he says, is an administrative and organizational task that can and should be done in the timeframe indicated by Medvedev.

Secondly, and more troublesome, is the process of uniting the various supporting elements of VKO — what Tazekhulakhov calls the “hidden part of the iceberg” or the “horizontal system components.”  They include reconnaissance and warning, fire and functional defeat (suppression), command and control, and material support.

He claims, however, that, for 30 years, state leaders, military leaders, military scientists, and industry representatives have tried without success to resolve this problem.  It has administrative, functional, technical, algorithmic, and programming aspects requiring resolution on a state level rather than a departmental [Defense Ministry] one.

Thus, Tazekhulakhov limits his discussion to the possibilities for solving the first (“tip of iceberg” or “vertical system components”) problem.

To be continued.

Valeriy Ivanov on VKO, S-500, S-400

General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov

The Space Troops have seemed pretty confident about getting control of VKO up to this point, but now a senior Air Forces officer has taken his turn to suggest the VVS may have a leg up.

On Friday, Commander of the Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense (OSK VKO), General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov described for journalists how his command provides air defense for 140 key facilities in Russia’s capital and central industrial regions. 

At a conference in Mozhaysk to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the first Nazi air attack on Moscow, Ivanov said 800 OSK VKO personnel secure Moscow’s airspace on a daily basis, and he claimed his command covers two-thirds of Russian Federation territory, according to RIA Novosti

The OSK VKO Commander also said he expects to receive the S-500, new radars, and fighter aircraft by 2015.  Several news outlets repeated an early 2011 Interfaks report saying that ten S-500 battalions will be acquired under GPV-2020. 

Regarding President Medvedev’s late 2010 order to set up a unified VKO command by December 1, 2011, Ivanov told ITAR-TASS that VKO has already been established and is being improved:

“The VKO system is now being integrated, developed, and modernized.  We are now taking, uniting Space Troops and our OSK VKO.” 

But, according to ITAR-TASS, Ivanov had to admit there’s no clarity yet on the new form of VKO, and “our state’s political leadership will make the final decision on this.”

Krasnaya zvezda also provided a somewhat less categorical-sounding Ivanov quote:

“The Aerospace Defense system which we’re creating is now being integrated and developed.  Currently, the process of amalgamating Space Troops and the Operational-Strategic Command is going on.”

Komsomolskaya pravda relayed this Interfaks quote about the fate of aviation:

“Aviation carrying out air defense missions will be immediately subordinated to the VKO commander.  The one who directs the battle will also command [aviation].”

RIA Novosti also reported General-Lieutenant Ivanov saying the second S-400 regiment (at Dmitrov) will be on duty by July 31.  He said a third regiment will appear at Zvenigorod by the end of this year.