Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has concluded another week of meetings with military leaders and defense industry officials. Some significant statements appeared in the media, but none more interesting than those from Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Rogozin. He, of course, oversees the defense industries, and serves as Putin’s deputy on the government’s Military-Industrial Commission (VPK).
Rogozin contends the new state armaments program (GPV) will include innovative weapons systems rather than modernization of existing platforms. He buries Navy hopes for a modern aircraft carrier, and — worse for the Navy — he’s down on big ships that make great targets. And he expounds at length on transport aircraft programs (which his son Aleksey now directs as vice-president of OAK).
Vesti asked Rogozin what will or won’t be in the next GPV. He answered:
“We are gradually moving away from the modernization of old types of armaments, although, we must say, modernization is just as normal as the development of new types. But there can’t be an endless amount of modernization. Let’s say, three-four times, not more. Otherwise this stops the development of new weapons systems. Therefore the new program of armaments is, in essence, an innovation program which includes completely new approaches. Above all, it is the development of smart weapons, and automated command, control, communications, and reconnaissance systems. We’ll have modern troop communications, which has always been a weak point. We’ll have robotic systems, we have almost completed development of new unmanned vehicles, both ground and air. And, of course, a strong renewal of our satellite network is in progress. High-quality navigation, reconnaissance, and many other things.”
Asked if the Navy was favored over the Ground Troops in the current arms program, Rogozin responded:
“No, we won’t have some kind of imbalance, that is something favoring the Navy, favoring the Aerospace Forces or favoring new smart systems. This is the emphasis of the new program of armaments. The Navy will receive new ships. Today we are stressing ‘muscular’ ships — frigates, corvettes of near and distant ocean zones, that is what doesn’t provide a great target for the enemy, but nimble, maneuverable, and capable of responding just like a large ship.”
Vesti inquired about delaying investment in new aircraft carriers and strategic bombers. Rogozin answered:
“If we talk, let’s say, about aircraft carriers, then technologically and technically today Russian defense industry is capable of developing a ship of such displacement. But it’s a question for the military whether such a ship is needed. After all, we have to remember that, unlike the United States, we are not a great maritime power, we are a great continental power, and we have several other priorities. As far as a strategic bomber goes, we have completed unique work at the Kazan Aircraft Plant, reestablished, but on a new technological basis, electron beam welding that is needed to develop the titanium fuselage on which the technology of the Tu-160, our great strategic bomber, was always based. And we will recreate this aircraft, undoubtedly, on a new technical basis, with new electronics, new weapons, but this doesn’t mean that we have abandoned plans to develop the future aviation system of long-range aviation [PAK DA]. Work on it is beginning, as on the future aviation system of military-transport aviation [PAK VTA], and on a medium military-transport aircraft. Decisions were made recently in Sochi. We will produce it, and we’ll have it around 2023-2024. At the end of this year, we are planning for a small, light transport aircraft to fly. For our army, which is compact, it’s important to have the possibility of being instantly redeployed to another theater of military operations where some threat is growing. In this way we’ll repulse any aggression by potential enemies not with great numbers, but with the great skill and mobility of our Armed Forces.”
Moscow’s made a start in this direction, but Rogozin might be exaggerating its progress. More interesting is his intimation that the MOD is making trade-offs in the process of cobbling together GPV 2018-2025. Are large (and expensive) ships out in favor of neglected military transport aircraft? Rogozin rails against “endless” modernization but, practically in the same breath, insists the MOD won’t forget about PAK DA as it prepares to produce updated Tu-160 bombers. Perhaps someone will remind him there are things besides modernization which interfere with the development of new weapons.