Category Archives: RVSN

Karakayev on ICBMs

On Tuesday (30 November), RVSN Commander, General-Lieutenant Sergey Karakayev had his first encounter with the media since taking over the land-based strategic missile force in June.  Krasnaya zvezda covered it, of course. 

Karakayev said all newly deployed mobile Topol-Ms will be the MIRVed (RS-24 / Yars) variant rather than single-warhead missiles.  He said a sixth silo-based Topol-M regiment will go on combat duty at Tatishchevo this month, and more silo-based deployments will occur next year.

Karakayev also said:

“To support the required balance of forces in carrying out the mission of nuclear deterrence, qualitative improvement of the components of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces [SYaS or СЯС] is required.  Russia’s missile industry will continue development of new missile systems, including new technical solutions incorporated within missile systems of the ‘Topol-M’ type.”

The media repeated ITAR-TASS to the effect that most experts think this means Moscow will develop a heavy silo-based ICBM to replace Russia’s remaining ‘heavies’ — UR-100NUTTKh (SS-19 / Stiletto) and R-36M2 (RS-20V or Voyevoda, SS-18 / Satan Mod 6).

Rossiyskaya gazeta added that 10,000 military and 8,000 civilian posts in the RVSN had been cut over the past 5 years.  But further cuts in RVSN armies, divisions, and regiments aren’t anticipated.

Short Takes

A Navy Main Staff source has told Interfaks that Borey-class SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy will launch its first Bulava SLBM on 17 December.

The RVSN has decided to implement testing for narcotics use among its personnel, according to ITAR-TASS.  It will begin next year.  The RVSN spokesman provided no explanation why his branch will institute drug testing. 

RIA Novosti reports Russia will have contract reservists from 2016.  GOMU Chief Vasiliy Smirnov tells the wire service conscripts will be asked if they want to stay in the reserves for pay.  Russia’s requirement for reserves should be lower in the future given the recent shift to smaller, higher readiness forces and away from cadre units that would need fleshing out with mobilized reservists.  This story’s been around for a while.  It’s not clear how much reservists would be paid, or what their commitment would be.  It hasn’t been easy for military commissariats to mobilize reservists even for infrequent exercises and training assemblies in the past.

Lenta.ua is reporting a Defense Aerospace story that the Indians have moved acceptance of the Admiral Gorshkov (Vikramaditya) carrier off from the beginning to the end of 2012 because the ship will need more work.

RIA Novosti cites military medical sources saying VDV Commander, General-Lieutenant Shamanov may not be discharged from the hospital until after 1 January.

IA Regnum reports the Chelyabinsk governor has complained to Defense Minister Serdyukov about the resumption of explosive ammunition disposal at Chebarkul, and also about Su-24 flights over Chelyabinsk.

RIA Novosti and Lifenews.ru report that a document creating a Russian DARPA may soon be put before President Medvedev.  The agency would be independent of the Defense Ministry, but conduct ‘breakthrough research in the interests of national security.’  The idea was first raised back in September.

Medvedev Inspects Strategic Forces

In Friday’s Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye, Viktor Litovkin claimed, the day before, President Dmitriy Medvedev visited the inner sanctum of Russia’s Aerospace Defense (VKO or ВКО) – the Central Command Post (ЦКП) of the 3rd Independent Air Defense (Missile Warning) Army in Solnechnogorsk.  Now Litovkin admits VKO doesn’t technically exist yet.  But preparations are underway, and he suggests, besides PVO, SPRN, PRO, space monitoring, etc., it will even include the RVSN.  Litovkin maintains tests of this system are ongoing, and Medvedev came to inspect it.  He watched troops track all three of Thursday’s SLBM and ICBM launches, and saw the missiles’ warheads land on their respective targets.  And, according to Litovkin, the point was to demonstrate the reliability of Russia’s nuclear missile capability to Medvedev as new SNV treaty limits loom.

Could the shrinking RVSN be subsumed under VKO as a new service or branch?  Could this explain the fairly rapid command shifts from Solovtsov to Shvaychenko to Karakayev?

Litovkin on What the GPV Will Buy

Viktor Litovkin (photo: RIA Novosti)

Returning to procurement and the GPV . . . in this week’s Delovoy vtornik, NVO’s Viktor Litovkin also asks what will 19 trillion rubles be spent on. 

He says the answer isn’t simple.  During the last 20 years of ‘starvation rations,’ the armed forces got handfuls of essential combat equipment, and, meanwhile, a dangerous imbalance between strike and combat support systems was created.  And this was obvious against Georgia in 2008. 

Litovkin says this imbalance has to be corrected, meanwhile priorities like strategic nuclear forces can’t be forgotten – not just the offensive triad, but also the missile attack early warning system (SPRN), missile defense (PRO), and aerospace defense (VKO). 

Like Viktor Yesin of late, Litovkin asks how Russia will replace its aging strategic offensive arms to stay up to the limits of the Prague / New START agreement.  Half the Russian force is SS-18, SS-19, and SS-25 ICBMs which will be retired in 7-10 years.  Moscow needs to build 400 strategic systems to replace them.  He doesn’t even mention Delta III and IV SSBNs and their aging SLBMS.  And Russia has only the SS-27, RS-24 Yars, Sineva, and Bulava to replace them. 

Litovkin expects a very large amount of money to be spent not just on replacing strategic systems, but also reequipping the enterprises that produce them. 

He turns to his second priority – also demonstrated by the Georgian war – precision-guided weapons, which in turn depend on reconnaissance-information support and equipment in space, on long-range surveillance aircraft [AWACS], and UAVs. 

Priority three – automated command and control systems (ASU).  He cites Popovkin on linking all service C2 systems into one system over 2-3 years. 

Litovkin says you can’t forget about the Navy, but he mentions just the Borey-class SSBNs, and the need for a wide range of surface ships.  And he makes the point [made by many] that Mistral is all well and good, but it’ll have to have multipurpose combatants operating in its battle group.  They need to be built, and they won’t cost a small amount of money. 

One can’t forget aviation either.  Litovkin cites a $100 million per copy cost for 60 fifth generation fighters [that’s a significant 180-billion-ruble bite out of the GPV].  He notes Vega is working on an updated Russian AWACS (A-100).  And, like Korotchenko, he mentions transport aircraft, but also combat and support helicopters. 

And so, says Litovkin, the question arises – isn’t the country putting out a lot of money to rearm its army? 

Viktor Litovkin (photo: Ekho Moskvy)

Being bold, he says, not really.  He actually uses that accursed 22 trillion figure, which is procurement for all power ministries.  If he used 19 trillion, it would be 1.9 trillion or $63 billion per year for Russia against $636 billion for the U.S., $78 billion for China, $58 billion for the U.K., and $51 billion for Japan.  But he doesn’t say this is annual procurement, the GPV, against the total annual defense budget for these other countries.  A bit of comparing one piece of pie to a whole pie.  Nevertheless, he concludes this makes Russia far from champion when it comes to military expenditures. 

Litovkin’s last word is Russia will remain one of the G8 with a powerful, combat capable, and effective army, but without it, only a raw materials appendage of either the West or East. 

But one wonders, hasn’t Russia long been in the G8 without that kind of armed forces?  Doesn’t breaking away from the raw materials supplier role have more to do with developing an open, attractive, innovative, value-added, and competitive economy (and a political system and society to match) than with military power? 

New 33rd Missile Army Commander

The RVSN yesterday also announced General-Major Aleksandr Ponomarenko as the new commander of its 33rd (Omsk) Missile Army.  He had been chief of staff, first deputy commander of the 27th (Vladimir) Missile Army from 2006 until now.  He served under current RVSN Commander General-Lieutenant Karakayev when he commanded the 27th Missile Army in 2006-2008.

Ponomarenko’s predecessor in the 33rd Missile Army, General-Lieutenant Gennadiy Privalov recently retired.

Ponomarenko commanded the 31st (Orenburg) Missile Army’s 42nd (Nizhniy Tagil) Missile Division in 2000-2003.

In mid-1998, he was a lieutenant colonel commanding a regiment in the Vladimir Missile Army’s 54th (Teykovo) Missile Division.

New 31st Missile Army Commander

The RVSN today announced General-Major Anatoliy Grigoryevich Kulay as the new commander of its 31st (Orenburg) Missile Army.  Kulay had been its chief of staff and first deputy commander since early 2010.  He replaced General-Lieutenant Ivan Reva, who not long ago became the RVSN’s chief of staff and first deputy commander.

Kulay commanded the 33rd (Omsk) Missile Army’s  29th Guards Vitebsk Order of Lenin Red Banner Missile Division (aka the Irkutsk Missile Division), and its three regiments of RT-2PM ‘Topol’ (SS-25) ICBMs between 2006 and 2010.  His division was one of Russia’s two best mobile ICBM divisions based on the results of the 2006 training year.  It was one of Russia’s best again in 2007.  In early 2008, Kulay made one-star.  Prior to 2006, Kulay was an SS-25 missile regiment commander in the former 8th (Yurya or Pervomayskiy) Missile Division, Orenburg Missile Army.

He’s 44, and was commissioned from the Serpukhov Higher Military-Command-Engineering School of Missile Troops.  He’s a graduate of both his senior service school – the Peter the Great Military Academy of the RVSN – and the General Staff Academy.

The RVSN also appointed General-Major Aleksandr Ponomarenko commander of the Omsk Missile Army.  He had been chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Vladimir Missile Army.  More on him later.