Tag Archives: ЦАСТ

5th Generation Engine Delayed?

Work at NPO Saturn

Marker.ru yesterday wrote about NPO Saturn, FGUP Salyut, OAK, ODK, the Defense Ministry, and development of a fifth generation engine for Russia’s fighter aircraft.

Salyut believes it has basically defeated Saturn in the Defense Ministry’s tender to produce a fifth generation engine for the PAK FA, but Salyut fears development will be given instead to the newly created ODK, the United Engine-building Corporation.

Meanwhile, in OAK–the United Aircraft-building Corporation, they think the Defense Ministry may be considering not making a new engine for the first PAK FA model, and instead concentrating engineering resources on development of a 5th generation engine for future modifications of the new fighter. 

Salyut believes it decisively beat Saturn in the tender’s first phase, but the Defense Ministry has not announced the second and conclusive phase possibly because, according to Salyut’s Dmitriy Yeliseyev, the issue of creating the fifth generation engine was automatically decided when Saturn joined ODK.  But Salyut will insist on completing the tender process to decide who will be lead designer for the 5th generation fighter’s engines.

Yeliseyev says:

“We understand that general direction of the work to create an engine for PAK FA will be under ODK, but we also believe the tender is needed to even decide who will develop the gas generator for the future engine, and basically decide who will drive work on the engine for PAK FA.”

Salyut is now focused on modernizing the fourth generation AL-31 engine.  But test models of PAK FA have Saturn’s 117 engine, a modification of the AL-31.

OAK representative Konstantin Lantratov says the fifth generation engine has fundamentally new requirements, particularly in the areas of radar and infrared signature reduction.  OAK believes the Defense Ministry is not announcing the conclusive phase of the tender to build PAK FA’s engines because it’s waiting for the aircraft’s test results with its current engines.

Marker.ru asks is it necessary to make a 5th generation engine right now?  Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate work on producing engines for aircraft that will follow the PAK FA?  If a new engine starts development today, it will be ready in 5-7 years, about the time modernized or other variants of the PAK FA will be appearing [of course, this assumes the original PAK FA is successful and operational pretty quickly].

OAK’s Lantratov seems to think the Defense Ministry should decide now, if it wants to pay for new engines, and is willing to risk paying and not getting the right results.

Marker.ru consults CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko . . . he thinks the Defense Ministry has no reason to hurry.  ‘Deeply modernized’ fourth generation engines from Saturn and Salyut are meeting VVS and PAK FA requirements, at least during the test phase.

He thinks a real 5th generation engine is 10 years away.  The need for more powerful engines will arise as other variants (2-seat, strike, naval, etc.) of the PAK FA appear.  Over their life cycles, aircraft get heavier and thrust has to keep pace, so more powerful engines would need to appear around 2020 anyway.

Pukhov Criticizes Serdyukov’s Reforms

Ruslan Pukhov (photo: Radio Rossii)

In today’s Komsomolskaya pravda, Viktor Baranets interviews Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, and Member of the Defense Ministry’s Public Council.  Pukhov provides a fairly balanced assessment of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s reforms, one year on.

Pukhov believes Serdyukov managed to reorganize and shake up the Defense Ministry apparatus, and partially achieved more rational use of the military’s budget money.  He says the main thing is the breakthrough on the ‘organizational measures’ of military reform.  He calls the ‘new profile’ the deepest organizational change for Moscow since 1945, citing its large-scale relocation of troops and equipment, cutting of personnel and obsolete armaments, reorganization of military education, and civilianization of many military jobs.  Pukhov concludes the administrative tasks of the reform are largely complete.

However, Pukhov also agrees with Baranets that the reforms have created a structural shell that has to be brought to life, made effective, and combat capable.  This will be harder than what’s been done so far.  Pukhov says there are few who doubt the army needed a radical, not just a cosmetic, reform, and the five-day August 2008 war proved it.

Pukhov thinks the reforms have created a new army, fundamentally different from the Soviet or previous Russian Army.  In scale, they can only be compared with the military reform of Peter the Great.  If it’s possible to reproach the Russian leadership for anything, it’s for dragging the process out with half measures which turned into a permanent degradation of the army, according to Pukhov.

Asked about Serdyukov’s greatest achievement and greatest failure, Pukhov says the former is having the political and administrative will to complete the first phase of reform.  But the greatest failure is Serdyukov’s inability to win the support of the entire officer corps, and this has put part of the officer corps against him.  Bureaucratic and poorly explained changes have often demoralized personnel, and poorly thought out personnel cuts have created discontent in the ranks, from contractee to general.  Military discontent with the methods of conducting the reform could discredit the reform itself, and make it too difficult for the political leadership to continue supporting Serdyukov, although for now Kremlin is satisfied with Serdyukov and his role as the army’s ‘surgeon.’

Pukhov says many of the measures have been extremely painful, affecting the fate of hundreds of thousands of servicemen, and often been implemented in a typical Russian fashion he describes as ‘up the ass.’  The Defense Ministry’s ‘secret-bureaucratic’ approach itself has had an effect here as well.

After practically calling Serdyukov’s the army’s proctologist-in-chief, Pukhov cuts him some slack, saying he didn’t personally plan and implement the largest part of the ‘orgshtat measures.’  They were done by military specialists in the Defense Ministry, General Staff, and service and district staffs, by men who’ve served out there themselves and are now engaged in transferring their colleagues, cutting some, putting some outside the TO&E, ‘optimizing,’ and so forth.  But Pukhov notes, all this could be done humanely, with respect toward the men and their professional experience.

Pukhov agrees with Baranets that a ‘soulless’ style of dealing with people, a lack of concern about human capital, and disregard for the human factor is traditional in the army.  And, unfortunately, it permeates the entire military system, according to Pukhov.  And a significant portion of the officer corps has become victim to such an approach during these rapid reforms.

Pukhov ends with some criticism for the top military leadership which often says it has come all the way from the bottom ranks, like those being ‘optimized’ today.  But what’s happening, including the aforementioned ‘excesses’ of reform, in Pukhov’s view, should make one think that there are some unhealthy morale-psychological tendencies in the army, which started long before Serdyukov, and can’t be considered normal.  Perhaps, for the success of reforms, the leadership should focus on the human aspect and recognize that the army, first and foremost, is people, and not pieces of iron.

So it sounds a little like Pukhov is saying the civilian Serdyukov didn’t realize how military men would implement his changes in their own organization, and what the human costs would be.  Again, it sounds like he wants to cut Serdyukov some slack, and share the blame for the pain caused with others around him wearing uniforms with big stars.  This tends to overlook the reality that many of those with the stars who objected were sent packing by someone.

Industry More Important Than Army

Konstantin Makiyenko (photo: Dmitriy Lebedev/Kommersant)

Commenting in today’s Vedomosti, Konstantin Makiyenko of Moscow’s Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (ЦАСТ), also a member of the Duma Defense Committee’s Scientific-Expert Council, addresses the recent tendency of Russian military leaders, especially Air Forces and Navy, to criticize and even reject the OPK’s homegrown products.

He notes VVS CINC Zelin’s publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of work on the S-500, and the Navy’s ‘slap in the face’ to Russian shipbuilding over consideration of the Mistral and German conventional subs.  He claims the oboronki themselves sensed Defense Minister Serdyukov’s bias against them and rushed to confess their problems.

And Makiyenko concludes the criticism is well-founded, as many OPK enterprises and companies are in pitiful shape, and the management of a number them leaves a lot to be desired.  However, he asserts, the OPK’s post-Soviet decline is not as great as that of the armed forces.  And restoring Russia’s ‘normal’ military potential is a higher priority task than preserving or adding to the OPK’s scientific-industrial potential.

Makiyenko believes Russia’s place as the number 2 or 3 arms exporter in the world indicates the OPK’s real potential.  Even more so since the economic conditions in which the OPK operates are worse than those of its competitors.  So, for all its problems, the OPK is still number 2 or 3 in the world, according to Makiyenko, while the army, nuclear weapons aside, is capable only of defeating the lilliputian armies of the former Soviet republics.

Makiyenko believes the degradation of the Soviet Armed Forces was occurring as early as the 1970s, while the Soviet OPK was reaching the peak of its capabilities at the end of the Soviet epoch.  It had practically overcome any lag with the U.S. and was building competitive products.  So, Makiyenko concludes, the OPK, rather than the Soviet Army, was the advanced guard in the last stage of the Cold War.  And Russia’s arms market successes would have been impossible without the Soviet OPK legacy.

Makiyenko suggests that the OPK should have priority over the army because, not only can it play a role in national development, but, with some effort, it can be restored in 5-10 years, while if it is [completely?] lost, it could take one or two generations to rebuild.  And even if Serdyukov builds the best army in the world, it won’t be able to provide for the country’s security without the basis of national defense–Russian industry.

So, without orders from its own army, without financing for basic research or RDT&E for the last 15 years, the OPK isn’t always able to meet demands for low priced, high technology goods on tight schedules to help Serdyukov rearm the armed forces quickly and effectively.  But this is no reason to call oboronki thieves and junk dealers.  Makiyenko calls for a long-term perspective and systematic evaluation of the situation instead of nearsightedness.

This is all well and good.  Makiyenko’s a smart guy and makes valid points, and he’s done an admirable job of defending the OPK.  But let’s remember that he tends to shill for arms sales.  Russian weapons sold abroad have had more than their share of problems in recent years.  And the Soviet technology in them grows older and older.  Also, there appears to be no cogent program for fixing the OPK anywhere in sight.  Nor is there even any clear analysis of how buying arms abroad will affect the OPK.