Tag Archives: Air Defense

Where’s the Logic?

A “highly-placed” Navy source has told RIA Novosti that S-400 / Triumf surface-to-air missile systems are arriving in the Baltic Fleet.  The source claims fleet air defense personnel are going to Ashuluk for training.

The news agency said a “highly-placed Baltic Fleet staff representative” confirmed announcements from several media outlets about the fleet receiving two S-400 battalions before the end of 2011.

Perhaps some healthy skepticism is in order.

The S-400 isn’t exactly bursting out the factory gates.  A second S-400 regiment hasn’t appeared at Dmitrov, and a third has already been promised for Moscow’s outskirts. 

There’s also a little matter of earlier spurious reports about where the S-400 would appear.  Recall General Staff Chief Makarov’s remark that it was deployed in the Far East in 2009.  Since then, there was talk of using it to defend the Kurils or Kamchatka, but Air Forces generals have spoken of the system strictly in terms of protecting Russia’s “central administrative and industrial zones,” i.e. Moscow and adjacent oblasts. 

Maybe it would make some sense to protect the country’s northwestern approaches from ever-dangerous Germans, Swedes, Finns, etc.  But it’s not really logical to do so until Moscow’s air defenses are modernized.

And it’s certainly not logical (from a bureaucratic viewpoint) for the VVS or VKO Troops (VVKO?) to let these precious new systems slip from their hands into the Navy’s control.  A second service operator at this point would complicate training and maintenance.

Maybe it’s another tactic for negotiating with the U.S. over missile defense in Eastern Europe (like deploying Iskander SSMs in Kaliningrad).

For its part, Interfaks (according to TsAMTO) reported the Navy S-400s would be placed in Russia’s Baltic exclave.

At any rate, there would seem to be few persuasive arguments and little sense behind a deployment of the S-400 in the Baltic Fleet any time soon.

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.”

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.

Second S-400 Regiment Delayed

The second S-400 regiment, or “regimental set,” hasn’t commenced combat duty at Dmitrov after all. 

This was supposed to happen on May 15, but didn’t.  According to RIA Novosti, a VVS spokesman said the official commencement of combat duty was postponed [again] from July 17 until the last ten days of this month.

The news agency says the ceremony will take place on Peremilovskaya Height, outside Dmitrov.  

Newly-minted VVS Main Staff Chief and First Deputy CINC, General-Major Viktor Bondarev said in June that a third S-400 regiment will become operational this fall.

Government Credit for Two New Almaz-Antey Factories

In a 29 December interview on Vesti’s Rossiya-24 program, Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov addressed modernization, development, arms sales, and defense industry.  He said international demand for Russian air defense systems has led the government to take a decision to extend credit for Almaz-Antey to build two new factories.

As written in an earlier post about shortfalls in productive capacity in the OPK, this possibility has been under discussion since at least last February.

Military Parity picked up additional RIA Novosti coverage of Ivanov’s remarks:

“This year we decided on additional support to ‘Almaz-Antey’ and the allocation of credit for the construction of two more factories.”

Ivanov explained that most of Almaz-Antey’s production is going to satisfy the Russian Army’s requirements, and:

“Now they don’t have production capacity for large volume exports.  But this good, if it’s possible to call it that, is in great demand on the international market.”

A bit from the video . . . Ivanov’s interviewer asks about the state of military-technical cooperation (i.e. arms sales), and aviation’s role in it.  Ivanov says it got along “not badly” in 2010.  Arms sales exceeded $10 billion for the first time.  This, he says, attests to the competitiveness of, and demand for, Russian equipment, and so, in many areas, the defense sector isn’t doing badly.  Aviation represents more than a third of arms sales, or more than $4 billion.  He thinks military transport aviation sales have a good future, and, of course, buyers stand in line for Almaz-Antey’s PVO systems.  Thus, with internal and external demand, the need for two completely new factories.

Of course, saying they’ve decided for two factories is not the same as actually building them and starting new production lines.

New Air Forces Commander in Far East

Colonel Dronov

On Monday, the Defense Ministry announced Colonel Sergey Vladimirovich Dronov as the new Chief of Air Forces and Air Defense in the Far East.  His predecessor, General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov, has a new post in the Operational-Strategic Command of Air-Space Defense (OSK VKO or ОСК ВКО).

The 48-year-old Dronov was born in rural eastern Ukraine.  In 1983, he graduated from the Yeysk Higher Military Aviation School for Pilots, and began his service as a fighter-bomber pilot in the former Belorussian Military District.  So he’s an aviator, no surprise.

According to the Defense Ministry website, he served in aviation units in the North Caucasus and Siberia, and in command positions from flight commander to division commander.  He graduated from the mid-career Gagarin Air Forces Academy in 1992, and the General Staff Academy in 2007.

Dronov started his Far East service as commander of the Ussuriysk Composite Aviation Division in 2008.  In August 2009, he was assigned as deputy commander of the Air Forces and Air Defense Army (AVVSPVO) in the Far East.

The Defense Ministry reached down to replace an O-8 with an O-6.  This may be part of its continuing effort to reduce its top-heavy rank structure.  Recall Defense Minister Serdyukov’s description of the ‘bloated egg’ in rank distribution.  But Dronov will probably be promoted to general-major soon.

It’ll be interesting to see how other appointments play out.  Dronov just took over the existing Khabarovsk-based 11th AVVSPVO.  That’s an easy one.  But presumably, with the cut to four MDs, two of the current five AVVSPVOs might disappear.  The 6th AVVSPVO in St. Petersburg might meld into the Moscow-based Special Designation Command (КСпН) in the new Western MD.  And the 14th in Novosibirsk could be subsumed by the Yekaterinburg-based 5th  in the Central MD.  Look for more air and air defense command appointments.