Tag Archives: Mistral

Government Hour (Part II)

There was plenty of interesting media coverage of the Defense Minister’s meeting with the Duma on Wednesday, and plenty of criticism of what he said or didn’t say.  Plenty worth covering in a Part II, especially regarding Serdyukov’s effort to shift the blame for another failing GOZ.

Radio Svoboda quoted KPRF deputy Vladimir Ulas putting all the blame for the army’s current state right at Anatoliy Serdyukov’s feet:

“The public clearly understands that the situation in the Armed Forces is far from favorable.  Constant scandals which rock this department, the morale-psychological situation in which personnel, first and foremost, the officer corps, find themselves, both the material condition, and the lack of modern armaments – all these problems are completely real.  I also hoped to hear answers to questions, how the Defense Ministry intends to solve them, from the minister.  But, to my greatest regret, the biggest, in my view, problem of today’s Armed Forces is the absolutely dense incompetence of the military leadership.  With people like Serdyukov still heading our Armed Forces, and he, unfortunately, is far from the only one, hoping for some kind of positive shifts is absolutely senseless.”

There was plenty more to be said about problems with the GOZ, the OPK, and the VPK and Defense Ministry blaming each other for what looks like a failing GOZ-2011.

KPRF deputy Anatoliy Lokot told Nakanune.ru:

“I have the impression that these sessions are ‘closed’ to hide the bitterness of the questions and negative results of the work of Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) and Defense Ministry leaders.”

United Russia’s Igor Barinov reiterated what he said he told President Medvedev a year ago:

“I noted then that the lack of competition and incomprehensible system of price formation in the VPK is a deadend path.  We’re reaping the fruits of this now.  Judge yourself:  one, well, a maximum of two enterprises produce this or that type of our armament or military equipment.  Meanwhile, enterprises getting money from the federal budget dispose of it as they wish.  Prices simply come from the ceiling.  No one bears any responsibility for quality.  No one invests money in improving types of military equipment, in the end it goes that even in infantry weapons we’ve fallen behind.  Our legendary automatic weapon Kalashnikov, the value of which everyone recognized before, now lags the best Western types in tactical-technical characteristics.  And so it is in almost every area, with rare exceptions in the areas of missiles and some aircraft.”

“The Defense Ministry announced it won’t buy airborne combat vehicles [BMDs] and infantry combat vehicles [BMPs] from ‘Kurganmashzavod.’  This enterprise was one of the guilty in breaking the Gosoboronzakaz.  And here’s the thing in this.  ‘Kurganmashzavod’ is part of the United ‘Tractor Plants’ Corporation.  Budget money is shared out with ‘Kurganmashzavod’ in a targeted way for the purchase of equipment, but the corporation’s directors dispose of it according to their discretion, and, naturally, BMP and BMD production is the last thing of concern for the owners of this holding company.”

“If they understand that they can be deprived of budget resources, then this enterprise will be forced to invest in quality, and in cutting defects, and in the improvement of product types.  In addition, strict supervision is needed.  Money was allocated but no one asked anyone about this money, and the result was zero.”

The KPRF’s Lokot also dwelled on the GOZ:

“It’s obvious that if the Gosoboronzakaz isn’t formed in the first half of the year, then nothing will be accomplished in the remaining part of the time since money will only begin coming in at the end of the year.  Serdyukov acknowledged that today 13.4% of all contracts in the plan have been formed.  Some time ago, Sergey Ivanov gave us other numbers.  But I think that this number juggling was caused by competition between the Defense Minister and the Military-Industrial Commission.  Ivanov lumps all the blame on the Defense Ministry, Serdyukov – on the defense-industrial complex.  He even began his [Duma] speech with this, saying that the military-industrial complex is guilty of everything.  They have poor qualifications, technology losses, poor production and so forth.  But really at a minimum the Defense Ministry itself bears 50% percent of the responsibility for such a situation.”

“I have given the example of Novosibirsk proving the obvious guilt of the Defense Ministry in breaking the order.  One of the enterprises – the Lenin Factory, which puts out very important products for infantry weapons, became a victim of Defense Ministry officials.  In January this year, Serdyukov opened a state order tender with his signature, but closed it in March.  Now half the year is gone, and there are no results.  The enterprise isn’t working, products aren’t coming out, 211 million rubles spent on reequipping won’t bring any returns, and now they’re generally talking about cutting part of the work force.

“Right in Novosibirsk at the Comintern Factory the S-400 surface-to-air missile system is being produced on the enterprise’s own money, and not with government resources.  Serdyukov says:  ‘I don’t see anything terrible in this, let the enterprise do it on its own money.’  But where does it get its capital resources?  What world is Serdyukov living in?”

Vedomosti talked to a former Defense Ministry official who basically said the threat of arms purchases abroad really didn’t scare anyone.  And, according to him, although Serdyukov considers defense industry leaders lazy and prone to stealing, everyone understands imports can never replace domestic production.  Finally, a source close to the PA told the business daily that Serdyukov himself opposes the Mistral acquisition because of the large expenditures required to build its base infrastructure.

Mistral Endgame?

Mistral (photo: ITAR-TASS)

Maybe.  Maybe not. 

The Mistral contract endgame may in fact be upon us.  But some major players have warned (more than once) of a protracted negotiating process.

Kommersant reports Rosoboroneksport and DCNS signed a “contract” on June 10 for the first two Mistral units, according to a source familiar with the course of negotiations. 

After meeting President Medvedev at the G8 summit on May 26, French President Sarkozy said a “contract” would be signed in 15 days [that would have been June 10].  Now Sarkozy also said in late May that a Mistral “contract” would be signed on June 21 when Prime Minister Putin visits France.  Kommersant suggests this could be an official unveiling of whatever was signed on June 10.  But an RF government source said this isn’t planned, according to ITAR-TASS

As for the terms and price . . . the Russians were insisting that the Mistral come equipped with the SENIT 9 tactical combat information system and licensed rights for €980 million, but the French were saying no such tech transfer for €1.15 billion.  Also according to this story, the French don’t intend to provide SIC-21 in the Mistral package.

In contrast to Kommersant, RIA Novosti says what was signed last week was no more than a “protocol of intent” to sign a “contract.”  The news agency said the date and place for the “contract” signing remains up in the air, but it could be the international naval exhibition in St. Petersburg from June 29 to July 3.

It also says the price will be between €1 and €1.2 billion, and the French military still opposes giving SENIT 9 to Russia.

Rosoboroneksport’s press-service denied that a “contract” has been signed, and told media outlets the negotiations are in their concluding phase, and a Mistral contract is in the process of “technical formation.”

Utro.ru sums up what many may think about acquiring four units of Mistral:

“Military experts still don’t know precisely why Russian sailors need them, since all of two [sic] ships will scarcely substantially change the situation in the fleet.  It’s not excluded that Russia, first and foremost, wants the technologies the French use in constructing ‘Mistrals.’”

It’s also not excluded that perhaps some involved want the deal itself, commissions, bribes, and kickbacks, more than they want the ships.

Civilians Now Top Military Diplomats

There’s great interest in the new civilian chief of the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation (GU MVS).  With yesterday’s decree, President Medvedev appointed career diplomat Sergey Mikhaylovich Koshelev to this post.  Koshelev had been Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Security and Disarmament Issues (DVBR or ДВБР).

Koshelev’s appointment followed that of former DVBR Director Anatoliy Antonov to be Deputy Defense Minister for International Military Cooperation.  So presumably close colleagues Koshelev and Antonov will collaborate again to promote Russia’s military interaction with foreign armies, with the former acting as the latter’s right hand.  The burgeoning “reload” or “reset” with the U.S. Defense Department and with NATO will be a principal preoccupation. 

According to ITAR-TASS, Koshelev has concentrated on strategic negotiations — including START, INF, missile defense, and military space issues — during his diplomatic career.  Today’s Rossiyskaya gazeta notes Koshelev had an active hand in negotiating the new START Treaty with the U.S.  The paper forecasts  he will be active on the issue of European missile defense.

Kommersant writes that Koshelev was born in Moscow on 26 June 1957.  In 1983, he graduated from the Institute of the Countries of Asia and Africa, proceeding to work in the diplomatic service in India.  From 1995, he worked on export control in the DVBR.  In 1998-2003, Koshelev was a counsellor in Moscow’s permanent mission to the U.N. Disarmament Conference in Geneva.  In addition to serving as DVBR Deputy Director, he was also chief of its multilateral disarmament section.  He was promoted to Russia’s third highest diplomatic rank — Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Second Class — in 2008.

Gazeta.ru and Gzt.ru postulate, not without some basis, that Antonov and Koshelev will be part of a new negotiating team for the Mistral purchase.

It’ll be interesting to see what Koshelev and Antonov do with GU MVS, a storied organization somewhat adrift in recent years.  Koshelev relieves acting chief, Colonel Yelena Knyazeva, an interesting character in her own right.  The press notes that General-Major Aleksey Sukhov was dismissed in 2010.  His predecessor was General-Lieutenant Vladimir Fedorov, who had headed the UVS — External Relations Directorate, charged with supervising foreign military attaches in Russia and Russian ones abroad.  We’ve noted on these pages that General-Colonel Anatoliy Mazurkevich left in a hurry when Defense Minister Serdyukov arrived, and General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov discovered the Defense Ministry wasn’t big enough for him and Sergey Ivanov.

So GU MVS once got its leadership from the ranks of Russia’s military diplomats, its military attaches, i.e. from its military intelligence officers and the GRU.  In Gzt.ru, Ivashov described the old GU MVS as an “instrument for warning of military dangers and threats to the USSR and Russia” [i.e. the GRU’s strategic military intelligence mission], but he acknowledged those days are gone and this main directorate has been “reformed” in recent years.

Smiling, But Not About Mistral

Anatoliy Isaykin

FGUP Rosoboroneksport General Director Anatoliy Isaykin is smiling, but not about Mistral.

In fact, Isaykin’s poured cold water on thoughts of quickly resolving the Russo-French impasse over these helicopter carriers.

As if to answer anyone looking for a date when negotiations will be completed,  Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer quotes Isaykin:

“Dates are guesses.  Such contracts, when we’re talking hundreds of millions of euros, — this is years and years of negotiations.  It’s simply funny to expect we’ll conclude such a contract over several months.”

Of the complex and lengthy contracting process, VPK says don’t expect a detailed contract to be signed earlier than next year.  The political agreement on the acquisition was one thing, but now there’s routine pre-contract work which takes months, if not years, agreeing step-by-step on hundreds of points and compromises.

Recall early this year Isaykin was very reserved about the political agreement on Mistral, reminding the press it contained nothing about costs or timeframes.

More Mistral Negotiations

Mistral in Piter (photo: RIA Novosti / Aleksey Danichev)

Might as well start the week with Mistral news.  An informed RIA Novosti source in the OPK suggests this week could be decisive for negotiations on the sale of Mistral to Russia.  But can anything really be decisive in a drawn-out process like this?

The news agency’s interlocutor, much like Anatoliy Antonov, says:

“The situation is not very simple, the negotiating process is going with difficulty.”

“The stumbling block remains the ship’s outfitting, disagreement concerns two NATO standard command and control systems — combat information-command system Senit 9 and battle group (fleet) command and control system SIC-21.”

“The French agreed to transfer Senit 9 to Russia without a production license, they don’t want to transfer SIC-21 with the ship at all.”

RIA Novosti reminds that Russia has insisted on Mistral’s transfer with all  its systems and equipment.

Ruslan Pukhov bravely tells RIA Novosti, when it comes to amphibious command ships, it’s a buyer’s market, so Russia will find another country to sell it if France declines.  That’s at least half true, but it’s also true that France is something of a special case.  The Dutch, Spanish, or South Koreans might not be willing to give everything Moscow wants either.

Does That Box Come With Electronics?

The latest Mistral story is more complex than what you’ve probably read so far.

Russian press services report a highly-placed military source claims Paris has “registered” Moscow’s demand for systems and equipment on Mistral that fully satisfy the Russian Navy’s requirements.

Media sources also say the negotiations foresee a state contract for the provision of two Mistrals, spare parts, instrumentation, and essential operator documentation, as well as equipment, services, and construction documentation needed to build two more Mistrals in Russia.

A source also told the wire services preparation for the acquisition of Mistral “is going logically and systematically” within the bounds of the negotiating process with the French side.

Newsru.com, by contrast, claims this is the Defense Ministry’s way of countering reports that Moscow has decided not to buy Mistral since France is trying sell Russia “empty boxes” for a billion euros. 

Newsru is referring to Vedomosti’s story from earlier this week saying the entire Mistral deal is under threat because the ships’ outfitting is unacceptable to Russia since it doesn’t include modern command, control, and communications systems, and is only a “basic variant” of the ship, a “box without electronics” essentially.

Newsru recaps Tuesday’s Vedomosti:

“. . . the preliminary agreement actually didn’t include the construction of two more ships in Russia, or crew training and the transfer of shipbuilding technologies.  As “Vedomosti” stated with reference to sources in the Presidential Administration and the RF Defense Ministry, the negotiations with the French have reached a dead end, and now resolution of the problem is being sought at the political level.”

On the issue of providing C3 systems (specifically, Senit 9 and SIC-21) on-board Mistral, Vedomosti implies it’s more about money than technology transfer.  Russia can either pay an extra 200 million euros for a full electronics fit, or try to argue at the political level for the ships at the price of 890 million euros which was supposedly on the protocol signed late last year by now-retired Vice-Admiral Nikolay Borisov and Deputy PM Igor Sechin.  Other sources have said Borisov and Sechin exceeded their mandate in agreeing to a price well over 1 billion euros.  We don’t really know what was on that protocol.

The point – overlooked by many including yours truly – is that there’s no real contract for Mistral yet, and it’s a long way off.  All there are so far are protocols, agreements, and understandings.  What was signed in January at Saint-Nazaire was an “intergovernmental agreement” for the possible construction of two Mistrals, not a specific contract covering that and the construction of two more in Russia.

Wednesday Interfaks.ru ran its review of the Mistral story concluding that the negotiating process is difficult, but the French have decided to meet Russia’s requirements.

Interfaks also published something else that might be useful when thinking about Mistral:

“Meanwhile in mid-March, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoliy Antonov, who’s overseeing international cooperation issues, told journalists in Paris that Russia doesn’t intend to force the signing of the contract for the purchase of the French ‘Mistral’ helicopter carriers until it’s determined that all technical parameters won’t impinge on the Defense Ministry’s interests.  ‘It’s early to talk about dates, too many technical details have to be decided.  The contract has to be adapted to our conditions.  Complex expert professional work in the verification of all parameters of a future agreement is going on,’ said the Deputy Minister.  And he noted talk about how all technical nuances are reflected and have been laid down in the contract.  ‘The negotiating process is complex, I would say difficult,’ said Antonov.  He added that, essentially, the negotiations have just begun.  ‘We have to discuss the entire complex of issues.  The task of acquiring ships and their technologies has been given to us.  That’s the most important thing,’ said the Deputy Minister.  In his opinion, an important part of the negotiating process is ‘the contract’s price.’  ‘It’s important to understand that on the issue of buying Mistral type ships agreements were reached at the level of the presidents of the two countries, and negotiators have all necessary authorities and instructions.  We have to work calmly and implement all agreements,’ said Antonov.  He noted that now it’s essential that all agreements ‘be put on paper and to reflect the political agreements of the two presidents in figures so that they meet the interests of the two countries.’”

A professional diplomat and negotiator is never going to say a process is easy, and this one isn’t.  But it does sound like there’s a draft contract, while price and exactly what the presidents agreed remains at issue.

GPV, Exports, and OPK Capacity

New Sub at Admiralty (photo: RIA Novosti)

This morning RIA Novosti reported on a familiar topic — the conflict between planned acquisition embodied in the State Program of Armaments, 2011-2020, and the Russian OPK’s capacity and capability to deliver it.  In this case, new diesel-electric submarines from St. Petersburg’s Admiralty Wharves.  Also familiar is one reason for the bind — a lingering priority on production for sale abroad.

A highly-placed OPK source tells the news agency that the GPV’s plan for conventional submarine deliveries might not be fulfilled due to Admiralty’s heavy load of orders.  The Russian Navy is reportedly supposed to get 20 new diesel-electric boats by 2020, and Russia also has ten foreign deliveries scheduled.  The OPK source notes that Admiralty has become a sole source for conventional subs, and he calls for shifting some sub production to Nizhniy Novgorod and Komsomolsk:

“In view of the large volume of new submarine construction for the Navy, and also for export, it’s essential to diversify production, utilizing, for example, the capacity of ‘Krasnoye Sormovo’ Shipbuilding Plant in Nizhniy Novgorod and the Amur Shipbuilding Plant in Komsomolsk-na-Amure.  Otherwise the state program in the diesel submarine construction area could be disrupted.”

RIA Novosti notes “Krasnoye Sormovo” built plenty of Soviet submarines, 280 in all, including 25 nuclear-powered ones.  Its last boat was a diesel-electric for China in 2005.  The plant also outfits Russian Navy and export subs with torpedo- and mast-related equipment.

The article also speculates that construction of French-designed Mistral helicopter carriers could be problematic if Admiralty is selected.  The shipyard is reportedly planning on new construction space on Kronshtadt for this reason.  The OPK source says Mistral would be Admiralty’s main concern, and occupy its main capacity and personnel.  So, he continues, it’s logical to send some orders (i.e. submarines) to other factories that have the capabilities.

Igor Korotchenko tells RIA Novosti “Krasnoye Sormovo” could provide extra buildingways if Admiralty can’t meet all its export contracts.  He says Admiralty is now building five subs under the GOZ, six for Vietnam, and:

“In the event new contracts are signed for sub construction with Venezuela and Indonesia there will be an obvious problem with inadequate buildingway space, and then a backup could be required.”

RIA Novosti notes rather dryly along the way that no Russian GPV has been fulfilled completely because of the country’s insufficient modern industrial capacity.

One wonders what, if any, work and investment would be required to bring “Krasnoye Sormovo” and Amur back into the sub-building business.

Russia Not Likely to Buy Ukraina

Slava-class CG Ukraina

Will Russia buy the aging, semi-finished Slava-class CG Ukraina?  Probably not, unless the price is really right, i.e. basically zero.  It’s unlikely Russia will pay Ukraine to complete the cruiser because Russian shipyards have suggested towing it to Russia, refurbishing, and updating there. 

The questions are compelling only because of a recent video, varying reports about the ship and a possible deal, and what this all says about Moscow’s military procurement.

Military parity highlighted Podrobnosti.ua’s video.  Like the photo above, the video shows a major combatant in declining condition.

Nevertheless, according to recent ITAR-TASS, Ukraine’s Defense Minister is optimistic Kyiv and Moscow will finish Ukraina together.  And he claims the ship is 95 percent complete.

By way of review, Ukraina is a 1970s- or 1980s-vintage design being constructed as Fleet Admiral Lobov at Nikolayev’s [Mykolayiv’s] 61 Communards Shipbuilding Plant when the USSR collapsed.  Kyiv failed to find a foreign buyer for the ship, and reportedly spends $1 million every year maintaining it.  So that doesn’t mean a plethora of options or a very strong negotiating position for the Ukrainian side.

Talk of Russia buying Ukraina peaked last year in the wake of the base agreement extension between Moscow and Kyiv.  News outlets noted that the acting chief of the Russian Navy’s Technical Directorate inspected the cruiser and declared it 50 percent ready.  He said Ukraina would need 15 billion rubles for repairs and 35 billion for modernization — $1.7 billion in all.  The Navy’s 50 percent sounds a lot more like the 70 or 75 percent we’ve been hearing for many years than the Ukrainian Defense Minister’s 95 percent.

Reported pricetags for Ukraina, in its current shape, start at $70 or $80 million and run to ridiculous numbers.  In January, Argumenti.ru reported the Russian Defense Ministry would not pay scrap metal prices for Ukraina, but commented that Moscow would accept the ship as a gift.

Then there’s also the issue of whether the Russian Navy really needs it.  It’s an issue often forgotten in procurement debates.  Granted Ukraina is a something of a special case.  But it should also be a pretty easy decision.

Novyy region quoted a couple opinions last May.  Former Black Sea Fleet Commander Vladimir Komoyedov said:

“The ship hasn’t aged 15-20 years yet according to its capabilities.  However, it needs, of course, to be deployed in the ocean, in open theaters, and not in the Black Sea, not in the Baltic — there just isn’t sufficient space for it there.  The ships [Slava-class] are very good, not at all badly designed.  It can’t be said this cruiser belongs just to Ukraine alone.  Ukraine’s share of it, as far as I remember, is 17, a maximum of 20 percent.  Therefore the question’s about the purchase not of a full ship, but of a share — all the rest belongs to Russia.  The purchase issue has stood for a long time, and it needs to be resolved once and for all.  If such a decision is made, it’ll be the right one.  It’s better than the tin can Mistral by a factor of two.”

Defense analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin, on the other hand, said:

“It’s very hard to understand who needs this ship now.  Undoubtedly, for our fleet which is shrinking into nothing, now such a cruiser has already become pointless.  We have to begin, so to speak, from below, and not from above, not with cruisers, but with frigates at least.  Moreover, these cruisers have a very narrow anti-aircraft carrier mission.  They were built exclusively for war with American carrier battle groups.  It doesn’t seem to me that this mission is all that acute for us now.  Therefore, it’s hard for me to comprehend why we need this ship, and where to put it if it is finished.”

All that said, the Russians might buy Ukraina anyway.  If they do, it’ll indicate a new State Program of Armaments gone awry in its first year.

Postnikov on the Army and OPK (Part I)

Ground Troops CINC, General-Colonel Aleksandr Postnikov really stirred up the hornet’s nest on Tuesday.  Russia’s defense sector – its OPK or oboronki – feeling offended recently, is abuzz about his comments.  Postnikov told a session of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee:

“Those models of weapons that industry produces, including armor, artillery and infantry weapons, don’t correspond to NATO’s or even China’s models in their characteristics.”

The military hadn’t criticized the domestic OPK’s heavy armor and artillery systems to this point.

Insulting Russian tanks is the particular point here.  According to Newsru.com, Postnikov apparently called the much-praised, newest T-90 in actuality just the 17th modification of the Soviet T-72.  And, at the current cost of 118 million rubles per tank, he suggested:

“It would be simpler for us to buy three ‘Leopards’ [German tanks] for this money.”

Newsru.com counters that Rosoboroneksport is proud of the T-90, its sales, and continued interest abroad, but admits it is weak against third generation ATGMs, modern sub-munitions, and “top attack” weapons.  The news outlet also notes that the Russian Defense Ministry has eschewed procurement of the T-95 and BMPT.

In its editorial entitled “Import Generals,” Vedomosti takes Postnikov to task, saying it’s not sure whether he means new or used Leopards, but the German tanks probably come in at $7.5 million a piece at least, against the T-90 at $4 million [i.e. only part of one Leopard for 118 million rubles].  And, says Vedomosti, comparing Russian tanks to Chinese ones is lamer still on Postnikov’s part.

According to the business daily, these criticisms of Russian armaments usually come with calls to buy the same systems abroad.  But the 2008 war with Georgia showed Russia’s deficiencies lay in soldier systems, comms, recce, C2, and some types of infantry weapons rather than in armor.  When Russia doesn’t make something like Mistral or it has inferior technology like UAVs, it’s understandable to buy foreign, but when it’s something like armor, it raises a lot of issues, according to Vedomosti.  Uralvagonzavod certainly needs tank orders.  The idea of large-scale foreign purchases is utopian, says Mikhail Barabanov.  The paper believes thoughts of buying Leopard tanks and Mistral mean Russia’s generalitet has plans beyond local wars.

BFM.ru says Postnikov put the Ground Troops’ modern arms and equipment at only 12 percent of its inventory at present with, again, the goal of 70 percent in 2020.  At the end of this year, the army will get its first brigade complement of the newest automated C2 (ASU) system [i.e. presumably YeSU TZ]:

“In November of this year, we plan to conduct research on the newest  ASU and hand down our verdict.”

According to BFM.ru, he said NATO and China already have analogous systems:

“But for us it is still the future.”

Nezavisimaya gazeta focused on Postnikov’s comments on Ground Troops brigades.  He said he now has 70, but plans for 109 by 2020, including “future type” brigades:

“There will be 42 brigades of the future type, in all there will be 47 military formations of the future type, including military bases abroad which will be built on the same principle.”

The Glavkom didn’t say how the new brigades will be different from the old.

Parsing what he’s talking about is a little tough.  At the end of 2008, the army talked about having 39 combined arms, 21 missile and artillery, 12 signal, 7 air defense, and 2 EW brigades for a total of 81, rather than Postnikov’s current 70.  One might guess a dozen arms storage bases in Siberia and the Far East could be fleshed out into maneuver brigades.  But where does the manpower come from?  Maybe some of the 70,000 officers cut and now being returned to the ranks by Defense Minister Serdyukov. 

Postnikov elaborated some on heavy, medium, and light brigades.  Heavy will have tanks and tracked armor.  NG concludes there won’t be a new tank.  Tanks in storage will get new electronics and Arena active defense systems.  According to Postnikov, medium brigades will get [among other things?] the Bumerang amphibious BTR now in development.  This, says NG, is the first time anyone’s heard Bumerang.  But if it isn’t successfully developed or produced in sufficient numbers by 2020, the army will just buy armored vehicles abroad since there’s already ample precedent for this.

Light brigades will have vehicles like the Tigr or the Italian LMV (Lynx), licensed production of which could begin in Russia this year.  One special Arctic brigade will be created at Pechenga. 

Several media outlets quoted Postnikov to the effect that there’s no plan to change 1-year conscription, but he noted:

“In the transition to one year military service, military men received only a headache.”

There’s lots more reaction to Postnikov’s statements, but it’s too much for one day.

Popovkin Details the GPV

Yesterday First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin gave RIA Novosti more details on Russia’s procurement plans under the State Program of Armaments (GPV), 2011-2020.  He said 78-80 percent of the 19-trillion-ruble Armed Forces portion of the GPV will go to procurement.   

Popovkin said Russia plans to develop a new liquid-fueled heavy ICBM to carry up to ten warheads, and having a service life of up to 35 years.  Former RVSN Commander General-Lieutenant Andrey Shvaychenko talked about a new liquid heavy as far back as late 2009, and the issue’s been debated in the Russian military press since. 

Popovkin said the Defense Ministry plans to accept the Bulava SLBM and the first two Borey-class SSBNs this year.  There will be 4-5 Bulava launches this year.  Recall to date only 7 of 14 Bulava tests have been successful.  Addressing the missile’s past failures, Popovkin said there were many deviations from the design documentation during production.  He also said Russia plans to build eight SSBNs to carry Bulava by 2020.  He was unclear if this includes the first two Borey-class boats.

Popovkin said work on a new strategic bomber is ongoing, and he claimed a technical design will be complete in 2015.  He said this work isn’t being rushed.

Popovkin told RIA Novosti  the Air Forces will receive more than 600 new aircraft and 1,000 new helicopters by 2020.  In 2011, Su-27SM, Su-30M2, Su-35S, Yak-130, and Su-34 aircraft are to be procured.  More than 100 helicopters, including Mi-26 transports and Mi-28N and Ka-52 combat helicopters will be acquired this year, according to Popovkin. 

Popovkin said a contract for the first ten experimental PAK FA (T-50) aircraft will be signed in 2013, with serial production of 60 aircraft beginning in 2016.

The GPV includes the purchase of ten S-500 air defense systems.  Popovkin said this system will begin testing in 2015, initially with missiles from the S-400.  Fifty-six S-400 units will also be purchased by 2020.  This sounds like seven 8-launcher battalions.   

Popovkin said the GPV will buy 100 ships – including 20 submarines, 35 corvettes, and 15 frigates – for the Navy.  He didn’t specify types for the other 30 ships, and it’s unclear if new SSBNs are included in these numbers.  Popovkin reconfirmed Russia’s plan to buy two and build two Mistral amphibious ships.  Recall also the Black Sea Fleet alone is supposed to get 18 new ships including proyekt 636 diesel-electric submarines, proyekt 11356 and 22350 frigates, and proyekt 11711 LSTs.

Popovkin also mentioned plans to buy a limited number of French FELIN soldier systems, with the intent of Russia producing its own version by 2020.  He looks for it to equal the advertised capabilities of U.S. and German equivalents.