It’s paralyzing because Russian media outlets covering the Russian Federation Armed Forces have spent 166 days doing two things. Either spewing Kremlin propaganda about the “special military operation.” Or not saying or writing anything true about the Russian military for fear of prosecution, fines, and prison time for disseminating “fake” information or “discrediting” the armed forces.
Needless to say, it’s crimped the “bread and butter” of these posts.
Be that as it may, Oleg Falichev wrote last week for NVO about Russia’s faltering war on Ukraine. Falichev’s a former KZ correspondent. But not really notable.
Without meaning to, Falichev shows how deflated Kremin loyalists are. His summation of the war indicates how large, perhaps insurmountable, are the difficulties Russia faces in its war on Ukraine. He attests that Ukraine’s artillery and missiles — Western-supplied or otherwise — are taking a toll on Russian forces. Falichev seems to have lost whatever optimism he once had for Putin’s adventure in Ukraine.
Falichev alleges that Ukraine’s foreign-made UAVs attacked a “humanitarian convoy” near Enerhodar on July 30. He describes Ukraine’s HIMARS strikes on the railroad in Zaporizhzhia oblast a day earlier. And he claims Ukraine destroyed a grain depot in Kamianka-Dniprovska. And Falichev notes the July 31 UAV strike on Russia’s BSF headquarters in Sevastopol.
He then repeats the lie about Ukraine using HIMARS to kill its own Azov battalion POWs held by the Russians in Donetsk. He also claims Ukraine may blow up the Bakhmut dam to flood the town of 35,000 and blame Russia.
Falichev notes some Russian “successes” in Ukraine. He claims Russian strikes seriously damaged Ukraine’s 30th Mechanized and 57th Motorized Rifle Brigades in Kyiv and Chernihiv oblasts, as well as the missile-artillery depot of the 81th Air-Mobile Brigade in Kostiantynivka in Donetsk.
Without providing a source, Falichev asserts Russia has destroyed 260 aircraft, 145 helicopters, and 1,631 UAVs since February 24.
But, he said, to warn of “heinous provocations and terrorist attacks on the civilian population,” Russia needs its own “eyes and ears” in space, electronic reconnaissance to intercept enemy long-range weapons and support counterbattery fire.
“We need drones of the most varied dimensions and designations. Not just strike, but reconnaissance drones with automatic and instantaneous systems for transmitting target coordinates.”
“This means we immediately need to correct not only the State Armaments Program (GPV), which was developed for us to 2030, but also the State Defense Order (GOZ-2022). They are now obviously obsolete.”
“If we don’t find answers to these questions, the provocations will continue.”
“But we still don’t have the strength to prevent such provocations. We haven’t even quickly upped the output of UAVs. Much depends on microchips, optics, engines for drones. But also on the work of various subcontractors, inertia of the bureaucratic apparatus, State Duma adoption of laws on additional GPV and GOZ financing.”
“We also don’t have reconnaissance means. We understand the Ukrainian crisis will drag out, there won’t be any lightning-fast resolution of problems. This means we have to work out long-term programs for reequipping the army, our space grouping, the Ground Troops.”
Just a reminder that“provocations” is Falichev’s term for claimed Ukrainian attacks on civilians, or perhaps for any Ukrainian resistance to Russia’s invasion.
Falichev concludes Russia needs what it currently lacks — fast and certain strikes on enemy artillery and missile systems using radar and space systems to geolocate launches by MLRS, long-range M777 howitzers, and HIMARS. Victory on the ground, he says, is connected to successful space missions, but it’s unclear how this will work out for Russia.
A Falichev interlocutor, a veteran of Air Defense Troops and BMEWS, says Russia needs medium- and long-range air defense missiles, modified to receive data from drones, to attack Ukraine’s artillery and missile launchers. Falichev says it seems a bit absurd but it’s up to “specialists to decide.”
It seems Falichev’s trying to say one very simple thing: The Russian military wishes it had GPS and GPS-enabled weapons systems.
But the fact that the “special operation” is creating problems is no longer in doubt, according to Falichev. The country’s management system and especially it OPK has to be reworked. Maybe not full mobilization but not business as usual either.
So while offering lots of doubtful assertions, Falichev makes the valid point that Moscow needs a quick answer to Western UAVs, M777, and HIMARS operated by Ukraine. But his recommendations are weak. Revamp the GPV, GOZ, and OPK? They don’t have time. Western militaries — certainly the U.S. military — adapt on the fly because they value and listen to their troops. With money tight, sanctions blocking access to Western supply chains, and other wartime exigencies, the OPK will find it virtually impossible to adapt and reequip the Russian military midstream.
According to a February 13 report from Vedomosti’s Ivan Safronov, Russia’s Ground Troops could receive 900 T-14 and T-90M tanks before the current State Armaments Program (GPV) ends in 2027. The article is paywalled, but Bmpd recapped its contents.
Nine hundred — 500 T-14 and 400 T-90M — seems quite an optimistic forecast.
According to Safronov’s story, a source close to the Russian MOD said there were three contracts between 2017 and 2019 to deliver more than 160 T-90M (Proryv-3) tanks. The first two called for 60 tanks in 2018-2019, of which 10 would be newly built, 50 would be older T-90 tanks modernized to T-90M, and 100 would be T-90A tanks from the inventory improved to T-90M.
However, an industry source said the deliveries slipped because its fire control and target tracking system needed to be finished, and the turret with its dynamic defense — the tank’s main feature — had to be tested.
These issues are supposedly resolved, and the tank is in series production. The MOD should get not less than 15 T-90M tanks in 2020.
A source close to the MOD leadership indicated that President Vladimir Putin wants to renew Russia’s tank inventory over the next five years. Currently, only 50 percent of the Ground Troops’ armored vehicles are “modern” — the lowest indicator of any branch or service of the RF Armed Forces.
Upgrading Russia’s armor will involve both new production and modernization. There may be a contract in 2020 to improve another 100 T-90s to T-90M. Deputy Defense Minister and arms chief Aleksey Krivoruchko has indicated there are 400 T-90s in the Ground Troops that could be upgraded.
State testing of the newest T-14 tank on the Armata chassis is set to begin in 2020. A Vedomosti interlocutor says there could be a state order for 500 T-14s by 2027.
Recall after debuting in 2015, the T-14 was supposed to enter state testing in 2017 but that didn’t happen.
Ground Troops are hoping for 900 T-14 and T-90M tanks to arrive by 2027, but they won’t supplant some 2,000 T-72B3 tanks as the foundation of Russia’s tank inventory, according to military commentator Viktor Murakhovskiy. He adds that the T-72B3 can’t really be considered a “modern” tank without serious modernization.
For those keeping score, the T-72B3 is a 2010 upgrade of the T-72B not really improved since the mid-1980s. The T-72B3M is a 2016 modification adding Relikt reactive armor, a more powerful engine, etc. The T-90 and T-90A are early 1990s upgrades on the T-72B. The T-90M is a 2018 update with the same gun as the T-14, Afganit active protection, Relikt reactive armor, etc.
Not addressed in the Vedomosti report is what (if anything) the Russian Army plans regarding the future of upgraded T-80BVM tanks. It received an unspecified number in 2017-2019. The Ground Troops often prefer its gas turbine engine over diesel for extreme cold in the Arctic and Eastern MD.
It’s difficult to assess even what happened with tanks in GPV 2011-2020. Putin and the MOD called for 2,300 tanks in 2012 even though Ground Troops procurement wasn’t a priority in that GPV. The naive assumption they’d be new ones soon gave way to realization that all tanks received were ones modernized as described above. Complicating matters further, Russian MOD descriptions of what they actually received typically lump all armor — tanks and armored vehicles — together making it virtually impossible to tell how many upgraded tanks of which type (re-)entered Russia’s forces.
Putin walks the flight line at Akhtubinsk on May 14
Russia’s Supreme CINC boosted the fortunes of the country’s fifth generation Su-57 fighter declaring yesterday that Moscow will procure 76 of them. Until now it appeared the VKS might only receive a handful and forego series production altogether.
“Multipurpose fighters Su-35S and Su-57 are in the final phase of state testing. These aircraft have unique characteristics and are the best in the world. It’s essential to fully rearm three Aerospace Forces regiments with the future aviation system fifth generation Su-57.”
“At the range [Akhtubinsk] yesterday the Minister [of Defense Shoygu] and I talked about this. Under the arms program to 2027 it’s planned to buy 16 of such aircraft. We analyzed the situation yesterday, the Minister reported. As a result of the work we did, as a result of the fact that we agreed with industry, — industry has practically reduced the cost of the aircraft and weapons by 20 percent, — we can buy many more of these combat aircraft of this class, of this, essentially, new generation. We agreed that we will buy over that time period 76 of such airplanes without increasing the cost. We have to say that in such volume, but the volume isn’t even the thing, the thing is we haven’t done anything like this new platform in the last 40 years. I hope the corrected plans will be fulfilled. And we’ll soon complete the contract for the systematic delivery of 76 of these fighters equipped with modern aviation weapons and the essential supporting ground infrastructure.”
Seventy-six is an odd number. Seventy-two would make three two-squadron regiments (24 fighters per).
Looks like Putin laid down a hard line with Sukhoy and KnAAPO. But hardware price issues have a way of persisting even after the Supreme CINC has spoken. Industry, after all, has to recoup its development costs and keep up with rising prices for components, etc.
Presumably, the 76 Su-57 fighters will have the “second phase” engine giving them true fifth generation maneuverability. That engine is still in testing that won’t finish til 2023. Could make for quite a backloaded production scheme.
A Russian defense industry source has told Kommersant that a 170 billion ruble contract will be signed at the MAKS-2019 air show in August. That’s making 76 Su-57s for a fly-away price of $34 million per plane. The F-22 was $150 million in 2009. The F-35 is at least $100 million. Even adding the 20 percent back in makes the Su-57 only $41 million a copy. We should be skeptical about this plan.
Maybe saying Russia will produce reams of Su-57s is no skin off Putin’s nose. In 2024, he’ll be out of office unless he officially makes himself president-for-life. Still Putin can’t fight time; he’ll be 71 when [if] the 2024 election happens. When those 76 Su-57s are supposed to be done, Putin will be 76 years old. Ironic.
Soon something like a final draft State Program of Armaments (GPV) 2018-2025 will go to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’ll almost certainly affix his official approval prior to the end of 2017.
Many observers bet the new GPV will contain 17 trillion rubles for the MOD to procure weapons and other military equipment. GPV 2011-2020 was a little higher at 19.1 trillion. But the new GPV will disburse its rubles over fewer years. However, Russia’s high inflation rate (e.g. 11% in 2014, 13% in 2015) means a trillion rubles in 2011 bought more guns than it does today.
Last week, Deputy Editor Vladimir Gundarov published a pithy piece in NVO describing how the new funds might be distributed among Russia’s armed services. He sees a shift in favor of the Ground Troops and VDV which will force the Navy to “curb its appetite.”
It happened already in GPV 2011-2020, writes Gundarov. It originally envisaged 4.7 trillion for the Navy, but this was reportedly cut to 2.6, while the army and airborne went from 2.6 to 4.2 trillion.
The rationale, he says, is multifold. The Ground Troops face the expensive prospect of fielding new generation armored vehicles on the Armata chassis. Given its involvement in wars in Ukraine and Syria, Russia faces a “complex situation” in the southwestern strategic direction requiring more attention to the army’s modernization.
But the main reason for rewickering MOD procurement is economic. GPV 2011-2020 was formulated with oil at $100 per barrel; it’s now half as much.
Gundarov concludes that Russia:
“. . . can’t spend money to buy arms and military equipment in the previous amount, particularly for such expensive systems as those for the Navy. So only the budget for strategic nuclear systems will be preserved whatever the price of oil.”
He doesn’t say where he got his numbers for this article, but it sounds like he based it on some expert opinion and off-the-record comments.
Smaller military budgets and delays in putting GPV 2018-2025 into place will apparently trickle down into reduced orders for Russia’s defense-industrial complex (OPK) in coming years.
According to TASS on June 15, Deputy Chief of the Main Armaments Directorate Boris Nakonechnyy said the MOD can’t fully “load” OPK enterprises with orders during the next GPV. “As the primary customer for weapons and military equipment, the Defense Ministry can’t fully support the work of enterprises,” he told the news agency.
There may be some reduction in defense orders during the new arms program, Nakonechnyy said. But he indicated the MOD would still support the scientific work (presumably the RDT&E) of Russian defense-industrial enterprises.
Nakonechnyy said the MOD doesn’t expect global military threats to decline, but it’s not possible to increase substantially the funding needed to counter them. At the same time, he emphasized it’s important for Russia not to lose the current tempo of development in its OPK, and not to allow itself to lag behind world leaders in military technology.
Welding parts for BMP-3 at Kurganmashzavod
TASS provided no context for Nakonechnyy’s comments. Other media outlets ran the TASS story as is. Utro.ru, however, provided its own interpretation of his remarks.
While perhaps somewhat alarmist, Utro writer Andrey Sherykhanov puts Nakonechnyy’s statements in the context of the continuing battle between the defense and finance ministries over future military spending.
Sherykhanov recalls the recent Vedomosti report putting likely appropriations for GPV 2018-2025 at 17 trillion rubles, three times less than the original MOD request. The peak of defense orders, he concludes, is already past. The military will have no orders for production enterprises, which will close and send their workers on indefinite furlough as they did in the 1990s, he writes.
But maybe, Sherykhanov opines, this won’t be necessary since President Putin has said the OPK’s potential should be harnessed to the needs of cutting-edge, science-intensive sectors like medicine, energy, aviation, space, and information technology. Last year the Supreme CINC himself said 30 percent of OPK production has to be for the civilian market by 2025, and 50 percent by 2030. Massive state defense-industrial holding company Rostekh has already announced that half of its output will be civilian by 2025.
Sherykhanov writes that there’s no real concern about this new program of conversion to civilian production at present:
“In the upper echelons of power, they spoke about it just a year and a half ago. There’s a gathering sense that the leaders of Russian defense enterprises aren’t beating their heads with this, concentrating as they are completely on military orders which OPK enterprises are provided until 2020. That is, they act according to this scheme: we’ll handle this, and then we’ll see.”
On January 11, Aleksey Nikolskiy published an article on the next GPV for Vedomosti. He laid out the state of the battle over state armaments program 2018-2025.
What Will They Spend?
According to Nikolskiy, the new GPV will be only half of what Russia’s Defense Ministry wants, if the Finance Ministry gets its way.
The GPV covers ten years, but the Russian government adopts one every five years. So the new program was due to be adopted and implemented last year.
The next GPV was being prepared in 2014-2015. But with the poor economic forecast, Western sanctions, and the need for import substitution, the Kremlin elected to delay launching the new arms program until the first half of 2017, a former MOD official told Nikolskiy.
The new arms program is also late because industry’s initial promises on import substitution for Western as well as for Ukrainian products turned out to be too rosy, CAST director Ruslan Pukhov tells Nikolskiy. But, he adds, it’s impossible to drag this out longer because industry needs to know the fiscal parameters of its work in the long-term.
The current program for 2011-2020 was approved in late 2010. It contained 19.1 trillion rubles for the MOD. That was more than $630 billion at the exchange rate of the day. But, according to Nikolskiy, not more than 40 percent of this amount had been spent by the start of 2017.
Forty percent is 7.6 trillion, or roughly 1.3 trillion per year for the first six years of a ten-year program. Leaving so much backloaded implies that Russian defense industry was unable to absorb and use more money, at least without massive graft and waste. So the new arms program might continue a similar annual rate of investment in acquisition.
Nikolskiy notes that every arms program the Defense Ministry requests is several times more than the Finance Ministry believes it can allocate. In 2015, the former reportedly reduced its initial request for 2018-2025 from 55 to 30 trillion rubles while the latter was ready to agree to an amount not greater than 12 trillion.
Kommersant’s Ivan Safronov reported that Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov spoke in “elevated tones” during a September 9 Kremlin meeting on the GPV. With President Vladimir Putin chairing the session, the ministers reportedly argued over the necessity and feasibility of 22 vs. 12 trillion rubles for arms procurement.
This is the customary kabuki. In 2010, the MOD came in similarly high — 36 trillion. The Finance Ministry responded with 13 trillion. Ultimately, they compromised at a figure closer to the latter’s preference — 19.1 trillion rubles. In retrospect, it wasn’t surprising given that even Putin expressed his qualms at spending so much.
What Will They Buy?
According to a defense industry manager who spoke with Nikolskiy, armaments tsar Deputy Defense Minister Borisov already announced the emphasis in the near term will be placed to a greater degree on the purchase of well-assimilated systems – for example, Su-30SM fighters or Improved Kilo-class (proyekt 636) submarines – and on modernized equipment which is significantly cheaper than new.
Meanwhile, the acceptance of fundamentally new types of armaments is passing into the more distant future. They include important platforms like the T-14 / Armata tank and T-50 / PAK FA fighter, and even some strategic weapons, writes Nikolskiy.
This would represent some retrenchment from Moscow’s ambitions in comparison with what it originally wanted from the current arms program.
U.S. defense acquisition is still probably three times the $50 billion or less Russia might spend on an annual basis. Russian procurement of arms attracts more attention and causes more concern than its volume alone warrants.
What Russia actually receives for the money it spends makes an interesting comparison with China. Beijing clearly lags Moscow in high-tech weapons, but it seems to get greater industrial bang for its buck when bending metal.
For example, Chinese shipbuilding. In ten years, China put 22 Type 054A frigates to sea. The Russian Navy received three or four frigates during the same years. China is set to build its third aircraft carrier. Russia’s lone Kuznetsov carrier will soon enter the shipyard to begin a three-year (probably longer) modernization effort.
Perhaps China hands will tell us if naval construction is a happy aberration for Beijing or if it enjoys the same kind of productivity in ground and air systems.
Rearmament is something that has gone Moscow’s way in recent years. It has restored Russia’s image as a formidable power. Rearming — even over-arming — has created and fueled a siege mentality at home. That mentality keeps the Russian Federation distant from the Western community of nations, and its people remote from the kinds of socioeconomic demands Westerners place on their political leaders. So the arms program has been part of Putin’s strategy for that reason if no other.
Moscow will want to maintain the momentum rearmament has generated since 2011. Too much of a break in funding would slow defense industry, which had difficulty finding traction.
But Russia’s economic situation is harder now than 2010.
Best Guess: GPV 2018-2025 will be announced with a nominal budget between 15 and 17 trillion rubles.
The Ministry of Finance will still groan at this amount, but will be secretly pleased at having kept arms spending at a reasonable level.
What money is actually disbursed, as we’ve seen, will be less than the full amount as the years go by.
The Voronezh Aircraft Plant is assembling the first prototype of the Il-112V light transport aircraft, according to the Ilyushin design bureau. Russian Deputy Defence Minister and procurement tsar Yuriy Borisov has indicated that the Russian military will buy 48 of them in the state armaments program for 2018-2025, expected to be approved by mid-2017.
The first Il-112V airframe should be complete by the end of January when ground testing is to begin. Flight tests could start this summer followed soon thereafter by state acceptance testing, Borisov told Gazeta.ru’sMikhail Khodarenok. The Voronezh plant has also begun assembly of a second Il-112V.
The new transport will take the place of aging Antonov An-26 / Curl aircraft. The Russian military still operates about 100 of the venerable transports. More than 1,100 were produced between 1969 and 1986.
Series production of the Il-112V is supposed to start in 2019 with a rate of 12 aircraft per year. The production run has been pared back to 48 from the original target of 62 transports.
Funding for Il-112V development was cut in 2010 when former defense minister Anatoliy Serdyukov opted to buy modified An-140 transports from Ukraine. But the Russian light transport program was revived in 2013. It received special impetus after Kyiv halted military-technical cooperation with Moscow in early 2014.
The Il-112V depends on successful production of TV7-117ST turbofan engines by Russian manufacturer Klimov. The first two are scheduled for delivery and installation on the prototype airframe in February. The Klimov engines will substitute for ones that Moscow used to import from Ukraine’s Motor Sich. However, they are not equal to Ukrainian engines in several respects including horsepower, service ceiling, and reliability, according to Khodarenok’s aviation sector sources.
The new Russian transport is designed for a takeoff weight of 21 tons with a maximum useful load of five tons. It will carry 3.5 tons to a range of 2,400 km.
Artist’s Concept of Il-112V
According to a recent report in Izvestiya, the Central Aerodynamic Institute (TsAGI or ЦАГИ) has raised the prospect of developing a different Russian light transport that could be rapidly converted between passenger and cargo variants.
Outside Russia, there are some 600 An-26 transports still operating, but they are at the end of the service lives and need replacement. This provides a ready market for Ilyushin’s new light transport, but it already faces stiff competition from established products like the Airbus CASA C-295 and Alenia C-27J Spartan.
The Il-112V is an increasingly critical requirement given the obsolescence of Russia’s existing light transport inventory. The urgency of the program is further underscored by Russia’s apparent difficulties in producing components to assemble the Ukrainian-designed An-140.
Shoygu and Putin at MOD Collegium (photo: Kremlin.ru)
The year-end MOD Collegium fell on December 22. International news agencies headlined what sounded like bellicose braggadocio from President Vladimir Putin. “We are stronger now than any potential aggressor,” he said according to AP.
But his remarks were more nuanced than it’s possible to tell from that wire service quote.
His full speech to the assembled Russian brass is available here.
Putin featured Syria prominently, and indicated that Russia will take advantage of the greater demand for its weapons and equipment because of the war.
He listed force development priorities including “precision weapons, modern communications, reconnaissance, command and control, and electronic warfare systems” and strategic non-nuclear forces.
He noted that the SAP will be completed “by 2021,” effectively giving the military and industry all of 2020 (not just until the end of 2019) to reach its 70 percent modernization goal. But he also mentioned “five years” to complete rearmament which sounds like 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and all of 2021. The dates on the arms program are increasingly elastic as necessary.
Not surprisingly, Putin described a higher level of threat on Russia’s borders this year.
A complete translation of Putin’s speech follows.
“Today at the annual Ministry of Defense Collegium we will discuss results of work during the latest period, and determine near- and long-term tasks for the development of Russia’s Armed Forces and strengthening the country’s defense capability.”
“In 2016, the course of modernizing the army and fleet continued, rhythmically, and their reequipping went according to schedule.”
“The condition of the nuclear triad, which plays the key role in preserving strategic parity, was supported at the necessary level. I note that the share of modern armaments in the nuclear forces is almost 60 percent.”
“The level of combat training of troops rose substantially. The results of strategic command-staff exercise Kavkaz-2016 convincingly demonstrated this. Its successful conduct increased the security of Russia’s southern borders, including from terrorist threats, and helped work out the organization of territorial defense in the Southern and North-Caucasus Federal Districts, including questions of supporting troops, for example their financing in wartime, that require coordination from many state organs and elements, including branches of Russia’s Central Bank.”
“I note also that four surprise combat readiness evaluations of troops took place in the course of the year. They confirmed that units and sub-units could effectively deploy at great distances and in short periods of time to establish groupings in strategic directions. The Defense Ministry needs to analyze the results of the evaluations in detail and consider them in combat training plans for the future, and also in the organization of other measures of a similar type.”
“The potential of the Russian Armed Forces passed a stress test also in combat with international terrorists in the Syrian Republic. The Syrian Army received tangible support, thanks to which it conducted several successful operations against militants.”
“I also note the great assistance which our Armed Forces renders to peaceful Syrian citizens. Almost 800 tons of foodstuffs and medicine alone have already been transferred. I want to thank the leadership and personnel of the Armed Forces participating in the operation once more for their professionalism and courage.”
“In the coming year, the Ministry of Defense needs to concentrate on resolving the following key tasks.”
“First, to support the balanced development of all services and branches of troops, and to continue the assimilation of precision weapons, modern communications, reconnaissance, command and control, and electronic warfare systems.”
“It is necessary to strengthen the combat potential of strategic nuclear forces, primarily missile systems capable of assuredly overcoming existing and future missile defense systems.”
“Strategic non-nuclear forces also need to be brought to a qualitatively new level, allowing them to neutralize any military threats to Russia.”
“Second. It is important to maintain the tempo achieved in rearming the army and navy. To control the realization of measures in the State Armaments Program and fulfillment of the state defense order effectively.”
“By 2021 we need to achieve the established indicators of troop equipping with modern weapons and equipment at not less than 70 percent.”
“We need to make note that five years is not such a long period of time for such a large-scale rearmament program. Any delay in fulfilling its tasks can cause a break in the production chain, which is then highly difficult to reestablish. Therefore sanctions for breaking contracts should be severe to the maximum extent. Meanwhile, it is important to effectively expose causes of violations and expeditiously eliminate them.”
“I note that essential measures to resolve problematic issues in the fulfillment of the state defense order have been taken at all levels. On the whole, we need to keep the situation with the realization of the State Armaments Program and with the state of affairs in the defense-industrial complex under constant control. You know we discuss these issues twice a year at regular meetings in Sochi. This has already become a tradition which has been highly useful in practical work. This year two cycles of such meetings occurred. They allowed us to determine joint steps in the sphere of rearmament, and to support constant working contact between the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and industry.”
“Third. We must closely follow any changes in the balance of forces and military-political situation in the world, especially along Russia’s borders, and simultaneously introduce corrections into plans for neutralizing potential threats to our country.”
“I ask you also to synchronize these plans with updated future planning documents. Just a few weeks ago the new Information Security Doctrine of Russia was approved, and a little earlier the Scientific-Technical Development Strategy. The milestones given in them concern all organs of authority, including also militarized departments.”
“Fourth. The introduction of the newest training means and programs should be among the priorities of operational and combat training.”
“And last. The effectiveness of employing Russian weapons in Syria opens new possibilities for the development of military-technical cooperation. We need to use them to the maximum extent. We know what kind of interest foreign partners are showing in modern Russian armaments.”
“Respected collegium participants!”
“One of the most important directions of military organizational development is increasing social support of servicemen. You know how much has been done in this relation in recent times. For example, since January 2012 the line for housing in the Defense Ministry system has been reduced 2.8-fold. In 2016, 27 thousand servicemen were provided service housing, and almost 20 thousand permanent housing. Within the mortgage-savings system, 14 thousand servicemen obtained apartments.”
“It is necessary also to remember: concern about personnel, and strengthening the social guarantees of soldiers and officers is important, the most important investment in the indoctrination of the young generation of defenders of the Motherland, and guarantee of the prestige of military service and the authority of people in uniform.”
“On the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, and on commanders at all levels, lies the special responsibility for the qualitative modernization of the Armed Forces. I believe that in the future you will do everything necessary to achieve high results in combat training.”
“I want to thank the leadership and personnel of the Armed Forces for the precise fulfillment of established tasks, and for their conscientious service.”
“Allow me to wish you further successes.”
After Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s lengthy remarks, Putin concluded the session.
“In recent years, much has been done to increase the country’s defense capability. But, it stands to reason, much is still not enough. The minister just spoke about this when he formulated tasks for 2017 and coming years.”
“We need to do much along the lines of strengthening the nuclear triad, perfecting the BMEWS system, in the Aerospace Troops [sic], still more at sea, and in the Ground Troops. We need to perfect reconnaissance and communications systems. We still have much to do.”
“However today, given a very large number of factors, including not only military ones, but also our history, geography, and the internal condition of Russian society, it is possible with certainty to say: today we are stronger than any potential aggressor. Any.”
“At the same time, I would like to turn your attention to the fact that, if we were to allow ourselves for one minute to relax, to allow even one substantive failure in the modernization of the army and navy, or in troop training, the situation could change very quickly given the speed of events transpiring in the world. We may not even notice. Therefore, a very great deal depends on the continuation of our work, which began and has been conducted in the course of recent years.”
“I count greatly on you working in a coordinated manner, and being responsible for work assigned to you. And, working in such a way, we, certainly, will fulfill all tasks which stand before us in the most important sphere of strengthening Russia’s defense capability.”
“I want to thank you again for your service in the past year and wish you success in the coming one.”
“All the best to you.”
So Putin wasn’t exactly bragging that Moscow is the biggest bully in the world, but rather claiming that, given Russia’s history and geography as well as its recent military modernization, the Kremlin can now be sure of repulsing any attack on its territory. Assertions about evil U.S. and NATO intentions notwithstanding, what aggressor has designs on Russia today?
Putin’s contention is a little abstract, lacking as it does any particular scenario or temporal context. But it isn’t really as sinister as it sounded in Western media.
More to the point than Putin, however, is Maxim Trudolyubov’s conclusion from his recent op-ed:
“. . . Russia — with its renationalized economy and aging population — is now incapable of competing on equal economic and political terms with other major powers may have led the Kremlin to believe that it can compete only by other means — namely by displaying no hesitation at using force or covert influence to claim Russian greatness again.”
Last week Rossiyskaya gazeta’s Sergey Ptichkin reviewed Dmitriy Rogozin’s comments on the formation of the next state armaments program, GPV 2016-2025. Rogozin is Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) attached to the RF Government.
Rogozin indicated the next GPV will be very different from the current one, according to Ptichkin.
Rogozin said fulfillment of GPV 2016-2025 will be tracked with a new automated system GAS-GOZ, or the State Automated System of the State Defense Order (or perhaps State Automated Defense Order System?). It’s supposed to allow for “quickly reacting to the smallest failures” in the GOZ.
The Future Research Fund (FPI or ФПИ, the emerging Russian DARPA) will effectively develop the most promising military and civilian technologies in 2016-2025.
Systems now in RDT&E are supposed to be in serial production. There may be some weapons based on “new physical principles.”
The PAK DA, a new strategic bomber, should be developed and produced during this GPV. The fifth generation fighter, PAK FA, will be in production.
There will be new missiles, from operational-tactical to strategic, hypersonic ones too.
It’s “not excluded” that aviation-carrying formations (aircraft carriers) will appear in the Navy.
Rogozin said the “active inclusion of the Military-Industrial Commission in developing the future GPV” is a first, and will allow for avoiding “many problems and collisions” along the way.
Rogozin criticized the “former Defense Ministry leadership” for refusing to accept the BTR-90, not ordering the BMD-4, not taking delivery of assembled BMP-3s, and not testing Obyekt 195 (a future tank) after GPV 2011-2020 was already finalized. Instead, rushed orders for developing and producing the wheeled Bumerang, light tracked Kurganets-25, and heavy tracked Armata ensued.
These armored vehicles are supposed to enter the force in a year or two, but this seems unlikely. They will probably become part of GPV 2016-2025.
Rogozin promised the next GPV will be the most balanced, most well-calculated, most innovative, and, at the same time, most realistic.
It’s very early to talk about the next GPV. Traditionally, this is a sign things aren’t going well in the GOZ or the current GPV. The overlap in consecutive GPVs makes it difficult (perhaps impossible) for anyone — citizens, lawmakers, bureaucrats, military men, and, defense industrialists — to understand exactly what’s been procured (or not) under each GPV. This state of confusion probably serves the interests of some of the same groups. Rogozin makes it sound as if defense industry, rather than the military, will drive the train this time around.
RF President Vladimir Putin last week held the first meeting of his third term to discuss military priorities with senior uniformed officers.
He looked less impressive, and less in command of his brief in the video of his introductory remarks than on similar past occasions.
But he clearly laid out his main concerns for Russia’s top Armed Forces leaders: training, Aerospace Defense Troops, rearmament, contract manning, pay, and housing.
He seemed confounded by the Defense Ministry’s failure to pay new, higher military salaries on time, and by the continuing lag in providing housing to servicemen. He said his Control Directorate is investigating both situations.
Taking it from the top, Putin said the state of military training and exercises today is completely changed from past years when the Armed Forces were rarely active. The president twice emphasized conducting joint exercises with Russia’s allies in the CSTO, CIS, and SCO.
His second priority is developing the newly created and reformed Aerospace Defense Troops.
His third is rearmament. He repeated the familiar goal of replacing 30 percent of weapons and equipment with new generation systems over the next three years (2015), and 70, or in some cases 100, percent five years after that (2020). And he added:
“I ask you to report promptly about all instances of breakdowns or incomplete deliveries, if you identify them. Everyone participating in Gosoboronzakaz work must bear personal responsibility.”
The fourth priority is manning, and the earlier announced effort to increase professional soldiers in the ranks to 425,000. This, he says, would increase their numbers two and a half times, reportedly from 170,000 today. Putin made the customary comments about carefully screening and selecting enlisted troops, and giving them incentives to serve well.
Fifth and finally, Putin emphasized efforts to provide better social support for servicemen, specifically, this year’s increase raising military pay by up to three times, and his attempt to provide all military men permanent housing in 2013 and service housing by 2014. He said:
“Sufficient resources have been allocated for this, the necessary amount has been reserved.”
“But I have to note that, to this point, there are many problems in the provision of housing and calculation of pay, unacceptable breakdowns and procrastination, open professional negligence by officials. And even if on paper and in reports everything is normal, in fact in real life servicemen and their families at times encounter various kinds of bureaucratic procrastination, often with a formalistic indifferent approach.”
“I’ve directed the Russian Federation President’s Control Directorate to conduct a corresponding check in all these areas. Unacceptable facts are being encountered, already in the first stages of this check this is clear: this is both delays in the transmission of pay, and the impossibility of normally finalizing the paperwork for an apartment. Fitting conclusions will be drawn according to the results of the check, and instructions will be formulated. But today already I’m asking Defense Ministry representatives to report what measures are being adopted to correct the situation. May is ending, and normal work with pay still hasn’t been smoothed out. We already talked about these issues more than once.”
Where are outside observers left?
Training and exercises have increased as a function of more budget and fuel, but this didn’t happen until the late 2000s.
Aerospace Defense Troops are another structural reorganization, potentially a good one, not unlike other reorganizations since the 1990s.
Rearmament is a serious downfall. Despite the Putin factor, nothing really happened on this score until late 2009. It’s complicated by the difficulties of fixing a dilapidated OPK. And, although there may be some favorable signs, success here remains to be seen.
Contract service is a second serious downfall. Putin’s first effort to professionalize the army started in 2002. The General Staff Chief declared it a dismal failure eight years later. The Defense Minister revived it on an enlarged scale one year after that. Demographic reality and draft problems leave Moscow no other choice.
Low military pay is a downfall. It became more of a realistic priority with Serdyukov’s arrival in the Defense Ministry, but it was still five long years before the new, higher pay system was implemented. And Putin admits how poorly it’s functioning.
Housing is also a downfall. Despite progress since Putin first really addressed the issue in 2005, it’s still problematic. And the president publicly moved back his timetable for a solution.
The downfall areas are problems requiring a long-term, sustained commitment to resolve. Putin 2.0 is wrestling with the same military issues he identified back in 2000. It’s still far from certain he can or will bring them to a successful conclusion.
This author believes there’s been progress on Russia’s military issues during the 12 years of Putin’s time as national leader. But future economic or political challenges could derail progress toward rebuilding the country as a full-scope military power.
Is Putin resetting or rebooting defense policy? Yes, at least jumpstarting it on key issues. But a restarted or jumpstarted computer, car, or policy usually works (or doesn’t work) the same way it did before it stalled. So this isn’t necessarily the path to a successful finish. But no one ever said making and implementing policy was easy.