A long-running dispute between the Russian military and defense industry over procurement of new weaponry may enter a new phase as Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has questioned the need to develop a new strategic bomber, the Izvestia daily said on Wednesday.
Russia announced plans in 2009 to develop a fifth-generation strategic bomber, which will feature new airframe and elements of stealth technology, by 2025.
The new bomber is expected to replace the Tu-95MC Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers, and Tu-22M3 Backfire long-range bombers currently in service with Russia’s strategic aviation.
“Look at the current level of air defense and anti-missile defense – these aircraft will not get anywhere. Not ours, not theirs,” Rogozin, who oversees defense industry and will soon assume full control over financing of R&D for military purposes, said in an interview with Izvestia.
He added that strategic bombers could not be viewed as means of delivering nuclear strikes on enemy territory anymore.
Meanwhile, Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov told Izvestia that the new bomber project was underway as planned.
“We have made some progress in the development of the new bomber,” Makarov said. “If we reach production phase, this plane will outperform any modern aircraft of the same class, including those built by the Americans.”
It is not the first time Rogozin and Makarov have clashed over arms procurement issues.
In the beginning of this year, Makarov sharply criticized the quality of Russian-made weaponry for the Ground Forces and said the Defense Ministry would stop purchasing domestic-made armored vehicles for the next five years because they are outdated.
Rogozin, clearly angered by Makarov’s blunt statement, responded that the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces “is not the only one who makes decisions on the purchase of arms and military hardware.”
He said Russia’s Armed Forces would be modernized as scheduled in accordance with the state armament procurement program and the defense budget.