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    The new military developments of Russia and China have tilted the balance in global military capabilities, says the newly released report by the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies which examines global military capabilities and defense economics.

    Screenshot from the International Institute for Strategic Studies website.
    Screenshot from the International Institute for Strategic Studies website.

    “Russia’s employment of advanced cruise missiles over Syria and China’s display of capabilities, like the longer range DF-26 missiles, at its September 2015 military parade, highlighted that advanced weapon systems are no longer the preserve of Western states,” Dr John Chipman, Director-General and Chief Executive of the institute stated in his introductory speech upon the release of the document.

    Military vehicles carrying DF-26 ballistic missiles drive past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II
    © AFP 2019 / ANDY WONG
    Military vehicles carrying DF-26 ballistic missiles drive past Tiananmen Gate during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II

    Dr Chipman referred to the recently showcased military capabilities of the two countries.

    “Russia and China are increasingly active in the development and deployment of the advanced military capabilities. Each has become more assertive in their actions and are embarked on military modernization drives,” he said.

    He cited as an example, Russia’s capabilities, deployed in its Western military district, which can “impede access to and constrain freedom of action in the Baltic region.”

    Interceptor fighter MiG-31BM
    © Sputnik / Vladislav Belogrud
    Interceptor fighter MiG-31BM

    These include the S-400 long range air defense system and the MiG-31BM (NATO reporting name Foxhound) combat aircraft.

    During a snap exercise in early 2015, he noted, Moscow for a short time moved Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles into Kaliningrad. With a reported range of up to 500 kilometers, these missiles would bring much of Eastern and Northern Europe into reach.

    Rostov-on-Don submarine launches 3M-54 Kalibr (Klub) anti-ship missiles
    Russian Defense Ministry
    Rostov-on-Don submarine launches 3M-54 Kalibr (Klub) anti-ship missiles

    However the advanced systems which are now in service with the Russian Armed Forces like the Kh-101 and Kh-555 air-launched cruise missiles and the Kalibr naval cruise missiles have even greater standoff ranges, able to travel 2,000 kilometers in the Kalibr's case and probably 4,000 kilometers in the case of the Kh-101, which means that targets in Europe are within the effective reach from a launch deep within Russian territory, he acknowledged.

    The Russian Iskander SRBM system being prepped for launch during military exercises. File photo.
    © Sputnik / Alexei Danichev
    The Russian Iskander SRBM system being prepped for launch during military exercises. File photo.

    “As such, Russia’s potential anti-access area denial A2/AD challenge calls into question a key element of NATO’s plan initiated in Wales to rapidly reinforce allies. For NATO to meet this challenge, the alliance has to rediscover skills that are faded and renew capabilities that are being reduced.”

    For instance, Russia’s recapitalization of its cruise missiles inventory raises questions as to NATO’s ability to counter-defend such systems, Dr Chipman added. Some NATO states have capabilities, like Patriot systems but the key challenge remains adequate detection time and ensuring defensive coverage.

    The state-of-the-art ECM system Khibiny
    © Photo : Vitaly V. Kuzmin
    The state-of-the-art ECM system Khibiny

    Another area of concern is electronic warfare (EW). It can no longer be assumed that the electro-magnetic spectrum is a permissive environment, he stated. The US military acknowledged that for around 10 years they focused on EW related to terrorism counter-insurgency while Russia developed high power jamming capabilities with the power to disrupt UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and compromise communications.

    Russia and China also dominated in armored combat vehicles' ballistic missiles and land attack cruise missiles. Dr Chipman cited as an example Russia’s Armata tank, displayed at the May Victory Parade, which utilizes innovative technology and is a radical departure from previous Russian designs.

    T-14 tanks with the Armata Universal Combat Platforms
    © Sputnik / Evgeny Biyatov
    T-14 tanks with the Armata Universal Combat Platforms

    As for the West, he lamented, in 2015 only 4 from the 26 European members of NATO met the two percent spending objective agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit.

    For the remaining 22, the average percentage of GDP spent on defense was 1.1 percent.

    These countries, he stressed, would need to raise their collective outlay by nearly 45 percent to meet the target, or by almost $100 billion.

    Importantly, he added, much of NATO’s post-2014 assurance for its Eastern members currently depends on the understanding that in times of crises, member states’ armed forces will be able to rapidly reinforce countries at risk.

    Another way to keep up with the East, he suggested, is to invest more in new high technology areas such as cyberspace, data analytics, additive manufacturing, autonomy robotics and directed energy weapons.

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    Tags:
    military balance, global military capabilities, assessment, report, International Institute for Strategic Studies, China, Russia
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