23 January 2012, 17:50

Russia to amend its armament program

Russia to amend its armament program

Russia is actively upgrading its strategic nuclear forces. Before the end of the year two modern missile submarines will be put into service. At the same time the nuclear focus of the State Armaments Program threatens to weaken the conventional armed forces.

Russia is actively upgrading its strategic nuclear forces. Before the end of the year two modern missile submarines will be put into service. At the same time the nuclear focus of the State Armaments Program threatens to weaken the conventional armed forces.

In 2012 the Russian Navy will receive two submarine cruisers of Project 955 «Borey». Within a few months interval "Yuri Dolgoruky" and "Alexander Nevsky" will be put into service. The same year the third missile submarine of the project “Vladimir Monomakh” will be launched. Such announcement was made by Russian news agencies that cited a high-ranking source in the defense industry.

The same source said that starting with 2013 the Navy will receive one «Borey» submarine per year, which would allow to complete the construction program of the eight submarines of that project by the end of 2018.

First of all the mentioned schedule does not appear to be realistic. After the release of «Dolgoruky» and «Nevsky» there are currently only two missle submarines under construction in the shipyards right now – the «Monomakh» and «Saint Nocholas». The latter is under construction despite the fact that oficially the process has not commenced yet. The «Monomakh» has a chance to be put into service in 2013, and optimistically speaking, «Saint Nicholas» - in 2014. But in order to put a fifth submarine into service in 2015, its construction should have already sttarted by now. Nonetheless, serious funding is allocated to the Naval component of the Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF). And thus if not by 2018, by 2020-21 all of the eight missile submarines under this program may be put into service. Worrisome are other factors directly related to the program's focus on SNF for the Navy or land forces.

The priority of the SNF in the Russian Armaments Program has been set: according to Russia's military doctrine, the threat coming from the NATO is listed as the top external threat. All the development of the Armed Forces and the defence industry today is aligned with this order of proirities.

Today's situation is rooted in the 1990s. Back then in the situation of a sharp decrease in defence spending maintaining the SNFwas considered top priority in order to ensure the intergity and independence of the country. Despite all the changes, this position was transferred to the modern military doctrine and determined the order of priorities of the State Armaments Program.

At present the long term planning of the SNF development is based on the principle of parity with the US, as it is set in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START). However, it seems more practical too move to the concept of maintaining of Russia's nuclear potentail at the level that would allow to inflict guaranteed irreparable damage to any aggressor. Various high ranking officials have spoken in favor of this concept, including Yuri Solomonov, the chief designer of the «Topol», «Yars» and «Bulava» missiles: «We are trying to preserve parity with a country whose gross domestic product not to mention its budget is dozens of times the size of that of Russia. Which in itself calls for a question – do we need this?» - this is how Yuri Solomonov described the future program of SNF development in the Spring of 2011.

At the same time, taking into account the political and miitary situation in the world, possible regional conflicts present a more real threat for Russia. Such conflicts either on Russia's borderline or in remote places can seriously affect the country's interests and require well developed conventional armed forces in case of their potential involvement. Unfortunately, today there is only one type of non-strategic armaments that is being produced on a sufficient scale and does not present a cause for alarm – it covers helicopters of various classes.

All other systems designed for the conventional forces are supplied in quantities that are not sufficient for full-scale arms upgrade and frequently behind the schedule. At the same time the situation in the world is not getting any more peaceful. The thought that Russia has preserved nuclear parity with the US will be of little consolation when it is forced to surrender its positions and loose soldiers due to the insufficient focus on the conventional forces.

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