By Mikhail Timoshenko
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Let’s start with the Ground Forces. Their main strike weapon
is the Iskander-M self-propelled ballistic missile system, which is receiving a
new missile. Range—500km, accuracy—10m. The missile follows a non-ballistic
trajectory with active maneuvering and electronic countermeasures to overcome
anti-ballistic missile defenses. Available warheads include cluster, high
explosive-fragmentation, ground penetrating, and nuclear. Missile’s intended
targets are command posts and communications centers, missile systems and
long-range rocket artillery, air- and ballistic missile-defense weapons,
military airfields…The Ground Forces will receive two full Iskander brigades in
2015, to add to the 5 already in service, and by 2018 there will be 10 brigades
Motorized Rifle and Tank Brigades will receive more than 700
tanks, BMPs, and BTRs. Most of the tanks will be the newest T-90AM variant. Its
distinguishing features include a new turret with a combat information and
command system, new autoloader, and a modernized 125mm gun-launcher. The driver
will have an automatic transmission and a steering wheel instead of the old
lever controls. The modernization of the well-known T-72B tanks to the T-90 level
[T-72B3 variant] will continue. Infantry will ride on modernized BMP-3s and BTR-82s. Both
will receive the Bakhcha combat module. But the BMP-3 turret includes a 100mm
gun-launcher, a 30mm automatic cannon, while the BTR-82 an automatic cannon and
a machine gun.
Now the Air Force: 126 new aircraft and 88 helicopters. More
than half of them will be Generation 4++ fighters of the Su-30 and Su-35
families, intended for air superiority combat. Speed—more than Mach 2, range—over
3,000km, combat load—8 tons. The main strike aircraft with be the Su-34
fighter-bomber capable of using the full range of precision-guided
air-to-ground munitions. Speed—nearly Mach 2, combat radius—1100km, combat load
of 8 tons on 12 hardpoints. This year the 57 Su-34s already in service will be
joined by 30 new ones. Acquisitions will
also include 15 modernized strategic bombers. Army aviation is actively
receiving Mi-28 Night Hunters and Ka-52 Alligators. More than half of the
helicopters supplied will be attack machines.
Air Defense Forces will receive a brigade of S-300V4 Vityaz
systems, while 3 out of 9 S-400 regiments will be re-armed with 400km-range
missiles capable of shooting down not only aircraft but also ballistic missiles
at altitudes above 150km.
The Pacific Fleet is expecting the Vladimir Monomakh and
Aleksandr Nevskiy SSBNs, each armed with 16 Bulava SLBMs. They will be based in
Kamchatskiy Vilyuchinsk. The Black Sea Fleet will receive 2 Varshavyanka-class
SSK, where they are badly needed: the only mission-ready submarine currently
there is over 25 years old. Surface forces will receive four corvetes and a
frigate. The latter used to be called large anti-submarine ships. In actuality
these are practically light cruisers capable of operating anywhere on the world
ocean. All ships mentioned use missiles as their main armament, while their
cannon are playing a supporting role.
Finally, the nuclear shield. Which is also a sword. The
proportion of modern nuclear systems is now more than half, and by the end of
2015 will be 2/3 of the entire arsenal. Four regiments with new missiles will
enter systems. The “one-headed” Topol will be replaced by four-warhead Yars.
Altogether the industry will produce 50 ICBMs.
J.Hawk’s Comment: The new “Armata” and “Kurganets” vehicles
are not yet in the pipeline, though maybe in a couple of years they too will
enter service. Does that mean the Russian Army will operate three different
types of MBTs—the T-72B3, T-90AM, and the T-14? In actuality the differences
between the vehicles are less than they seem. The T-72B3 and the T-90AM use the
same engine and armament. The T-90AM and the T-14 will have a very similar
armament and electronic suite—I strongly suspect that the T-90AM is not going to be a newly built vehicle but rather the T-90A upgraded with
subsystems originally developed for the T-14. The Russian Army is not so rich
that it can afford to replace all of its older vehicles with newer ones.
However, the upgrades to the already existing T-72Bs and T-90As will raise the quality of the
armored force as a whole. Moreover, the T-72B3 is a perfectly adequate vehicle
against many of Russia’s potential opponents which cannot afford the latest
MBTs, and its armament and fire control make it effective in defending even
against the most modern threats.
The Bakcha turret is likely the same one that was developed
for the BMD-4, and comes with a thermal
sight and cutting edge electronics, which promise to improve the BMP-3s
The Air Force is also doing well with dozens of highly
capable fighters in the pipeline. What’s interesting is that the Navy is slated
to receive only one frigate, even though 12 are on order. This may be due to
difficulty in replacing the gas turbines that were supposed to be produced in
Nikolayev, Ukraine, with domestic ones.