U.S vs. Russia: Military Spending difference, no big deal


November 6th, 2015 – 

Svyatoslav Knyazev for
politrussia.com Translated for Fort Russ by Soviet Bear – 

One of the key items in which the Russian army is put below the U.S. in various ratings is the size
of the military budget. And the recently announced top countries with the
biggest defense spending at first glance, concerns us even more. So do the Russians
have cause for concerns about their safety due to the size of military budget?

Judging by the
infographic published by RIA Novosti (with reference to the IHS Jane’s), Russian expenditure on military went down to
fourth place in the world. Behind the US (569,3 billion), China (190,9
billion), UK (66,5 billion dollars). Russia – 53,2 billion. France with 52.7
billion is right behind us. Then with a relatively small margin follow India,
Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany. Then there is a “gap”, behind which are
the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Australia, Italy. Then again the gap, and then
Canada, UAE, Turkey, Israel, Taiwan, Spain, Algeria.

Our lag from the US
who called Russia one of the major “global threats” and give us
serious consideration in their military doctrine, is more than ten times.

Reaction to the published
rating was immediate. Hurrah-patriots became even more nervous, the
liberals were even more active in their gloating, Ukrainian nationalists were cheering
and proud of the success of the United States. Before the fall of the ruble
assessment of our military budget by international experts looked still more
impressive, although the lag from the States was still massive.

But is it such a big deal?

Even just users of
Internet forums are well aware that to compare budgets or salaries in different
countries is simply meaningless without comparing the prices. The amount of
money is not as important as quantity of goods and services that you can
acquire with it!

We know that in the
U.S. real estate prices in New York and medical and utility bills prices are
high. But what about more global issues – prices in the defense sector?

Let’s look at some
eloquent examples. For example, the cost of pride of the American aircraft
builders- F-22 Raptor – is, according to various sources estimates from 350 to
411 million dollars per unit. And that’s not the most expensive aircraft. One
B-2 Spirit bomber (taking R&D into account) costs U.S. taxpayers $ 2.1
billion dollars per unit, and without science – 1,157 billion dollars. Not
cheap at all.

And what about our aircraft?

It is clear that the
information is very approximate (because of the requirements of secrecy). But
in General the cost of one T-50, for example, should not be more than $ 100
million – already 4 times cheaper than the “competitor”. Moreover,
the T-50 will be superior in practice, not only to F-35 but to F-22 as well.

As for the multipurpose
fighter of 4++ generation – the Su-35 now, according to the media, 48 of these
jets are to enter service within the Russian Aerospace Force this year, their
cost is about 100 billion rubles. Or about 2 billion rubles per unit. It is
about 31,25 million dollars per aircraft. Please compare with the US costs.

The cost of the
“Armata” Tank, which now begins to claim the title of best tank in
the world, is about 250 million rubles (less than $ 4 million at the current
exchange rate). It is believed that this is almost 2 times cheaper than the
famous “Abrams” in “maximum configuration”. And at least 3
times cheaper than the French AMX-56 Leclerc.

A similar trend is
observed with most of the weapons. The cost of production of Russian weapons –
is much lower than their Western counterparts.

What is the cost of
weapons? Let’s talk about earnings of the military men.

If we go by the dollar
equivalent, an U.S. soldier beginner gets 1294 dollar salary (about 82 thousand
rubles). A young American Lieutenant is payed over 4,000 dollars (about 260
thousand rubles). Turns out that the equivalent of the salary of the U.S. military
is 4-5 times above the Russian payroll (if you do not take those who serve in
the Polar North and in other special conditions). But will their earning vary
by the same 4-5 times in terms of purchasing power?

No way! We have
already analyzed that the cost of living in the USA is way higher than in Russia.
And the Americans win in living standards not because of higher wages (they are
eaten by high prices), but due to the cheaper loans. And people attend the U.S.
army not primarily for high salaries, but for the  social benefits – in the form of medical
care, subsidized education, good credit conditions and other “sweet stuff”,
which put the American military on the same standards of life with the middle

But again we come to
the question of costs. The American government is paying more to its military
than Russia to Russian. But for the conventional “one hundred
dollars” an average Russian can buy much more goods and services than an
average American.

What we’re coming to?
If in dollar terms the difference between American and Russian military budgets
is more than 10 times, in particular cost of tanks, planes, machines, equipment
and the wages of military, this difference is much smaller. Of course, even in
this case, the U.S. military budget is still significantly larger than Russian,
but not much! And when you consider the fact that the US population is
considerably greater than the population of Russia (more than in 2 times), then
the military budget in particular “per capita” variables will be even

However, we should not
forget that, as in Germany during the Second world war had almost all of Europe
as its allies, and the US has NATO plus partners in the Pacific. And we have a
lot of work to do in order to sustain our sovereignty in the face of such
alliances. But the gap is though large, but not critical. And if you have the
desire, will, perseverance and a sensible foreign policy (leading to the
formation of military alliances) – it is not insurmountable.

It won’t be easy, but
security is always expensive. It is better that way. As we all know, the people
who are unwilling to feed their own military are doomed to feed someone else’s.
And it will be much more expensive…

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