Russia's military order

11.05.06

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Viktor Litovkin)

The Russian governmental military-industrial commission went into session
the day after President Vladimir Putin addressed the Federal Assembly on May
10. It reviewed the objectives which the president set for the national
defense industry and army.

One of the goals is to "ensure that at least half of the defense budget is
spent on development (of the armed forces - author). Every budget ruble must
be spent rationally and on its intended purpose." It is also essential to
"establish a unified procurement and supply system for arms, military
hardware, and logistics support," to "substantially increase the number of
modern long-range aircraft, submarines, and launchers in the Strategic
Missile Force."

These goals require a well-orchestrated effort of the entire defense
industry and security structures. The military-industrial commission headed
by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will be in
charge of coordination.

Implementation of the 2005 state defense order was the first issue on the
commission's agenda. Certain achievements have been made in this respect.
The order was fulfilled by 97.3%. The army and navy have received new types
of armaments, military equipment, and battlefield support systems. All in
all, there are more than 400 new items. But at the same time, more than one
billion rubles earmarked for the production and purchase of arms have not
been spent. There are several reasons for this failure. One of these is lack
of coordination between different branches of the defense industry.

For instance, the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, subordinated to the
Federal Space Agency, produced eight single-warhead SS-27 Topol-M strategic
missiles, which were supposed to be placed on combat duty in the Taman
Missile Division in the village of Tatishchevo near Saratov. But the Russian
Special Construction Agency, which was charged with re-equipping silos used
by the decommissioned MIRVed UR-100 UTTKh (SS-19 Stiletto in NATO
classification), failed to adapt the launching sites for the new weapons. As
a result, there are no missiles in silos at all.

Although this failure did not strongly affect the general readiness of the
strategic deterrent, it brought to the fore the need to coordinate the work
of different departments and make them a single entity. Such setbacks happen
not only to the strategic deterrent, to which the president and government
attach priority importance.

Lack of coordination is not the only problem of the Russian defense
industry. There are more important and serious challenges. Vladimir Putin
mentioned one of these in his address. This is the need to upgrade
industrial production capacities, including those which produce hardware for
the Russian army and navy, as well as for exports. In this industry, the
service life has expired for 80% of the machine fleet. Meanwhile, the
development of military hardware requires precise and highly productive
technologies. Huge funds will have to be channeled into technological
re-equipment.

Another problem is skyrocketing prices on energy carriers, materials,
inventory materials, and labor. Curbing their growth, making it at least
predictable and gradual is as important as coordinating all branches of the
defense industry, all the more so, since in Russia they are all
dual-purpose. The Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, which turns out Topols,
Bulavas and Iskanders, manufactures equipment for the oil and gas industry,
agricultural machinery, and other competitive commodities. A drop in
unforeseen expenditures will benefit the plant by allowing it to channel its
floating assets into the products which will pay off quicker. In addition,
the plant could invest extra money in the training of professionals.

Lack of personnel is another big problem for the defense industry. The
average age of its specialists will soon make them eligible for retirement.
It will take at least five to ten years to train young specialists for their
replacement.

In this context, it is important to make the state defense order consistent
and predictable. It should be planned for five to ten years ahead, not for
one year, as is the case now. The military-industrial commission has put
this problem on kits agenda as well.

In 2007, the state defense order will grow by 20% to reach 302.7 billion
rubles (over $10 billion). Out of this sum, 145 billion rubles (about $5
billion) will be spent on the purchase of new arms and military hardware.
This is a 22% increase over this year. Expenses on repairs will be 60
billion rubles ($2.2 billion). They have gone up by 15.7%. R&D will
receive[m1] <> 98 billion rubles ($3.5 billion) - a 20% growth. In
addition, 14.6 billion rubles ($500 million) will be spent on re-equipping
the internal troops and Interior Ministry bodies.

These figures show that in 2007 the purchases of arms and hardware should
surpass arms exports, as in 2006. In other words, the army and navy will
start receiving reliable weapons, which can cope with armed conflicts of the
21st century. This fact alone instills with optimism those who serve and
those who work for the Russian armed forces. -0-