Will Russia create the world's second largest surface navy? - 2007

Will Russia create the world's second largest surface navy?


The year 2007 can safely be described as Russia's year of combat aviation. Both in July at Le Bourget in France and in August at Zhukovsky outside Moscow, thousands of spectators held their breath as they watched stunts performed by MiG and Su planes equipped with vectored-thrust engines. It was a sight to be proud of. The planes featured were all land-based, although it is aircraft carrier aviation that makes up the effective core of the present-day air forces around the world. Russia has planes that can be used on carriers. For example, the MiG, or rather the MiG-29 KUB (the acronym stands for aircraft carrier combat training). But they are exported to India under a contract to equip their future aircraft carriers.

Russia cannot be said to be blind to the role of aircraft carriers or the navy in modern warfare. In today's unpredictable world, even the mere appearance of a formidable ship featuring three service components sailing off a trouble spot is capable of producing a sobering effect on a potential aggressor. It was therefore not surprising that in the middle of the year Admiral Vladimir Masorin, commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, announced plans to reform the country's naval forces and build a blue-water navy with the world's second largest fleet of aircraft carriers. Or rather, in the next 20 years, Russia aims to create six aircraft carrier strike groups, giving it the world's second largest surface navy after the United States.

An aircraft carrier looks impressive, but needs a strong escort. Current world practice, where the U.S. is the trend-setter, dictates their operation within strike groups. Such a group, aside from the multi-role giant, also contains up to six combat escort vessels, including one or two GM cruisers, one GM destroyer, and two or three anti-submarine destroyers or frigates. The American standards are, of course, not necessarily a guide for Russia, but so far there has been no evidence that the make-up of their strike groups needs to be changed. Thus, six aircraft carrier strike groups are to be built in 20 years' time, including all the components and sparing no expense.

One thing, however, immediately comes to the mind, which concerns the organizational philosophy. Not long ago, in early 2004, Russia's Defense Ministry prepared a blueprint for building up the Navy until 2040-2050. The main planks of the blueprint were giving up the "ocean" aspect of protecting the country's interests and instead focusing on small-class vessels operating within a 500-km zone of territorial waters. "We are now abandoning the large-class ships we have or inherited from the Soviet era, and are moving to multi-purpose vessels," said Admiral of the Fleet Vladimir Kuroyedov, the then commander-in-chief of the Navy. According to him, "Russia will have its own frigates and corvettes unmatched by anything else in the world."

He said, "aircraft carriers belong to the next decade, and to speak of them now is a bit too soon." But, he said, Russia's only aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov" would remain. No one, he said, was going to write it off or sell it. "We have not even given that any thought," Kuroyedov said. The story of the ill-fated "Kuznetsov" will be taken up later, but now it is worth examining the two programs defining the future of the Russian navy that only took two years to draw up. Conceptually, they are worlds apart. What makes them related is pointless bravado statements like "unmatched by anything else" or the "second largest." Does Russia have grounds for planning the construction of so many carriers in the next twenty years? Let's calculate the prospects. Russian shipyards will have to launch one aircraft carrier every three years and four months if the plan is to be fully completed.

Compare this with what the Americans did in 22 years from 1981 to 2003: they built six aircraft carriers during that time. The last one, "The Ronald Reagan", although completed with a fantastic speed in about 30 months and hitting the water in mid-2003, did not join the active fleet until January of last year. Its running and other trials took almost three years. In other words, it took the Pentagon a quarter of a century to achieve what we are trying to do in only 20 years. But the Americans, even with taking into account their unprecedentedly high naval ship-building potential, had many other resources: money, armaments, sailing personnel, and flying crews. Logistics also met expectations. What does Russia need? The first thing is money. Experience shows that it costs about $4 billion to build a modern aircraft carrier with a nuclear-powered propulsion plant (any other is unsuitable for this global system of weapons). Monthly maintenance costs (excluding personnel pay) are over $10 million.

When untangling the mind-boggling information about Russia's present defense budget, we find that with a current bill of $35 billion a year and a defense order of just over $12 billion, the country will have to spend more than a billion dollars a year on the construction alone. The military, left "high and dry," will tangibly feel the pinch of the missing billion. But this would be possible only under the unrealistically ideal conditions where the pace of work is timed down to a minute and there is no inflation. Yet the military budget is not stretchable and cannot rev up like a speedboat. Then will come the second ship, the third and the next, and this at a time when the completed ones will have to be run and maintained. Or will the project call for building more than one at a time? If so, the costs will become much more impressive.

After the ship is built it needs to be fitted with aircraft. Russia is going to compete with ships that carry a complement of 90 units each. Our carrier-based Su-33 fighter has evolved from the modified Su-27 Flanker jet initially developed for air defenses in the late 1960s. By the beginning of 2002, the country had produced just 24 of them. Nothing is known about plans to increase their production or develop new models. The first maiden flight from the deck of the "Admiral Kuznetsov" took place in 1995. Now a word about the "Admiral Kuznetsov" carrier. Launched in 1989, it has spent most of its life under repair. When an attempt was made to use it in sea trials in 2003, it started to sink. Once in 2004 and twice in 2005 landing accidents incapacitated it for long spells. And all that was accompanied by fires and multiple failures of the propulsion machinery.

The ship is a classic mess with every part of it rotten or diseased. Just to complete the picture, here is a telling report from the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies: As of 2004, Russia had only 12 pilots capable of flying deck-based aircraft. Consult this memo: an aircraft group of Russia's "rival" has 3,000 elite-trained pilots, all put through grueling tests. Yet even if one air-capable group is built, armed and manned, there will be nowhere to base it, to say nothing about supply or repair. Out of Russia's four fleets, only the Northern and the Pacific ones can handle aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, the Northern Fleet has built no new storage facility, floating base or fixed mooring pier since 1993, because of the lack of financing.

Compared with giant shipbuilding yards, ship repair facilities are fairly modest. However, the Northern Fleet considers ship repairs a high priority to keep it in good fighting condition and order. Their priority is not unique, but rather typical of the Navy as a whole. Ship repairs are currently financed at 6% of their requirements. In the Northern Fleet more than 200 combat ships, submarines and auxiliary vessels are in need of repair and only 10% of them have been repaired in recent years. Now take a look at India. Without any pomp it is going to launch its first 40,000-ton aircraft carrier in 2012. Aircraft have also been taken care of - they will come from Russia.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20071113/87843710.html

In related news:

Ballistic Missile Submarines: The Only Way to Go


Russia and China are both in the process of fielding a new class of ballistic missile submarines. These submarines, longtime prudent investments for states with nuclear weapons, are becoming an essential -- and ultimately, the only -- option for a survivable nuclear deterrent.


For the better part of a decade, four nations have maintained a regularly patrolling strategic deterrent at sea: the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Israel (whose use of nuclear warheads mounted on cruise missiles aboard its three Dolphin-class submarines is an open secret). However, that decade also has seen China and Russia complete nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) programs. This is particularly important because diving beneath the ocean's surface is quickly becoming the only way to hide.


At its peak, the Soviet navy operated more than 60 SSBNs. The fleet is now one-quarter that size, and most of the boats are in poor condition. In 2002, the Russian navy did not conduct a single strategic deterrence patrol. The current fleet of aging SSBNs can barely hold the line. Not only is Russia investing in the future of its SSBN program, but it also is essentially starting from scratch. The Yuri Dolgoruky, the lead boat of Russia's newest Borei-class SSBN, has a troubled past. Laid down in 1996, the Yuri Dolgoruky was neglected and construction was held up because of economic troubles after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The parallel development of the SS-NX-28 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) failed, and the design had to be adjusted during construction to accommodate a different missile, the SS-NX-30 Bulava. Although the Bulava has had several successful launches, three failures in the fourth quarter of 2006 demonstrated the missile was far from ready. Nevertheless, the Yuri Dolgoruky was launched April 15. (It will spend at least a year being fitted out.) Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Alexei Moskovsky has promised seven more by 2017. Of course, Moskovsky's statements are nothing if not ambitious. A series of successful Bulava tests will be necessary. But the ultimate success of the Borei class is essential for Russia's ability to maintain its nuclear deterrent. It is perhaps the top defense priority, along with the continued fielding of the land-based Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). And it is something Russia can afford. In recent years, Russia has politically and economically consolidated and has been fiscally conservative enough to keep a balanced budget. Russian President Vladimir Putin's policies, and a hefty windfall from high energy prices, have turned Russia's $160 billion debt in 2000 into $400 billion in currency reserves and surplus funds. In March, the Kremlin shed its fiscal conservatism with a new budget for 2007-2010 that dramatically increases spending in many sectors, including defense. The budget and economic conditions are reminiscent of the Soviet budgets of the 1970s, during which Moscow launched its last dramatic increase in defense spending.


For the Chinese People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN), nuclear-powered submarines have been a challenge. At times, the PLAN was an understudy of a less-than-perfect master: the Russian navy. Though the PLAN has made incremental improvements, its nuclear submarines reportedly have yet to attain modern standards of performance. The PLAN's older Xia-class SSBN, though able to launch missiles, never made an official deterrence patrol. However, the new Jin-class SSBN (Type 094) reportedly is undergoing sea trials. It spent some five years under construction and sources indicate it was launched in mid-2004. It reportedly is not up to modern SSBN standards, and there are rumors of nuclear propulsion problems. However, the shift to sea trials suggests it will ultimately deploy. The JL-2 SLBM with which it is to be fitted appears to have had several successful trial launches. If the Jin class is deployable, the bulk of the continental United States -- now only vulnerable to a small arsenal of China's longest-range land-based missiles -- would be within reach of the JL-2 SLBM. Though dozens of funding priorities compete for the money, China's military spending has continued to rise. China has a small nuclear deterrent, so it must ensure that the deterrent it has is mobile and survivable; thus, while Beijing's pocketbook is not bottomless, the SSBN program should continue receiving the funding it needs.


Both the Russian Borei and the Chinese Jin are still at least a year from operational capability, and their sister boats -- still under construction -- will need to be completed in the next few years in order to build to a constantly patrolling rotation. But in five to 10 years, Russia and China both intend to have such a rotation in place. While the significance of a new SSBN is greater for China, which has yet to field a functioning sea-based deterrent, the decay of Russia's SSBN fleet is such that the Borei marks a new beginning there. India could be working toward a missile submarine as well, but that development is 10-20 years away. Countries like Pakistan could one day follow the Israeli example -- diesel submarines armed with cruise missiles. Diesel boats lack the endurance of their nuclear-powered brethren, but can run even quieter for short periods. The cruise missiles have a shorter range than SLBMs, but are technically easier to launch and require no major modifications to a standard hull, since they can be launched horizontally like torpedoes. While none of these developments fundamentally alters the strategic balance of a unipolar world, advances in Russia and China's SSBN programs mark the first time in a decade that nations other than traditional U.S. allies are building sea-based deterrents.

The Increasing Importance of the Sea-based Deterrent

Early in the Cold War, ICBMs were almost prohibitively large and expensive. The submarine was a way to move shorter-range missiles closer to one's adversary. But as missile accuracy improved (the dramatically increasing potential yield of strategic warheads did not hurt, either), the prospect of a successful "first strike" began to alter the role of the SSBN. It became a valuable "first strike" platform because it could move close to an adversary's coast, giving the enemy less time to react to a missile launch. But its greatest value as the most survivable leg of a nuclear triad is its capacity for a "second," or retaliatory, strike. Much harder to keep track of than platforms in fixed positions, an SSBN lurking at sea is the ultimate wild card. Land-mobile missile systems (as opposed to fixed, silo-based missiles) are another way of accomplishing this, but technological advances will make them increasingly vulnerable. A joint U.S. program between the defense and intelligence communities is working to test space-based radar. Destined to succeed in one form or another, space-based radar will one day be able to track objects across the face of the Earth -- objects such as land-mobile launch vehicles -- and keep close enough tabs on them that their locations can be effectively targeted by strategic warheads. In a unipolar world -- in which the United States will have the best intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and weapons of increasing speed and accuracy -- the nuclear weapon is the only true guarantor of national independence. Even a minimal deterrent allows nations to focus on and confront regional disputes, as well as protect their interests abroad. An SSBN fleet is, of course, not absolutely necessary -- whether mounted on a land-based missile or a submarine, a nuclear weapon is a substantial bargaining chip -- but it is becoming increasingly difficult to hide anything from the United States. The U.S. military has a technological edge beneath the waves as well, but even a modestly well-built submarine traveling below 5 knots is hard to track, and it certainly has a better chance than a fixed concrete silo. Consequently, the sea-based leg of a nation's nuclear triad is evolving from a prudent choice for survivability to the most essential element of a meaningful nuclear deterrent.

Source: http://www.stratfor.com/products/pre....php?id=287691

Russia's Army to Be "Leaner but Meaner" - Chief of Staff

Yuri Baluyevsky, the chief of Russia's general staff said a moratorium on Russia's Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty obligations will take effect on December 12. "There will be no changes to Russia's position: The law will come into force as it should, on December 12," Baluyevsky said Wednesday in Brussels, following a meeting with NATO chiefs of staff. Baluyevsky said last Thursday that Russia would no longer be bound by current weapons and equipment limitations after its moratorium on the CFE Treaty comes into force. The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, voted on November 7 in favor of President Putin's bill to impose a moratorium on the CFE Treaty. The moratorium is set to come into effect on December 12, after final approval by the upper house of parliament, expected to vote on the issue on November 16, and President Vladimir Putin.

In an interview with the Russia Today TV channel on Tuesday the chief of general staff said that the CFE Treaty put Russia at a disadvantage. "It was an onerous treaty for Russia. It was a treaty that Russia alone honored," he said. Asked why Russia had signed the document in the first place, Baluyevsky said that at the time, in 1990, the goal was to avert a war, and the treaty effectively served its purpose. He also said Russia's Armed Forces, like all militaries in the world, would be putting an emphasis on quality, not quantity. "It will be a leaner but meaner, well trained and equipped, and professional force," the general said. Earlier in the interview he said that the Russian Armed Forces were under no obligation to protect the world from the United States.

Answering a question as to whether or not the world could count on Russia to defend it from "insidious American plans," Baluyevsky replied, "Today, there is no need to be afraid of the Russian Armed Forces. However, I do not believe that the Russian military is obliged to defend the world from the evil Americans". "We need to pool our efforts together with our American counterparts to fight existing common threats. I'd say that we are doing a pretty good job here. "As for the modern Russian Army, it is not the Army that we have inherited from the collapsed Soviet Union in the early 90's," Baluyevsky added. "Today it's a totally new Army. As for the number of men, in the Soviet times the Army had more than 4 million servicemen and now it is a bit over 1 million. As you may notice, it has shrunk by 3 million."

Source: http://mnweekly.ru/national/20071115/55289883.html

Russia, India to discuss fifth-generation fighter on Nov. 15

A Russian delegation including Sukhoi plane maker CEO Mikhail Pogosyan will hold talks on Thursday with Deputy Indian Defense Minister Kanwar Singh on jointly developing a fifth-generation fighter. The sides agreed in October to jointly develop and produce a multifunctional fighter, in one of the largest military cooperation programs between Russia and India. Sukhoi said that at Thursday's talks, the sides will consider project issues discussed on November 12-14 by expert working groups, relating to time frames and financing. The project will be implemented by Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), and India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The UAC was established earlier this year to consolidate Russia's aircraft industry, and incorporates many of the country's best-known aircraft manufacturers, including Mikoyan, Ilyushin, Irkut, Tupolev, and Yakovlev. In October, Moscow and New Delhi signed a $1.6 billion contract for the supply of 40 Su-30 fighter assembly sets to India by 2010 as an addition to a contract on licensed production of 140 Su-30MKIs in India, which was signed in December 2000.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20071114/88102351.html

Russia's Putin slams NATO "muscle-flexing"

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned that Moscow would not remain indifferent to NATO's "muscle-flexing" and said Russia's nuclear forces would be ready for an adequate response to any aggressor. Putin, speaking to top generals less than two weeks before December 2 parliamentary elections, said the NATO military alliance had built up its forces close to Russia's borders. "We see that military resources of certain states and members of the NATO alliance are being built up right by our borders and in contravention of previously reached agreements," Putin said in remarks shown on state television. "We cannot allow ourselves to remain indifferent to the obvious 'muscle-flexing'," Putin said. He said strategic nuclear forces -- which control Russia's long-range nuclear missiles -- should be ready "to deliver a swift and adequate response to any aggressor." Putin, who has hiked military spending substantially over the past eight years, has sought to boost Russia's international clout after the chaos following the fall of the Soviet Union. Talking tough about Russia's military is immensely popular locally. Polls show it strikes a chord with millions of Russians who crave for the Soviet Union's once mighty military and superpower status. NATO is viewed with great suspicion in Russia, where Kremlin officials say expansion eastwards into the Baltic states and Central Europe shows the alliance is being used by the United States to threaten Russian interests.


Putin, who served as a KGB lieutenant-colonel in the Cold War, says he is friends with U.S. President George W. Bush. But he has berated the United States for seeking to impose its will on the world and sowing havoc with unilateralist policies, such as the war in Iraq. Moscow and Washington have clashed over U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in Europe, differing views of Russian democracy, the future of the Serb province of Kosovo and the war in Iraq, though on Iran there has been some cooperation. Putin said Russia's suspension of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a key arms treaty limiting forces in Europe, was one way to counter NATO's "muscle-flexing." "We are not going to fulfill anything unilaterally -- our partners did not ratify the treaty and some did not even sign it," Putin said, adding sarcastically: "It was a nice affair." Russian generals say the issue of flank limits, which restrict Moscow's ability to deploy heavy armor on parts of its own territory, must be solved if Russia is to return to the treaty. Russian proposals to set up a single missile defense system under joint control have not had an answer from the West, Putin said. He praised the military potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional grouping of Russia, China and four Central Asian states which held joint military exercises in August in Chebarkul in the Urals. "The growing defense potential of the SCO was shown in practice at the Chebarkul range," Putin said. At the August exercises, Putin said security threats had forced Russia to resume regular airborne bomber patrols across the world, bringing back memories of the Cold War. Putin has been keen to show off his close ties with the military, visiting a nuclear submarine, flying a bomber and calling for better wages for soldiers.

Source: http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/new...archived=False

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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what.Therefore, if you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or simply attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself. Moreover, please appreciate the fact that I have put an enormous amount of information into this blog. In my opinion, most of my blog commentaries and articles, some going back ten-plus years, are in varying degrees relevant to this day and will remain so for a long time to come. Articles in this blog can therefore be revisited by longtime readers and new comers alike. I therefore ask the reader to treat this blog as a depository of important information relating to Eurasian geopolitics, Russian-Armenian relations and humanity's historic fight against the evils of Globalism and Westernization.

Thank you as always for reading.