Tag Archives: PVO

Lobby for PVO Strany

Military reorganizations never stop, they just continue at a barely perceptible pace.

Organizational changes start with a campaign for a realignment.  The campaign to form Aerospace Defense Troops (VVKO) started five or six years before they officially stood up on 1 December 2011.

A new campaign is beginning.  Some are arguing VVKO didn’t get everything they need.

Four KPRF Duma deputies who are members of the legislature’s Defense Committee propose upgrading the VVKO from a branch (род) to a service (вид).  That’s symbolic, but not most significant.

More importantly, they say VVKO should control all ground-based air defense assets currently operated by the Air Forces and commanders of Russia’s four military districts (MDs).

Izvestiya reported the story.

Changes the KPRF deputies envisage would almost turn today’s VVKO into a new Soviet PVO Strany – National Air Defense (sans interceptor aircraft) as it existed between 1954 and the 1980s.  Troop PVO (Ground Troops) and Navy PVO would remain separate.

The KPRF deputies argue the vast majority of PVO assets need to be under a unified command to provide effective air defense for Russia.

Vyacheslav Tetekin, former conscript SA-5 operator and Africa expert, said:

“In military affairs the most dangerous thing is when there is no responsibility:  there is no one to make decisions, and no one to bear responsibility.  Until the time when all PVO and VKO resources are transferred into an independent command, we can’t be sure our country is defended against strikes from space and from the air.”

His colleague Aleksandr Tarnayev, former communications officer and KGB military counterintelligence operative, suggested, rather absurdly, that none of this means big changes, just resubordinating units, and replacing emblems on gates.  Units don’t even have to move, unless they need to redeploy to main strike threat axes.

But it is certainly a big change for air defense units that have reported to MDs for the last couple years, or to the Air Forces for an even longer time.

Taking strategic- and operational-level air defense from MD commanders would reduce their capabilities as unified, combined arms warfighters in regional and local conflicts.

Military expert Viktor Murakhovskiy told Izvestiya the idea of VVKO as a service has been discussed before, and the change would cost trillions of rubles:

“This is the idea of creating a unified air defense system for the country like in Soviet times.  For this we would need to combine all VKO brigades and SAM brigades under a single command.  But we would need to understand that to create a seamless defensive field over the country’s entire territory requires a huge amount of money, and the question arises, are these outlays so necessary or is it better to direct them in a different course.”

Murakhovskiy begs a couple good questions.  Is there an existential national air defense threat that justifies taking funds from other pressing military needs?  Is a U.S. (and NATO?) strategic air operation against Russia possible or probable?

VPK editor-in-chief Mikhail Khodarenok told the paper he believes VVKO needs interceptors and there’s not enough money now to create such a full-fledged service:

“In the Soviet system of PVO, for interceptors alone there were 70 regiments — almost 3 thousand aircraft.  But if we divide current aircraft between the Air Forces and PVO, we get two absurd services.  In the future such a division is justified because the Air Forces’ mission is supporting troops, and PVO’s mission is protecting the country’s important administrative and industrial centers from air strikes.  But this is the future in 20-30 years.”

A Duma hearing on VVKO scheduled for 6 November won’t have much affect on the military’s structure.  But this is how major reorganizations have started in the past.  Just don’t look for results soon.

General Trash

Late last week news services reported the Investigative Committee (SK) lodged serious allegations against former commander of the Special Designation Command (KSpN), retired General-Colonel Yuriy Solovyev.  The KSpN was a forerunner of today’s VVKO.

Retired General-Colonel Yuriy Solovyev

The gist of the story goes like this.  In 2006, Solovyev supposedly allowed a commercial firm, Proyekt Stroy to establish and operate an unregistered landfill on military property under his command.

Specifically, military unit 62845, which, according to Warfare.ru, is the 584th Guards SAM Regiment (5th PVO Brigade), near the settlements of Lytkino, Marino, and Povarovo in Moscow Oblast’s Solnechnogorsk Rayon.

Vicinity of Lytkino, Marino, and Povarovo

The regiment operates S-300PM (SA-20 / Gargoyle) SAMs.

The SK apparently plans to charge him for “exceeding his authority with infliction of serious consequences.”  Gazeta.ru reports the 64-year-old ex-general checked into a hospital (where he can’t be charged or interrogated).  His alleged crime could bring a possible 3- to 10-year prison sentence.

According to Gazeta, Solovyev contracted with Proyekt Stroy to reclaim some land, but actually allowed it to use it for an illegal landfill.  The dump grew five times, from four to 20 hectares (about 50 acres or 1/5 of a square kilometer), during Solovyev’s tenure, according to the SK announcement.

Gazeta says specialists estimate the landfill has caused 8 billion rubles in environmental damages.  The investigation is continuing, and more names connected to the case are expected to emerge.

The news site noted that the case stemmed from an MVD investigation back in March.  The MVD announced then that “an organized group consisting of former and current highly-placed RF Defense Ministry officials” was responsible for the dump.  At the time, it estimated 13 billion rubles in damages to the state.

The MVD said the pits Proyekt Stroy dug threatened Moscow’s reservoirs and groundwater sources.  Federal Water Resources Agency experts found concentrations of toxins elevated by more than 200 times at the site.  Vzglyad’s report on this story indicated mercury alone was found at 30 times the allowable level.  Proyekt Stroy reportedly cut 18 hectares of forest before digging the landfill.

Gazeta adds that locals described the dump as the size of five soccer fields and having a powerful stench of methane.  One talked of changes in the color of a nearby stream’s water.  He also estimated possible profit from the trash heap at  $100,000 per day, and confirmed that the military controlled access to the site.

Experts claim this isn’t a unique story, with more than 700 unsanctioned dumps located around Moscow.  They’ve been ignored, but the problem is catastrophic.  New Moscow Oblast Governor Sergey Shoygu has vowed to close illegal landfills, according to Vzglyad.

Kommersant’s March reportage indicated the dump was first reported by locals last September.  The paper claimed 50 “guest workers” work there and live in nearby barracks.  It added that the SAM regiment’s missile launchers were not more than 200 meters from the site.

Kommersant concluded ominously:

“Now the investigation will clarify exactly who in the Defense Ministry permitted the organization of a trash heap right next to militarymen and why they closed their auditing eyes to its operation.”

They’ve apparently found at least one person to blame.

Zelin’s Update (Part III)

In the middle part of General-Colonel Zelin’s incredibly long NVO interview, he reacts to Defense Minister Serdyukov’s high command changes and other structural realignments over the last couple years.  He also shares thoughts on the state of VVS training.

Zelin speaks to interviewer Viktor Litovkin like a 58-year-old three-star who’s surprised to have stayed at his post as long as he has.  He speaks like he isn’t concerned about being retired.

Asked what he and his Main Staff do now that the VVS operate under the four MD / OSK commanders, Zelin responds that plans to create an automated C2 system (ASU) haven’t quite gotten there.  He talks and is online with the district commanders often.  But, he says:

“The main thing is combat training remains with the VVS Main Command. Organizational development (stroitelstvo or строительство) of the service and combat training.  And without combat training what kind of employment can there be?”

There were, he continues, arguments and unresolved issues:

“But during the decisionmaking I proved my point of view, my vision of present problems, sometimes they had to agree, sometimes they had to listen on several issues, but, since now decisions have been made, we have to fulfill them.  To get to work.”

But he grouses a bit more.  He sounds like a man with responsibility who lacks authority.

The ASU isn’t working, but service central command posts (TsKP or ЦКП) were eliminated.  Regardless, Zelin says he has to organize and control training.  Every day 70-80 units have aircraft flying, and they have to be tracked.  They can’t just be given a mission and forgotten.

Asked about the newly-established Aerospace Defense (VKO) Troops, Zelin claims interestingly, that only PVO brigades in Russia’s central industrial region — the old Moscow AD District, KSpN, or OSK VKO — went over to them.  He says MD / OSK commanders got the rest, and he equips and trains them for regional commands to operate.  His view seems to be VKO is limited to strategic and theater MD.  You can’t, he opines, have PVO without air defense aviation integrated into it.  According to Zelin, a single national system of air defense, including Troop Air Defense, is needed, but a decision’s been made and it’s left but to fulfill it.

Before talking more about training, Zelin reiterates that a single system of net-centric strategic C2 and decisionmaking is the goal, but they aren’t quite there.

He seems envious of the large-scale, largely automated airspace control systems he’s seen in the U.S., Europe, and Japan.

On training and flight hours, Zelin says he’s got no problems with material support (i.e. POL), but problems addressing aircraft service life support [ресурсное обеспечение].  He states frankly he worries about maintenance provided (or not) by civilianized, outsourced Oboronservis affiliate Aviaremont.  There is plenty of money for maintenance, but those responsible aren’t getting it done.  While the Glavkomat has heartache about aircraft serviceability:

“Our other structures for some reason are responsible only for financial flows.”

Zelin was asked earlier if 130 flight hours was the VVS goal.  He says last year pilots got 340,000 hours, or 90 per pilot.  That makes roughly 3,800 pilots, if they’re shared evenly (they’re not).  Eighty percent of young pilots got not less than 100. In some cases, it was harder and they got a little more than 50.  Zelin adds this is still better than the 1990s.

Where’s the Logic? (Addendum)

S-400 Launcher (photo: ITAR-TASS)

One shouldn’t ignore what doesn’t make sense . . . last week the Russian press reported again that the Baltic Fleet’s PVO units (Kaliningrad’s 3rd Aerospace Defense Brigade?) will receive their first S-400 launchers before year’s end.  The first report came in August.  ITAR-TASS cited a source this time – Baltic Fleet Commander, Vice-Admiral Viktor Chirkov.

Chirkov didn’t say how many the fleet will get, but he said the S-400 will replace old S-200 (SA-5 / Gammon) surface-to-air missiles.  He says his crews are currently conducting “acceptance-handover” launches, presumably at Ashuluk.

It doesn’t seem logical.  SAM brigades around Moscow can’t get S-400s on time and Chirkov is talking about putting them in Kaliningrad.  And his assertion he’ll get them this month seems odd given the loose schedules and passed deadlines associated with the program.

President Medvedev just finished saying one measure against European missile defense would be deploying the S-400 to protect SYaS.  But SYaS aren’t based in the Russian exclave.  It seems Medvedev would’ve announced it if the military intended to put the new SAMs in Kaliningrad.  Are S-400s going to intercept    SM-3s launched from Poland?  Are they going to protect Iskanders in Kaliningrad?

We’re left waiting to see the logic (and truth) in these reports.  Of course, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a logic compelling or sensible to outsiders.

Thirteen VKO Brigades

Thirteen VKO Brigades

A little additional on that westward-leaning VVKO . . . the 13 VKO brigades are only a part of VVKO, but here’s how they’re laid out. 

They’re numbered 1-12 and 14. Six are in the Western MD. One in the Southern. Three in the Central. And three in the Far East MD.
 
  • 1st Aerospace Defense Brigade, Severomorsk, Western MD.
  • 2nd Aerospace Defense Brigade, Khvoynyy, Western MD.
  • 3rd Aerospace Defense Brigade, Kaliningrad, Western MD.
  • 4th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Dolgoprudnyy, Western MD.
  • 5th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Petrovskoye, Western MD.
  • 6th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Rzhev, Western MD.
  • 7th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Rostov-na-Donu, Southern MD.
  • 8th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Samara, Central MD.
  • 9th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Ob, Central MD.
  • 10th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Chita, Central MD.
  • 11th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Komsomolsk-na-Amure, Far East MD.
  • 12th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Vladivostok, Far East MD.
  • 14th Aerospace Defense Brigade, Yelizovo, Far East MD.

Team VKO Taking Shape

Team VKO is taking shape according to Kommersant.  Last fall, President Medvedev, of course, ordered the establishment of a unified VKO.  Since then, it’s become clear that Space Troops (KV) Commander, General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko would head it.

And KV will be the base for the new service [vid or вид].  According to the Genshtab plan, VKO will unite all PVO and PRO systems.  And it will control the current KV, Moscow-based OSK VKO, and PVO units from the Air Forces.

The paper’s Defense Ministry source says VKO’s top officers have been identified, and paperwork was sent for Medvedev’s signature last month.  So expect a decree soon.

General-Lieutenant Valeriy Ivanov will be in charge of PVO and PRO for VKO.  He’s a 50-year-old career SAM officer, who commanded PVO divisions or corps in the Far East, Volga, and Moscow MDs.  From 2007-10, he commanded the Far East’s 11th AVVSPVO.  He became commander of the OSK VKO about this time last year.

General-Major Oleg Maydanovich is a 47-year-old KV missile engineer who will head VKO’s space monitoring.  He has long service at Plesetsk and Baykonur, and has been chief of both.  He’s now chief of Russia’s space systems testing and control center.

Colonel Andrey Ilin will be chief of the VKO’s command and control post at Krasnoznamensk.  He served many years at the space tracking post in Shchelkovo.  He’s been chief of staff at Plesetsk since last year.

Passion for the S-300PS

Friday’s Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye editorial assures readers the end of S-300PS production — combined with a lack of contracts for the S-400 – won’t bring the apocalypse or, at least, a threat to Russia’s administrative and industrial heartland.

Like others, NVO is wrestling with the meaning of former Almaz-Antey General Director Igor Ashurbeyli’s most recent words.

Despite the sturm und drang over the S-300′s demise elsewhere in the media, NVO takes the rational tack.  There’s nothing new in Ashurbeyli’s statements.  Everything’s normal, it says.  Almaz-Antey could have upgraded the S-300P Favorit forever, but proposed S-500 development instead.  It’s natural and sensible to draw S-300 production down to a close.

And, after all, the S-400 is entering service, and the Vityaz and S-500 are in development.  The medium-range Vityaz will replace the S-300PS.  Morfey’s in development for short-range protection of the most important targets.  And Ashurbeyli says “it’s proposed” that the S-500 will be complete in 2015.

Here, NVO’s editors shift to a less optimistic, perhaps a more realistic tack:

“It’s true, we all know that in our country it’s always a great distance from plans to their fulfillment.  In that great distance, sometimes not just ruts and potholes arise, but even chasms.  Here not everything with full-blooded use of the S-400 system is clear and obvious.  According to the reports of both Ashurbeyli and the VVS CINC General Zelin, there are big problems with the long-range missile, and also at Moscow factory “Avangard,” where this serial production goes on, according to media accounts, there are no orders for it.  It could be because it’s not in shape.  And the “400,” on which great hopes rest today, as a transitional system from the S-300PS to Vityaz and the S-500, doesn’t justify these expectations?  It isn’t excluded that it’s for exactly this reason that the Defense Ministry no longer wants to order it?  Why spend money and buy something that doesn’t meet the tactical-technical requirements which the customers laid down for the system?  Here the generals wouldn’t lack common sense.”

But, says NVO, they could go forward with the S-400′s short- and medium-range missiles, couldn’t they?  Delays in the S-400 contract threaten to cause failures in establishing the country’s defenses.

With a two-year production cycle, and no contracts in 2011, it’s naive to expect the appearance of new systems in 2013, according to NVO’s editors.  What’s more, there’s no absolute certainty that Vityaz and Morfey will succeed in this time frame, or that some kind of real basis for developing the S-500 will be laid.

NVO concludes:

“And so here passions for the “300″ are understandable.  But it’s only desired that they shouldn’t take on an alarmist character.  It isn’t necessary to frighten anyone.”

Ashurbeyli Interviewed (Part II)

The rest of former Almaz-Antey chief Igor Ashurbeyli’s interview with RIA Novosti . . .

Asked about the future of PVO, PRO, and VKO, Ashurbeyli says he sees the role of ground-based systems declining, and future “fire means” — after the S-500 — will be air-based.  Part of them, he claims, are already in RDT&E.

Returning more to the present, the former Almaz-Antey head says the Defense Ministry asks the impossible of weapons developers.  They have to sign contracts they know they can’t complete in the stipulated time frames, otherwise they’d have no work.

Ashurbeyli goes on to explain Almaz-Antey’s current production quandary.  The S-300 has been made only for export over the last 15 years.  One foreign order has just been filled, and only one remains.  So Ashurbeyli sees a gap between S-300 and S-400 production, and he predicts a decline in the factory’s operations in 2013 or even late 2012.

The lead-time for producing S-400 components is 24 months.  So, without budget advances today, there won’t be anything to produce in 2013.  In 2011, Ashurbeyli says, not a single supplementary S-400 production contract has been signed.

Ashurbeyli sounds a lot like former MIT head and solid-fuel ICBM maker Yuriy Solomonov who announced in early July that the 2011 state defense order is already broken.  Is it a coincidence both men were unseated from their general director and chief designer duties?

Ashurbeyli says:

“At the same time, the load on the plant today is far from full and the absence of contracts doesn’t allow for further renewing equipment and technology.  We have to understand that the S-400 is made on the very same equipment as the S-300.”

In response to another question, Ashurbeyli makes his case for consolidating the structure of aerospace defense industries.  He calls for a unified industrial corporation, a Concern VKO, to execute the Defense Ministry’s orders, and it’s needed, he continues, when a unified VKO is established [before 2012].  Organized like OAK or OSK, Concern VKO would bring in VKO-related weapons developers who aren’t part of Concern PVO Almaz-Antey. 

Ashurbeyli says this fall he’ll propose his view on how to integrate these enterprises and how to build the future VKO system to the country’s leadership.

So, where does this leave us?  If Ashurbeyli’s description is realistic, there’s no shortage of Almaz-Antey production capacity and no real need for new plants.  The problem is the lack of orders from the Defense Ministry.  For all the hype about increased defense spending and 20-trillion-ruble GPV 2011-2020, the absence of orders could be due to the military’s lack of cash or its difficulty arranging bank financing.  Or, despite Defense Minister Serdyukov’s talk about streamlining the GOZ, it could be that bureaucratic sclerosis (or corruption) is hindering the issuance of new contracts.

Ashurbeyli Interviewed (Part I)

Igor Ashurbeyli (photo: RIA Novosti / Sergey Pyatakov)

Former Almaz-Antey General Director Igor Ashurbeyli gave RIA Novosti a long interview published on Monday.  Ashurbeyli was replaced at Almaz-Antey in early 2011, and he’s now a co-chair of the “Extradepartmental Expert Council on Aerospace Defense.”

He’s an accessible figure, having had extended sessions with the media in 2010 and 2009.  And his view of things has been pretty consistent.

This most recent Ashurbeyli interview spawned a number of sound bites saying that the former lead designer (among other things): 

  • called for establishing an overarching VKO industrial concern; 
  • offered the S-500 for European missile defense; and
  • said S-300 production has ended.

He actually had a lot more to say that might be worth a look.

Asked about Moscow’s anti-missile defense, Ashurbeyli replied that the service life of some Russian strategic interceptor missiles expired, while others [53T6 or Gazelle missiles] had their nuclear warheads removed per the decision of former President Yeltsin. 

Then Ashurbeyli gets to his point — the need for a new anti-missile defense (PRO) led to work on the mobile S-500 system.  Under the contract, it’s supposed to be accepted into the arsenal in 2015.  A schematic draft is complete, and technical design is being conducted.

On air defense, he says the S-300 and S-400 cover Moscow, but the service life of S-300PS systems will expire in the next year or two, and the new Vityaz system won’t be ready to take its place in the PVO network.

Ashurbeyli adds that Vityaz is expected in 2014-2015, but delays are possible due to problems with the new missile.

But, insists the former Almaz-Antey chief, there have never been any technical problem with the long-range missile for the S-400.  He says the problems have involved financing, preparing prototypes, and targets.  More targets and an updated target complex were needed.  And he foresees possibly the same problems with Vityaz testing.

Ashurbeyli tells his interviewer Vityaz, unlike the S-400, has just one base missile.  It will cover the same missions as the S-300PS and S-300PM.  The latter were last manufactured in 1994, and several dozen of the “freshest” will still have life for the next 7-10 years.  Most were updated to the Favorit (S-300PMU2) level but they aren’t new.  So, Ashurbeyli concludes, Russia needs to produce enough Vityaz to replace fully its S-300PS and S-300PM inventory.

The interviewer says relatively less has been written about Morfey.  Ashurbeyli obliges.  Morfey, he says, is a super short-range system and part of Russia’s echeloned defense.  While Vityaz is a medium-range system, and Pantsir and Tor are short-range weapons, Morfey is super short-range.  If developed as envisioned, Morfey will be unique.  It will have an omnidirectional cupola-type radar instead of a rotating one.

In sum, Ashurbeyli believes Morfey, Vityaz, S-400, and S-500 will be sufficient for the ground-based component of VKO for 20-25 years.  The tasks for Morfey and Vityaz were set in 2007 when the VPK decided to develop a single fifth generation surface-to-air PVO-PRO system.  The more complex S-500, he notes, will be longer in development.

More later.

News on New Almaz-Antey Plants

According to TsAMTO, the press-service of OAO Concern PVO ‘Almaz-Antey’ says the firm will sell supplemental stock this month, and some of the extra working capital will be used to finance construction of two new surface-to-air missile assembly plants.  Hat tip to VPK.name for highlighting the story.

Specifically, Almaz-Antey intends to spend more than 3.5 billion rubles to finance the new factories.  Four and a half billion rubles in federal budget money was already allocated to this effort in 2010 in exchange for additional government shares in the company.  And Almaz-Antey is also using government-backed credit in the expansion. 

The assembly facilities will be in Nizhniy Novgorod and Kirov.  They are supposed to be complete in 2015.