Tag Archives: VKO

Putin on Nuclear Forces and Aerospace Defense

Today’s meeting on implementing GPV-2020 (the third thus far) was devoted to nuclear forces and aerospace defense.  However, President Vladimir Putin had little specific to say, at least in his published remarks.

He obligatorily noted how VVKO and especially SYaS bear “special responsibility” for Russia’s security, territorial integrity, and global and regional parity and stability.

VKO, the president said, must not only be in permanent combat readiness to defend military and state command and control facilities against a potential enemy’s attack, but also “provide clear and effective coordination with other services and troop branches.”

In other words, lots of air and aerospace defense assets don’t belong to VVKO, and their job is to integrate them into a network.

On the nuclear side, Putin said Russia isn’t looking for an arms race but rather to ensure “the reliability and effectiveness of our nuclear potential.”

To reequip SYaS and VKO, the Supreme Glavk indicated Russia intends to allocate a “significant part” of the total resources for GPV-2020, but, again, nothing more specific.  By 2020, SYaS is supposed to have 75-80 percent modern weapons systems, and VVKO not less than 70 percent.

And that’s all we learn about the meeting.  Or almost all.

Kremlin.ru provided a participant list that’s a bit interesting.  Many officials and industry leaders you’d expect attended.  But some were noticeably absent — missile designers from MIT, missile builders from Votkinsk, and the RVSN Commander.  Surprisingly, the general director of the Makeyev design bureau was present.

Realities of Rearmament

Pantsir-S (photo: Topwar.ru)

RIA Novosti yesterday quoted a VVKO spokesman who indicated a second battery of Pantsir-S anti-aircraft gun-missile systems will go into service this fall around Moscow.  For the record, he stated:

“At present, alongside an A-150 missile defense [PRO] division, two    S-400 anti-aircraft missile regiments in two-battalion configurations, deployed in Elektrostal and Dmitrov, provide Moscow with anti-air and anti-missile defense.  One of them already has a ‘Pantsir-S’ battery in its composition, in September-October, the second regiment will also receive the same battery complement.”

The spokesman added that, in August, the new Pantsir-S battery, along with its  S-400 regiment at Dmitrov, will be in Ashuluk to perform ‘test’ live firings against low-altitude targets.

Novosti has some video of the Pantsir as does a background piece by Arms-Expo.ru.

Let’s add things up as best we can.

First Deputy Defense Minister Sukhorukov has said the army will get 28 Pantsir-S systems in 2012.  The VVS CINC said there would be two more S-400 regiments (for a total of four) before the end of 2011.  But, there are, as the VVKO spokesman says, still only two.  The CINC also said the next six Pantsir-S systems would be for the Moscow area.  The first four went to Novorossiysk.

Recall there was some question whether ten delivered in 2010 were for Russian forces or some foreign customer.  Have we somehow lost track of six of those ten?

Now all these numbers are pretty low when there’s talk that 200, 600, or possibly (incredibly?!) as many as 1,000 Pantsir-S might really be required.

The case of the Pantsir-S is a good example of how, for all the worry about a massive Russian rearmament program, this rearming has been pretty slow thus far.

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.

SSBN Patrols

A Delta IV SSBN (photo: ITAR-TASS)

Not all interesting commentary on the Navy’s future came from Deputy Prime Minister and OPK steward Dmitriy Rogozin last week.  

Media outlets quoted Rogozin saying Russia would soon be able to build an aircraft carrier and six submarines a year.  Subsequently, he claimed he was misquoted, and actually said Russia would be finishing renovations on the Admiral Gorshkov for India and building/repairing six submarines this year.

Navy CINC Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy also had curious comments of his own.

According to ITAR-TASS, on Friday, Admiral Vysotskiy told an audience that, by June or a little later, Russia will resume continuous SSBN combat patrols.  Then he added, “We’ve waited 26 years for this event.”

That would be, or will be, quite a news story.  To see where the Russians have been on SSBN patrols, consult Hans Kristensen.  He reported Russia conducted ten SSBN patrols in 2008, and might have reached, or be headed back toward, a continuous SSBN combat patrol posture.  But there is, apparently, no patrol data for 2009, 2010, and 2011.

A continuous SSBN patrol would be in line with more strategic bomber patrols and mobile ICBM deployments.  It would make sense for a Kremlin worried about U.S. insistence on fielding missile defenses.

But the difficulty comes with doing it.  Russian SSBNs are down to ten aging boats — six Delta IVs (possibly only three active due to overhauls and repairs) and four Delta IIIs.  The newest Delta IV is 22 years old, and the newest Delta III is 30.  Constant patrols could stress this force to the limit. 

Pinning a return to constant SSBN patrols to the year 1986 [26 years ago] is interesting too.  Did General Secretary Gorbachev order the Navy to reduce patrols?  Did the Yankee I SSBN (K-219) sinking near Bermuda have anything to do with it?

Vysotskiy said there’s noticeable momentum in the fleet, and the state’s leadership sees its development as a priority comparable to VKO.  He continued:

“Yesterday I together with directors of ministries and departments ranking as ministries and deputy ministers conducted a very serious event in Severodvinsk where the shipbuilding program to 2035 was roughly reviewed.  Our Duma, Federation Council have long awaited it, in order to review it.  Proposals were prepared, I won’t say what kind, in my view faithful to taking fleet construction to the state level, lifting it somewhat from a ministerial ‘slot.’”

Vysotskiy sees putting the Navy’s development before the national leadership as a panacea for its ills.  He’s probably long felt the Navy doesn’t get a fair shake from the Defense Ministry.  But it’s likely even Putin 2.0 won’t be able to give the Navy the kind of attention and resources its CINC wants.

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.

VKO Cadre Changes

Didn’t have to wait long for this.  This morning President Medvedev signed out the ukaz with appointments to command positions in the VKO Troops (VVKO).

Kommersant’s source was mostly, but not completely, right.  Valeriy Ivanov will be chief of staff, and Sergey Popov, the chief of air defense for the Air Forces, will move to VVKO to command its Air and Missile Defense Command.

Appoint:

  • General-Lieutenant Valeriy Mikhaylovich Ivanov, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, Troops of Aerospace Defense, relieved as Commander, Operational-Strategic Command of Aerospace Defense.
  • General-Lieutenant Sergey Aleksandrovich Lobov, Deputy Commander, Troops of Aerospace Defense, relieved as Deputy Commander, Space Troops.
  • General-Major Oleg Vladimirovich Maydanovich, Commander, Space Command, relieved as Chief, 153rd Main Test Center for Testing and Control of Space Systems.
  • Colonel Konstantin Aleksandrovich Ogiyenko, Commander, 5th Air Defense Brigade.
  • General-Lieutenant Oleg Nikolayevich Ostapenko, Commander, Troops of Aerospace Defense, relieved as Commander, Space Troops.
  • General-Major Sergey Vladimirovich Popov, Commander, Air and Missile Defense Command, relieved as Chief, Air Defense, Deputy CINC of the Air Forces for Air Defense.

There you have it.  What looks like it will be a new service — VVKO — is born, and an old branch — KV — apparently will go away.  More presidential paperwork on that is likely forthcoming.  But today we’ve learned who’s in VVKO’s head shed, and that its two major components will be, not surprisingly, the Space Command and Air and Missile Defense Command.

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.