Photo: koraxdc / flickr
Funded by booming oil and gas profits, Russia is in the midst of a huge equipment upgrade backed by Putin’s promise to increase military spending by $770 billion from 2014 to 2020.
It sounds like a lot, and it is, the Russian military budget doubled from 2006 to 2009 from $25 billion to $50 billion; but it’s still not a tenth of the U.S. defence budget, which averages around $600 billion per year.
Perhaps the most interesting facet of Russian military production is that it’s a bit less refined than America’s, more burgeoning capitalism than entrenched lobbying with the state.
Private enterprise is exporting sophisticated arms packages and entering into international contracts with foreign powers to enhance already well developed weapons program.
So while this doesn’t necessarily bring us to a new Cold War as some suggest, it should keep the U.S. aware that it’s not the only player on the world’s military stage, and in the end, that can only be a good thing.
Produced from 1995 onward, the T-90 is a modernization of the Soviet T-72.
The overhaul is remarkable and the fact the T-90 costs anywhere from $2.8 to $4.3 million compared to the M1 Abrams $8.6 million is more remarkable still.
Manufacturer Kartsev-Venediktov has pumped the tank full of electronic warfare capabilities, and it's filled with laser warning receivers, an electronic jamming system and a three-tiered protection system consisting of turret armour, explosive reactive armour and a full countermeasures suite.
Despite the T-90's well advanced status it's only a stop-gap piece. Russia's T-99, coming by 2020, will serve as the new main battle tank, infantry fighting vehicle, and armoured personnel carrier.
Production begins of the T-99 begins in 2014.
While this artillery platform is pretty interesting on its own -- a 152mm self propelled howitzer that entered service in 1989 -- perhaps its most compelling feature is its versatility.
The 2MSTA-S 2S19 offers significant automation with loading and firing, allowing the crew to stay mobile while firing and it can run on six different types of fuel including diesel, gasoline, aviation fuel, and alcohol. Russia has 800 of them as of 2008.
The MSTA has been adapted into a number of different variants which include a wheeled variant, various enhanced versions, a 'laser tank' and a prototype which includes dual howitzers.
The Su-35 is a twin-engined multi-role fighter. Since Russia has not been in a significant war since the aircraft's development, the supermaneuverable jet is currently used by the nation's Russian Knights air display team. The Russian Air Force has eleven of them, mostly an upgraded version.
The Air Forces of Libya, India, Malaysia and Algeria have considered purchasing the craft.
Exporter Rosoboronexport lost $4 billion after the Libyan revolution because of cancelled contracts, so the future of the jet outside of Russian borders remains unclear.
This is the future of Russian combat aviation.
Currently a prototype T-50, the second model started flight testing in March 2011. Next year, the defence Ministry plans to buy 10 evaluation aircraft, followed by an initial purchase of 60 jets by 2016.
The service life is projected to be three decades, and this aircraft will likely contend with the the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet. Still, the Russians managed to confine development costs to around $10 billion.
While less stealthy than the F-22, newspapers have claimed it is more manoeuvrable.
The MiG-35 is a huge upgrade to the MiG-29, a jet so successful it remains in use all over the world.
It's still in the development phase, but some Russian leaders have been completely explicit about the name: The MiG 35 is seen as a probable direct competitor to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Installed on the MiG-35 will be a state-of-the art radar system developed by Phazotron. This fighter is all digital. It should be able to hit Mach 2.25 and has a range of 125 miles. It first flew in 2007.
Right now, the Mi-28 is the top attack helicopter made in Asia. It functions in any weather, by day or night, and has no other possible use beside aerial offence.
Still, the helicopter is a mere placeholder for the time being. Right now Russian Helicopters -- the corporate parent of Mil -- is designing the next-generation attack helicopter to bring Russian rotors out of the eighties. With China developing the Z-10 (with some help from Pratt & Whitney of course) it's time for an upgrade.
The fifth-generation helicopter has bold goals: light, noiseless, and invisible to radar. They want to start work after the Su-35 is done.
Russia has 60 of the Ukrainian aircraft on order, to be delivered sometime between 2015 and 2016. Right now Antonov has two prototypes complete. It's able to hold 300 troops or 200 wounded.
It has got four propellers. It's comparable to the C-130J. The project has had some significant hurdles, with Russia pulling out in 2006 before ordering 60 aircraft in 2010, consistent with the rearmament program for the new decade.
The Office of Naval Intelligence thinks the Yasen sub is the quietest in the ocean belonging to a competitor to the United States.
It's powered by a nuclear reactor and one is currently in trials after its 2010 launch. The next is expected in the ocean before 2015. It's been describes as state-of-the-art, and costs the Kremlin $1.2 billion each.
While the Borei-class subs will move ballistic missiles around the world, the Yasen is armed with up to 30 two cruise missiles and has 10 torpedo tubes. I
The Bulava, Sineva, and Layner ballistic missiles explain why the Russians are obsessed with submarines
Russia came to the point a few years ago where it designed submarines around ballistic missiles. Right now, three submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) help define Russian naval missile defence.
The Sineva SLBM was introduced in 2007 and has an operational range of 7,100 miles. It's designed to be launched from the Delta IV class submarines, built from 1985 to 1992.
The Bulava SLBM carries a warhead with six 150 kiloton bombs in them. They have an operational range of 6,100 miles, but since they're stocked in the Borei-class submarines that range can be expanded far away from the Russian motherland. They are planned to enter service this year.
The Layner SLBM is being developed by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau. It has got 12 warheads and can allegedly pierce anti-ballistic missile defenses. It should enter service soon. It's designed to augment, not replace the Bulava.
The Steregushchy class was initially developed to replace the Grisha class of anti-submarine corvettes.
Three ships have been in service beginning in 2007. At the moment, three are under construction, and two more are expected to be exported to Algeria.
It has a helicopter hangar, eight torpedo tubes, and 12 cells for surface to air missiles of the S-400 type. The ships are currently undergoing sea-trials. With Russia charging $150 million per export ship, these vessels are a steal for the Russian Navy compared to the United States' planned Littoral Combat Ships which cost $2.4 billion.
Right now, Severnaya Verf is building the first three of a planned 15-20 frigates for the Russian Navy. They'll be 425 feet long with a range of 4000 nautical miles.
The plan is to replace the ageing Sovremenny destroyers and Burevestnik frigates with the ships. The first frigate -- the Gorshkov -- was begun in 2006, launched in 2010, and will be commissioned in 2013.
The ships will have advanced radar systems, a 130mm naval gun, Oniks missiles, multiple torpedo tubes, and will hold one helicopter.
Russia focuses on four theatres for their Navy. They have a Northern Fleet, a Baltic Fleet, a Pacific Fleet and a Black Sea fleet.
The S-400 is a massive upgrade to Russia's successful S-300 surface-to-air missile system. While it's only in limited service at this point, its predecessor currently stands as Russia's premiere air defence system.
The S-400 has a range of 250 miles, at least twice that of the United States' MIM-104 Patriot. Three different missiles are used for various ranges, with the fastest going twelve times the speed of sound. The radar can track 100 targets at once.
With this system, even some of the most elite attacking aircraft are at risk.
The S-500 is a more efficient version of the S-400 designed for ICBM interception among other air defence goals. It'll be derived from the S-400 but will be reduced in dimensions.
The radar systems have been improved from the S-400, and most of the equipment will be derived from the S-300 family. It's supposed to be a highly mobile system. Again, details are loose, but this could be a serious game-changer.
The most interesting take away: This isn't designed to defend from a U.S. ballistic missile attack.
As China builds up their ICBM range, this is likely insurance against either a souring of relations between Moscow and Beijing or the spread of Chinese ICBMs to less-predictable countries.
The Iskander-M is a hypersonic single-stage surface-to-surface ballistic missile with an operational range of 250 miles and an accuracy of 5-7 meters. It's designed for conventional warheads.
The missiles are 24 feet long and weigh four tons. They are designed for theatre-level conflicts.
The case in point is the 2008 South Ossetia war against Georgia, where the missile was hugely effective in destroying military targets.
According to Wikileaks releases of emails from Stratfor.com, there are five Iskander missile brigades stationed in Russia.
The Pantsir S-1 is one incredible system. It combines both medium-range Surface-to-air missiles with anti-aircraft artillery and the most sophisticated radar system available in a single compact package.
Produced beginning in 2008, it's effective against aircraft, helicopters, drones, and cruise missiles. Russia is even installing it on their aircraft carrier.
Pantsir carries twelve missiles, each with an operational range of 12 miles. The main selling point of the Pantisir is the phase-array radar, which has 360 degree coverage amd a detection range of 20 miles. It can track 20 targets simultaneously.
Russian skies are safe from incoming threats.
Produced beginning in 1994, the Topol-M Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) packs a single 800 kiloton warhead and is propelled by a three-stage solid propellant. It has an operational range of 6,800 miles and travels at 22 times the speed of sound.
The Topol can be launched from either a reinforced missile silo or a transporter.
Even more, the Topol is being developed to sustain Multiple Re-entry vehicles (MIRV), which would allow multiple warheads to be transported by a singe rocket.
The beleaguered START treaty would have Russia replace their existing MIRV ICBMs with ICBMS with a single warhead. Don't hold your breath.
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