Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Russian Army's Wish List

Russia has unveiled an entire line of new tanks and armored vehicles to replace their Cold War-era arsenal. Good luck with affording that.

Russia has a lot of new armor on parade:

Paraded uncovered for the first time on 9 May in Moscow, Russia's new range of armoured vehicles represent not only the biggest change in the country's armoured vehicle families since the 1970s but also a new design ethos.

While the vehicles' designs partly involve radical rather than revolutionary innovation, the scale and ambition of the change they embody is nothing short of a revolution. Together, the Armata, Kurganets, Boomerang, and Koalitsiya and other vehicles on show will replace nearly all Russia's existing vehicle families as, remarkably, Russia is attempting to replace all its main armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) families at the same time.

Hey, Russia has a new rifle, too:

Russian efforts to upgrade their Cold War era military equipment have fallen short because the country cannot afford all the new tech that has to be developed or to buy enough of the new gear to replace all the older stuff. Naturally the only way this all works out is via compromises. So the new infantry rifle, the AK-12, despite all its impressive new features, will be restricted to the elite (commandos and paratrooper) forces. Meanwhile the Cold War era AK-74, which uses the same ammo as the AK-12, has been upgraded again.

The Russian armored vehicles sound impressive. But if Russia can't afford a new basic infantry rifle, in what alternate procurement world will Russia be able to replace their old armored vehicles in anything but a small part of even their best units?

Putin is aggressive and dangerous, but so far his military might is weighted to the ends--he can nuke us or he can send in special forces and small regular forces capable of taking on weak enemies with poor quality troops (poor in training or weapons) as they did in Georgia, Ukraine's Crimea, and now the Dombas region of Ukraine.

The middle range of fighting a medium or large-scale conventional operation against a sizable or capable force is still beyond the Russian military's capabilities. Having all these new weapons would help Putin gain a full spectrum of military options, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

All the more reason we should help Ukraine and others to stop Putin while his means are still weak.

UPDATE: More on Putin's overly ambitious defense spending plans:

Russia cannot afford military expenditures at such scale in the long-run. “The modern Russian economy just does not generate enough resources to finance the current 2011-2020 rearmament program.

Don't even speak to me about how Russia can escalate the military conflict in Ukraine at will.

UPDATE: Russia's air force has great needs, too:

The Russian Air Force has fallen on hard times and is having great difficulty rebuilding. ...

Another major expense you don’t hear much about is the cost of upgrading many of the 150 airfields the air force uses. Most of these were built during the Cold War and few got refurbished after the Cold War ended in 1991.

And oh yeah, Russia's population is going down even with ethnic Russian refugees from former Soviet states fleeing to Russia since the collapse of the USSR.

Of course, capturing land and people can reverse that trend, I suppose.