Training ranges ask for rubles

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Whereas financing of combat training of the Armed Forces has been increased fourfold, the Russian army still does not have enough money. Along with this, research and testing centers of the branches of the Armed Forces on which strategic stability depends lack money too. Recently, Lieutenant General Vitaly Linnik, Deputy Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces for armament, has announced that state system for provision of support of and development of research and testing facilities of the Strategic Missile Forces works inefficiently now because of its financing according to the residual principle. The testing base of the Strategic Missile Forces does not comply with contemporary requirements. At a meeting of the defense and security committee of the Federation Council last week Linnik said that it was planned to allocate only 1.5 billion rubles for modernization of this base until 2011, which amounted to 27% of the overall needs. The meeting was dedicated to issues related to normative legal regulation of testing activities in the Armed Forces.

According to the general, material and technical supply to the research and testing facilities of the Strategic Missile Forces like other branches of the Armed Forces is done according to the scheme of supply to combat units.

The general stressed, “Our testing centers are supplied without taking in account the tasks fulfilled by testing specialists in the field of research and testing of new systems of the Strategic Missile Forces.” He remarks that technical modernization of the experimental and testing base is being improved extremely slowly. Linnik said, “For full modernization of our testing base, we need to spend from 12.5 billion to 20 billion rubles.” The general advocated transformation of testing centers of the Strategic Missile Forces into federal state institutions and their full financing.

He added, “It is also necessary to work out normative legal acts to increase the prestige and motivation of activities of testing specialists.”

Interestingly, specialists of the Air Force speak about problems in the testing sector too. Thus, recently Lieutenant General Yury Tregubenkov, director of the 929th state flight testing center (GLITS) of the Defense Ministry named after Chkalov (Akhtubinsk, Astrakhan Region), announced that in the last few years, authorized quantity of test pilots decreased by more than 50% and authorized quantity of test engineers decreased by 75%.

Tregubenkov emphasized, “As a result of a dramatic reduction of flight testing personnel of our center, the quantity of experienced testing specialists capable of all kinds of tests of new military aircraft decreased dramatically. Their share in the overall quantity of the test specialists does not exceed 10% now.” According to him, due to outflow of high-class specialists the center lost entire schools in a number of areas of tests of aviation hardware and armament.

The general explained, “At present, we are obliged to test new aircraft in 620 areas. One or two specialists remained in 40% of these areas. Along with this, a significant part of them will retire in the next few years.”

According to Tregubenkov, one of the reasons for such difficult situation is the fact that the basis of the contemporary testing base of the center has been formed more than 30 years ago.

The general remarked, “Since then no targeted financing of development of the testing base was done. This resulted in outmoding of the testing base, which reached 80%. This means that the average wear and tear of the main elements amounts to 80%.”

According to Tregubenkov, another problem of the center is connected with housing.

He points out, “At present, about 1,300 servicemen do not have apartments. The fund of service housing does not exceed 8%.” The problem of improvement of motivation of the testing activity in the center was not solved yet too.

The general said, “This deals with encouraging of professional growth of specialists, prevention of outflow of testing specialists to other organizations and their retention in the center for the entire period of the military service. At present, salaries of servicemen of the center are 66.6-75% lower than those of similar categories of specialists in civilian industry.”

Thus, despite the increase of the military budget, the testing facilities of the Strategic Missile Forces and Air Force are still financed according to the residual principle. This aspect looks strange because they test the new weapons that should make a breakthrough and revolution in the military business. However, the state lacks money for testing these weapons. It is difficult to explain such approach. The state has money for pompous parades but the elite structures for testing of new armament do not receive the necessary financing.

Information:

The history of the 929th GLITS dates back to September 21 of 1920. An organization intended for flight tests of military aircraft was established in Moscow then. In 1947, the testing base of the center was relocated from Moscow to Vladimirova station of the Astrakhan Region where laboratory base and measuring systems, as well as testing ranges for aircraft were arranged. Throughout the years of its functioning the center tested more than 400 types of airplanes and helicopters and about 300 types of them were adopted by the Armed Forces.

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