PRESIDENT AND DEFENSE INDUSTRY

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DMITRY MEDVEDEV DEMANDS MODERNIZATION AND COST REDUCTION FROM THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

The upper echelons of the state are convinced of the necessity to modernize the military-industrial complex.


Dmitry Medvedev was quite critical of the national military-industrial complex yesterday. He demanded modernization and cost reduction from directors of defense industry factories and research centers. Insiders attributed the president’s wrath to complaints from the Defense Ministry against quality of military hardware.

The president visited a major defense industry enterprise in Reutovo (NPO Mechanic Engineering) and convened a conference on modernization and development of the military-industrial complex. NPO Director General Alexander Leonov began on an upbeat note, elaborating on accomplishments in terms of the state defense order and export contracts. Medvedev was shown a complex were missiles were tested for resistance to heat (where they are heated to plus 2,000 degrees Celsius), a two-stage Strela (ICBM RS-18s converted into booster rockets), and a Bastion coast-defense complex launching missiles at enemy ships at the distance of up to 290 kilometers (the missiles in question streaking to their targets at the altitudes varying between 10 meters and 14 kilometers). Last but not the least, Medvedev was shown BraMos missiles designed together with the Indians.

Sources said that NPO Mechanic Engineering management had asked the president to come and visit the enterprise this spring (the idea was that the visit would boost its image in the eyes of the Indian partners). The idea of a conference in defense industry development was suggested as well. When Medvedev was observing the final phase of the Russian-Belarussian exercise West’2009 on September 28 and 29, however, the Defense Ministry and Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov approached him with complaints. They said that production of sophisticated military hardware was clearly beyond the capacity of the military-industrial complex and that the Defense Ministry was already pondering procurement of weapons abroad.

That was when the president apparently decided that a conference was not such a bad idea after all.

Medvedev announced that despite the colossal sums invested in modernization of the military-industrial complex, enterprises had never been retooled and that it was already having an effect on quality of the military hardware delivered to the Russian Armed Forces and foreign customers.

Directors of the military-industrial complex were told in no uncertain terms to shave costs. The president called it “a matter of survival” and explained that Russian weapons were losing their attraction. “It’s particularly bad when money is wasted on modernization of what is obsolete already or will become obsolete in a couple of years.”

Minister of Industry Victor Khristenko backed the president. He called quality of what the military-industrial complex produced unsatisfactory and announced that only 10% enterprises had international certificates of quality. “We’ve been getting a great deal of unsatisfactory equipment reports both within the framework of the state defense order and in terms of the military-technical cooperation,” Khristenko announced.

“Rearmament becomes problematic without a radical modernization of the military-industrial complex,” Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said.

What information is available to this newspaper indicates that procurement of military hardware abroad was not discussed at the conference.

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