Materials of the press conference of Colonel General A. Sitnov, Director of Armament Department of the Armed Forces, held in the Defense Ministry on September 28
The state armament program was approved for 1996-2005 in 1996. Improvement of qualitative parameters of the armament system of the Armed Forces is the main objective of the program. It was supposed that the level of the troops arming with modern armament during the program term will not change substantially, but the range of types of produced main classes of armament by 2003 will be renewed by 70%, securing a possibility of future rearming of the Armed Forces.
Such a concept and its fulfillment would enable Russia to have modern mobile Armed Forces with a sufficient nuclear potential, a combat-ready group of the ground and naval forces, and finally would enable the country to demonstrate its power and might on the continent, in the airspace, and in the sea.
Unfortunately, the practice of the Armed Forces financing according to the residual principle during the last five years has resulted in undermining of the state armament program and, as a consequence, in deterioration of the technical readiness aging of the armament and combat equipment of the Armed Forces. Absence of sufficient financing makes the Defense Ministry spend the emergency reserves accumulated during the Soviet era, and such reserves have already been spent by 30-40% which significantly reduces the possibilities of Russia to finance a long military campaign.
Forecasts of possible financing of the Armed Forces and especially of the sum of possible assignments for development of the armament system during the next decade also do not allow us to hope for achievement of needed pace of modern armament production.
We see reduction of negative influence of this factor in advanced research of modern armament designing and its extensive upgrading. We also make provisions for reduction of the range of types of the armament and combat equipment, transfer of some projects requiring big assignments from the experimental and designing to the scientific research stage. The main efforts in designing of armament and combat equipment are planned to be focused on designing of multifunctional integrated systems capable of simultaneous fulfillment of a broad range of various combat tasks.
Underfinancing has negatively influenced the military industrial complex of the country. Condition of the production and technological potential of the defense industry is characterized as a crisis.
Insufficient use of this potential for fulfillment of the state defense orders (by 15-30% in various industry branches), a vague prospect of defense orders, and irregular financing have resulted in bankruptcy of many industrial enterprises, breaking of cooperation relations, loss of a part of advanced technologies, and a loss of highly qualified specialists.
Emergency measures need to be taken to restore the combat-readiness of the Armed Forces and increase the defense potential. It is also necessary to chose the optimal directions of the budget assignments spending.
One of such directions is creation of common system of technical procurement for all security agencies and optimization of the system of orders on the basis of centralization of management, and personal responsibility from the top to the bottom levels for the whole life cycle of an armament model.
Centralization will optimize the structure of federal budget spending, will allow the definition of priorities, and concentration of financial and material resources.
For prevention of further deterioration of the Armed Forces armament down to the unacceptable level it is necessary to correct the priorities of financing taking into account correction of views at the character of wars and military conflicts, the tasks, place, and role of each branch of the Armed Forces in the wars and conflicts.
These are our views at achievement of the main objective of military and economic provision of the military security of Russia.
Question: Could you give a general estimation of condition of the armament and combat equipment of the Armed Forces, as well as the degree of its correspondence with the modern conditions?
Sitnov: The Russian Armed Forces are practically armed with the main kinds of armament and combat equipment by 60-100%.
Despite a difficult economic condition of the country we are seeking for possibilities to develop and order to the industry the modern kinds of armament which comply to requirements of tomorrow.
According to their characteristics a part of the armament and combat equipment is equal to the comparable foreign models, and are at the level of modern requirements.
However cutting of assignments for purchase, maintenance, operation, and repair of armament and combat equipment has resulted in accumulation of armament, missiles and ordnance in the warehouses which need various kinds of repair. Over the last four years their number grew more than 25%.
The continuing growth of the number of armament and combat equipment which need various kinds of servicing and putting in long-term storage is another serious problem for us. We also feel the lack of highly qualified technical personnel.
Question: You said that along with the modern models of armament and combat equipment the troops also possess a certain quantity of obsolete models. What is the ratio between them, and which measures does the Defense Ministry take for arming of the troops with modern weapons?
Answer: Yes, really along with the modern armament which complies to all requirement of today we have big quantities of the armament and combat equipment which was supplied to the Armed Forces in 1980’s and early 1990’s, and some models were supplied even earlier. All this armament is in satisfactory technical condition, and is ready for combat use. We need to admit that according to the overall share of the modern models of armament and combat equipment we substantially lag behind the armies of advanced countries.
Technical level of the new Russian armament and combat equipment equals to 80-95% of the level of comparable systems of the US. According to 3-5% of the new models Russia has an absolute priority, according to 50-80% it has an approximate parity with the best foreign analogies, and according to 10-15% it lags behind the world level.
Sitnov: I wish to at once warn you about making of possible mistakes. The obsolete does not mean bad. We can remind the experience of NATO operation against Yugoslavia. The modern F-117 stealth airplanes were downed by the Russian air defense missile systems which were adopted by the Soviet Armed Forces in the early 1960’s. We think that in the hands of well trained crews this “obsolete armament” can provide for fulfillment of the most difficult tasks by the troops.
The objective of modern armament and combat equipment supply to the Armed Forces is being achieved in the following directions:
-Designing of new models by the industry. However under conditions of limited financing this is possible only in separate sectors, that is communication, reconnaissance, command systems and so on. Even in these directions the priorities for financing are singled out.
-Upgrading of armament and combat equipment operated by the troops through improvement of their characteristics. Replacing of parts and assemblies of the armament and combat equipment being used by the troops by the parts and assemblies made on the basis of new physical principles, on the new element base, and from new composite materials.
Industrial upgrading makes provisions for the same measures but on a higher level during the serial production.
Question: Financing of the Armed Forces is one of the most important problems. How does the Defense Ministry distribute assignments for armament?
Answer: The Defense Ministry distributes the assignments proceeding from the objectives, tasks, and principles which were outlined during formation of the state defense orders for the current year.
We can say briefly that, for instance, according to experience of the current year, all assignments for armament and combat equipment are distributed like follows:
-35.4% for research and development;
-52.6% for armament and combat equipment purchase;
-9.8% for armament, combat equipment, and other property repair and manufacture;
-2.2% for discarding and scrapping of armament and combat equipment.
If we look at the armament and combat equipment purchase according to Armed Forces branches, their shares will be distributed like follows:
Strategic Missile Forces – 27%;
Air Force – 11%;
Navy – 11%;
Ground Forces and the others – 51%.
Thus we can see that allegations of some mass media that the overwhelming majority of assignments is spent on maintenance of the “nuclear shield” are absolutely wrong.
Question: Could you say a few words about the main directions of further development of the armament and combat equipment of the Russian Armed Forces? What novelties will receive our Army in the near and distant future?
Answer: During definition of priorities and main directions of the military-technical policy of Russia which is mainly a ground power we will proceed from the three “no’s.”
Firstly, Russia does not need to extend the “zones of responsibility” of its Armed Forces not only to the oil wells of Texas, but even to the oil wells of Alaska. It has a less prestigious but equally important task of reliable protection of its state sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Secondly, for fulfillment of this task Russia does not have a fundamental necessity to achieve a quantitative and qualitative parity with its competitors in all kinds of strategic and conventional weapons, except for the counter-action means of a possible information warfare.
Thirdly, Russia does not have money for maintenance of numerous Armed Forces, moreover their arming only with modern armament and combat equipment on account of giving up of the stage of upgrading of the already available arsenals and observance of the principle of succession of the armament systems development.
Thus, besides the forces for strategic deterrence of a nuclear or large-scale conventional aggressions Russia needs to have mobile forces for general purposes providing for: the possibility of quick increase of groups of forces in case of appearance of low intensity military conflicts on the continental theaters of combat operations; protection of national interests of the country on the oceanic theaters of combat operations.
Achieving a guaranteed fulfillment of the first task on the basis of nuclear deterrence the Armed Forces should concentrate the main efforts of technical equipment on troops preparation for fulfillment of tasks primarily on the continental theaters of combat operations. Along with this the country should minimize the forces of strategic deterrence to the maximum extent according to their composition and strength to receive a possibility to upgrade and maintain the forces for general purposes and military infrastructure at the due level against the background of general reduction of the Armed Forces. Moreover the upgraded possibilities of these forces, especially with regard to the use of an integral effect from the functional unification of various forces and means within the framework of common combat command are far from being exhausted.
The complex development of the system of control and information support of all Armed Forces levels is another key direction of the current military-technical policy of Russia.
Designing of modern devices for information warfare is another priority, if we bear in mind strategic importance of comparable systems for potential enemies and high vulnerability of the information technologies for various “asymmetric” threats.
Before we start talking about the qualitatively new kinds of armament under which the weapons based on the so-called “new physical principles” (NPP) are meant, I need to note the following.
The world is currently only at the initial stage of another revolution in the military art, that is why it is too early to give up traditional strategic and conventional weapons.
Now let us turn to the weapons based on NPP, appearance of which means the next qualitative leap in changing of the contents and development of forms and methods of armed combat at the turn of the century, especially on the strategic and operational level.
In the near future Russia has only one possibility to acquire new kinds of weapons, that is to design them independently. The country has the necessary scientific-technical and technological achievements and scientific and production facilities for this.
Even according to the current standards rather modest funds are needed to enable Russia to demonstrate experimental models of new kinds of armament and combat equipment in the next few years to show, for example, the lack of prospects for creation of national anti-missile system by the US for neutralization of strategic nuclear potential of Russia.