January 4, 2016


Russia's military: Don't believe the hype (Kyle Mizokami, January 4, 2016, The Week)

 Almost all of the Russian Ground Forces' tanks and armored vehicles date back to the 1980s. Russia's lone carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, was launched in 1990. All three types of Russian heavy bombers pounding Syria were built by the Soviet Union and only inherited by Russia.

In 2010, the Russian government announced an ambitious program to replace 70 percent of Cold War-era equipment with new weapons by 2020. The spending program would cost at least $700 billion and included a new generation of tanks, a new class of aircraft carriers, and new generation of heavy bombers.

International sanctions, brought on by Russia's annexation of the Crimea as well as plunging oil prices have quickly taken a heavy toll on the economy. The Russian economy has slipped into recession, with GDP alone slipping 4 percent in the past 12 months.

A falling economy has affected military spending. In 2015, Russia's defense budget increased by a staggering 33 percent. However, before the year was over some of that spending had to be taken back, and the increase was revised downward to 25 percent. Unable to forecast an end to Russia's economic problems, the defense budget is slated to go up less than 1 percent in 2016.

Needless to say, Russia's ambition to spend $700 billion on armaments is as dead as Julius Caesar.

Meanwhile, Russian defense projects, already struggling to catch up with 21st century warfare, are also running into difficulties. The high profile PAK-FA project designed to produce a fighter the equal of the American F-22 Raptor has stalled over technical issues, and the Russians now plan on buying -- initially, anyway -- a mere squadron's worth of jets. That's a tenth of what they were originally going to buy.

Russian promises to build new aircraft carriers and a new generation of heavy bombers have been merely promises.

Posted by at January 4, 2016 1:25 PM