Russian preparation for Central Asian instability

The most recent issue of the Moscow Defense Brief has an interesting article by Maksim Shepovalenko on “Russian Preparations for Reduced Foreign Military Presence in Afghanstan.” It starts with the usual line on how the Taliban could spread instability to Central Asia if it came to power after the coming withdrawal of ISAF, which is an argument that I and others have found to be exaggerated at times. The threat of Islamist infiltration of Central Asia is often used by Central Asian and Russian governing elites to justify their security policies in the region, whereas most Islamist groups in the region are now far more focused on developments in Afghanistan itself and in parts of Pakistan. Islamist groups external to the region are primarily focused on fighting in Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iraq. So the greater threat to Central Asia comes from internal instability, such as the violent protests that have regularly shaken Kyrgyzstan in recent years, conflicts among the Central Asian states (as highlighted by the recent border conflict between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan), and the possibility of fighting resulting from a succession crisis in Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan. But although it doesn’t say anything new on the nature of the threat facing Central Asia, the MDB article does gets interesting once it starts to talk about the capabilities of Russian forces in or near Central Asia. 

The first line of defense in Central Asia would consist of the forces already in theater, including especially the 201st Military Base located in Tajikistan, which is essentially a brigade. It could be reinforced relatively quickly by two special operations brigades deployed from the Central OSK and one or both of the 98th Guard Airborne Assault Division and the 31st Independent Guard Airborne Assault Brigade of the Airborne Troops.  There’s an interesting discussion in the article of Russian plans to establish a rapid reaction force that might be structured as a fifth OSK “with a universal geographical remit.” Such a force would  include four independent airborne assault brigades (three existing and one new). In preparation for the establishment of this force, these brigades were recently transferred from the jurisdiction of the four military districts to the Airborne Troops HQ. These brigades’ recon companies are being bolstered to battalion size while special-ops and comms regiments are being turned into brigades through the addition of army aviation companies. UAV companies are also being formed and there are plans for each Airborne division to get a third regiment.

Additional support would come from the CSTO’s rapid deployment force, which includes, in addition to the 201st Military Base and the 999th Air Base in Kant, two Kazakhstani airborne assault battalions, two Kyrgyzstani alpine rifle battalions, and a motor rifle battalion and two airborne assault battalions from Tajikistan. Shepovalenko also highlights the importance of the 2nd and 41st Armies of the Central OSK as a mobilizable reserve for potential action in Central Asia. In addition to these two armies, the Central OSK also has a tank brigade and heavy motor rifle brigade in reserve, which could also be mobilized in the event of a crisis in Central Asia. F0rces from the CSTO’s Collective Fast Deployment Force (KSOR) could also provide reinforcements.

That each of the Central OSK armies consists of three motor rifle brigades is well known. What I haven’t seen mentioned before is the type of brigades. According to the article, the 2nd Army consists of one light, one medium and one heavy brigade, while the 41st Army consists of one medium and two heavy brigades. This transition to different types of brigades has been discussed since military reform began in 2009, but this is the first time I’ve seen mention of specific brigades having been converted to one or another type. Just as a reminder, heavy brigades are based on tanks, medium brigades are based on tracked armored IFVs and wheeled APCs, and light brigades are based on armored cars. The recently published report on Russian military capabilities by the Swedish Defense Research Agency argues that the transition to these brigades is likely to happen in the 2015-20 time frame, concurrently with the introduction of new ground forces equipment such as the Armata tank, Kurganets AIFV and Boomerang APC. (p.147-148, since I can’t link to the specific part of the report) So if the transition to different types of brigades using older equipment has already happened, it would be interesting to find out the types of motor rifle brigades located in other military districts.

The second half of the article provides a lot of information on the types of equipment that these various units use, as well as on Russian arms supplies to Central Asian states and is well worth a read. I agree with the conclusion that the security situation in the Central Asian states is likely to deteriorate in the near future, even though I disagree about the precise nature of the threat. Those interested in Russian preparations for responding to potential security problems in the region should take a look at the whole article. Given Russia’s unwillingness to intervene during the Osh pogroms in 2010 or during the current round of border skirmishes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, I would like to see a companion article describing the conditions under which Russia would be willing to use its forces to maintain stability in the region.

 

Air Force Structure

A while ago, I started publishing info on the new organizational structure of the Russian military. I got through the ground forces and the paratroops before getting distracted by other projects. I had always meant to go back and do the air force, but never found the time. Also, I know less about the air force than about the rest of the Russian military, so it was trickier. Thus, I was quite happy to see that someone else has put together such a list. It’s published in the new, and quite excellent report (in Russian) entitled “Russia’s New Army” put out by the CAST center in Moscow. Since I see my one of my primary roles as transmitting analytical information that is published in Russian about the Russian military to a non-Russian speaking audience, in the coming weeks, I’ll be mining this report for information on military building and reform plans. But first, the list of Russian air force bases and locations:

Operational Strategic Command for Air-Space Defense (Moscow)

  • 4th air-space defense brigade (Dolgoprudnyi, Moscow Oblast)
  • 5th air-space defense brigade (Petrovskoe, Moscow Oblast)
  • 6th air-space defense brigade (Rzhev, Tver Oblast)
  • 6963rd aviation base (Kursk) (Mig-29SMT)
  • 6968th fighter aviation base (Khotilivo, Tver Oblast) (Su-27, Mig-31)

First Air Force and Air Defense Command (Voronezh) (Western OSK)

  • 1st air-space defense brigade (Severomorsk)
  • 2nd air-space defense brigade (St. Petersburg)
  • 6961st aviation base (Petrozavodsk) (Su-27)
  • 6964th aviation base (Monchegorsk, Murmansk Oblast) (Su-24M, Su-24MP)
  • 6965th aviation base (Viaz’ma, Smolensk Oblast) (Mi-8, Mi-24)
  • 7000th aviation base (Voronezh) (Su-24M, Su-24MP, Su-34)

Second Air Force and Air Defense Command (Ekaterinburg) (Central OSK)

  • 8th air-space defense brigade (Ekaterinburg)
  • 9th air-space defense brigade (Novosibirsk)
  • 10th air-space defense brigade (Chita)
  • 6977th aviation base (Perm) (Mig-31)
  • 6979th aviation base (Kansk, Krasnoyarskii Krai) (Mig-31)
  • 6980th aviation base (Cheliabinsk) (Su-24M)
  • 6982nd aviation base (Domna, Zabaikalskii Krai) (Mig-29)

Third Air Force and Air Defense Command (Khabarovsk) (Eastern OSK)

  • 11th air-space defense brigade (Komsomolsk-na-Amure)
  • 12th air-space defense brigade (Vladivostok)
  • 6983rd aviation base (Vozdvizhenka, Primorskii Krai) (Su-25, Mi-8, Mi-24)
  • 6987th aviation base (Komsomolsk-na-Amure) (Su-27SM)
  • 6988th aviation base (Khurba, Khabarovsk Krai) (Su-24M, Su-24M2, Su-24MR)
  • 6989th aviation base (Vladivostok) (Su-27SM)
  • 265th transport aviation base (Khabarovsk)

Fourth Air Force and Air Defense Command (Rostov-na-Donu) (Southern OSK)

  • 7th air-space defense brigade (Rostov-na-Donu)
  • 8th air-space defense brigade (Ekaterinburg)
  • 6970th aviation base (Morozovsk, Rostov Oblast) (Su-24M)
  • 6971st aviation base (Budennovsk, Stavropol Krai) (Su-25SM, Mi-8, Mi-24, Mi-28)
  • 6972nd aviation base (Krymsk, Krasnodar Krai) (Su-27, Mi-8, Mi-24, Mi-28, Ka-27)
  • 6974th aviation base (Korenovsk, Krasnodar Krai) (Mi-8, Mi-24, Mi-28)
  • 999th aviation base (Kant, Kyrgyzstan) (Su-25, Su-27, Mi-8)
  • 229th transport aviation base (Rostov-na-Donu)

Military Transport Aviation Command (Moscow)

  • 6955th aviation base (Tver) (Il-76)
  • 6956th aviation base (Orenburg) (Il-76)
  • 6958th aviation base (Taganrog, Rostov Oblast) (Il-76)
  • 6985th aviation base (Pskov) (Il-76)

Long Range Aviation Command (Moscow)

  • 6950th aviation base (Engels, Saratov Oblast) (Tu-22M3, Tu-95MS, Tu-160)
  • 6952nd aviation base (Ukrainka, Amur Oblast) (Tu-95MS)
  • 6953rd aviation base (Srednii, Irkutsk Oblast) (Tu-22M3)

This list was accurate as of the fall of 2010, according to Anton Lavrov’s chapter in the CAST volume. I’ve made only one change, which is to move the 6977th aviation base from the 4th to the 2nd air command, because it’s location places it in the Central OSK rather than the Southern OSK. Other sources (warfare.ru, for example) support this change. However, reports indicate that there have been a number of further organizational changes in the structure of the Russian Air Force since December 2010, including most importantly the shift of army aviation air bases to the direct control of the operational strategic commands. This implies some changes to the structure described above. So, treat the list above as a starting point, not necessarily as the final word on the current air force structure. If anyone has information on changes to the list, please note them in the comments or email them to me. I’ll try to update the list as I get additional information.

Update: A reader noted that the 8th air-space defense brigade should also be in the Central OSK, rather than the Southern OSK.

Armed Forces of Central Asia and the Regional Threat Situation

In the most recent issue of NVO, Aleksandr Khramchikhin has a very useful description of the forces located in Russia’s Central Operational Strategic Command. This is in the context of an article examining the total array of forces located in or near Central Asia, including Kazakh, Uzbek, Pakistani, and Chinese forces in the region. I haven’t seen all this data in a single place before, so it seems worthwhile to reproduce it here, followed by a discussion of the extent to which these forces present a threat to Russia.

Eventually, I’ll update my series on the structure of Russia’s Ground Forces to take into account the new organizational structure, but until I have time to do that, this will have to do.

Russia’s Central Operational Strategic Command

Ground Forces

  • 1 tank brigade
  • 7 motorized rifle brigades
  • 2 special forces brigades (one of which is being demobilized)
  • 2 rocket brigades
  • 1 artillery brigade
  • 1 MLRS brigade
  • 2 missile brigades
  • 5 bases for storage and equipment repair

These forces are equipped with: 400 T-72 tanks, more than 500 BMP infantry fighting vehicles, 200 airborne infantry fighting vehicles, 400 armored personnel carriers, 400 self-propelled guns, 100 other pieces of artillery, 200 mortars, 250 multiple rocket launchers, 300 anti-tank guns, and 270 air defense missiles of various kinds

Air Defense Forces

  • 5 S-300PS regiments
  • 1 S-300 V regiment

Air Forces

  • 6 airbases housing 48 MiG-31 interceptors, 32 Mi-24 helicopter gunships and 80 transport aircraft and helicopters.
  • 2 long-range aviation bases in Saratov oblast, housing 14 Tu-160,  16 Tu-95, and 30 Tu-22M3 long range bombers.
  • Military transport aviation base in Orenburg, housing 27 Il-76MD transport planes.
  • Various reserve bases housing over 500 airplanes and over 150 helicopters, though the majority of these are older types that are unlikely to be operational.

In addition to these forces, the Center OSC also controls the 201st military base located in Tajikistan and the 999th airbase located in Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstani armed forces

Ground Forces

  • 10 mechanized infantry brigades
  • 7 artillery brigades
  • 1 MLRS brigade
  • 2 anti-tank brigades
  • 4 airborne brigades
  • 1 missile brigade
  • 1 engineering brigade
  • 1 shore defense brigade
  • 1 peacekeeping brigade

These forces are equipped with 1000 tanks (T-80, T-72, T-62), 2500 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 250 self-propelled guns, 500 towed artillery pieces, and around 200 Uragan and Grad surface-to-air missiles. Air defenses include several S-300 systems.

The Kazakh air force and air defense forces are organized into 10 regiments. They are equipped with:

  • 30 Su-24 bombers
  • 12 Su-24M reconnaissance planes
  • 12 Su-27 fighter planes
  • 40 MiG-29 fighter planes
  • 40+ MiG-31 interceptors
  • 5 MiG-25 interceptors
  • 20 MiG-23 fighter-bombers (being retired)
  • 15 Su-25 close air support planes
  • 40 transport planes
  • 40 Mi-24 helicopter gunships
  • 12 Mi-26 heavy transport helicopters

The Kazakh navy consists of 9 patrol boats, including one Turkish-built boat, 4 1950s vintage German boats, 2 new Saigak boats built in Russia, 1 Dauntless class boat built in the US, and 1 Berkut-class boat built in Kazakhstan.

Uzbekistani armed forces

Ground forces

  • 11 motorized infantry brigades
  • 1 mountain infantry brigade
  • 1 tank brigade
  • 1 airborne brigade
  • 3 air assault brigades
  • 5 engineering brigades

These forces are armed with 340 tanks (half of which are old T-62s), 400 infantry fighting vehicles, more than 500 armored personnel carriers, 140 self-propelled guns, 200 towed artillery pieces, and 80 air defense missiles.

The air forces consist of:

  • 30 Su-24 bombers and reconnaissance planes
  • 20 Su-25 close air support planes
  • 30 MiG-29 fighters
  • 25 Su-27 fighters
  • 40 transport aircraft
  • 30-50 Mi-24 helicopter gunships
  • 90 transport and multi-purpose helicopters

Pakistani armed forces

The ground forces are comprised of 19 infantry divisions, 2 tank divisions, and 35 brigades of various types. These forces are armed with 165 tactical ballistic missiles, 2500 tanks (including 320 T-80UD), 1300 armored personnel carriers, 260 self-propelled guns, 1600 towed artillery pieces, 2350 mortars, 50 multiple launch rocket systems, 1200 MANPADS, 1900 anti-aircraft weapons, and 25 AN-1 Cobra helicopter gunships.

The air force operates 400 combat aircraft, including 50 F-16s and more than 100 Chinese JF-17s.

Iranian armed forces

Khramchikhin briefly addresses the armaments of the Iranian armed forces, These include 1700 tanks, 700 infantry fighting vehicles, 600 APCs, 2400 artillery pieces (including 300 self-propelled), 5000 mortars, 900 MLRS, 900 anti-tank guided weapons, 2000 air defense artillery pieces, 300 combat airplanes, 100 combat helicopters, and over 250 air defense missile systems.

Chinese armed forces (Lanzhou Military Region)

Finally, Khramchikhin discusses the Chinese forces focused on Central Asia. These are located in the Lanzhou Military region.

Ground Forces

  • 2 tank divisions
  • 2 motorized infantry divisions
  • 3 infantry divisions
  • 1 mountain infantry division
  • 3 motorized infantry brigades
  • 2 artillery brigades
  • 3 air defense brigades
  • 2 reserve infantry divisions
  • 2 reserve anti-aircraft artillery divisions

The Air Force is organized into 1 bomber division and 2 fighter divisions. There are three regiments of H-6H bombers, 2 regiments of J-11 (Su-27) fighters, 4 regiments of J-7 (MiG-21) fighters. Ground air defenses are comprised of one regiment of HQ-2 missiles.

The Regional Balance of Forces

Khramchikhin engages in this description in order to provide a rough description of the balance of forces in the region. Oddly enough, he does not include the NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan in this assessment. But he does point out a couple of interesting things. First of all, the Chinese forces in just the Lanzhou military region, which is generally a low priority for the Chinese government and receives few modern weapons, are more powerful than all of the other forces in the region put together (once again, excluding the NATO forces).

Second, none of the other countries in the region present realistic military threats to Russia. Neither Iran nor Pakistan are likely to have any reason to engage in conflict with Russia, though Pakistan’s forces are, at least on paper, more powerful than those of Russia’s Center OSC. Pakistan is more concerned with India and its own internal instability. The only possible scenario where it might present a threat to Russia would involve a violent overthrow of its government by the Taliban and its allies, followed by its joining an anti-Russian effort in Central Asia. If the Taliban were to take over in Pakistan, it would have many more pressing concerns than attacking Russia or even Central Asia. This scenario is therefore sufficiently far-fetched as to be not worth considering for the moment.

Despite a recent deterioration in military relations because of Russia’s adherence to UN sanctions, Iran is also not interested in engaging in hostilities with Russia. It has more pressing concerns in every other direction.

Three of the Central Asian states (Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan) have no military forces worth the name. All five states have sufficiently good relations with Russia that they pose no real threat. The only potential threat to Russia from Central Asia comes from the possibility of a mass radical Islamist uprising in the Ferghana Valley, especially in the event of a NATO failure in Afghanistan that results in the Taliban’s return to power there. In that case, Khramchikhin argues for joining forces with Kazakhstan to keep the radicals in the south, while leaving the governments of the other Central Asian to survive as best they can on their own.

The Chinese Threat?

This brings Khramchikhin back to China.  He has previously written some fairly alarmist pieces about the potential Chinese threat to Russia, so this time he focuses on the possibility that China would attack Kazakhstan. This seems to be a sufficiently fantastic scenario that it could be dismissed out of hand, but instead he argues that China would easily win such a conflict while absorbing Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan with minimal effort. This means that Russia would have to come to Kazakhstan’s assistance or face the prospect of a 12,000km border with China stretching from Astrakhan to Vladivostok. (I’m not sure what happens to Mongolia in this scenario, but I assume it’s nothing good.) And at this point, Khramchikhin argues that Russia might as well capitulate on the spot.

I have never understood the extent of Russian paranoia about Chinese intentions. China is certainly a rising power, but it has accomplished its rise by developing its economy while remaining fairly quiet and conservative on the international scene. While there are certainly circumstances under which China would use its military forces offensively, particularly in Taiwan, the only scenario I can imagine where it feels the need to use armed force in Central Asia would involve defending itself against Islamist forces that have come to power in the region and are assisting Uyghur separatists in Xinjiang. In this scenario, Russia, Kazakhstan and China are all allies uniting to stop the Islamist threat, rather than adversaries.

In other words, Russians (and Kazakhs) should continue to sleep safely, knowing that China is not going to attack — either now or anytime in the foreseeable future.

Russia’s State Armaments Program 2020: Is the Third Time the Charm for Military Modernization?

The following post is being published as a PONARS Eurasia policy memo and will be presented at its annual policy conference, which will be held in Washington D.C. on Friday, October 22. For more information, click here.

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For the first two years of the Russian military reform program that began in October 2008, the top priority of the Ministry of Defense was reorganization. This involved the transformation of the military’s division-based structure into one based on brigades, as well as a shift in the ratio of officers to enlisted soldiers in favor of the latter. The last step of this reorganization was the replacement of military districts with four operational strategic commands, modeled on the U.S. military’s regional commands. These are joint commands that control all of the forces on their territory, including naval and air force units.

As this organizational transformation was being completed, top defense officials increasingly focused on the need to rearm the newly streamlined Russian military. In several speeches last winter and spring, President Dmitry Medvedev called for large-scale rearmament. More specifically, in a March 5 speech to the Defense Ministry Collegium, he called for renewing arms and equipment at a rate of 9 to 11 percent per year for the next decade, in order to reach a target of modernizing 70 percent of military equipment by 2020.

This will be a difficult target to achieve. The current rate is less than two percent; even the Soviet military of the 1980s averaged only a 5-7 percent renewal rate. In order to achieve this plan, the Russian government is putting together a new State Armaments Program for 2011-2020 (SAP-2020). This program will replace two earlier programs enacted since Vladimir Putin came to power, the most recent for the period from 2007 to 2015. What the previous programs have all had in common is that in each case the government failed to achieve the program’s stated goals.

SAP-2020: What We Know So Far

The SAP will not be announced until later this fall, but some information about its parameters has already begun to appear in the Russian press. The total size of the program is still under negotiation. Back in May, President Medvedev announced that total spending on armaments over the next ten years will be 13 trillion rubles, or approximately $425 billion at current exchange rates. This would be a significant increase from the previous armaments program, which allotted five trillion rubles over a nine-year period. However, Defense Ministry officials argued that this amount would not be sufficient to modernize the entire military. General Oleg Frolov, the acting chief of armaments, noted that for 13 trillion rubles the ministry would be able to modernize only the strategic nuclear forces, the air force, and air defenses. To modernize the ground forces, an additional 15 trillion would be necessary, while the modernization of the entire military (including the navy and the space forces, which operate Russia’s military satellites) would cost a total of 36 trillion rubles ($1.2 trillion).

The definitive program budget will not be announced for several more months, though it seems impossible for the Ministry of Defense to obtain anywhere near the full amount it seeks. In late September, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced that total spending for the armaments program would equal 22 trillion rubles, of which 19 trillion would be allocated to the Ministry of Defense and 3 trillion to other power ministries. This would increase Russian defense spending to around 3.5-4 percent of GDP, up from the current 2.9 percent.

The Air Force

The full parameters of which armaments the Russian military will procure with this money have also not been announced, though some specifics are now available. The air force will be one of the main beneficiaries, while the navy and ground forces are considered a lesser priority. The Ministry of Defense believes it can modernize all of the country’s military aircraft over the next ten years. The goal is to purchase 350 new fighter airplanes, 1,000 new helicopters, and a number of new transport aircraft. This is a high priority as most of the existing aircraft have reached or exceeded their original lifespan. Specific air force procurement plans include:

  • T-50 fifth generation fighter aircraft (PAK FA). 10 to be purchased in 2013-2015. An additional 50-60 to be procured in 2016-2020.
  • Next generation long-range bomber (PAK DA). Design began in 2010. Prototype to be built by 2015. First units scheduled to enter air force in 2020.
  • Su-35BM fourth generation fighter aircraft. 48 to be purchased in 2010-2015.
  • Su-34 fighter-bomber. 32 to be purchased in 2010-2015.
  • MiG-35 fighter. Currently in development. First units expected to enter air force in 2013.
  • Yak-130 training aircraft. 150 to be delivered in 2010-2015. An additional 50 to be procured in 2016-2020.
  • An-124 transport aircraft. 20 to be purchased in 2015-2020. 10 to be modernized in 2011-2020.
  • An-70 transport aircraft. 60 to be purchased in 2011-2020.
  • Mi-26 transport helicopters. Exact number unknown. Main focus of helicopter renewal program.

Air Defense and Strategic Rocket Forces

The armaments program also promises significant improvements in air defense and strategic rocket forces. For the former, Russia will continue to procure the S-400 air defense system. Two air defense regiments were armed with this system prior to 2010. An additional five were to be procured during this year. The goal is to have as many as 23 regiments (of 8 to 12 missiles each) by 2015. It will then be augmented by the more advanced S-500 system, currently under development and expected to be ready for production by 2013. Both the S-400 and S-500 systems are superior to the US Patriot PAC-3 in maximum speed, range, and accuracy. Russia will also continue to procure the Pantsir-S1 short-range surface-to-air missile, with at least 200 units expected to be added by 2016 to the 10 already in service in 2010.

The strategic rocket forces will continue to receive Topol-M (SS-27) and the new RS-24 ICBMs. The latter is a Topol-M variant with three or four multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVed) that began to be deployed this year. These will gradually completely replace the older SS-18 and SS-19 ICBMs, as the service life of these missiles is scheduled to expire over the next ten years.

The Navy

The procurement plans for the navy seem quite extensive, but are likely to be carried out in full only if the Ministry of Defense succeeds in its effort to increase the government’s total financial commitment to the State Armament Program. The strategic submarine force remains a priority for the military and will be funded no matter what. Financing for other projects, especially the larger and more expensive ships, is more uncertain, though the commander of the navy recently announced that the construction of a total of 15 ships and diesel submarines for the Black Sea Fleet will be part of the armament program. Specific plans include the following:

Submarines

  • Borei-class ballistic missile submarine. First currently in sea trials. Five to seven more to be commissioned in 2010-2017. Three of these are already under construction. The project’s success will depend on the military’s ability in getting the Bulava SLBM to fly successfully.
  • Yasen-class multi-purpose attack submarine. First launched in June 2010. Two to five more to be commissioned by 2020.
  • Lada-class diesel submarines. First commissioned in April 2010. Two to seven more to be commissioned by 2020.
  • Improved Kilo-class submarines. If problems with Lada class continue, could build as many as eight of these instead, with at least three going to the Black Sea Fleet. There is also the possibility that a smaller number of these would be built to be used in conjunction with a small number of Ladas.

Surface Combat Ships

  • Aircraft carrier. This summer, the navy announced that designs for a new aircraft carrier would be finished this year. It is likely that the construction of one or two carriers will be included in the State Armaments Program. Their actual construction is likely to take many years in the best of circumstances, and it is highly unlikely that the Russian Navy will have a functioning aircraft carrier by 2020.
  • Mistral amphibious assault ships. Two will be purchased from France, with another two to be built in Russia under license. Negotiations over the purchase are still ongoing, but they are likely to conclude successfully in the next few months.
  • Ivan Gren-class landing ships. Three to five to be commissioned in 2012-2020.
  • New destroyers. Press reports indicate that design of a new 10,000-ton destroyer is under way, with construction of the first ship to begin in 2013. The hope is to build 10 to 12 of these ships over the next 20 years, though it is unlikely that more than two or three could be completed by 2020 in the best of circumstances.
  • Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates. Two currently under construction. Plans call for a total of 20 to be built over the next 20 years. Of these, three to six are likely to be built by 2020.
  • Krivak IV-class frigates. Given the slow pace of construction for the Admiral Gorshkov frigate, the Russian navy is likely to build three or four of these frigates for the Black Sea Fleet. Previously, these ships have been built for the Indian Navy.
  • Steregushchii-class corvettes. First commissioned in 2007. Second launched in March 2010. Three more are currently under construction, to be commissioned by 2013. In total, 20 are expected to built, with 10 likely to be completed by 2020.

In addition to these procurement plans, the Navy has declared its intention to restore and modernize the various mothballed Kirov- and Slava-class cruisers owned by the Russian Navy. The Kirov-class Admiral Nakhimov (originally Kalinin) cruiser will be the first to undergo modernization. If this effort is successful, the Admiral Lazarev (originally Frunze) may also be modernized prior to 2020. The Admiral Ushakov (originally Kirov) could theoretically be modernized as well, though most sources believe it to be a pile of radioactive rusted metal, due to a combination of a 1990 reactor accident and subsequent lack of repair or maintenance. The Navy may also work with Ukrainian shipbuilders to finish the almost completed Admiral Lobov Slava-class cruiser. If this project goes through, the three active Slava-class cruisers in the Russian navy may also be modernized over the next ten years.

Ground Forces and Other Equipment

Much less is known about procurement plans for the ground forces, in part because they are likely to receive the least amount of new equipment in the next decade. We do know that the military has canceled plans to procure the T-95 battle tank and will instead continue to purchase T-90 tanks for the foreseeable future. The ground forces will also receive Italian light armored vehicles, probably instead of the BTR-90 armored vehicles that they had previously planned to purchase. They will also continue to purchase Iskander tactical ballistic missiles for its missile brigades, replacing existing Tochka (SS-21 Scarab) missiles in seven more brigades, in addition to the two that have already been rearmed with Iskanders in 2010. It is likely that sometime during the next decade, the design of a new generation of multiple rocket launcher systems will be completed, with some likely to enter service prior to 2020 in place of the currently used BM-30 Smerch systems.

In addition to platforms and weapons, the Russian military will focus on improving its communications capabilities by upgrading its GLONASS satellite system and procuring new digital communications and command and control systems, as well as other high tech items such as night vision equipment and better IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) systems. Many of these items are likely to be procured abroad or developed with foreign assistance.

Limitations

Whatever the actual details of SAP-2020 turn out to be, if the Russian government carries all of them out, it will be the first time such a program is actually carried out in full. Past programs foundered due to three reasons: lack of financing, corruption, and the poor state of the Russian defense industry. All these factors are likely to play a role in limiting the Russian military’s ability to modernize its weapons and equipment over the next decade.

The large increase in funding promised for SAP-2020 may not be sustainable, as it depends on a stable or rising price of oil and natural gas in coming years, which itself depends on the continuation of the current global economic recovery. If government revenues should falter, financing for the military will undoubtedly suffer as well. And even if revenue projections are met, the increase in financing being discussed right now will require a significant shift in government expenditures toward the military despite ever more pressing needs in the civilian sector.

Whether the government will be able to maintain such a plan if its popularity starts to erode in coming years is very much an open question, especially as it becomes more and more obvious to the population that much of the procurement money instead goes to line the pockets of senior military officials. Various press reports estimate that as much as half of all procurement money is spent on bribes and other forms of corruption. Last spring, the Audit Chamber announced that one billion rubles of military procurement money was lost to corruption in 2009. Analysts argue that without corruption, 19 trillion rubles would be more than enough to finance the entire defense procurement wish list, rather than the 36 trillion that was asked for by the Ministry of Defense.

However, the real question facing the armaments program is whether the Russian defense industry can actually build the weapons they are being asked to produce. The ability of the Russian defense industry to design and produce new weapons has been declining for 20 years. The best workers—those left over from Soviet times when the industry was well funded and a highly prestigious place to work—have retired or are about to do so. Few good people went into the field in the 1990s, when there was virtually no financing and the industry came close to collapse. At the same time, because there was no money for equipment modernization, the industrial plant began to deteriorate. By the start of the Putin presidency, even the allocation of additional financing was not enough to counteract the decline in the defense industry’s ability to produce high quality products. This decline will have to be reversed if the Russian military is to be successful in producing new high-tech military equipment.

Structure of Russian Airborne Troops

Continuing my series on the structure and locations of the Russian Armed Forces. Today, it’s the turn of the airborne troops. A bit late for VDV day (August 2), but close enough. Once again, the information comes primarily from ryadovoy.ru, with cross-checking at warfare.ru.

Note that the airborne troops are the one part of the military that was not shifted to brigade structure in the reform. Most analysts attribute this to the power and influence of General Shamanov, the VDV commander.

Altogether, the airborne troops consist of four divisions and one brigade, with an additional two brigades that are mixed airborne and infantry and were listed in the earlier Ground Forces postings. All locations for subordinate units are the same as for the division, unless otherwise noted.

Russian Airborne Troops

  • 7th Airborne Division (Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai, North Caucasus MD)
    • 108th Airborne Regiment
    • 247th Airborne Regiment (Stavropol)
    • 1141st Artillery Regiment (Anapa, Krasnodar Krai)
    • 3rd Air Defense Regiment
    • 162nd Reconnaissance Company
    • 309th Engineering Company (Temryuk, Krasnodar Krai)
    • 743rd Communications Battalion
    • 6th Maintenance Battalion
    • 1681st Logistics Battalion
  • 76th Airborne Division (Pskov, Leningrad Military District)
    • 23rd Airborne Regiment
    • 104th Airborne Regiment
    • 234th Airborne Regiment
    • 1140th Artillery Regiment
    • 4th Air Defense Regiment
    • 656th Engineering Battalion
    • 728th Communications Battalion
    • 7th Maintenance Battalion
    • 1682nd Logistics Battalion
  • 98th Airborne Division (Ivanovo, Moscow Military District)
    • 217th Airborne Regiment
    • 331st Airborne Regiment (Kostroma)
    • 1065th Artillery Regiment (Kostroma)
    • 5th Air Defense Battalion
    • 661st Engineering Battalion
    • 674th Communications Battalion
    • 15th Maintenance Battalion
    • 1683rd Logistics Battalion
  • 106th Airborne Division (Tula, Moscow Military District)
    • 51st Airborne Regiment
    • 137th Airborne Regiment (Ryazan)
    • 1182nd Artillery Regiment (Naro-Fominsk, Moscow Oblast)
    • 107th Air Defense Regiment (Naro-Fominsk, Moscow Oblast)
    • 173rd Reconnaissance Company
    • 388th Engineering Battalion (Plavsk, Tula Oblast)
    • 731st Communications Battalion
    • 1060th Logistics Battalion
    • 43rd Repair Battalion, (Plavsk, Tula Oblast)
  • 31st Airborne Brigade (Ulyanovsk, Volga-Urals Military District)
  • 45th Special Forces Reconnaissance Regiment (Kubinka, Moscow Oblast)
  • 38th Communications Regiment (Moscow Oblast)

Ground Forces Structure and Locations: Part 2

Here are the other three districts. Ground forces only for now. I also updated the locations on part 1, based on some additional sources. For Russian readers, much of this information is available on the forums at ryadovoy.ru, though there are contradictions in places. Warfare.ru also has some info, though much of what they have hasn’t been updated to take the recent structural changes into account (thus my effort here).

Siberian Military District

  • Combat formations:
    • 5th Tank Brigade (Ulan Ude, Buriatia)
    • 32nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (Novosibirsk)
    • 35th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Aleysk, Altai Krai)
    • 36th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Borzya, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 37th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Gusinoozersk, Buriatia)
    • 74th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Yurga, Kemerovo Oblast)
    • 11th Airborne Brigade (Ulan Ude, Buriatia)
    • 24th Special Forces Brigade (Irkutsk)
  • Missile and Artillery formations:
    • 103rd Missile Brigade (Ulan Ude, Buriatia)
    • 232nd MLRS Brigade (Shelekhov, Irkutsk Oblast)
    • 120th Artillery Brigade (Shelekhov, Irkutsk Oblast)
    • 200th Artillery Brigade (Gornyi, Zabaikalskii Krai)
  • Air Defense formations:
    • 140th Air Defense Missile Brigade (Domna or Telemba, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 792nd Air Defense Command Center
    • 61st Air Defense Missile Brigade (Biysk, Altai Krai)
    • 868th Air Defense Command Center
  • Engineering formations:
    • 27th Engineer Regiment (Yasnaya, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 60th Engineer Regiment (Achinsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai)
    • 457th Independent Engineer Battalion
  • NBC Defense formations:
    • 11th Flamethrower Battalion (Drovianaia, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 126th NBC Defense Battalion (Borzya, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 254th NBC Defense Battalion (Topchikha, Altai Krai)
  • Communications formations:
    • 50th (Territorial) Communications Brigade
    • 101st (Hub) Communications Brigade (Chita)
    • 1271st Electronic Warfare Center (Ulan Ude, Buriatia)
    • 175th Communications Regiment (Borzya, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 235th Communications Regiment (Kochenevo, Novosibirsk Oblast)
    • 154th (Rear) Communications Battalion
  • Logistics formations:
    • 53rd Material Support Regiment (Chita)
  • Reserve formations:
    • 103rd Reserve Base (84th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Shilovo, Novosibirsk Oblast)
    • 104th Reserve Base (85th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Aleysk, Altai Krai)
    • 187th Reserve Base (86th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Nizhneudinsk, Irkutsk Oblast)
    • 225th Reserve Base (29th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Yasnaya, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 227th Reserve Base (87th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Ulan Ude, Buriatia)
    • 7018th Artillery Reserve Base (Drovianaia, Zabaikalskii Krai)
    • 7019th Artillery Reserve Base (Shelekhov, Irkutsk Oblast)

Far Eastern Military District

  • Combat formations:
    • 18th Machine Gun-Artillery Division (Goryachie Klyuchi, Sakhalin Oblast)
      • 46th Machine Gun-Artillery Regiment
      • 49th Machine Gun-Artillery Regiment
    • 38th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Yekaterinoslavka, Amurskaia Oblast)
    • 39th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Sakhalin Oblast)
    • 57th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Bikin, Khabarovsk Krai)
    • 59th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Sergeyevka, Primorskii Krai)
    • 60th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Kamen-Rybolov, Primorskii Krai)
    • 64th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Khabarovsk)
    • 70th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Barabash, Primorskii Krai)
    • 69th Independent Brigade (Babstovo, Jewish Autonomous Oblast)
    • 14th Special Forces Brigade (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 83rd Airborne Brigade (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
  • Missile and Artillery formations:
    • 20th Missile Brigade (Spassk-Dalny, Primorskii Krai)
    • 107th Missile Brigade (Birobidzhan, Jewish Autonomous Oblast)
    • 165th Artillery Brigade (Belogorsk, Amur Oblast)
    • 305th Artillery Brigade (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 338th MLRS Brigade (Novosysoevka, Primorskii Krai)
  • Air Defense formations:
    • 8th Air Defense Missile Brigade (Razdolnoe, Primorskii Krai)
    • 641st Air Defense Command Center
    • 71st Air Defense Missile Brigade (Srednebeloe, Amur Oblast)
    • 643rd Air Defense Command Center (Panino, Amur Oblast)
  • Radar formations:
    • 76th Radio Technical Brigade (Vyatskoe, Khabarovsk Krai)
    • 94th Radio Technical Battalion (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 1889th Radio Technical Battalion (Belogorsk, Amur Oblast)
  • Engineering formations:
    • 37th Engineer Regiment (Berezovka, Amur Oblast)
    • 58th Engineer Regiment (Razdolnoe, Primorskii Krai)
    • 2463rd Engineer Battalion (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
  • NBC Defense formations:
    • 16th NBC Defense Brigade (Galkino, Khabarovsk Krai)
    • 70th Flamethrower Battalion (Razdolnoe, Primorskii Krai)
    • 122nd NBC Defense Battalion (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 135th NBC Defense Battalion (Khabarovsk)
  • Communications formations:
    • 104th (Hub) Communications Brigade (Khabarovsk)
    • 106th (Territorial) Communications Brigade (Dalnerechensk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 17th Electronic Warfare Brigade (Matveevka, Khabarovsk Krai)
    • 54th Communications Regiment (Belogorsk, Amur Oblast)
    • 86th Communications Regiment (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 156th (Rear) Communications Battalion (Kniaze-Volkonskoe, Khabarovsk Krai)
  • Reserve formations:
    • 237th Reserve Base (89th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Bikin, Khabarovsk Krai)
    • 240th Reserve Base (90th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Belogorsk, Amur Oblast)
    • 243rd Reserve Base (92nd Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Khabarovsk)
    • 245th Reserve Base (93rd Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Lesozavodsk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 247th Reserve Base (94th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Sibirtsevo, Primorskii Krai)
    • 261st Reserve Base (95th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Blagoveshchensk, Amur Oblast) (according to some reports, may not actually exist)
    • 230th Reserve Base (88th Motorized Rifle Brigade) (Dachnoe, Sakhalin Oblast)
    • 7020th Artillery Reserve Base (Ussuriysk, Primorskii Krai)
    • 7021st Artillery Reserve Base (Nikolskoe, ????)
    • 7027th Engineer Reserve Base

North Caucasus Military District

  • Combat formations:
    • 8th (Mountain) Motorized Rifle Brigade (Borzoi, Chechnya)
    • 34th (Mountain) Motorized Rifle Brigade (Zelenchukskaya, Karachaevo-Cherkessia)
    • 17th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Shali, Chechnya)
    • 18th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Khankala, Chechnya)
    • 19th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
    • 20th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Volgograd)
    • 136th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Buynaksk, Dagestan)
    • 205th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Budennovsk, Stavropol Krai)
    • 10th Special Forces Brigade (Molkino, Krasnodarskii Krai)
    • 22nd Special Forces Brigade (Aksay, Rostov Oblast)
    • 56th Airborne Brigade (Kamyshin, Volgograd Oblast)
    • 33rd (Mountain) Reconnaissance Brigade (Botlikh, Dagestan)
    • 100th (Experimental) Reconnaissance Brigade (Mozdok, North Ossetia)
    • 4th Military Base (Java & Tskhinvali, South Ossetia)
    • 7th Military Base (Gudauta & Ochamchira, Abkhazia)
    • 102nd Military Base
      • 73rd Motorized Rifle Brigade (Yerevan, Armenia)
      • 76th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Gyumri, Armenia)
  • Missile and Artillery formations:
    • 1st Missile Brigade (Krasnodar)
    • 291st Artillery Brigade (Maykop, Adygeia)
    • 439th MLRS Brigade (Znamensk, Astrakhan Oblast)
    • 943rd MLRS Regiment (Maykop, Adygeia)
    • 573rd Artillery Reconnaissance Battalion (Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
  • Air Defense formations:
    • 67th Air Defense Missile Brigade (Volgograd)
    • 1138th Air Defense Command Center
  • Radar formations:
    • 131st Radio-technical Brigade (Rostov)
    • 48th Radio-Technical Battalion (Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
  • Engineering formations:
    • 11th Engineer Regiment (Prokhladny, Kabardino-Balkaria)
    • 57th Engineer Battalion
  • NBC Defense formations:
    • 118th NBC Defense Battalion (Troitskaya, Ingushetia)
    • 860th Flamethrower Battalion (Oktyabrsky, Volgograd Oblast)
  • Communications formations:
    • 175th (Hub) Communications Brigade (Aksay, Rostov Oblast)
    • 176th (Territorial) Communications Brigade (Novocherkassk, Rostov Oblast)
    • 234th Communications Regiment (Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
    • 148th (Rear) Communications Battalion (Zernograd, Rostov Oblast)
    • 395th Communications Battalion (Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
    • 97th Electronic Warfare Battalion (Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia)
    • 1270th Electronic Warfare Center (Kovalevka, Rostov Oblast)
  • Other formations:
    • 32nd Material Support Regiment (Stavropol)
    • 474th Transport Battalion (Millerovo, Rostov Oblast)
  • Reserve formations:
    • 7016th Artillery Reserve Base (Maykop, Adygeiia)