How many nuclear weapons does Russia need?

This is the question posed by Ilya Kramnik in a recent article on the Voice of Russia radio website. Kramnik argues that Russia’s nuclear posture has been based on the notion of matching the United States, something that is patently impossible given that Russia’s GDP and yearly government budget are tens of times smaller than those of the US.

To this end, Russia has announced a plan for the rapid construction of a total of eight Borei class SSBNs by 2018, with one new submarine to be commissioned every year starting in 2013. While Kramnik argues (correctly, IMO) that this plan is somewhat overoptimistic, he believes that all eight will be completed by 2020 or 2021. But the fact that these submarines can be built (while new ICBMs are being built concurrently) does not negate the question of what is the opportunity cost of spending a huge percentage of this decade’s military procurement budget on new nuclear weapons that are unlikely to ever need to be used.

He argues instead that Russia’s posture should be based on having enough nuclear weapons to deliver a counterstrike that would inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy. This would allow for the Russian nuclear stockpile to drop from the current goal of 1550 warheads on 700 delivery platforms  (i.e. the limits set by the New START treaty) to 900-1200 warheads on 300-400 delivery platforms.

Kramnik notes that Russia’s defense industry is perfectly capable of maintaining the current posture. But limitations on the overall size of the defense procurement budget mean that this level of procurement of strategic nuclear forces can only be accomplished by neglecting the modernization of Russia’s conventional armed forces. And these are the forces that are desperately in need of new equipment in order to be able to successfully carry out missions in the regional and local conflicts that pose a much more likely short-term threat to Russia than the possibility of nuclear war with the United States.

This includes major platforms and systems such as multipurpose nuclear and diesel submarines, fighter aircraft, surface ships, air defense systems, tanks, and artillery. But it also includes more basic needs, such as modern precision-guided munitions, personal combat and communications equipment, etc. Kramnik points out that until such weapons are equipment can be procured in needed quantities, Russia’s position in the world will continue to weaken while its soldiers sustain a higher rate of casualties. And, he argues, this will all be done in the name of maintaining nuclear parity with the United States.

Needless to say, I find this to be a very prudent and realistic assessment of misplaced Russian military procurement priorities. I’m encouraged that Russian commentators are increasingly focusing on this imbalance, rather than supporting the MOD’s drive to maintain nuclear parity out of some sort of continuing sense of desire to maintain great power status. I wonder how Russian planners will change their force posture once the potentially quite significant cuts in US defense spending come into effect over the next couple of years.


23 thoughts on “How many nuclear weapons does Russia need?

  1. With US ABMs sprouting up all over the place can Russia really afford to reduce its strategic nuclear weapon numbers?

    Using ship based SM-3 missiles which are fitted as standard on all AEGIS class cruisers… fully mobile and able to be moved at a moments notice from the Med to the Arctic in a matter of days.

    No limits on missile production or deployment.

    Half the problem is the INF treaty which means Russia cannot save money and build shorter range missiles to target Europe and Asia… it is all ICBMs.

    With the introduction of the new liquid fuelled rocket which will perhaps be able to carry 10-15 warheads per missile the number of warheads can remain high while reducing the number of ICBM missiles.

    With SLBMs it makes no sense reducing the number of platforms as that is a case of putting all your eggs in one basket.

    If they reduced the number of warheads to 900, that would mean 300 per arm of the nuclear triad. They wouldn’t use 4 SSBNs, they would still use 8, but with half the warheads per boat.

    Having 8 boats means 2-3 at sea at any one time likely split between the Northern Fleet and the Pacific Fleet.

    Sure Russia has a fraction of the Military budget of the US, but Russia does not have a global empire to maintain… and that is what is expensive. Russia has one aircraft carrier, while the US has 9 comparable carriers, which they call landing ships, plus 11 Nimitz class 100,000 ton super carriers… are you still wondering why the US spends more on “defence”.

  2. Counterforce has nothing to do with prestige or “Great Power status”. It is a strategy of neutralizing as much of the enemy nuclear potential as possible before the enemy can counterattack. If you have half the number of the warheads as your potential adversary, you cannot achieve counterforce. By definition.

    Minimal deterrence (what Kramnik proposes) is dead horse that has been beaten into oblivion by disarmament think tanks and is not supported by anyone among the political and military decision makers.

    Yes, you can make an argument that minimal deterrence is a more economically optimal strategy than counterforce, however, for minimal deterrence to be effective, the adversary has to practice it as well. Since both Russia and US practice counter-force, that switch is plain impossible, as it would put the switching side at a disadvantage.

    Moving unilaterally to minimal deterrence might work for nuclear powers which concentrated their forces into a highly reliable Continuous At Sea Deterrence (e.g. United Kingdom), but it won’t work for Russia which has minimal naval deterrence and a highly developed land component.

    Not to mention than minimal deterrence is, essentially, inhumane, since it forces the practising power into a countervalue position (unacceptable losses = targeting cities), while counterforce targets specifically military installations. Funny how no proponent of minimal deterrence ever talks about that, huh?

    • The counterforce/countervalue distinction is largely a straw man. Both sides targeted urban centers because they held road/rail junctures, war-supporting industries, leadership, etc. Not to mention casualties from blast and fallout, even from missiles targeting silos. I fail to see how killing 50 million people is so much more immoral than killing 50 million people and destroying a lot of (mostly empty) silos.

      Russian counterforce capabilities against the US are inherently very limited, anyway. Most US nukes are on submarines, and most of them are at sea at any given time.

      • Targeting North Dakota is hardly in the same league as targeting New York City. I’d say the difference is pretty obvious and is not a straw man.

  3. I think you’re both somewhat missing the point. If the primary goal/mission of the Russian military is to counter the US nuclear threat, then it is pursuing the proper procurement strategy, no doubt about that. The point that Kramnik is making, though, is that the risk of the US threatening Russia with nuclear weapons is so low that Russia would be better served by using its limited resources to develop its conventional forces, which are much more likely to actually be used for something.

    The US figured this out a while ago and has been largely neglecting its nuclear arsenal, which has caused some lawmakers heartburn, but has also allowed the Pentagon to invest lots of money in all sorts of fancy conventional weapons, such as drones, fifth generation fighter aircraft, PGMs, etc. Think about all the advances in conventional weaponry over the last two decades in the US. Meanwhile, we’re still using the same nuclear missiles as we did in the 1980s. And has this damaged US security in any way?

    I suppose one might argue that at this point for Russia, the investment in new nuclear technology has already been made, so they might as well build the stuff. I can see that point of view I suppose, but the building is so much more expensive than the design….

    • “If the primary goal/mission of the Russian military is to counter the US nuclear threat, then it is pursuing the proper procurement strategy, no doubt about that.”

      I’d dispute this very strongly. A small, survivable force of mobile ICBMs, along with maybe a few boomers would make a lot more sense than lots of MIRVed, silo-based ICBMs, along with boomers and TELs that virtually never patrol. It’s not like they have offer any real damage limitation capability against the submarine-heavy US, anyway.

      I’d say Russian force structure is rational if the goal is either maintaining the prestige benefits of parity, or if it’s meant to make a quasi-believable first strike threat against China in a crisis.

  4. There is actually no difference in both the Russian or US approach to the 90’s. Both US and Russia decided to “skip” a cycle of research and development in the 90’s due to the “peace dividend” / funding reallocation.

    Which means that systems which were deployed in late 80’s (Ohio class, Trident D5, B-2 for US and Delta IV, R-29RM, R-36M for Russia) would only be replaced in late 2010’s for Russia and early 2020’s for US, instead of early 2000’s. In fact, the only reason why Russia would deploy, for example, Borei faster than US would deploy SSBNX is because of the longevity of the Ohio class as compared to Delta IV, not because Russia spends more on its nuclear forces. US just has a longer replacement cycle.

    All the “fancy conventional weapons” you mention were developed back in the Cold War and were subject to Cold War budgets, not during the 90’s. That’s just how military R&D works. You think decades ahead, not years.

    • I’m afraid we’re still talking past each other. My whole point in the previous comment was that there was a funding reallocation in the US at the end of the Cold War away from building nuclear weapons and (partially) toward conventional weapons (and partially toward just plain old reducing the military budget). I know most of these weapons were designed in the 80s, but they were built in the 90s and 2000s, and building takes a lot more money than R&D.

      The question Kramnik raises is not whether Russia should skip another generation of nuclear R&D. It’s whether it should build less of the new generation in order to spend the money on more useful conventional weapons. I think that specific question is one that is well worth discussing.

      • In that case I think Ilya overestimates the capabilities of the Russian defence industry. Current production levels are going to be barely at replacement level (and even that thanks to heavy MIRVing) and I don’t believe we are going to see any kind of production surge at Krasmash or Votkinsk, regardless of various political pronouncements.

        Basically, the new generation WOULD have a smaller order, but still with numerical parity. The production cycle would stretch over a longer period of time due to capacity/budget constraints, but in the end there would still be numerical parity with US even at current production levels. I think Pavel Podvig did some numerical analysis a while back where he demonstrated that this is possible.

  5. I tend to agree with Kramnik alot. The problem with the conventional forces though is that the picture is much bigger. There are the problems of hazing (which still hasent been routed out), conscripts instead of professionals, poor housing and sustainment conditions, piss-poor training standards, outdated tactics and procedures, low morale, seriously inadequate leadership, corruption, lousy wages. Equipment isn’t all that. It’s just one tiny bit of the mess the armed forces are. The obsessive one-sided focus on re-equipping is a tunnel vision and therefore dangerous. Russia’s nuclear capability is fine as it is. Just keep Topol-M and the big truck carriers and Bulava and that will be perfectly sufficient. The land based silo’s are ancient so can be dismantled altogether, along with the older missile -and warhead stockpile. The only way Russia could rebuild it’s Army (Ground Forces) is by significantly reduse it’s sheer size and reshaping it into modern, agile formations with enough organic aviation assets and logistical support. Providing each district with the same units makes more sence. One Tank Brigade, Motor Rifle Brigade, Air Asault Brigade, an air force fighter wing of 3 suadrons, a transport aviation squadron plus sufficient air defense units is enough, and all of this could be done with a professional military within the current budget. The problem is that the budget had to be allocated to too large a force, which is not feasible. Lean does not imply less mean. Today is not about being how much oyu have, rather about what you have and how strong you are. It’s quality, not quantity. Russia is the biggest country in the world with the largest borders to defend. It simply cannot put a soldier on every square inch of it’s soil. Hence the need for better air transportation assets and better overall mobility. That means smaller and more manoeuvreable units with better support to get from A to B. Russia’s military is too static, where it needs to be rapidly deployable from one to another sector of the country/district. Resurrection of the Naval Infantry by purchasing 4 Mistral ships is the wrong decision and a huge waste of scarce resources. Russia has other priorities (maintaining it’s own territorial integrity and ocross ‘the near border’ operations reenforcing it’s allies such as Armenia and Kazakhstan in the event of a possible crisis). It should not even consider the thought of becoming a world wide expeditionary force.

  6. If the question is should Russia spend less on its nuclear forces and more on its conventional forces one really has to ask if money saved not spent on nuclear deterrent would actually be spent on the conventional forces.
    Right now I would think that spending on the current forces is bringing steady growth and restoration of the Russian MIC.
    I really don’t think throwing a larger amount of money at the problems will solve things any faster.

    A good example is the housing issue, yet we see cases where new apartments… in fact new suburbs are created yet the uptake rate by soldiers and their families is slow because there is no child care resources or there are no shops within walking distance yet… all the infrastructure that any suburb needs is not there because there are no people there to support them, but with no infrastructure who will want to move there.

    Russia is a large country with a not so big population with a lot of resources that others in the world are looking at with greed in their eyes.

    Give up you nuclear deterrent and what happened in Libya and Egypt could very well be tried in Russia… it is all just an extension of coloured revolutions.

    I think a reduction in strategic nuclear capability could be looked at in 2020… by then it will be clear what future relations with the US and NATO will be… have they continued building ABM systems all around Russia? Have they upgraded their interceptors to enable multi interceptions with each interceptor, are there thousands of interceptors based all over the place…

    With the new liquid fueled ICBM in development I would expect it could be packed with warheads and decoys which should drastically reduce the number needing to be deployed… I mean with the new Start limiting warhead numbers to 1,500 with 10 warheads in the Yars missile I would expect they should be able to get twice that in the new heavyweight missile… which means Russias entire strategic nuclear deterrent of 1,500 warheads could be carried by just 75 of the new liquid fueled missiles.
    Of course they wont be because part of deterrence is mutually assured destruction, which means the other side has to believe they can’t stop your stuff and and you can’t stop their stuff.

    And BTW to Bthebrave… why shouldn’t the Russians have a world wide expeditionary force based on the Naval Infantry or VDV?

    Great powers didn’t become great and then build powerful navies… they built powerful navies and then became great because of the global reach it gave them.

  7. GarryB I agree with you that Russia should be carefull to slash its nuclear potential, but alot of that infrastucture is really crippling as those silo’s are near prehistoric. Those could all be shut down, in favour of mobile assets such as the big trucks and SSBN’s (Berei/Borei2)

    What purpose would be served in Russia having an expeditionary capable military? NavInf and VDV as the sole expeditionary forces are too light for that role. They are tactical resources ment to ‘kick in the door’, not for fighting prolonged battles or Ops that require a more heavy punch and more logistical sustainment. Lessons learned the past decade have clearly shown that ‘light’ forces are ‘dead’. At least, in a other than short-term tactical role. The move being made now is towards combined arms battlegroups. That is the way expeditionary Ops are being conducted. Russia doesn’t need that. Yes it is a world power, but with different military priorities from organisations such as NATO. It should focus on defending the country, with ‘over the near border’ capabilities as its ceiling. In order to fullfil Ops in these scenarios effectively, it is imperative the Russian military is provided with decent air transport/air support capability.

  8. The technology of a silo is not really important, it is the communications gear and the missiles themselves that is critical and they are upgrading the comms gear to 4G, so the idea of huge fields of ancient silos is just that… an idea.

    Silos are fixed and therefore vulnerable, but as long as you are not asleep and you have restored your radar and satellite network the US can try a first strike but the reaction from Russia should still be fast enough to ensure empty silos are hit.

    Truck mounted missiles have proved themselves to be very difficult targets… even with total US air superiority over Iraq there were dozens of scuds launched each day with impunity despite the lack of interference with satellites and air power roaming at will… something they could barely even consider over Russia.

    The point is that while strategically safe because of their mobility, they are tactically not wonderful… and vulnerable… made more so by serous restrictions in START that limit how far from their bases they can deploy etc.

    Once a missile is in a silo it is cheap and reasonably well protected.

    Russia is still the largest country in the world and if it is going to protect that territory and its economic zones then it needs a much smaller force… so by definition that smaller force has to be both more mobile and more responsive. Getting rid of the VDV and the Naval Infantry is like making your cricket team smaller by getting rid of all your best bowlers and batsmen.

    If anything it would make sense to expand both forces as they are already what the Russian military needs to aim for.

    In the new structure the Russian Army is going for there will be light, medium, and heavy brigades… you might want to tell them that they are wasting their time developing the light forces.

    BTW Striker brigades, which is basically the US equivalent but with rather less in terms of tube and rocket artillery, and a much greater dependence on air power to deal with problems on the ground. I have had a lot of chats with experienced western soldiers who think all weather day night capable artillery forces that operate with your brigade is rather more appealing than calling in some fighter jock.

    BTW the Russians have developed a new electronic fuse with control surfaces that can be attached to standard 152mm and larger calibre artillery shells. It includes a GLONASS guidance system that can guarantee a 10m CEP in any weather at any range day or night… at $1,000 US dollars each. That is 50 times cheaper than the Excalibur system the US is looking at to do the same thing.

    Future Russian military units will be very powerful formations, and the new standardisation drive means the Navy will share the same improvements with new 152mm gun ammo in their joint program (called coalition).

    If articles I have read are to believed the first order for Il-476 aircraft will be for 100 aircraft… so transport capacity is clearly being dealt with…

    I think these are very exciting times for the Russian Military.

    Obviously waste should be minimised, but I think so far they are doing a very good job in their balance between conventional and nuclear forces, and I really think a reduction would be seen as a sign of weakness by the US who might actually get to the point where they think they might have the capacity to take out enough of Russias strategic weapons to make the resulting retaliation survivable… you know… like they convinced themselves Saddam had WMDs, and currently that Iran has a weapons program.

    It is amusing that George Orwells predictions of 1984 are coming to pass in the 2000s… Saddam was guilty of the thought crime of having WMDs, when in actual fact he was just pretending to be rather stronger than he really was because he was afraid of what Iran might do if they thought Iraq was weak. Now it is Irans turn to be guilty of a thought crime… with a west as irrational and dangerous as it is who in their right mind would consider reducing nuclear forces unilaterally.

    Remember the Soviet Union withdrew its forces in Eastern Europe… and now the US is withdrawing 10% of its forces in Europe… well over a decade later and only to save some money… you think Russia can trust these people?

  9. Well, every strategic missile deployment method has it’s plus and downsize I guess. But I still favour a fully mobile military. I’m not a huge fan of fixed positions. They make a military static. And let us be realistic, what are the chances of a nucear war? Zero… Of course, like the rest of the military, both NavInf and VDV need to be revived, restructered and provided with better equipment. Though, from my strategic point of view, only the Baltic and Pacific Fleet need a NaInfBrig to maintain presence in those regions (deter NATO regarding the Lainingrad region, and keep the US and Japan from becoming too ambitious in the Pacific and to make sure they stay out of the Okhotsk Sea and Vladivostok area). The Black Sea Fleet is not needed, since Russia would be better served with a naval base in Greece (which also brings the additional benefit of having a footprint within NATO territory). I have said here before that all the Black Sea countries should come together and draw up a treaty that no naval shipping whatsoever is allowed in the Black Sea. That is in the Enlightened self-interest of all those nations: the Black Sea ecology is suffering badly, and it makes sense to bring stability and peace in the whole area. From which everybody will benefit (less costs in terms of mainataining presence, no potental for conflict). It think it is not wise to be friends with Syria because being friends with a country in which massive human rights abuses occur, discredits Russia’s status as a world power. And I have serious doubts about the usefulness of the SCO, with all of it’s roque observer-status members. Let me say in a nut shell that Russia needs a much smaller, though overall better and highly mobile military. Fairly lean but very mean, highly mobile, professional, modern and effective. It can all be done within the current budget. The Army and Air Force must be fully decentralised to the District level, whie the Navy and Strategic Missile Forces remain under Federal controle. Each dstrict should have it’s own military academy, military schools for NCO’s and service branches, it’s own infrastructure. I would give the operational component of each district the name ‘District Unitary Defense Force’. I have lots and lots of good, feasible ideas for reform and ways of getting from A to B.

  10. The concept of a modern mobile military does not extend to complete mobility.
    Vehicles and personnel need bases… airfields large and small are fixed. HQs are largely fixed too. Major military production facilities and major military complexes like OTH radar, naval bases, there is no such thing as a fully mobile military.

    The hardened silos are built already, it is not like they are rebuilding them from scratch for each new ICBM they make. There will be modifications and upgrades but the silos are essentially already there and paid for.

    The chances of a nuclear war are not Zero. It might feel that way right now but before WWI I am sure no one suspected there would be one let alone two major wars in Europe. Back then the Machine Gun was a weapon for civilised countries to use on Savages in the colonies to keep the large masses in line… it would be preposterous to consider using it against a fellow colonial power.

    Currently the West is very keen on military action and seems to prefer it to negotiation as they seem to feel their military advantage means they are more likely to get their way in a fight than in a discussion. Discussions between people where one has little respect for the other and does not treat them as an equal will rarely turn out well in terms of constructive discussion.

    You consider there to be zero chance of nuclear war because both sides have enough nukes to be pretty certain of killing us all. MAD has worked because it doesn’t need verification or trust. Reducing numbers of strategic nukes is weakening MAD. Sure even just a few hundred nukes will change any country forever, but when the other side is developing a world wide ABM system and refuses to sign a piece of paper saying it wont be used against you then you really have to have a really pressing reason to reduce your nuclear capacity too far. I don’t see that pressing need.

    Regarding the Black Sea Fleet why would Russia give up access to the Med? Having a port in Greece is of little use to Russia without the Black Sea Fleet as the trip to the Med would be all the way from the Baltic fleet, which is rather small, so it is more likely their med fleet would operate from the Northern Fleet which is a long way… and really not much difference sailing to Greece as to Tartus in Syria.

    At the end of the day they have a fleet in the Black Sea and no obvious reason to move it at the moment. You mention issues with the Black sea… if they closed their naval base there how would they police the Black Sea for illegal fishing, or smuggling or anything else?

    Stability and peace does not come from removing the police force from the area… that creates anarchy.

    [quote]It think it is not wise to be friends with Syria because being friends with a country in which massive human rights abuses occur, discredits Russia’s status as a world power. [/quote]

    Sorry, no disrespect meant but what a load of bollocks!!!
    What about the human rights abuses in Bahrain? What about the Saudi forces that were sent to Bahrain to crush the democratic protesters… not a word said.
    What about the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia?
    Libya doesn’t have human rights abuses any more because the west is in there getting all the contracts to rebuild the damage they did and for the resources of a country that used to have free health and education for its people… bet that wont continue.

    Indeed who cares what the US thinks of Russia when the US kidnaps people, tortures them and either keeps them in custody without trial as long as they want, or simply gives them a military court hearing and puts them in prison. Rendition. Stalin was the Rendition king and you think the US has the moral authority to judge Russia or anyone else?

    Syrias sin is that it is a majority Shia country that is friendly to Iran… also a Shia majority country.

    This is Pakistan and Saudi Arabia against Iran and Syria, with the west on one side and Russia on the other.

    Chastise Russia for supporting Syria… did you also oppose the US supporting the corrupt and immoral South Vietnamese regime during the Vietnam war? Or Pinochet in Chile?

    There is no such thing as fully mobile… the military can’t operate from campervans.

    They are making the military smaller and more mobile and they are getting much better equipment. The Districts actually centralise the forces… the South District has full authority over the Army, Navy, and Air Force forces in its region, though it has no authority over the Aerospace Defence forces… which are new and cover the whole of Russian airspace and space above it. The Strategic missile forces are also separate from the districts for very obvious reasons.

    I don’t see any reason to duplicate everything 4 times just so each district has its own stuff… they will become mini empires controlled by warlords.

    Personally I like the structures they are going for now and think they are making excellent progress in most areas.

    The surprise attack by Georgia has spurred a few things on, like it has made Russia realise how valuable VDV and naval forces can be even when you don’t expect it to be. The Mistrals are a direct result of the surprise attack by Georgia on South Ossetia, and the western reaction, which for a long time blamed Russia for initiating it. The fact that they were proven wrong doesn’t change the fact that they will believe the words of Georgia over Russia. Now transplant this situation to the Pacific… what if the surprise attack had been from Japan on the Kurile Islands. The Pacific Fleet is not really well equipped with the right vessels to react to such a move and it is rather likely that the US and international community will take Japans side rather than mount an international force to remove Japanese forces from the Islands.

    Russia needs Mistral like vessels in the Pacific and will need similar vessels in the Northern Fleet in a few years time as the north is opened up more for mineral exploration.

  11. I never said that the military must be 100% fully mobile. Of course it needs storage facilitis, barracks, air bases, ports, training areas, command centres etc. And regarding the silo’s. If you say they have been renovated and refitted with modern communications and alike infrastructure, okay. I have little knowledge of that branche of the military.
    Countering illegal fishery, smuggling etc in the Black Sea is a task for the coast guardt. Not the navy. (is a bit of overkill dont you agree?). And I still think that -for political and geostrategic reasons- Russia would be very well served with a naval base in Greece. Because it would give Russia a foothold in NATO’s Southern flank. Russia and Greece have good relations, so they should engage in a bilateral agreement. If all Black Sea nations come to an agreement, set up a treaty that states no naval presence is allowed (only coast guard), everybody would benefit because it cuts cost. It adds to peace and stability as well as less ecological pressure. You somehow fail to see that. Ecology is very important, especially in the long run. The environment is in terrible shape, proper measures have to be taken in this field. That is in the interest of everybody. A one-sided military point of view or solution is short-sighted. There are a lot more factors that weigh in. And by the way: a demilitarized Black Sea would also mean NATO cannot gain access to it…. No naval shipping, no transports/RoRo/s, No nothing. No naval shipping, period. Demilitarization treaties are a very powerful diplomatic instrument to counter potential third party enemies aka keep them away from areas where you dont want them to be. And that is exactly the course of action Russia must take.

    Regarding Syria and human rights abuses. Russia could actually show it’s moral superiority over the US by ending all ties with rogue regimes aka refraining from turning a blind eye like the US does in the other countries you mentioned. But still, as long as elections are stolen in Russia itself, what’s the difference?

    The reason why the Army (Ground Forces) and Air Force should quite the contrary be decentralized to the District level is because of efficiency and better management. The country is simply to large to defend from a centre in case of projected hostilities. Therefore it makes perfectly good sense to give each District it’s unitary defense force.Streamlining cuts cost as well. A military is all about cost and efficiency. I don’t see Russian Generals becoming rogue by the way. The country is politically stable enough not to fall apart and Russians are not Africans. I don’t believe in the warlord theory in Russia.

    On second thoughts, I think you might be very right about Mistral and the areas where it’s presence is needed. One thing though, Naval Infantry for the Northern Fleet? That’s a move I do not understand one bit. There’s not a square inch in that area where an amphibious landing is possible. Unless one might want to launch an attack on the territory of NATO’s Northern flank. And I don’t see any reason why Russia and Norway should engage in hostilities sinse they have good relations in the first place

    Of course VDV is valuable, but it needs better means of support and transportation. An Air Assault unit cannot sustain itself for prolonged periods and given its structure and equipment profile is vulnerable in the defense. It is a short-term, tactical asset for ‘kicking in the door’ operations as well as QRF in situations where distances are too significant and hence a proper, timely armoured response is not feasible, or the terrain is not suited to such heavier assets. There is not one military unit that can operate on its own. It’s always a combined force.

  12. Of course you didn’t say everything had to be mobile, I was just pointing out that some things have to be and considering the silos are already built and are in use now getting rid of them would likely cost rather more money than it saved.

    Regarding Coast guard… Russia doesn’t have a coast guard as such. That function if performed by the FSB and the MVD I believe.

    But western forces off the coast of Africa fighting piracy are not sending coast guard units. Some roles do require real firepower… some drug smugglers are actually very well armed.

    Russia is a country surrounded by countries with slivers of access to open ocean. Some of those slivers are largely blocked 6-8 months of the year by ice so I don’t think it is reasonable to suggest they give up almost direct access to the Med to “save money”.

    By the same notion the US could halve its spending on national defence if it withdraws all naval forces from the entire US west coast… the forces in the east coast can just sail around…

    Regarding a naval base in Greece, if the people of Greece are happy with that then I think that is a good idea, but just like Russian bases in Vietnam (Cam Rahn Bay), and in Cuba… they need to expand their navy for the next 10-15 years before long ocean voyages are anything more than one of trips by invitation. A port in Greece cannot be instead of a port in the Black Sea… it could be instead of Tartus in Syria because it would then perform the same function as a place to stop off and refuel and resupply without having to go all the way back to Russia from operations in the Med or even the Indian ocean.

    All the Black Sea Nations will not agree not to have a navy stationed in the Black Sea. Bulgaria and Roumania are not going to agree to simply not have a navy, and Russia will not give up a whole fleet.

    The Black Seas ecology problems will not be influenced one way or the other by military vessels, so I don’t understand your point there.

    The likelyhood that sewers probably pump millions or billions of litres of sewage a year into the nearest body of water probably has rather more effect.

    Declaring military free zones is no solution… Russia pulled its military out of Eastern Europe and NATO moved straight in when they left.

    Regarding Syria, I think you need to look beyond the coverage of CNN and the BBC… this isn’t a case of Syrian government forces shooting unarmed civilians. The fact that we hear about soldiers defecting to the rebel side… do you think they took their rifles?
    This is a civil war and they are using tactics similar to the KLA in Kosovo. Go to a peaceful rally and when the police arrive fire a few shots and then leave. The Police will of course get incredibly nervous and “return fire” to where they think they can see a threat. Get your camera out and film the evil police shooting innocent unarmed civilians. Post on Youtube.

    Every country has a history of some sort they are not proud of, If Syria wants a new government it is not Russias position to impose any solution. If syria… like bahrain wants to crush opposition forces with bullets and violence, Russia might suggest that this is not a good solution, but it is not their place to tell syria what to do.

    Russia is not the moral centre of the universe and it is not their place to tell anyone what to do. The west loves to do that because they want to make it sound like they are doing things in the interests of other people… in this case they want peace and democracy in Syria for the Syrian people… but in actual fact they want to overthrow an unfriendly country in the hope that what replaces them with be pro west and anti Iran… and in that case they really couldn’t care less what takes over from Assad. Remember the evil Taleban? They entered power in Afghanistan with the full support of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and both countries I am sure would like to see similar regimes all over the middle east… except in their own countries of course.

    Russia used to be divided into 6 military districts but the various forces were controlled by a centralised structure. Currently the number of districts have been reduced to 4 and the forces in each district are subbordinated to that district.

    The purpose of forces in the north is the same reason the Mexican Navy is expanding now that oil drilling rigs are appearing in the sea off Mexicos coast. There is going to be a lot more activity in Russias north including minerals and oil exploration and it is suspected that there will be contested areas regarding drilling rights so having a military force there that can operate with speed is critical.

    The Naval Infantry will operate from a range of vessels that can land on all sorts of beaches, but actions against enemy ships or to retake rigs or pirated ships they are ideal. With Mistral support they have helicopters and landing ships and armour.

    BTW relations with Norway might be good now, but when Norway sees Russian companies drilling oil just outside their EEZ they might have a few things to say (Oil deposits don’t honour human created lines on maps, so oil fields 99% inside Norwegian waters can be sucked dry from that 1% outside those waters if they are quick enough).

    The modern VDV forces will be very well equipped and much more mobile and armoured than any western equivalent. The west simply has nothing comparable to the BMD-4M in service, let alone Sprut light tanks, or NONA 120mm mortar artillery vehicles.

    The Russians are working on a new generation of vehicle with a new 25 ton tracked vehicle known as Kurganets-25 as the tracked vehicle likely to also be modified for Naval Infantry and VDV use. It is 5 tons heavier than a BTR-90 and will have a rear ramp door and better armour.

    It is not a vehicle as such, it is a family of vehicles, so in a medium brigade you will have a tank based on it, artillery based on it, an IFV based on it, a SAM system based on it and a gun and sam system based on it.

    In current terms that is a T-90, MSTA, BMP-3, SA-13, and Tunguska, but instead of 5 different vehicles with 5 different chassis, and different weapons and sensors and electronics, it will be 5 vehicles with the same chassis with different weapons and sensors and electronics suites to suite the different roles

    The heavy brigades have a vehicle base called armata, the medium brigades have two 25 ton amphibious vehicles called Boomerang (wheeled) and Kurganets-25 (tracked) and for the Light Brigades there is Typhoon (which is not the Taifun recently revealed by Kamaz).

    Each brigade will have a tank or gun based platform, an IFV, artillery, air defence vehicles etc etc all based on one standard chassis for the whole brigade. Simplifies logistics and maintainence and supply.

  13. I think you might be right about the Black Sea, maybe my idea simply isn’t feasible. And you’re right. Where a vaccuum is created, it will be filled up by others.

    I’m familiar with the BMD, it’s basically an M113 with a turret but lacking a rear ramp for proper dismounting. And how do you get a BMD from A to B? Huge helicopters (which are huge targets for RPG’s, Strela’s, things like that), para dropping? And then what? With no support whatsoever. I knew a Russian former paratrooper once, he told me that they are just toiletpaper throw out of the sky. It’s a Third World technique. When was the last time a parachute Op was succesful? You cant just dump a force on to the ground and let them sort it out for themselves. You need a logistics base from which to operate from. No modern military unit goes anywhere without any means of support. That’s suicide. What I want is an entirely helicopter based VDV. Air ASSAULT, not Air BORNE. But still, an AASLT unit wasn’t meant to fight prolonged battles, let alone entire conflicts by themselves. They are ‘in and out’, a tactical asset for short time span tactical needs.

    Still, I think NavInf is pretty much useless in the North. Nobody lives there, there is nothing to occupy, no soil to land on. What Russia needs there is ‘hard’ assets. Pure tonnage. Kuzentsov (though I still think Kuzentsov would be of better use in the Pacific) and Pyotr Velikiy as well as a good hand full of Gorshkov class frigates. Gorshkov, given it’s weapons package actually is a destroyer but called a frigate for political reasons. But that aside.

    I am very excited about the Kurganets-25! Russia really needs a decent IFV. BMP is okay, but it lacks in some areas (ergonomics, armour protection) 25 tons is enough if the armour is of very high quality and made of carbide metals (which are the srongest materials in the world after diamond). Did you see T-90MS yet? I find it beautiful, a little bit underpowerd though. 1250hp would be better, plus a bit more passive armour. I still have no faith in covering a vehicle with lots of ERA. I hope to see a deep moderization of the individual boots on the ground though. Russin needs something like Infanterist der Zukunft. It’s a good thing Russia is capable of building ultra modern hardware: Su-35BM, PAK-FA, Yasen, Borei, Pantsyr-1SE, S-400 (500 is underway), P-800 Oniks. Those systems are all first rate and the best -if not the only ones- in their kind. Russia is superior in these fields.

    What really bothers me though, is the way Russia neglects it’s military traditions. I mean breaking up the Tamanskaya and Kantemirovskaya division for instance? They could have just reduced them to brigade size without actually taking away their identity. The divisions would downsize to a brigade, the regiments to battalions etc. That way history and honorifics would be completely and perfectly retained to pass on to future generations. Slashing and renumbering is very bad for morale and shows a complete disregard for esprit de corps. Military sociology and tradition are very important to any army. A soldier needs an identity, a fmily to belong to. Like Napoleon said: promise a soldier a piece of coloured ribbon, and he will fight long and hard. Look at the Germans, they have no identity because they dumped all their traditions and regiments, some of which had lineage that could be traced back to the 18th century. Such a shame to shed of 100’s of years of tradition only because of 12 years dictatorship. Russia is also killing the soul of it’s military. A dangerous development in my book…. What’s the point in bringing a 150th Rifles banner to the Victory Parade every year if the 150th Rifles don’t even exist anymore? Raise a Guards 150th Idritskaya Motor Rifle Battalion that carries that tradition! It is as simple as that. And I fail to understand what the regimental march of the Preobrazhensky Guard has to do with the 150th Rifles. Historical justification, tradition, lineage, identity. They are so incredibly important. Basically, the whole Russian military needs to be revised and rebuilt form the ground up. Every MotRfl battalion needs to have it’s own colour, it’s on history book. Be it a famous WW2 era division that is being kept alive, or be it an Imperial Life-Guard Regiment. This can all be done at battalion level. The Tank and VDV divisions can perfectly retain their honorifics while being scaled down to brigade strength. This also ads to the vast history of the whole Russian Army. It is enriching to raise the Imperial regiments alongside the formations that originate from the Great Patriotic War. There is no need to endlessly reorganize and renumber proven/famous units away. It destroys the hearts of the troops. What people fail to understand is that these men are warriors, they need a common heritage, a unit, a home with their own flag and story. Something they can look up to, be immensely proud of and call ‘theirs’.

    Like I said before, I have milllions and many more good ideas for the Russian military.

  14. I appreciate your intent regarding the Black Sea… we treat waterways like toilets and this has to change… there might be billions of other planets in our galaxy that we can survive on, but if we can’t look after this one what is the point of moving to another one… we are currently like a plague… that has to change.

    With respect a BMD-4M is like an M113 teh same way an M1A2 Abrams tank is like a WWII Sherman tank.
    An M-113 doesn’t have modern thermal sights, a 30mm automatic cannon, a 100mm rifle cannon able to fire 5.5km range ATGMs.

    Its purpose is not to drive into combat with guns blasing… it is a mobility thing that when it transports its troops to near the objective it sits back and provides direct fire support for the dismounted troops. Its armour will stop small arms and while it is vulnerable to anti tank missiles… what isn’t?

    It is designed to be dropped by parachute and can be deployed pretty much anywhere. It is also fully amphibious.

    Airborne assaults normally involve dropping forces deep within enemy territory but not on their objective. They will be dropped 50-100kms away from the target so there will be little resistance to their landing, and they will jump into their vehicles that will cover the 50-100km in less than an hour and attack their targets rapidly. They have air defence vehicles and IFVs and compared to rear area enemy units will be superbly equipped and trained.

    Paratroopers are not useful for every purpose, but for certain roles they are excellent. Seaborne forces were used in Abkhazia in 2008 and were very successful. If the Georgians had blown the Roki tunnel the Russians would have had three choices… airborne attack, Enlarged naval landing, or do nothing while Georgians murder Russian peacekeepers.

    If they can capture and air base then landing forces is much quicker and more efficient… it is what they did in Afghanistan in 1979.

    Regarding Naval Infantry in the North… it doesn’t matter that there is a low population up north, though that is changing with the search for minerals and oil. They wont be used to invade Norway or any other country, but if a foreign country sends some ships or an oil rig into Russian waters then Naval Infantry would be the best equipped to respond. Equally if “settlements” appear that are not authorised they will be best equipped to “move them along”.

    As the climate changes there is more and more melted sea ice every year… soon there will be the option of northern navigation routes that don’t require icebreakers.

    BTW there are plenty of islands to the north that NI can land on. The Russians are developing towed barges that are basically scientific bases that can be towed to an area and used as a base for a group to live in and operate from while doing research.

    Activity in the North is only going to increase.

    The BMP-3 has pretty good armour and excellent firepower. The main limit for armour on Russian IFVs is their requirement to be fully amphibious, but the Russian designers are very clever. The new medium weight vehicles will clearly have rather more armour.

    The Russians are developing NERA, which is nonexplosive reactive armour which is safe to fit to light vehicles. Old ERA with HE often did enough damage to light vehicles to take them out even if they stopped the anti armour round.

    Regarding the T-90MS… that is the export model of the T-90AM. The British Challenger II has a 1,200hp engine but it weighs 63 tons. A 1,130hp engine in a 48 ton tank is rather better because if you ignore the silly numbers like power to weight ratio and think about mass for a minute… having a lighter tank is better than an overweight tank with more power. A bird is very very weak… even compared to the weakest human, but even the strongest human cannot fly without mechanical assistance.

    ERA is brilliant. For a modest amount of weight and cost it gives modern Russian tanks similar armour protection to western tanks that are 15-20 tons heavier. What is not to like?

    No tank in the world has a gun accurate enough to hit a specific spot on a moving tank so the likelyhood of being able to hit a spot and then hit it again to penetrate ERA is zero. ERA are simply bolted on so when the tank withdraws to rearm the used ERA blocks can also be replaced.

    The current ERA blocks can greatly reduce the performance of HEAT and APFSDS rounds.

    The Russian Army has a Super Soldier program that combines Russian and French kit (FELIN) that they have worked on and now contains all Russian kit.

    I can’t really comment on old units retaining their history, because I am not familiar with the process they are going through… the point is that they are in need of a fundamental from the ground up change and that is what they are currently going through.

    With the information I have available to me I think so far they are doing a good job.

    In many ways for the Russian Military Industrial Complex (MIC) the 1990s were like WWII, where organisations were split into multiple pieces.

    Factories that made components for items suddenly found their subcontractors in different countries. The Russian makers of components for weapons suddenly found the companies they supplied in different countries so the products they supported were suddenly considered foreign weapons.
    Utes was replaced with Kord. Antonov aircraft suddenly became foreign aircraft… even though Antonov himself was Russian.

    Not only have they sorted themselves out they have managed to develop new stuff that upgrades the existing stuff to a near modern level and also in the background they have brand new generation stuff to move forward with.
    The Air Force is now actually starting to buy precision guided weapons that had been developed but not bought in numbers.
    The Navy is standardising all its equipment so instead of a Sovremmeny class ship with 8 anti ship missiles (Sunburn) and a Udaloy class ship with 8 anti sub missiles… similar sized ships with totally different roles and propulsion and sensors, they are now working on a new destroyer with a vertical launch system called UKSK that can launch anti ship, anti sub and land attack missiles in any combination. Instead of buying 15 Sovremmenys and 15 Udaloys, with 15 able to attack surface vessels and 15 able to hunt subs, they can buy 30 of the new destroyers and decide when loading the launchers as to what their role might be… one, or the other, or both, or neither with land attack missiles carried.

    Much more powerful (the UKSK launcher carries 8 missiles and with two fitted to each new destroyer it can carry 16 Oniks supersonic anti ship missiles, or Klub land attack missiles, or Klub anti ship missiles, or Klub anti sub missiles.

  15. Garry, do you have any more info on the Kurganets, mate? I googled it but my search came up pretty much empty. It’s al speculations and fora.

    The power to weight ratio is very important! The bigger the engine is, the more speedy and fuel efficient the vehicle will be. BMP-3 is very vulnerable and can only be upgraded with armour sufficient enough to resist 12.7mm. MBT’s and IFV’s are armour. And armour needs to be resilient. ERA might be a good counter measure against RPG’s, but I know for sure that it will not deal with a KE round effectively. The effect of IED’s will only be enhanced with ERA. But then again, neither will an Abrams (with an MLC of 70 tons) stop an IED… The T-90AM is lovely, but still I would like t see it outfitted with 1250hp, it’s a little bit too slow, and a bit more passive armour (AMAP applications from IBD Deisenroth) would give the vehicle a nice finishing touch. There are more effective solutions than ERA, such as active defense suites.

    I wouldn’t move away from traditional formation types though. Restructuring is good, but a fairly large army with lots of ground to cover must have ‘body’. Sure, the real combined arms picture works when conducting expeditionary Ops abroad, but in the event the country needs to be defended you need the heavy iron units.

    I’m still not convinced about having big amphibious assets in the Northern fleet. That is very costly overkill. Why would I have an LHD loaded with tanks, IFV’s, helicopters and troops, when I can have a helicopter on each vessel in the area with SF boarding teams in case an oil platform gets high-jacked or something like that? There really is no point in lugging tanks around in the Barentsz sea! It just doens;t make any military sense at all and sounds a bit…. How shall I say this in a politically nice way:… ‘over the top’. And by the ay, there realy is no point in searching for new oil reserves, ince that is short time solution. The future is with green, durable means of energy. Start building vast fields covered with solar panels, wind mills and things like that. That energy can be exported as well. Oil is ‘dead’. Fossile means of energy are nearing their end. Plus there is the certainty of environmental disaster if people start drilling under the North pole. Because all kinds of species DO live there.

    Your views on the VDV still is fundamentally incorrect. What you envision is not what I learned at military academy. When was the last time a parachute Op was succesfull? You tell me… First, one can only conduct whatever airborne Ops with complete control of the air space. Second, why parachute if you can air land everything in?…. And NO army parachutes airborne troops only 50/100 km’s in enemy territory. Because it makes no military sense and the costs are so high that politics would never allow it. We have helicopters for that. Paratroops and their BMD’s are vulnerable. Try that against any smart opponent and they will be chopped to little bitty pieces by armour and/or air strikes, attack helicopters etc. Parachuting is an obsolete technique that only third world countries still use. Modern warfare doesn’t work that way. A modern army has no Air BORNE units. Only Air ASSAULT. And lessons we have learned with OEF and ISAF are that no single unit can operate on it’s own. An army is a joint force, MBT’s/IFV’s cannot do without CAS cannot do without AASLT cannot do without ARTY canot do without logistics etc etc.

    Do you think merging the Siberian and Transbaikal districts was a good move? Because I think the Central and Eastern districts are way too large. Although there is no threat from Kazakhstan and Mongolia. So maybe the creation of the Central district wasn’t a bad idea. I’m not sure what to think of China, if I must be honest. What if it’s next leadership isn’t at all that friendly towards Russia. The biggest threat in the Pacific is of course the US. I think it will be a good idea to refurbish Admiral Nakhimov, she has always been kept in good condition but just needs a modernisation, just like Pyotr Velikiy. I thnk Russian naval doctrine calls for an extra carrier and indeed 2 heavy cruisers. Both respectively in the Northern and Pacific fleets. Given the financial and industrial restrictions, I think 3 Borei, 3 Borei-II en 6 Yasen class are enough. Yasen, although a brilliant ship is hideously expensive. Russia would be perfectly served with roughly equal distribution of the subs between the Northern and Pacific fleets. It has a serious problem now though, ainse Lada didn’t meet requirements. That leaves nothing suitable for the Baltic and Black Sea fleets other then Amur class or something similar?

  16. There isn’t a huge amount of information on the web yet as they are really just concept vehicles at the moment being developed into real vehicles.

    In many ways the Armata is a T-90 or MBT, the Kurganets-25 is a BMP, the Boomerang is a BTR-90 (which is a BTR-80 with BMP armament and armour) while the light Typhoon, which is a BTR-80/ armoured humvee class vehicle.

    The Armata is a tank level protection vehicle in two models and it comes with a new x shaped engine with pawer levels of 1,400hp for the base model that is designed to be a family vehicle engine in a range of powers from 1,400-2,400hp.
    The Armata chassis comes in two models… one with the engine at the rear for tank and artillery and other uses, and a version with the engine at the front and a rear ramp door for the IFV and APC and other models.

    The Kurganets-25 and Boomerang are medium weight class vehicles in the 25 ton weight range, which makes them 7 tons heavier than the BMP-3(18tons) and about 11 tons heavier than a BTR-80 (14tons). These two vehicles will be much heavier and much better armoured than the BMP and BTR with rear ramp exits. The Naval Infantry are getting their own model Kurganets-25 model because the standard model will be designed for river crossings and lakes, while the one for the NI will be fully sea amphibious from dropping off 100km from land and swimming to the beach and driving up it.

    The light class will be 10 ton vehicles with 4 and 6 wheel models that rely on speed and firepower.

    Would suggest you go here: as we have quite a few discussions on the subject if you are interested… this thread is about reducing nuclear weapons and we are a bit OT.

    Very simply the Kurganets-25 doesn’t need tank level protection… if you need an IFV with tank level protection then send in the heavy brigade with its Armata based IFVs which have tank chassis.

    The Russians Invented APS, they were testing Drozd in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

    If oil is dead tell that to Libya. Or Iraq. The west would not have given a toss about these places if there was no oil, and its the same with Iran.

    Suggesting that parachuting is only something third world countries do is very offensive and disappointing from you. Western countries including Germany developed airborne forces based on what they saw in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. The Soviets Invented airborne forces and were dropping entire divisions of 10,000 men with equipment in the mid 1930s.

    Saying dropping troops by parachute is obsolete means all modern special forces are obsolete… have you not heard of HALO deployments?

    I guess nuclear weapons are obsolete as it was 1945 when the last ones were used operationally… 🙂

    In terms of fire power and mobility the BMD makes the VDV a very capable force while behind enemy lines. Air deployed forces are generally air supplied… they don’t operate 60-70 ton gas guzzling tanks and would actually survive rather longer than most other types of forces, but as shown during the conflict in Georgia they went in on ships via naval deployment and with their light weak vehicles seemed to have taken a port easily enough. They don’t have to deploy using parachutes… and to be brutally honest I don’t understand how you can suggest that deployment by helo would be safer than deployment by aircraft/parachute. Helicopters are easy targets and are noisy and give away the landing zone. A twilight landing by transports operating at medium altitudes offers the ability to land and then group up and organise under the cover of darkness.

    I would suggest that what you learned from your military academy was based on the experience of your country in conflict because the VDV still trains to jump out of aircraft. The invasion Afghanistan show if they can capture an airfield then they will land their forces, but the secret to air assault is speed and surprise and there is not always an airfield close to the target.

    Regarding the district sizes I believe the idea of moving to brigades was to create a much more mobile force which allows faster deployments over a wider choice of terrain. Obviously wheeled light and medium units will operate best in places where the road network is good… which is not much of Russian territory. The medium level brigades are all amphibious so rivers and lakes are no problem and because all vehicles in a medium brigade are amphibious and share similar levels of protection and mobility they should be able to move together well.

    Regarding Borei I believe they have decided on an 8 boat fleet, which avoids keeping all their eggs in one basket so to speak. They will likely go for 10 Yasens and in that case they seem to have decided that if they can only have a few then they should be as good as they can make them… which isn’t cheap. They layed down three Ladas but only one was finished and has been tested. They found problems with the propulsion and the sonar. These are very very ambitious conventional subs… the Sonar is as good as they can make it, which makes it about the best sonar ever put in a conventional sub. The plan was that with AIP propulsion that the Lada subs could perform missions only SSNs could perform in the past. All they lack is an SSNs speed, so they will operate close to Russia but in all other aspects they will be very capable craft. The problems have been found and solutions will be applied to the two other vessels already layed down. The new vessels will restart work in 2013 and the completed vessels will be called project 677M. To relieve pressure of getting it into service they have upgraded their Kilo design and are producing 5 upgraded Kilos. The existing Lada class project 677 will be kept for testing as its sonar is very capable and it will mean for testing new stuff with it they wont need to pull an operational sub off duties to do the testing.

    The Russians have approached the problem of AIP in two directions, one is to invest in Lithium Ion batteries which improves performance by 40% on its own. This means advanced Kilo designs can remain submerged for 12 days which is actually comparable to the best european subs using AIP that can stay submerged for 14 days or so. The other avenue of development is with a true AIP system. They looked at the options and the German use of hydrogen fuel cells requires hydrogen and oxygen storage, which also means investing in hydrogen and oxygen storage and transfer capabilities at all the ports the subs will operate from which is also a fire risk. The Russian solution is to extract methanol directly from diesel and use a membrane fuel cell to convert it to electricity.

    So for a diesel electric sub like a Kilo it already carries and stores diesel and all ports are equipped to handle diesel fueling. And it means that instead of having to surface and run diesel engines it can process the diesel into methanol and run an AIP to charge the batteries.

    By 2020 the plans are to have 5 new upgraded Kilos and 5 new Lada class vessels in service, once the Lada design is perfected it will start production for domestic and export.

  17. Garry, I would like to continue this interesting discussion with you. I am sorry if I offended you. It was not my intention and I apologize for that matter. Back on topic: I would say, ditch everything not Topol-M/Bulava and standardize on those 2.

    Please mail me at

    I like discussing the future of Russia’s military with you.

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