Russian MoD summarizes 2018 results

Russian Defense Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu summarized the results of the Ministry of Defense`s (MoD`s) 2018 activities at a meeting at the National Defense Control Center in Moscow.

Russian MoD summarizes 2018 results
In 2018, the Airborne Troops (Vozdushno-Desantniye Voyska, VDV) took delivery of more than 300 weapon systems and more than 11,000 parachute kits (Picture source: Army Recognition)

"The program aimed at the increase of the proportion of professional [contract] servicemen is being implemented in compliance with schedule. The number of contract soldiers will have reached 475,600 by 2025. Meanwhile, the requirement for conscript soldiers will be reduced to 220,000. All the commanders of the military districts, combined-arms armies, air defense and air force armies and divisions have combat experience. The proportion of the brigade- and regiment-level commanders who have seen combat actions has reached 96%," said Shoigu.

The Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF) are being maintained at a level that allows providing of sufficient nuclear deterrence. According to the minister, the proportion of modern hardware in service with the SNF has reached 82%. In 2018, a missile regiment armed with the Yars [NATO reporting name: SS-27 Mod.2] mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers became operational, while the air component of the SNF received five upgraded strategic aircraft, including one Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) and four Tupolev Tu-95MS (Bear-H).

According to Shoigu, the salvo capabilities of the Russian strategic nuclear submarines armed with ballistic missiles (SSBNs) were confirmed. In May, the Project 955 (Dolgorukiy-class) SSBN ‘Yury Dologrukiy’ successfully launched a salvo of four Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) against a simulated target at the Kura Missile Test Range (Kamchatka Krai). It was the first the first launch of four SLBMs by a Dolgorukiy-class submarine. In November, a modernized Tu-160 strategic aircraft launched 12 Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles [ALCMs] against a simulated target at the Pemboy Test Range (the Komi Republic).

The Russian Armed Forces are shoring up their strike capabilities in order to counterbalance a global missile defense system that is being deployed by the United States of America, the minister said. The Kinzhal air-launched missile system was passing through operational evaluation and tests (OE&T). The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31K combat aircraft that carry the Kinzhal missile made 89 patrol flights over the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. On December 1, the Peresvet combat laser weapon system entered service. The Sarmat ICBM successfully passed through its pop-up tests. In 2019, a missile regiment armed with ICBMs with the Avangard gliding reentry vehicle will become operational. "All those assets will ensure penetration of the most sophisticated missile defense systems," Shoigu emphasized. According to him, the upgraded Project 955A type SSBN, ‘Knyaz Vladimir’, entered its trials. Compared to foreign analogues, the modernized submarines feature better stealth capabilities and reliability, the minister added.

The proportion of modern hardware in service with the Land Forces (Sukhoputniye Voyska, SV) reached 48.3%, the minister said. In 2018, the service received 2,200 brand new and upgraded weapon systems, and 10 units and formations were activated.

In 2018, the Aerospace Forces (Vozdushno-Kosmicheskiye Voyska, VKS) took the delivery of 126 modern fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, nine space vehicles and 120 air defense systems. The shares of modern hardware in service with the Air Force (a part of the VKS) and the whole VKS reached 64% and 74%, respectively.

The deliveries of new weapon systems to the Navy (Voyenno-Morskoy Flot, VMF) exceeded the plan. It resulted in the proportion of modern armaments in service with the VMF reaching 62.3%. The Navy commissioned 14 naval ships and boats, four logistics support vessels and four Bal (SSC-6 Sennight) and Bastion (SSC-5 Stooge) mobile coastal defense missile systems.

In 2018, the Airborne Troops (Vozdushno-Desantniye Voyska, VDV) took the delivery of more than 300 weapon systems and more than 11,000 parachute kits. The proportion of modern hardware in service with the VDV reached 63.7%.

The development of medium-range reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is nearing its completion. In 2019, the troops will start receiving these systems. The military takes the delivery of more than 300 tactical and short-range drones on a yearly basis. At present, the Russian Armed Forces operate some 2,100 UAVs.

The minister paid specific attention to an automated command and control (C2) system that is being modernized on a priority basis. All the components of this C2 system are made only of Russian-originated items of hardware. In 2018, the Armed Forces took the delivery of 31,000 signal systems, increasing the proportion of C2 subsystems in service to 66%.

The defense industry accomplished the State Defense Order (Gosoboronzakaz, GOZ) for 2018, with deliveries of some items of hardware, including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, reaching planned indicators. According to Shoigu, a new joint information GOZ payment system heavily contributed to this success. The system will allow the MoD to monitor prices for defense hardware in an intensive manner.

In 2018, the troops` combat capabilities were checked during six large inspections, including the ‘Vostok 2018’ (East 2018) exercise that involved units from the People`s Republic of China and Mongolia. The Navy conducted a large exercise in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, which involved 28 naval ships and support vessels and 36 aircraft of the Naval Aviation (Morskaya Aviatsiya, MA). "The Armed Forces have held more than 18,000 exercises and training sessions. The intensiveness of combined-arms training has increased by 16%, while the number of two-side exercises has grown by 20%," said Shoigu.

In December 2017, the VKS finished the counter-terror operation in Syria. At present, almost all territory of the country (96%) has been liberated from terrorist groups. The Russian MoD now operates a small task force in Syria. The VKS forces are stationed at the Humaymim airbase, while a task force of the Navy is stationed in Tartus. The size of these groups does not exceed that of Russia`s bases in Tajikistan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, and the number of combat sorties has been reduced to two to four in a week. The combat experience gathered during the operation in Syria has been integrated with the Russian military`s training program.
According to Shoigu, more than 12,000 young officers graduated from military schools and were dispatched to the Armed Forces. The representatives of 81 countries were being trained in Russia. This figure exceeded that of the Soviet age, Shoigu added.

In 2018, the repair workshops that had been restored at the arms depots refurbished 550,000 rockets, missiles and artillery rounds, saving RUB63 billion (USD0.94 billion). These depots also received more than 590,000 modern crates for munitions. This delivery resulted in the saving of some RUB1.4 billion (USD20.8 million).

In 2018, 3,573 buildings and constructions totaling 3,600,000 square meters were erected, repaired and refurbished. "The works to restore the airfield network are nearing their completion," said Shoigu. In 2013-2018, 458 buildings and constructions for 10 missile brigades armed with the Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) tactical missile systems were erected. The MoD has built 366 arms depots of 580 planned to be constructed. These arsenals allowed the military to store 218,000 t of munitions. The minister said the remaining depots would be built in 2019. The pieces of infrastructure for strategic units armed with the Yars ICBM systems are being intensively constructed. The missile launch pads in six missile regiments have been outfitted to the full extent, while the pieces of infrastructure in seven more missile regiments became operational.

In 2018, the initial production and logistics complex, ‘Nara’, started functioning. At present, it stores some 2,000 weapons systems and 18,000 t of materiel, allowing to the MoD to deactivate four of 27 outdated arms depots. The building of two such complexes, in Sebastopol and Arkhangelsk, will be started next year with the involvement of private investments within the framework of concession agreements.

In 2018, twelve refueling complexes at airfields were activated and the construction of three more such systems nears its completion. Rosneft and Lukoil joined the project, investing RUB17 billion (USD253 million) in it. In 2019, the companies will start building of 12 more refueling complexes.

The Severomorsk-1 airfield has been restored, and 59 buildings and constructions were erected on Alexandra Land, an island of Franz-Joseph Land. "The restoration of the Temp airfield on Kotelny Island is underway. The erection of infrastructure for the Northern Fleet`s 3rd Air Defense Division that will be activated in 2019 has started in the town of Tiksi," said the minister.

According to Shoigu, a modern network of military medicine has been formed in Russia. It does not come short of the best foreign analogues, he added.

In 2018, the combat potential of the Russian Armed forces increased by 11% and the proportion of modern items of hardware in service with the military reached 61.5%.

Shoigu also outlined some plans for 2019. According to the minister, 31 launchers of the Yars ICBMs with the Avangard gliding reentry vehicles will become operational. The Long-Range Aviation (Dalnyaya Aviatsiya, DA) will receive four upgraded Tu-95MS strategic aircraft, while the Navy will be reinforced by the Project 955A SSBN ‘Knyaz Vladimir’.

Eleven land units and formations will be activated. The Land Forces, the Navy`s Coastal Defense Troops, and the VDV will receive 719 modern armored combat vehicles, a brigade of the Iskander-M tactical missile systems, and two brigade sets of the S-300V4 air defense systems and Buk-M3 medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. These deliveries will allow the Land Forces to increase the proportion of modern hardware to 50.8%.

In 2019, the VKS, the Navy`s Naval Aviation, and the Navy`s Air Defense Troops will receive 143 brand new and upgraded aircraft, two regiments of the S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) air defense systems, one S-350 Vityaz SAM system, and seven divisions of the Pantsir-S (SA-22 Greyhound) self-propelled anti-aircraft gun-missile (SPAAGM) systems. These deliveries will increase the proportions of modern hardware in service with the Air Force and the whole VKS to 65% and 81.8%, respectively. The Joint Space System is suggested to enter its operational evaluation and trials next year. In 2019, some pieces of infrastructure of air defense radars and forwards controlling posts will be built on Sredny Island, Wrangle Island and Cape Schmidt.

The Navy will receive 12 ships and boats, two submarines, 12 logistics vessels, and four Bal and Bastion systems. The proportion of the modern hardware in service with the VMF will increase to 64%.

By the end of 2019, the Russian Armed Forces will have been 67%-armed with modern weapon systems. The troops will also conduct 18,500 training sessions, including the Center 2019 (Centr 2019) strategic command and control exercise and the Thunder (Grom) exercise of the Strategic Missile Forces (Raketniye Voyska Strategisheskogo Naznacheniya, RVSN). Some 3,751 buildings and constructions will become operational.

The flight tests of the Sarmat ICBM will be conducted at the Plesetsk spaceport and then in the Uzhurskaya Missile Division, Commander of RVSN Colonel General Sergei Karakayev said during the meeting. According to him, the missile has successfully passed through its drop tests. At present, the prototypes of the ICBM are being manufactured and some test beds are being prepared for the test launches.

The tests of the Avangard gliding reentry vehicle are nearing their completion. "In 2019, a missile regiment armed with a modified C2 post and two silo-based launchers is to become operational in the Dombarovskaya Missile Division," said Karakayev. The Yoshkar-Ola Missile Division has activated a missile regiment of the Yars mobile ICBM systems. Two more Yars silo-based launcher have become operational in another silo-based missile regiment. The proportion of modern hardware in service with the Strategic Missile Troops has reached 70%. According to Karakayev, this figure will be increased to 76% in 2019.

The VDV is continuing its modernization, Commander of the service Colonel General Andrey Serdyukov said during the meeting. "Several new units, including a command and control brigade, the third air assault regiment in the 76th Air Assault Division, tank battalions in three units, and companies operating electronic warfare systems and unmanned aerial vehicles, have been activated," said Serdyukov. According to him, the proportion of contract soldiers in service with the VDV has reached 70%. "More than 2,300 training sessions have been conducted," said the general. The share of the VDV`s modern hardware will reach 63% by the end of 2018.

In 2018, five missile regiments, including four of the VKS and of the Northern Fleet, were armed with the S-400 air defense systems, said Commander-in-Chief of the VKS Colonel General Sergei Surovikin. "In 2018, four aviation regiments and two squadrons of the VKS were refitted with Sukhoi Su-34 [Fullback] frontline bombers, Su-35S [Flanker-E+] multirole combat aircraft, Su-30SM [Flanker-H] fighter jets, and Kamov Ka-52 [Hokum-B] combat-reconnaissance helicopters," he added. The aviation units received 126 modern aircraft and more than 100 air defense complexes. Some 60 aircraft were upgraded and 125 systems were overhauled. The proportion of the modern weapons in service with the VKS reached 74%. The service conducted more than 460 training sessions within the prescribed period.

The commanders of the MoD`s military districts detailed the developments of their units in 2018. The Eastern Military District (VVO) received 937 new items of defense hardware, including the TOS-1A rocket launchers, the S-400 air defense systems, Mil Mi-8AMTSh transport-assault helicopters, and UAVs, the Commander of the district Lieutenant General Gennady Zhidko said. According to him, some 118 pieces of infrastructure will become operational in VVO in 2019. In early December, the district activated a new motor rifle division.
The development of the naval component of the Strategic Nuclear Forces is a top priority for the Navy for 2019. The service will continue the construction of both green- and blue-water ships, primarily, frigates and large landing ships. The Navy will develop the Naval Infantry (Morskaya Pekhota, MP) and pay specific attention to the development of a combat vehicle for the marines.

In 2018, the Northern Fleet conducted more than 30 long-range cruises, said Commander of the formation Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov. In 2019, the Northern Fleet will send its ships to the Arctic Region, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.

An Arctic expeditionary force was established on the base of the Kola Flotilla, the Commander of the formation Vice Admiral Oleg Golubev said.

The Commander of the Pacific Fleet Admiral Sergey Avakiants said the Project 2038 corvette ‘Gromkiy’ [Gremyashchiy-class] would be delivered to the formation by end-2018. According to him, ship will be the second surface carrier of the Kalibr [SS-N-27 Sizzler] cruises missiles in service with the Pacific Fleet.

The Commander of the Southern Military District (YuVO) Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov said the YuVO had received 300 armored vehicles, more than 200 artillery and rocket/missile artillery systems, more than 150 automotive vehicles, five surface combatants, and 30 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in 2018. The air defense units stationed in Crimea were rearmed with the S-400 air defense systems. The YuVO`s 8th Guards Combined Arms Army received more than 200 weapon systems, including the T-72B3 and T-90A main battle tanks (MBTs), the BTR-82A armored personnel carriers (APCs), the BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), and the Shturm-S self-propelled anti-tank guided missile systems.

In 2018, the Western Military District (ZVO) received more than 1,600 weapon systems, said the Commander of ZVO Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlyov. The proportion of modern hardware in service with the district has reached 58%. The ZVO`s troops operate the T-72B3M MBTs, the BTR-82A APCs, the upgraded BMP-2 IFVs, the Iskander-M tactical missile systems, the S-400 air defense systems, the Su-35S multirole combat aircraft, and the Orlan-10 UAVs. In 2019, the troops of the district will be involved in the Union`s Shield 2019 (Shchit Soyuza 2019) Russian-Belarusian exercise and the Interaction 2019 (Vzaimodeystviye 2019) exercise with the state members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).