- Victor Nikolaevich, tell us about your view on innovations in using strategic and long-term aviation in modern wars. Is it possible to continue the use of "strategists" in the Syrian war? Is strategic and long-range aviation obsolete as a means of nuclear delivery weapons airborne?
- The war in Syria is actually over. I think it is now possible to talk about it in the past tense.
Strategic aviation will not become obsolete in the foreseeable future. And above all, because the range of goals and objectives of its use, as well as the range of its capabilities is very wide. Bombers of this class with high accuracy hit both stationary and moving ground objects on a large radius. And they achieve this effect by using the most conventional non-nuclear weapons: both bomb and missile. They require minimal fighter cover. They are maneuverable, easily escape from the means of destruction of the enemy's air defense system, from the means of destruction of the enemy's combat aircraft. They have the most up-to-date electronics capable of recognizing the means of enemy air defense systems and avoiding them.
But, of course, the main advantage of strategic aviation is the ability to strike with nuclear ammunition.
Together with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear missile submarines, strike aircraft, "strategists" constitute the nuclear triad of our Armed Forces. That is, they ensure the security of Russia in the modern world, restrain the aggression of a potential adversary.
Strategic aviation is an elite type of videoconferencing, which will be improved, developed further, because the country's leadership and the Ministry of Defense decided to resume production of the Tu-160M.
- How do you see the future of long-range and strategic aviation (if there is one), will it turn into something resembling space shuttles?
- The future of long-range and strategic aviation seems to me bright and promising. We have the development, production and commissioning of a promising long-range aviation complex (PAK DA), which in the future will replace both Tu-22Mz and Tu-95MS. However, with this project, we are already focusing on 25 – 30-s. The modernization potential of these “Tu” is huge, they are still flying. Well, while the “white swans” are planned to be exploited further, they will fly in 15 – 20 years. Although in the future, PAK DA will replace them too. Universal will be a machine with a wide range of functions. Now the research work on the project has been almost completed, we have come close to making the first prototype. And the beginning of the delivery of these new aircraft to the armed forces is scheduled for 2025 – 2028 years after the tests.
The parallel with the space shuttles seems to me incorrect. The main task of the “strategist” is the carrier, everything else must be solved by a rocket.
- What is new in tactics and operational art for the VKS gave the Syrian war?
- Do you know that the Syrian campaign has become the largest Russian military campaign in recent years? Last time we fought in 2008, when the Georgian-Ossetian conflict broke out. And before that - two Chechen wars, that is, these wars have already gone into the last century.
In the 21st century, war is a fundamentally new phenomenon, both in essence, and in logistics, and in economics, and in all other meanings. This is a high tech war. Given the kind of breakthrough science has made, the art of war is also transforming. On the one hand, it becomes more complicated: that is, more complex combat schemes, more sophisticated and sophisticated weapons and military equipment (IWT) become available to the armed forces. On the other hand, it is simplified: in the sense that, thanks to high technology, a certain result is now achieved with less combat and labor costs than before.
Now the main hostilities take place in the air, which means that the most serious burden falls on the VKS. Accordingly, it becomes necessary to win air superiority first. It was then when we succeeded, for example in Syria, to make this domination lasting, the course of further events was predetermined, and the defeat of the terrorists was only a matter of time. In general, the percentage of participation of the VKS in the structure of the troops involved in standard military operations is growing. And with the further development and widespread introduction of high-precision weapons, military operations in the future in general may possibly take place without a land component.
In general, high-precision weapons (WTO) in many ways changed the tactics, operational actions, strategy and nature of the war of a new generation, gave it a number of distinctive features in comparison with the wars of the past.
Firstly, the use of the WTO reduces the time of combat operations. We have cleared Syria of terrorists in just over two years. But by September 2015 they filled up more than 70% of the country!
Secondly, the high accuracy of shooting increases the striking force of the projectile, which means it saves on their number (especially if the projectile power increases simultaneously with accuracy). That is, the war, of course, is becoming more expensive due to financially intensive technologies, but it is getting cheaper by increasing the effectiveness of the use of weapons.
Thirdly, thanks to the WTO, the depth of the enemy’s fire engagement is increasing, which means that the groupings of his troops are forced into combat operations at a greater depth of operational formation. This greatly depletes the enemy.
Finally, fourth, the WTO determines the evolution of hostilities: from direct front-line contact, the troops moved on to the method of delivering long-range strikes, remote actions began to prevail confidently over melee combat. Due to this, fire strikes and combat operations have moved from a “continuous” to a “pinpoint” character.
In the Syrian war, the tendency to massive strikes and attacks strengthened. Let me remind you that thanks to such actions, Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor were liberated.
Further. An important component of modern warfare (and Syria has shown this) is high-tech intelligence. It includes both electronic warfare and space satellites. Our unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in Syria have shown themselves very well. The development of reconnaissance assets not only greatly simplified the search for targets for strikes, but also made it possible to effectively deal with various enemy methods used to disable our control and communication systems. The high techs used by the scouts made it possible to increase the speed of adjustment of military aviation to deliver accurate strikes against targets, taking into account the actions of the enemy. After all, it is possible in real-time to monitor the slightest changes in the situation, immediately respond to them.
The most important help to ensure success in modern war is the capture of urbanized areas. Accordingly, the city becomes the battlefield of the city. But since it is often very difficult to deploy ground armored vehicles there because of its low efficiency in the city due to vulnerability, the first violin in the combat "orchestra" again goes to the VKS.
The Syrian war is a war in a foreign land. Plus, there was the fact that we did not fight alone, but in close cooperation with the ground forces of the army of Bashar al-Assad, who know the terrain like the back of their fingers.
City conditions impose severe restrictions on the process of warfare. After all, the main task is not to hit civilians, schools, hospitals, mosques. In no case citizens should not have suffered with our air strikes. And this rule was strictly observed by Russian pilots in Syria. And the militants often used people as human shields. We tried to strike less, solve more issues peacefully, providing corridors for the militants to leave (as was the case in Aleppo and Palmyra).
An important point - the objects of air strikes Russian VKS. We tried as much as possible to eliminate the infrastructure of the militants and cut off their channels for feeding weapons, money and food. Human resources are human resources. Of course, they are important. But if the enemy has blocked the oil, energy, financial "oxygen", if they run out of ammunition, then his defeat will go several times faster. And the volume of destroyed at one time the livelihood of bandits will increase significantly. When it is possible to destroy the economy with strategic means, industrial, military facilities of the enemy, his army itself comes to defeat. I can not say that this is an innovation. In the course of previous wars, it has already been practiced. However, the scale of attention to the elimination of vital infrastructure has increased: before the emphasis was placed on manpower.
I want to note that the war in Syria has cost us minimal losses of personnel and aircraft. Of course, every loss is a huge tragedy. Maximum preservation of the lives of our servicemen and weapons and military equipment became possible thanks to the combat training of pilots, engineers, technicians, officers, personnel of the air defense forces, UAV operators and many, many other specialists who participated in the operation, advanced and very high-quality Russian weapons and military equipment informational support of the entire campaign.
- How will military aviation develop in the near future, taking into account the experience gained in Syria, emphasis will be placed on the number or quality of aircraft, what can we expect in training of personnel?
- The experience of not only the Syrian, but also all wars shows that quality is always a priority over quantity. Especially with regard to the air sphere.
Our VKS showed themselves, not afraid of the word, brilliantly. This high characteristic applies to the pilots, and aircraft, and to the weapons that they carried. Therefore, fundamentally something to change it at the end of the Syrian operation should not be. It is necessary to continue to develop and improve our military aviation industry, as well as continue to prepare the flight personnel using methods that have proven themselves in action. It is important to conduct this work synchronously in order to avoid a technical or personnel gap. For example, so that it did not happen that for the most up-to-date aircraft of the new generation, we didn’t have qualified pilots who could operate them effectively.
And those particular shortcomings, for example, technical properties, which were discovered at the beginning of hostilities, were eliminated very quickly by our design engineers.
- In what form will the development of attack aircraft take place? What should be the new "attack aircraft"? There is an opinion that assault aircraft need to be fully robotized (so that their UAVs are the basis)?
- Of course, if you operate with precisely such categorical phrases, it sounds pretty fantastic. But on the other hand, after analyzing the pace of automating many of the most complex functions, it can be concluded that total robotization of attack aircraft is even possible. Once the pilots themselves took aim, directed the projectile, and now all this is done by an automated system.
I think the time will come, and artificial intelligence from the realm of fantasy will move to the world of real combat processes. Robots will be able to go to the avant-garde of our aviation, including assault. The use of attack robots in a group with centralized control from the ground, which will be carried out by one person, is not excluded. Imagine how much it will save both material, and financial, and, most importantly, human resources?
By the way, just recently the general designer of the United Aircraft Building Corporation Sergey Korotkov said that the main task in this area is not the creation of a specific drone, but the construction of an unmanned aircraft system as a whole.
Let me remind you that we are pioneers in the development and launch of unmanned aerial vehicles. We were the first in the world to land the Buran rocket-orbiting ship in automatic mode and without crew on board, and this happened in the distant 1988 year.
True, the introduction of artificial intelligence in certain areas is a very subtle, delicate moment, the error in which can threaten with catastrophe. Still, an intelligent, but soulless machine will not fully trust the operation. Trust, but verify, as they say. Control must be thorough. After all, the program can fail, it can be hacked by the enemy, and then the mind of the machine will turn against its operators. Therefore, the functions of management and decision-making will still remain for the intellect natural, not artificial, that is, for man. And we will provide the robots with action in their entirety under their control.
- What are the reasons for your departure from military service?
- This is the decision of the leadership, and I am a military man. Being the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, I did what I had to do. By the way, the decision to leave military service on my part did not meet any obstacles. Rotations everywhere should be. I consider that I have fulfilled my military duty to the Armed Forces of Russia, I performed it with dignity, I was an effective commander. Now is a new page of my life.
- Your opinion as a military practitioner and theorist is interesting - is there a real threat of war with the United States (NATO)?
- The threat of anything cannot be ruled out. Theoretically, a meteorite could fall on us and wipe out all life from the face of the earth, and turn the Earth itself into a set of chemical elements. A long-promised apocalypse can happen. Why guess?
The military-technical resources of our countries are very strong, while being almost equal, but with some Russian advantage. The United States really appreciates this, whatever they are broadcasting to a global audience. They have something to lose. The war with Russia does not meet the economic or geopolitical interests of the Americans.
In general, the United States does not need a world war, a “big” war, especially one in which they would not be an international “arbitrator”, “peacemaker” (read: sponsor), but a party to the conflict. They have enough pinpoint regional conflicts or civil wars on which they can earn: sell weapons and military equipment, control oil flows, and therefore oil prices, control the labor market and cheap labor.
And even more so, the United States will not be able to withstand nuclear power. Please note: no matter how much they threaten the DPRK, they do not dare to start a hot phase of the struggle. Moreover, North Korea has significantly less powerful nuclear capital than we do. The United States is much to fight with weaker opponents: Libya, Syria, Iraq. And only economic and information war can be waged with us.
- How, in your opinion, will relations develop with the current CSTO partners in the next two to three decades?
- The CSTO is an authoritative, well-established international union that provides security in the post-Soviet space. The territory of the CIS is a potentially vulnerable macro-region. After all, here, some 27 years ago, separatist sentiments could have matured into such a cardinal result as the withdrawal of entire republics from the USSR. Therefore, it is very important to strengthen our ties with our closest neighbors, in the past, compatriots.
There is a lot of instability in the world today. Foci of tension often flare up in the border areas. We are building a line of defense with these threats in mind.
We have reliable relations with all members of the CSTO: with Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. They recognize the central role of Russia in this alliance, our military might and political power. And when, in addition to the separatist world, the terrorist threat also increased, these countries rallied more closely around the Russian core. We have a regional grouping of troops of Russia and Belarus, we successfully conduct joint exercises.
We sell the CSTO countries the latest weapons, high-quality military equipment. We teach military personnel for their national armies. It is possible that in the future the organization can be replenished with other participants.