On the last day of September, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) published Russia's Military Modernization: An Assessment. Its theme is the development of the Russian armed forces over the past decade, associated with the "new look" and state weapons programs. The main conclusion of the study is simple: Russian plans are largely fulfilled, making the army stronger and more efficient.
The IISS recalls that by the end of the existence of the USSR, its armed forces faced serious difficulties, and later a period of constant reductions and losses began. Then there were unsuccessful attempts to reform the army. The situation began to change only in the middle of the 2008s, when the "new look" of the armed forces was formed - this modernization program was launched in XNUMX, and it is with it that modern achievements are associated.
The authors of the report believe that as a result of the reform, the Russian authorities have received well-equipped and trained conventional armed forces, built on professional personnel. At the same time, the strategic nuclear forces remain the main guarantor of national security. The materiel of all branches of the armed forces is being updated, primarily through the development and production of modern models.
It is noted that Russia often adjusts its plans. Such changes can be aimed at optimizing the course of reforms. In addition, the modernization of the army is directly related to the state of the economy, and this factor also has a great influence on the preparation and refinement of plans.
In general, the Russian armed forces over the past 10 years, in 2010-20, have significantly improved their condition and increased their combat effectiveness. The IISS is not quite sure about the possibility of maintaining such tendencies in the future, however, they note that this potential cannot be ignored, especially given the "aggressive foreign policy of Moscow."
Strategic nuclear development
The report carefully considered the development of Russian strategic nuclear forces, such a study begins with an excursion into history and reminders of the processes of the nineties. At the time, it was clear that Russia remains a nuclear power, despite the limited capacity to maintain such a potential. In addition, the reduction in spending on the maintenance of conventional armed forces increased the responsibility assigned to the strategic nuclear forces.
In recent decades, the quantitative and qualitative growth of strategic nuclear forces has been noted, carried out in compliance with the terms of international treaties. Ground-based complexes remain the core of nuclear forces, and the ratio of stationary and mobile systems changes in favor of the latter. The development of the naval component of the strategic nuclear forces in the recent past has slowed down due to problems with the Bulava missile. The air component of the forces is called the weakest - due to the presence of Tu-95MS turboprop bombers.
It is especially noted that "traditional" nuclear weapons are planned to be supplemented with fundamentally new ones. A hypersonic complex, a nuclear-powered cruise missile and an unmanned strategic underwater vehicle are being developed and are being prepared for deployment.
The IISS recalls that the 2008 "new look" involved the transition of the ground forces to a brigade structure. Just a few years later, the army returned to the previously disbanded divisions. These changes were carried out in order to optimize the structure of the troops for solving specific tasks. The experience of recent conflicts has shown that the brigades do not fully meet the current challenges.
There have been changes in the equipment of the ground forces, but the actual results obtained so far are more modest than expected in the mid-tenths. The unit receives both new samples and modernized equipment. Modernization is underway tank parts, self-propelled artillery, etc. Replacement of Tochka-U OTRK with modern Iskander products is especially noted.
New command and control systems have been developed and implemented at different levels, into which these or those complexes are integrated. Control facilities and new types of weapons have already been tested in real operation.
Improving the fleet
According to old forecasts of US intelligence, by the mid-nineties the Soviet Navy could have up to 60-70 strategic missile submarines, a comparable number of surface ships of the main classes, and at least five aircraft carriers. However, the country collapsed, due to which the construction fleet paused.
In 2020, the Russian Navy has only one aircraft carrier under repair and 11 SSBNs. Also, construction of smaller ships is underway, most of which are designed to operate in coastal and near sea zones. The combat capabilities of the fleet are being increased through the introduction of new weapons, such as the Kalibr missile system.
The Russian Navy retains a certain potential for the oceanic zone, but more attention is paid to protecting sea borders, as well as developing submarine forces and ensuring their safe deployment. At the same time, the fleet is one of the leaders in terms of funding under state armaments programs.
Upgrade in the air
The IISS writes that in terms of numbers, modern Russian Aerospace Forces are noticeably inferior to the Soviet Air Force. Despite serious reductions, they managed to survive the most difficult periods without fatal consequences and then move on to modernization. The latter is now carried out both through the introduction of new samples and by updating the existing ones.
The prospective fighter of the 5th generation Su-57 has not yet entered the troops, which is why the newest and most advanced combat aircraft remains the Su-35S - another machine of the Su-27 family. In the field of long-distance aviation a decision was made to resume the construction of Tu-160 bombers. In parallel, a completely new PAK DA aircraft is being developed. It is unclear whether it will be possible to find the production capacity and money for the simultaneous production of two complex aircraft.
The report examines the specifics of financing the army in recent decades. So, in the nineties, general economic problems negatively affected the defense budget. At the same time, the armed forces often did not receive even the money intended for them. Defense spending fell in the early nineties, and after the 1998 crisis the situation deteriorated further. Changes began only in the XNUMXs, and in the tenths defense budgets reached an acceptable level.
The economic processes of recent years have made it possible to reform and most of the modernization of the army. The current problems and difficulties suggest that in the future, military spending will decrease. At the same time, they will be maintained at a sufficient level, incl. due to the need to preserve the defense industry. It remains a critical defense and job creation industry.
The IISS points out the specifics of financing defense projects. In contrast to NATO countries, in Russia this kind of expenditure is split between different departments. So, the Ministry of Defense directly maintains the army, and the construction of residential infrastructure, the modernization of industry and the payment of pensions are carried out by relevant departments.
Overall, the new IISS report shows how the Russian armed forces have changed and developed in recent decades. The authors of the report admit that the measures taken for reform and modernization have basically justified themselves and have yielded the desired result. The country's defense capacity has grown significantly - especially against the background of the level of the nineties. At the same time, military potential not only passively ensures security, but is also actively used to solve specific political problems.
The Russian armed forces are now believed to have reached their peak of power. At the same time, the maximum possible modernization was obtained. It is unlikely that Russia will be able and willing to maintain the pace of army renewal at the same level due to economic constraints and due to the completion of the most complex modernization processes. Only time will confirm the correctness of such forecasts.