In early October, a conference was held on “Budget Cuts, Global Military Balance and Regional Security” (Fiscal Stress, Global Military Balances and Regional Security), organized by the British International Institute for Strategic Studies. Leading Western military economists and political scientists, together with representatives of the defense industry, discussed the prospects for the development of the situation in the world during the crisis of the world economy and, above all, the budget crisis in the United States.
Many of the speakers were full of alarmism - the US spending on the purchase of new weapons systems over the past three years fell by 31 percentage. There was even such a statement that in the coming years the US military-industrial complex will be asked about survival. From my point of view, this is, of course, an exaggeration: after the wars in Korea and Vietnam, the reduction in purchases for the US Department of Defense in percentage terms was even stronger, but then the question of the imminent demise of the American "defense industry" was not. And if we compare it with the situation in which the Russian defense industry turned out to be in the nineties of the last century, the current American problems seem frivolous.
However, one aspect of the possible consequences of the budget crisis, which was awarded at the conference of a separate session, seemed very interesting and important. This is the subject of the impact of budget cuts on the development of advanced military technologies, above all, of course, American ones, which is not accidental. America is the undisputed leader in the development of military technology. There are at least four major factors of this leadership. First, the largest military budget in the world, despite all the cuts, is over 640 billions of dollars in the 2012 year. Secondly, the capabilities of the US military and civilian electronics industries. Third, the United States is practically the only country whose armed forces already now have extensive experience in the use of advanced military technologies, such as network-centric troop control systems or drone drone vehicles, in real combat conditions. Fourth, the leadership of the United States in the field of military technology is supported by a strict export control regime, including the International Trade Rules. weapons (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and Export Control Regulations (Export Administration Regulations).
These four factors place the rest of the world in a position to catch up with the most advanced (and most expensive) military technologies in the region. Of course, this does not mean that everyone else is ready to abandon their own programs. It’s not just the security challenges facing states. The acquisition of advanced military technologies is an important factor in a country's economic development. Military R & D is capable of stimulating the technological development of many civilian industries, for example, aircraft manufacturing, the automotive industry, shipbuilding, electronics manufacturing, and software development. Many states, large importers of weapons, such as India, China, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, view military purchases abroad as a way of acquiring technologies for their industry, for which they use offsets, create programs for organizing licensed production, and jointly developing equipment. In addition, many governments see military procurement and government investment in the military industry as a way to stimulate the economy. After all, the arms market is almost the only significant market that is not regulated by WTO rules and the states are free to provide any subsidies and subsidies to their manufacturers. These are the main factors of growth in military spending and purchases in Asia - last year, for the first time since the Middle Ages, this region has bypassed the old woman-Europe in terms of military spending.
Domestic defense industry awakens
Russia for a long time after the collapse of the USSR due to economic difficulties fell out of this military-technological race. The situation changed dramatically at the end of the first decade of the new century, and there were a number of reasons for this. First, the conflict with Georgia showed our leadership that the Russian army needs to be re-equipped, since it is beginning to yield technical equipment, for example, in the field of communications, navigation and personal protective equipment not only to Western countries, but also to some former Soviet republics. In addition, it became obvious that the scenario of the “Arab Spring” or the so-called color revolutions can be implemented in Russia and it is necessary to have an efficient and loyal army to counter this threat. Due to rising prices for hydrocarbons, the economic situation in the country has improved. But purchases of weapons and military equipment were considered as a mechanism for redistributing state revenues from oil and gas exports, a kind of infrastructure project. Finally, investment in the military-industrial complex is a way to maintain your loyal, patriotic electorate. As a result, at the end of 2010, the Russian State Armaments Program was adopted at 2011 – 2020 years (GWP), which can be called the largest project in the development of the military industry and the Armed Forces since the Soviet Union.
Under the LG, several projects for the development of advanced weapons systems are being funded at once. By order of the Russian Defense Ministry, three new types of UAVs are being developed. The medium-altitude operational tactical UAV “Pacer” is close in its characteristics to the American MQ-1 Predator. The second program ("Altius") involves the development of the apparatus, which in its characteristics is analogous to the American MQ-9 Reaper. In addition, the designers of Sukhoi are developing a drone drone weighing up to 20 tons in the framework of the Hunter program. Its adoption is planned in 2018, although this date still looks overly optimistic, given the complexity of the project.
Work continues on the creation of Russian troop control systems on the battlefield. In 80, the USSR was the first in the world to develop an automated tactical command and control system (ACCS), called the “Maneuver”. However, at that time it was decided that since America did not have such a system at that time, it’s not worth spending money on re-equipment on the new system. The situation changed at the beginning of the new century due to the success of the United States in creating and implementing a tactical troop command and control system. Then began the development of the Russian analogue - the system of tactical level "Constellation". Now this difficult child of our MIC is undergoing another round of refinement and testing. “Constellation” problems are to a large extent the problems of Russian electronics and component base.
The best military electronics produced in the United States. However, it is impossible to buy these samples from Americans. All military electronics are included in the 11 section of the US military list and therefore fall under the export restrictions system. In addition, the export regulations of this country require the licensing of exports of all radiation and heat resistant electronic components and other types of dual-use electronics. In fact, all electronics exports of the most valuable classes - Military and Military Space Grade, as well as a significant part of electronic components - are subject to licensing. Therefore, the development of our own production of the modern component base is an important challenge for the Russian industry.
In addition to the development of UAVs and troop control systems under the LG, there is a large amount of R & D related to the development of new combat aircraft, armored vehicle platforms, warships, etc. Looking at the schedule of expenses for the purchase of new systems, R & D, repair and modernization of equipment, it is easy to see significant increase in costs after the adoption of the HPO since 2011 year. The difference in the volume of purchases between 2012 and 2013 is especially noticeable, since the first two years of sales of HPWs were spent on overcoming disagreements between the Ministry of Defense and industry over pricing of the supplied equipment and R & D. There is reason to believe that this problem has cost the previous Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov to a greater extent than his scam. However, now these differences have generally been overcome, and this year, for the first time since Soviet times, the volume of purchases in the interests of the Ministry of Defense has exceeded 30 billions of dollars.
In addition, a number of organizational changes have taken place in the Russian Armed Forces and government structures responsible for maintaining military procurement and R & D. Thus, in recent years, Russia has significantly increased the attention paid by government agencies to the issues of combating cyber threats and ensuring cyber security. At the beginning of 2013, cyber command was created under the General Operations Directorate of the General Staff. This structure is clearly formed under the impression of the American counterpart - USCYBERCOM, the US cyber command, which began its work in 2009 year. The main task of the new command will be to protect the Defense Network’s computer networks and all sorts of strategic objects that may fall victim to cyber-terrorist attacks. It is worth noting that in Russia there are already several agencies that counteract virtual threats. These are the Bureau of Special Technical Events of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Information Security Center of the FSB. Now, various government departments will have to resolve the issue of cooperation in the fight against cyber threats, since the effectiveness of their work will depend on this.
Another borrowing from the American experience was “Russian DARPA” - the Foundation for Advanced Study (FPI), founded in 2012 year. FPI, undoubtedly, was created under the influence of the American prototype, although it is somewhat differently organized. The purpose of the FPI is to promote the implementation of research and development in the interests of the country's defense and security, associated with a high degree of risk of achieving qualitatively new results in the military-technical sphere. All existing areas of military technology have been proposed to be divided into those where Russia retains a high degree of competence and is independent of imports, such as air defense systems or nuclear submarines, and areas of insufficient or lost competence, powerplants for military equipment or sighting devices. Finally, there are areas of low competence of the Russian industry, such as UAVs, underwater robots, sensors, and FPI will focus on financing R & D in these areas. In addition, there are a number of real technologies of the future in the list of its future developments, for example, power exoskeletons, hypersonic aircraft or artificial blood.
In theory, FPI could well become, over time, an organization capable of providing our defense industry with advanced technologies. However, while the new structure, obviously, lacks confidence from the leadership of the country. This is eloquently shown by the amount of funding allocated for the first two pilot projects of the DRF: a little more than 10 million dollars. Technological breakthrough from such a miserable investment is difficult to expect.
However, the modest amount of financing of FPI has another reason - economic problems in Russia. This factor forced to reconsider the very state program of armament. In total, under the HPV-2020, it was planned to spend around 2020 trillions of rubles by 19. However, the HPV-2020 was initially an overly optimistic document. Its compilers obviously focused on the average annual growth rate of Russia's GDP in the region of 4,5 percent (it was so much in the post-crisis 2010 when the LG was formed). Now, according to the latest data, Russia's GDP growth rate has fallen below two percent, the price of oil fluctuates around 110 dollars per barrel, and it is obvious that it will not be possible to finance GVV-2020 in the planned volumes. Major program costs (in fact, three-quarters of the volume) were planned for the period after 2015. However, it is impossible to predict what the state of the world economy will be at this moment, and therefore it is difficult to predict the dynamics of the main factor of economic development and financial well-being of Russia - the price of hydrocarbon raw materials.
In fact, the failure of the HPV-2020 plans was officially recognized with the start of the development of a new state armament program up to the 2025 year. The announced funding for the new program is also likely to exceed the real potential of the Russian economy. At the same time, with a high degree of probability, it can be assumed that in the event of a complication of the macroeconomic situation and the financial condition of the country, it will be the costs of arms purchases, rather than the monetary allowances of the personnel, that will become the primary source of budget savings.
Military departments have a choice
Thus, despite all the differences between the economies of the United States and Russia, the situations in which the military departments and the military industry of the two countries find themselves are quite similar. The United States, Western European countries, Russia and other states are faced with the challenge of having to revise their military spending and make a choice between purchasing new systems, conducting expensive military R & D, and maintaining the combat readiness of their troops under budget constraints. Choose between today's needs and technologies that will ensure competitiveness and superiority in the future. Theoretically, international projects for the development of new weapon systems could be a solution, but the remaining mistrust and contradictions between countries, the presence of restrictive export control systems and unresolved issues of intellectual property protection are obstacles to this. The question is whether the leadership of Russia will try to keep the level of R & D expenditure on new armaments at least at the current level in a crisis? The goal of such a policy may be not only the technological development of its own Armed Forces and the opportunity to obtain technology (the so-called spin-offs) for civilian industry, but also to maintain the competitiveness of Russian arms exports, which continues to be an important source of funds for Russian defense enterprises.
And, of course, we should not forget that all calculations based on current economic trends may be revised due to changes in the scale and nature of military threats. It is very likely a significant complication of the military and political situation in Central Asia after the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Russia will have to respond to the challenge associated with the strengthening of Islamist terrorist groups, drug trafficking and uncontrolled migration from the countries of Central Asia, which follow the withdrawal of American troops and the possible fall of local secular regimes. There is now that no government - a candidate for departure and replacement of the Islamists.
In addition, as hydrocarbon resources are depleted on the continent, it is quite possible that relations between the leading military powers for control of the shelf resources, especially in the Arctic, will worsen. The landing of "nature conservationists" from the Arctic Sunrise on the Gazprom oil platform "Prirazlomnaya" may well be the first sabotage operation of the conflict over the redistribution of Arctic resources. It is worth remembering that in addition to the economic and technological aspects of the volume of military spending is determined by the level of military threats. The scale and nature of these threats may affect state plans for military procurement and R & D more than a financial crisis or economic problems.