Source Pravda.Ru

Defense Chief bewails unreadiness of Russia's military

Giving Russia's military forces needed technology and arms remains a serious problem. That is the gist of what Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said yesterday at a meeting on the readiness of the Russian Federation's military in 2003, Rosbalt has learned from the ministry's press service. Ivanov said readiness could be considered adequate only in the areas of control of nuclear weapons, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping.

According to the minister, only 70% to 85% of the military's weapons and technology are in working order, and only 20% are up to contemporary standards. 'We have not yet managed to stop the relative aging of our accumulated technology and weapons,' Ivanov stressed. He said the Defense Ministry will be better financed but that, at this time, 'one can speak only of a gradual re-equipment of the armed forces.'

The minister was particularly critical of the air force for the low level of readiness of pilots and technology. He said pilots were averaging 12 to 44 hours of flying time a year as against a norm of 160 to 180 hours. 'Because of the poor training of pilots and the lagging technology of our fleet, not a single unit of our air forces fully meets the requirements of full readiness,' Ivanov stressed. He said this was the fundamental reason for 10 accidents this year in which 23 persons have died. He called on Vladimir Mikhailov, the air force commander, to correct the situation and to use all existing means to upgrade the training of flight staff.