Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov is touring the north of Russia now. The trip started on March 4; the minister will visit the towns of Severomorsk, the troops of the Leningrad northern district, and the settlement of Roslyakovo, where specialists work on the utilization of the Kursk submarine, which was retrieved from the bottom of the Barents Sea. The main goal of all these visits is to check the current state of the Northern Fleet.
Before the minister set out on the tour, it became known that there was a critical situation at the docks of the Northern Fleet: the enterprises do not even have the money to pay wages to their employees. The situation is especially dangerous at the enterprises that deal with the utilization of the Kursk sub. The workers were ready to go on strike, since they had not seen their paychecks for three months already. However, a part of the salary debt was liquidated before the defense minister arrived. However, it was only a part.
The Northern Fleet has not had any military exercises after the tragedy with the Kursk submarine. The submarines started going to sea only in February of the current year. Needless to say, this circumstance exerts a negative influence on the level of the battle training of the crews of Russia's most powerful fleet. However, this is not the only problem. At the end of the day, one can catch up with that gap. The major problem for the fleet and for other troops of the Russian Army is the gradual deterioration of defense technology.
However, this problem is not new. Everybody knows about the difficult state of things in the field of military technology. The reason why is very simple: the government and the Defense Ministry simply do not have the money to spend on research.
A program of a step by step re-equipment of the Russian army was passed in 1996. However, it turned out that it was impossible to implement it, and the progress was only 19% after several years. Therefore, there was a strong need in the re-development of the program, and another document was passed in th 2000. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the money to purchase new defense technology was found at that very moment. The state will be able to supply orders to the enterprises of the military and industrial complex at the level of 10-12% only within a period of five to seven years, but at least, the program says which percentage of the Russian budget is going to be assigned for the modernization of defense technology and for purchasing the new equipment.
Another direction of the modernization is the reform of the military and industrial complex. The number of enterprises of the military and industrial complex is supposed to be decreased a lot, and the rest should be gradually united into holdings. However, this does not mean that everything will work out the way it was planned in the program. Ilya Klebanov, the main lobbyist of this idea in the Russian government, has recently been dismissed from the position of the vice premier, although he is still the minister in charge of the military and industrial complex.
The most important role in the modernization of the Russian Army is taken by the development of the deliveries of the Russian weapons to foreign countries. It is envisaged that Russian enterprises are supposed to develop their links not only with the traditional partners in Asia and Africa and they should also enter the markets of the NATO countries as well as the countries of Latin America. However, this does not come that easy. Noone is waiting for the Russian enterprises over there. Even traditional partners like India are more drawn to cooperation with the USA. Russian companies can offer a very good, competitive products such as tanks, helicopters, and fighter planes, ones that are not even used in Chechnya.
The Russian pilots still fly Mi-8 and Mi-24 choppers, which are very old now. What about the new Black Shark helicopters? The development of the new kinds of arms in Russia causes a lot of concern. It is an open secret that weapons of high technology and precision is the future of the army. The USA demonstrated it very well in Iraq and in Afghanistan. America is far ahead in that respect. There are rumors going around about the development of the new, non-nuclear kinds of weapons, which are going to be much more efficient in comparison with the ones that are currently used.
The Russian leaders have to face a very difficult goal: to try to achieve the conformity of the technical equipment of the Russian army with the US and NATO armies. The problem of Russia’s security is very topical nowadays, and one has to deal with it. Otherwise, our country will have a large but very weak army; let’s face it.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov