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Russian Arms Biz Woes In 2008

 Jan 10, 2007

The Russian defense industry, which scored some major achievements last year, still faces major problems.

It is unclear whether the 2007-2015 Russian state rearmament program will be implemented because some of its provisions are not being fulfilled completely.

Speaking of achievements, the Teikovo division of the national Strategic Missile Force in the Ivanovo Region, Central Russia, received a battalion of mobile Topol-M -- NATO designation SS-27 -- inter-continental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, last year and currently has one Topol-M regiment of ICBMs. This will help strengthen the potential of Russia's strategic nuclear forces.

Moreover, the Russians have tested a new generation RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile, due to replace the older SS-18 and SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missiles, with multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs.

A missile brigade in the North Caucasus Military District has received a battalion of Iskander-M shorter-range ballistic missiles. The Russian air force has started operating revamped Sukhoi Su-27-SMT Flanker fighters, Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer tactical bombers, as well as two Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers. An S-400 surface-to-air missile, or SAM, system has been placed on combat duty in the Moscow region.

However, the battalion of Iskander-M missiles was to have been supplied by late 2005. The management of the Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant had promised to supply six, rather than two, Sukhoi Su-34 bombers in late 2006.

Although the Russian Defense Ministry planned to adopt the S-400 surface-to-air, or SAM, system in March or June 2007, it did so only last August.

Moreover, the Global Navigation Satellite System, or GLONASS -- Russia's answer to the U.S. Global Positioning System -- remains only partially operational with 13 spacecraft.

Sergei Ivanov, Russia's first deputy prime minister and former defense minister, told a recent meeting of the Russian government's Defense Industry Commission that the delays had been caused by the shortage of skilled workers, rapidly aging production facilities and deteriorating product quality.

In the last few months, Russian defense factories have expanded production by 14.1 percent, boosting military-equipment and civilian output by 19.1 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. Nevertheless, some of them are simply unable to fulfill the state defense order and to effectively spend federal-budget allocations.

This is rather unusual because the government is now lavishing money on the defense industry. For instance, the 2008 defense budget totals an impressive 800 billion rubles, or $32.6 billion, and will swell to 900 billion rubles, or $36.67 billion, and 1.1 trillion rubles, or $44.82 billion, in 2009 and 2010, respectively. But it is unclear whether all this money will be put to good use.



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