12-Feb-17 – Russia Has Had To Resume Production of the TU-160 Strategic Bomber

By Valentin Vasilescu

Translated from French by Alice Decker

The deployment of heavy military equipment and US ballistic missiles at the Russian border forced Russia to find new solutions to defend itself.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to restart the TU-160 bomber production line at the Tupolev aircraft factory in Kazan. This decision is intended to narrow the gap between the United States and Russia in terms of the number of strategic bombers. The United States has 159 strategic bombers (62 B-1Bs, 78 of the B-52 H, and 19 B-2s), while Russia has only 70 (55 Tu-95s and 15 Tu-160s). In addition, the Pentagon has been proposing to redeploy strategic nuclear bombers and medium-range ballistic missiles in Europe and Asia.

A B-2 Spirit positioning for refueling by a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Pacific, May 30, 2006. (US Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)
 Thirty-five units of the Tupolev Tu-160 were built and they entered service with the Soviet Army in 1987. The bomber has a maximum take-off weight of 275 t and can carry on board a 40 t cargo: guided bombs of different calibers and 24 cruise missiles. The Tu-160 has a variable geometry wing, a maximum speed of 2230 kilometers per hour (Mach 2) and a maximum range of 13900 kilometers (15 hours of continuous flight).

Russia is expected to produce just over 50 new, modernized Tu-160 aircraft. These new aircraft will be added to the Tu-160 bomber fleet inherited from the USSR after its collapse; those planes are also being modernized.

 

To upgrade the existing 15 Tu-160 bombers, Russia set out to replace all Soviet-era equipment with modern systems. This modernization took place in two phases. In the first phase, completed in 2008, the navigation systems were replaced (GPS equipment was installed, based on the Russian GLONASS network) and new multifunctional weapons systems were installed that can be used for nuclear weapons and for newly emerging conventional weapons (like the Raduga NPO Kh-555, Kh-101 and laser-guided bombs).

In the second phase, the engines are being repaired and replaced, and the on-board radar units and the communication system are replaced, and parts of the liner with composite panels that give a higher degree of radar invisibility. The first flight of a Tu-160M ​​aircraft fully equipped with these new systems took place in November 2014. The upgrades are expected to be completed by 2019. Under the new conditions, the modernization of the existing equipment will go forward in parallel with the construction of new aircraft.

It is not easy to resume production of the Tu-160 bombers, as it is closely linked to the profitability of the Kuznetsov production line in Samara, which produces the four NK-32 engines for the aircraft. The new NK-32 engine weighs 24,900 kgf and has a lower specific fuel consumption, which extends the distance traveled without in-flight refueling to 16,000 km. By contrast, the General Electric F101-GE-102 engines that equip the US supersonic strategic B-1B bombers only weigh 13800 kgf each, delivering a maximum speed of 1,335 km / h.

Kuznetsov, the engine manufacturer, only expects to see a profit with an annual order of thirty to forty engines. That is why the Russian Ministry of Defense is obliged to finance the manufacture of at least fifty Tu-160 aircraft updated within 5–6 years. According to General Colonel Viktor Bondarev, Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces, resuming production of the Tu-160 will not affect the design of the fifth-generation bomber, PAK DA, which is to be led by Tupolev, and whose first flight is scheduled for 2019. The PAK DA replaces the fleet of the 55 strategic TU-95 turboprop bombers.

 

Patrol flights in international airspace with the Tu-160s were resumed in 2007 after being suspended for 15 years at the request of Washington. On June 10, 2010, two Tu-160 bombers departed from Engels Air Force Base, setting the world record of continuous flight endurance for 23 hours. Earlier in 2009, the Tu-160 had flown 21 hours without interruption. The bombers traveled 18,000 km, with two in-flight refuelings, around the Russian borders as well as over the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific.

11-Feb-17 – The New MiG 35 Fighter Jet Performs Like the F-16 C / D

by Valentin Vasilescu

Translated by Alice Decker

On January 26, 2017, the Russian Air Force began testing a pre-production batch of the new MiG-35 aircraft, which is a derivative of the MiG-29. The MiG-35 prototype was first flown in 2007; now the aircraft has been totally changed and equipped with new avionics. The earlier MiG-29 is a light aircraft produced by the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (“RAC MiG,” originally the Mikoyan and Gurevich Design Bureau), with outstanding aerodynamic qualities and the highest rate of climb of any multirole aircraft (330 m / s). The MiG-29 entered service in 1982. There have been 1,600 units produced. In military combat, the MiG-29 was surpassed by the F-15 and F-16 due to its inferior avionics system. The reason for that was that until 2004, Russia lacked the funds necessary for research in the avionics field in order to improve and replace the old equipment.

Unlike RAC MiG, Lockheed preferred to make continual improvements to the F-16, especially in avionics, instead of designing another 4th++ generation aircraft. Since 1978, they built 4,500 of the planes, in all the models: F-16A/B (Block 1/5/10/15/20) and F-16C / D (Block 25/30/32 / 40/42/50/52), with the F-16E/F (Block 60) being the latest version — it features much of the equipment on the 5th generation F-35 aircraft. The US Air Force has 900 F-16s.

To get the performance of the MiG-29 close to that of the F-16, RAC MiG’s Sokol aircraft factory in Nizhny Novgorod (400 km east of Moscow) created upgraded models such as the MiG-29M / M2, MiG 29 SMT and MiG 29 K / KUB (carrier-borne). The MiG-35 is the latest version of the MiG-29 and is not intended as an interceptor jet, as it is inferior to the F-22, F-35 and F-15. With the MiG-35 C, the Russians are aiming to reduce the cost of flying by 2.5 times, increase the MiG-29’s ability to strike ground targets, and to defend themselves from 4th++  generation aircraft such as the F-16 C / D, Saab Gripen, Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-18C / D.

Upgrades

The MiG-29’s cabin has been redesigned. The MiG-35 has an EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System) containing three MFD (multi-function display) color LCDs that display navigation data as well as readings on the tactical situation, motor control, fuel, and special equipment. Additionally, it has HMTDS (Helmet-Mounted Target Designation Systems) equipment and it has HUD (Head-Up Display) displays on the windshield. It uses a fly-by-wire flight control system with three channels. The MiG-35 communication system includes two new radio stations, one of them serving as a secret data line as well. The data line transmits, via satellite, information from ground-based and ship-based command and control points, and from Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft (AWACS / AEW). This gives the MiG-35 additional and reliable information about the situation in the air, which increases the likelihood of fulfilling its mission.

The two RD-33 TVN engines have increased thrust at 9,000 kg. each. Unlike the MiG-29, the MiG-35’s engines were fitted with BARK (digital monitoring and control systems), have a low specific consumption, do not emit smoke and have a very small infrared footprint. The RD-33 TVN engines have vectored thrust nozzles that enable it to move up–down and left–right by 15–30 degrees. These enhancements “enabled the MiG-35 to fly at very low speeds without angle-of-attack limitations, and ensured that it will also remain controllable in zero-speed and ‘negative-speed’ (tail-forward) areas for sustained periods.”[1] Vectored thrust allows execution of brusque maneuvers with large overloads to avoid air-to-air or ground-to-air missiles. In addition, there are fuel tanks fitted dorsally (behind the cockpit) and where the wings meet the fuselage. The internal fuel capacity was increased to 950 liters, increasing the normal flight range to 2,000 km.

Zhuk-AE radar

The main source of ground and aerial data is the Zhuk-AE radar. An AESA radar (active electronically scanned array), it can spot air targets at a distance of 160 km, and at 300 km for surface ships. The radar can track 30 targets simultaneously and attack 6 of them. Radars of the earlier type, PESA (passive electronically scanned array), had a cone-shaped antenna rotated 360 degrees to direct the radar waves into a narrower beam. The antenna panel of the AESA radar on the MiG-35 is composed of 1,000–2,000 TR modules (transceivers). The modules are arranged in the nose, wing or fuselage, and operate independently of each other. The radar beam is digitally modeled and shaped into a very narrow delineated space by a computer. The computer selects the power of radiation emitted by each TR module in a few millionths of a second. In addition, each TR module can be programmed to operate either only as a transmitter or only as a receiver, running different functions in parallel. Two CIP computers (Common Integrated Processor) help the radar.

Optoelectronic equipment

The MiG-35 has one targeting/navigational system combining inertial, radio, and GPS equipment. The BINS-SP2 inertial navigation equipment is produced by KRET in cooperation with SAGEM Defense-France and is based on three laser gyros and three quartz accelerometers. This equipment is connected to the subsystem for low visibility conditions and for directing weapons. On America’s 5th generation F-22 and F-35 planes, the navigation equipment and precision weapons guidance systems are no longer installed on snap mounting points; the MiG-35 copies the 5th generation solution and these devices are incorporated into the plane. An OLS-35 fire control system of the IRST type (infrared search and track) is mounted in the nose and is used in air combat. OLS-35 can locate an aircraft after discovering a heat emission at 50 km in the “front hemisphere” and at 90 km “facing up to rear hemisphere.” The MiG-35 is equipped with a FLIR (forward-looking infrared) internal pod mounted under the right engine of the plane. This is for night-time navigation and it displays an image of the terrain being overflown, allowing identification of targets. The FLIR pod also provides autonomous guidance of precision munitions, as in American military aircraft. The FLIR pod has a laser rangefinder to measure the distance to the target (up to 20–30 km) and a laser projector for guiding bombs and missiles.

Having moved away from using mounting points for the optoelectronic equipment, the MiG-35 has increased the number of hard mounts from 6 to 9, with the maximum payload increasing from 4,800 to 7,000 kg.

Radio-electronic Battle Equipment

The EW Equipment (Electronic Warfare) comprises a broadband warning radar receiver with an antenna arranged over the entire surface of the wings and fuselage. The MiG-35 has MAWS-type (missile approach warning system) optical sensors, in the ultraviolet spectrum, mounted on the fuselage, tail and wings, which warn the pilot of any approaching air-to-air missile. The EW system also can detect the launching of MANPADS (man-portable air-defense system) or a short range surface-to-air system (10 km), a medium- or long-range surface-to-air system (30–50 km). The EW microprocessor estimates the time to impact of enemy missiles and it controls the active or passive electronic countermeasures equipment. The EW equipment is supported by the Italian firm Elettronica (it incorporates the ELT / 568-V2 device, the “self-protection jammer for self-defense from radar controlled anti-aircraft artillery”).

The MiG-35 testing is to be completed in 2018, with the first batch of 37 MiG-35s being delivered to the Russian military in 2019. The Russian Air Force operates about 250 MiG-29s and plans to replace them with 170 MiG-35s. The first foreign order for the MiG-35 is from Egypt, who signed a contract in 2015 for the purchase of 50 MiG-35 planes, worth $ 2 billion.

[1] MiG-35 Fulcrum-F Multirole Fighter, Russia.

9-Feb-17 – Vladimir Putin Made Russia Great Again

Valentin Vasilescu

Translated by Alice Decker

To former President Barack Obama, Russia was the second greatest threat in the world after the Ebola virus. Obama returned to the tough foreign policy directed against Russia during the Cold War, the policy that resulted in the dissolution of the USSR and the transformation of most of the socialist States into members of NATO and the European Union. Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election of 2016 was based on the slogan “Make America Great Again!” It remains to be seen whether Trump will fulfill this promise; what we do know is that Vladimir Putin was the president who “made Russia great again.” Below I attempt to explain how the socialist system was largely eliminated worldwide and what made possible Russia’s miraculous comeback as a member of the global elite.

The Action Plan for Destroying Socialism Around the World

In a relatively short time, socialism had managed to take over as the economic and political system for 26% of the globe. Socialist states produced 40% of world industrial output. Immediately after the US was defeated in the Vietnam War, there was the crisis of the 70s. The crisis was generated by rising oil prices that frightened the US administration and the developed capitalist countries.

Western economists could find no viable long-term solution to the crisis. Under Gerald Ford’s administration, they began to look for ways to shift the problem outside the US and the developed capitalist countries, onto the economies outside their borders. The American establishment realized that the only way to save capitalism from its greatest crisis was to destroy socialism around the world.

The Action Plan established four goals for the secret war against the socialist economic system.

  1. To win back the third world and restore capitalist neo-colonial domination.
  2. To reconfigure the marketplace by expelling socialist states.
  3. To transform the former socialist states into mere markets for the industrial products of the developed capitalist countries.
  4. To seize control of the principal sources of energy — the oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy — of socialist states.

Enter Vladimir Putin

The antidote came from none other than Russia in the person of the “Siloviki.” The Siloviki are a group of highly skilled and patriotic leaders from the power structures of the former Soviet Union (the military services, the military-industrial complex). They began to play a role in 1999 with the appointment of Vladimir Putin as prime minister and then president of Russia. The aim of the Siloviki was to bring back to Russia the mineral resources that the Yeltsin government had given to foreigners. The Siloviki banded together in 1989 as a working group to evaluate the role and place of Russia in relation to the international situation as far as it could be foreseen for the next three decades; that is, the imminent dismembering of the USSR and the integration of former Soviet satellites into EU and NATO. Based on their assessments, the Siloviki established a list of priorities for Russia’s survival.

The first priority had to do with maintaining and improving the strategic nuclear arsenal as a deterrent against the United States, especially in the design and construction of space vehicles. The military-industrial complex was entrusted with responsibility for achieving this goal. Russia has managed to maintain a nuclear arsenal, with strategic parity with the United States. Russia has 367 ground-based ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles), armed with 1,248multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV). The missiles are kept in silos or on mobile platforms on truck chassis and trains. Add to this the 13 Russian strategic submarines, armed with nuclear missiles that have 591 MIRVs. The Russians have 76 strategic bombers armed with cruise missiles (with a range of 5,500 km), armed with 884 nuclear warheads.

The new types of Russian ICBMs neutralize all components of the ABM shield (Anti Ballistic Missile). Third-generation anti-ABM shield systems are launched in-flight. They produce false targets (the Terek system) in the IR (Infrared) spectrum, in the form of plasma, which reproduces the thermal “footprint” of MIRVs re-entering the atmosphere. Terek is programmed to operate when the ballistic missiles get within range of a ballistic battery. The American ABM missiles automatically follow these false targets, called thermal traps. Russian ballistic missiles also have high power microwave transmitters (Atropus equipment). This “blinds” the infrared and radar detection and tracking systems of the SM-3 Block IB interceptors that are already in space. #

Germany, the drive belt to Putin’s Russia

The Silovikis considered making good use of the network of gas pipelines to be the second priority. Any attempt to replace or compete with the pipeline that had supplied Europe in the Soviet era had to be blocked.

The third priority was related to the second, and it required choosing a partner state, one that was highly developed in economic terms, in the immediate vicinity of Russia. This partnership has allowed Russia to modernize its economy, especially those sectors that were not competitive. In exchange, the Siloviki decided to support that country in becoming the locomotive of Europe, opening up to it Russia’s entire market. The state that the Siloviki chose in 1989 was Germany, which became Russia’s partner. Germany was the only country brought in to invest in Russia’s gas transport and supply pipelines in Europe. The Siloviki put pressure on England and France to get them to accept the reunification of the two Germanys, and the Siloviki offered a decisive role in this strategic game to Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Putin, former head of the KGB intelligence agency in East Germany.

Instead of imports, Russia preferred to encourage the Russian state firms to form “joint ventures” with foreign companies in order to convince them to relocate production facilities to Russian territory. Over 6,000 German companies are operating in Russia, providing at least 300,000 jobs to their subcontractors in Germany. Germany has been investing an average of € 20 billion per year in Russia since 1992. And the three packages of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU do not affect the Western companies that make products in Russia for Russians.

The German concern Siemens entered the Russian market by building plants for the liquefaction and re-gasifying of natural gas for the benefit of the Russian companies Gazprom and Transneft. Joe Kaiser, CEO of Siemens, has shared a long friendship with the former Social Democrat premier Gerhard Schroeder, who serves on the board of Gazprom. Siemens, with its pumping equipment, is one of the most important links for the transport and export of Russian liquefied gas (LNG). The gas is extracted in the Arctic and transported to ports, where it is loaded onto LNG tanker vessels to the beneficiaries. Siemens manufactures Permasyn silent electric motors and AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) generators cells in Russia. Both are used in Russia’s modern attack submarines, as well as the latest versions of German submarines produced by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Siemens has over 10,000 employees in its factories in the Ural Mountains of Russia, and it also provides railroad cars. Last year, sales reached € 5 billion.

In Russia, 2.78 million cars are sold annually, about the same as in Germany (which is considered the strongest market in Europe). After a sizeable number of shares in Renault-Nissan were purchased by RT-Auto (a division of the state corporation Rostec), the Russians made substantial investments in Daimler via the company OAO KamAZ. One reason is Daimler’s truck division, the world’s largest. From 2011 to today, Russia’s Kamaz trucks have won all three places on the podium in the Paris–Dakar rally, thanks to the same innovations made by the Mercedes-Benz specialists at Daimler.

Another result of collaborating with Daimler is the creation of the subsidiary Mercedes Benz–Rus ZAO, which has been producing and assembling Mercedes-Benz limousines and Sprinter vans (27% of Daimler’s sales in this class) for 10 years in Russia. But the Russian vehicles use the engine design, plant equipment and production solutions of German engineers from Daimler.

This gave rise to new military vehicles: the GAZ-2975 Tigr, the VPK-3927 Volk (similar to the US HMMWV) and the URAL-63099 MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). The French group Thales (formerly Thomson CSF) specializing in opto-electronics works for Gazprom, providing security surveillance of all oil fields and production sites in Russia, using the most advanced technology. Thales provides the same for Lukoil’s giant installations worldwide.

BRICS replaces the former COMECON (“Council for Mutual Economic Assistance”)

Putin was aware that the Americans’ technological advantage over the rest of the world had increased exponentially due to the dismembering of the USSR, the collapse of the Communist bloc in Europe and the economic downturn that followed from 1989 to 2004. At the same time, India and China were advancing, such that they were becoming a new center of the world, threatening to supplant America.

In 2006, Putin launched a common market for emerging countries called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Like the former “Council for Mutual Economic Assistance” of the Eastern Bloc, BRICS is outside the US sphere of dominance and those who support it. This market comprises 50% of the world’s natural resources and population. BRICS has enabled Russia to handle the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

 

10-Feb-17 – Mission Not Accomplished for the “Admiral Kuznetsov” Pilot training for carrier-based aircraft remains a problem

Alexei Mikhailov

Translated by Alice Decker

The Russian Navy’s heavy aircraft carrier, the “Admiral Kuznetsov,” has completed its first-ever combat campaign off the shores of Syria, using carrier-based aircraft against terrorist targets. There are at least two reasons to sum up the results.

On January 6, the Chief of Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, announced that Russia is starting to reduce its groups in Syria. The first to leave the conflict zone is the “Admiral Kuznetsov” with the battle ships and support vessels of the Northern Fleet. January 15, when the carrier was still in the Eastern Mediterranean, marked three months from the beginning of the campaign.

Nothing has been officially reported on the composition of cruiser’s air wing. However, the aircraft and helicopters on board could be counted in the videos taken by Russian journalists and Western (for the most part military) operators.

Wing lightweight structure

As predicted by “VPK” (in an article titled “MiG-plus”), the “Kuznetsov” came into the campaign with a very lightweight wing structure. It carried on board ten Su-33s from the “old” 279th Independent Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment (OKIAP) of the Northern Fleet (eight of them have been upgraded and are capable of striking targets on land and at sea) and only four aircraft from the newly created 100th OKIAP — three MiG-29KRs and one MiG-29KUBR fighter jet, as well as 18 different types of helicopters. According to unconfirmed official data, there were only three combat MiGs as the fourth one belonged to the “MiG” corporation and was undergoing tests. Thus, it was confirmed that the 100th OKIAP “sitting” in Yeisk actually turned out to be unprepared for the campaign.

“On the ship, there is a sort of ‘black box’. This is the ‘Topaz-M’ system, and the state commission should study what it recorded.”

This brings to mind the officials who promised the Minister of Defense that the aircraft testing and training complex being built in Yeisk would be ready by the end of 2016. It isn’t done even now. At the same time the similar complex in Crimean Saki was subjected to unfair attention. Did anyone bother to prepare the pilots of the 100th OKIAP, even while the carrier was on its way to Syria? After all, they could fly aboard later, via the tried and true route over the Caspian Sea, Iran and Iraq.

The 279th OKIAP jets arrived on the aircraft carrier in July, after training at the complex in Saki. There, according to official data, only seven pilots practiced the essential skills in the MiGs, including three combatants that were not soldiers. Evil tongues say that these were the regiment commander and two squadron leaders, and the rest were civilian test pilots from the “MiG” Corporation and naval aviation military personnel. The question is, why was the 100th OKIAP in Yeisk at this time?

On October 15, the ship strike group (IBM) comprised of the Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier “Peter the Great,” the heavy aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov,” two large anti-submarine ships, and supply vessels went to sea. Logically, they should have been accompanied by one or two multi-purpose nuclear submarines, but those are never mentioned, as a rule.

According to the Norwegian Navy, Su-33 training flights from onboard the aircraft carrier already began on October 18 over the northeastern part of the Atlantic. The Russian side, in full compliance with international regulations, announced that flight exercises would be held over international waters of the Atlantic, near the southwest tip of Norway, on October 19–21. On October 21, the naval strike group entered the English Channel, during which time one of the two fighters was always on duty, on the deck of the aircraft carrier. By October 27, the Northern Fleet ships passed Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea. From October 27 to 29, the strike group replenished all their supplies from the support vessels.

On November 1, the Su-33 and MiG-29KR aircraft aboard the carrier resumed flights, this time over the Mediterranean Sea. All the Russian actions were carried out under the watchful eyes of maritime patrol aircraft from NATO bases and NATO ships.

The countries concerned were informed in advance that training flights were planned for November 9, southeast of the island of Rhodes. The notice stated that the flights of the Russian Naval aircraft would take place within the stated coordinates in the Greek air traffic control zone (ATC), over international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, and in connection with this, six civil aviation routes would be changed. The combat aircraft were to be in constant contact with the Greek ATC centers and were to fly with their transponders enabled, the document specifies. Similar warnings were issued for the periods from 10 to 15 and from 17 to 22 November.

On November 9, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that a Dutch diesel-electric submarine, presumably “Walrus” class, had tried to follow the strike group. On November 10, according to the Pentagon, the Russian carrier-based aircraft began to make familiarization flights over Syrian territory, which meant that in the future they would be used in combat against terrorist organization targets. By this time the battle for East Aleppo was in full swing.

The losses were not military but from ineptitude

On November 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense acknowledged the loss of the MiG-29KR. According to official data, it crashed into the sea a few miles from the aircraft carrier while preparing to land. The pilot ejected and was picked up by a helicopter search and rescue service. According to one unofficial version, the fighter simply ran out of fuel while they were deciding where it should land; at the time, it could have been sent to the “Hmeymim” air base. In the end, a fully functional plane was sunk.

On November 15, the Minister of Defense announced that the carrier-based Su-33 had begun flying combat missions. True, he did not specify on which day it began. Then the War Department distributed a video with shots of planes taking off from the deck of the aircraft carrier with combat loads and returning minus the ammunition. At the same time, the frigate “Admiral Grigorovich” from the Black Sea Fleet launched “Caliber-NK” cruise missiles to strike terrorist targets. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Su-33s destroyed large groups of “Dzhebhat Fatah al-Sham” fighters (formerly “Dzhebhat en-Nusra,” banned in Russia) in the province of Idlib.

On November 26, Western media reported that eight Su-33s and two MiG-29KR were located at the “Hmeymim” air base. The fact that only two of the MiGs were there makes one think that something must have been wrong with the plane that was still onboard the ship. According to VPK’s source, it may have been disabled while landing on the deck — before the incident on 14 November.

On December 4, the latest reconnaissance and attack helicopters, the Ka-52K “Katran” (previously destined for the “Mistral”) were shown working from the aircraft carrier. According to media estimates, there were four of them on board.

The next day, the Ministry of Defense reported that one of the Su-33s had crashed in the sea while landing on the aircraft carrier. The reason, according to the agency, was a broken cable. It is known, however, that for some time now the ship has had a sort of “black box” that controls the brake mechanisms — the “Topaz-M” system. The state commission will have to examine its recordings. In addition, there are video recordings of each takeoff and landing. Because there is another version: the pilot simply did not get on the right course. The “Topaz-M” and the objective video recording will decide who is right.

In any case, the loss of two types of aircraft during practice meant no more flights until they can determine the causes of what happened.

All these points will be examined by the relevant Commission of the Defense Ministry.

Tripped Up During Training 

The “Admiral Kuznetsov” has not quite lived up to its mission. Despite official reports, the 100th OKIAP was not ready to accomplish its assigned task, and that’s not the fault of the regimental command. It’s legitimate to ask, will anyone be held responsible?

According to official information from the Ministry of Defense, in two months of fighting in this campaign, the Admiral Kuznetsov’s naval aviation pilots carried out 420 sorties, 117 of them at night. This means (based on the approximate composition of the air wing), that each MiG and Sukhoi (if we’re opnly talking about those) made 30 to 40 sorties. It has not been specified how many times they took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier and how many times from the “Hmeymim” airbase where they also worked.

It is unclear whether the helicopters are included in these slippery statistics or only the planes. Most likely the latter, since 1252 terrorist targets were destroyed, which roughly corresponds to the amount of ammunition these types of aircraft carry that can work on ground targets. Were the Americans right when they reported (only) 152 sorties operated from the deck?

In any case, the campaign from the aircraft carrier has had a positive effect. The carrier-based pilots received a baptism by fire. For the first time, they performed the operation of loading ammunition at sea.

It is expected that on its return to Severomorsk, the aircraft carrier will be sent in for repairs and upgrades. But when and where? The first bidder to carry out the works was the United Shipbuilding Corporation. The “Admiral Kuznetsov” was preparing for a long stay at her 35th Shipyard (an affiliate of the “Zvezdochka” Shipyard). By May, Murmansk promises to fit out a dock capable of taking the aircraft carrier. But a “market” competitor to USC suddenly appeared — the 82nd Shipyard. Their distinct advantage is the presence of a PD-50 floating dock (one of the largest floating docks in the world), designed just for the “Admiral Kuznetsov” class ships. So the competition for the contract is serious.

Let’s hope that the terms of the Defense Ministry’s tender call for competitive bids. In any case, the bureaucratic procedures take time, and anyway the work itself is expected to take two years. This means that the carrier will not be sailing again soon and the pilots of the 100th OKIAP will be on their own. // Waiting to fly…   Although they should still have been, and could have been, in the skies over Syria.

There are several issues. Was the promise fulfilled, to put into operation a land-based training program in Yeisk? If not — where are the carrier-based pilots to train? And how long will the training ground in Saki be on hold, which the Russian Navy Aviation command plans to modernize in 2017–2018? 2017 has already begun, and no committee has shown up at the site to define the scope of work, and no executors have been appointed to spell out where the funding is going to come from.

But the United Shipbuilding Corporation could be a responsible contractor; it is quite capable of this task. And what can be said, if Russia has had the training complex in Crimea for nearly three years and has not invested a dime 9according to Alexander Sannikov, a veteran of the complex)? As long as the training area was in Ukrainian hands, this situation was understandable. But now? Is this what we were waiting for?

Alexei Mikhailov

Published in issue number 3 (667) of 25 January 2017

Details: http://vpk-news.ru/articles/34857

 

8-Feb-17 Putin’s Tough Choice, or the US’s Tough Choice?

Remember the posting of the other day? “In conclusion, what Trump represents is the awareness, finally, in the US, that Russia is not there for the taking and a very hefty price would have to be paid to get half of Russia’s support. ”
Very interesting article in Zero Hedge: Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West.

Will he, or won’t he?

From the article: “Foreshadowing all of this was a news leak late last year in Germany’s Bild Zeitung, that Kissinger has drafted a plan to officially recognize Crimea as part of Russia and lift the Obama administration’s economic sanctions.”

Of course, the Russians will not be seduced by a man in his last hours, I mean Kissinger, but we should not lose sight of such real politics. Otherwise, how to explain this: Henry Kissinger becomes member of Russian Academy of Sciences

The US is in disarray, it is in conflict with itself and with everyone else. This is the gruesome spectacle of a dying elephant. Try not to get hurt.

5-Feb-17 Why all the antagonism against Trump?

A lot of conspiracy theories could be developed to explain this and that, but it’s not so much of a mystery as many would think. A book written in 1992, The New CommonWealth , basically explains that it is the rise of China that worried — and still worries — the white man’s world. Various tactics have been promoted on how to handle this long-term strategic threat.

Should the West conquer Russia first, just like Hitler attempted, and then focus on the main adversary (China)? Or ally with Russia?

Well, Russia has a “soul” and a mind of its own, and did not think it would be funny to be a colony of the West, and it refused to play along with the first option. Furthermore, Russia said, if you want us to be your allies against China, there is a price for that. That is, the whole of Europe and the Middle East. The West said, No Way! We’ll show you who dictates the terms.

Well, it turns out that Russia was weak on several points – low demographics, a strong fifth column, a weak consumer goods industry; but it had first class (second to none) military acumen and military technology. They said, OK, you want us as a colony? Come and take it!

And that is where things started to get messy. The US is a first-rate Madison Avenue PR superman, but a fifth-rate military power, such that they can only boast of conquering Grenada in a one-on-one fight.

The US bankrupted itself in 30 years, and now is begging Russia for an alliance against China. And you can see the signs of willingness to turn over the whole of Europe and the Middle East to Russia. But the Russians are still playing chess.

This past fall I’ve been visiting the Vladivostok and Irkutsk regions of Russia, and Moscow – all over Russia, and I can tell from first-hand experience of the appalling, numbing invasion of Chinese – crude, rude, aggressive, all over the main cities of Russia, while the Russians are sort of stunned, and mild. Ninety-five percent of the hotels are filled with Chinese. Trainloads, bus loads of them.

In conclusion, what Trump represents is the awareness, finally, in the US, that Russia is not there for the taking and a very hefty price would have to be paid to get half of Russia’s support. In the words of a British diplomat, the Russians played a weak hand brilliantly, while the US played a brilliant hand catastrophically poorly.

In the long run, China remains the number one rival/threat. We don’t know how this will all end, in another hundred years.

3-Feb-17 The ultra-secret weapon that allows Putin to assume his supremacy in the electronic radio war in Syria

Valentin Vasilescu

Translated from French by Alice Decker

Originally published in Ziarul de Garda (in Romanian) (11 October 2015)

And in French (12 October 2015) at Réseau international


Russia knew from the outset that NATO’s air and space surveillance systems were in a position to control all the activity of Russian military aircraft based in Syria. Thanks to the American reconnaissance aircraft RC135, the British Sentinel R1 aircraft, the AWACS radars and the Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) deployed on Syria’s borders, it was possible to intercept : all radio traffic on Russian networks, the number and type of aircraft, their flight paths, the type of weapon used, the objectives targeted by the rebels, and their location — especially since most rebel groups in Syria are armed and supported by the United States and can be warned in time, for each operation.

Awacs

The media had long been talking about the types of Russian bombers operating in Syria, the weapons they used for air strikes, and the results of these strikes. But the most sophisticated, the “secret weapon” that enabled the Russians to impose their supremacy in electronic warfare remains surrounded by mystery.

The formidable Russian system of collecting and processing data also remains enveloped in mystery. These two categories of weapons constitute the C4i complex (command, control, communication, computers, information and interoperability) that the Russians created in Syria. It allows bombing targets to be identified and allocated among the different types of aircraft, while preventing NATO from discovering anything of the Russians’ modus operandi. Lacking even a minimum of information, NATO cannot trigger effective electronic countermeasures (ECM) against the Russians in Syria.

The land, naval and air of electronic warfare equipment that Russia has deployed in the theater of military operations in Syria make it possible to monitor the entire electromagnetic spectrum in order to locate enemy systems and to jam them. Electronic warfare now extends to the jamming of communications, radars and electro-optical monitoring systems. Modern countermeasures equipment, including in the visible, infrared or laser spectrum, uses aerial and space-based electro-optical (IMINT) monitoring to thwart the Russians in annihilating the EI. To protect against NATO reconnaissance, the Russians have deployed several Krasukha-4 in Syria. The Russian Su-24, Su-25, and Su-34 aircraft are equipped with SAP-518 / SPS-171 jamming pods and the Mi-8AMTSh helicopters with Richag-AVs. In addition is the Priazovye ship (Vishnya class), belonging to the Russian Black Sea fleet, which has been deployed in the Mediterranean Sea near the Syrian coast. This vessel specializes in scrambling and in collecting SIGINT and COMINT data (interception of all communication networks).

The Krasukha-4 is a mobile broadband system, mounted on the BAZ-6910-022 8 X 8 chassis, which interferes with the surveillance radars of military satellites, AWACS ground and air radars, and those mounted on unmanned aircraft (drones). The Krasukha-4 is the only system capable of blurring the Lacrosse / Onyx family of American spy satellites. These satellites travel in low orbit and are equipped with SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), which allows them to penetrate the cloud layer as well as the ground or the walls of buildings, with a resolution of 20 cm.

What happened as a result of the Russians putting in place such electronic radio warfare equipment in Syria?

The Krasukha-4 system at the Russian air base in Hmeymim (Latakia Governorate) creates an invisibility cloak for objects in the air and on the ground with a radius of 300 km. The Krasukha-4 is capable of “blinding” the detection and guard radars of the MIM-104 Patriot anti-aircraft missiles on the Turkish border, and also the radars of the Turkish F-16C fighter jets taking off from the Incirlik base, thus helping to create a “no-fly zone” over Syria. The Incirlik Air Force Base is located not far from the city of Adana, 140 km north of Latakia.

Under the protection of Krasukha-4 and other interference systems, dozens of Russian aircraft went undetected by NATO as they were flying in and landing in Syria, being discovered only a few days after they had arrived at the Hmeymim air base.

How did the Russian fighters get to Syria without anyone noticing?

As a result of the Russians’ electronic warfare systems, “moderate” Islamist rebels, who were informed by the United States from 2013 onward about all Syrian army movements, had no information about the secret concentration of Syrian troops on the Latakia–Idlib axis (north of Latakia), Latakia–Hama (east of Latakia) and Latakia–Homs.

This allowed the Syrian army, supported by Russian bombers, to launch offensive actions with armored vehicles to take control of the Idlib–Hama–Homs segment of the M5 motorway between Damascus and Aleppo.

Major offensive of the Syrian National Army

Recall that in Syria, the Russian army created a surveillance-strike system in which the collection and processing of data is stratified on several levels. The first level of information is for the security units at the billets of Russian troops in Syria (Latakia airport and port of Tartus). This is ensured by 4–6 mini-planes and ZALA-type unmanned helicopters (UAV), ultra-light and silent, powered by an electric motor, with a range of up to 30 kilometers.

To detect targets for medium-range bombing missions, the Russians use 36 unmanned Yakovlev Pchela-1T and Orlan-10 aircraft, and for surveillance of the entire territory of Syria they use Dozor 600 or Altius reconnaissance drones, similar to the American MQ-1B Predator.

For monitoring the entire territory of Syria, the Russians have also deployed ELINT type II-20M1 reconnaissance aircraft equipped with Kvalat-2 radars, which can detect aircraft, land vehicles and artillery pieces Up to a distance of 300 km. The Il-20M1 is also equipped with a system for intercepting and interfering all military communications, radar and mobile telephony, as well as a high-resolution camera (A-87P).

29-Jan-17 New details on the effort to insert airborne troops into Deir ez-Zor

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

On December 9, 2016, columns of Islamic State armored cars left the city of Mosul and crossed the border into Syria.IS fighters launched a fierce offensive on the Syrian army garrison in Palmyra and conquered the city.The IS had 4,000 fighters in this operation, who came via Toyota pickup trucks equipped with machine guns, armored vehicles, artillery and tanks.On January 14, 2017, part of the IS group in the area of Palmyra traveled 100 km east to join the Islamic State group attacking the city of Deir ez-Zor.In a few days, the 7,000 IS fighters managed to break in two the defensive formation of the Syrian army at Deir ez-Zor.

The situation became critical for the defenders of Deir ez-Zor and Russian aircraft operating from the Hmeymim base executed 80–100 missions a day to stop the Islamic State attacks.Even so, the Syrian army headquarters decided it was necessary to supplement the military contingent fighting in the Deir ez-Zor encirclement. It was not possible to land Syrian transport planes at the Deir ez-Zor airport, as they would be vulnerable to MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense system)and to machine-gun fire from the terrorists, especially during take-off and landing, and while taxiing.Therefore it was decided to send only soldiers, without arms and munitions, by transport helicopters [1].

The first group of Syrian soldiers was delivered on January 23 to Qamishli in Hasakeh governorate (in northeastern Syria), using four Il-76 military aircraft. Qamishli Airport, with its runway of 3,615 x 46m and its aerial navigation protection systems, is guarded by members of Regiment 154 of the Syrian army. One risk factor was the fact that Hasakeh governorate is controlled almost entirely by the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (YPG), supervised by US military instructors. Qamishli Airport is 50 km northwest of Rmelan, where three security platoons (100 men) of the US 101st Airborne were deployed on January 19, 2016. The US military has set up a 700m-long runway and a platform that is occasionally used by several MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. These US aircraft are used in the fight against IS in Syria’s Raqaa governorate and in the siege against Mosul in Iraq.

On the night of 23/24 January, at Qamishli Airport, the Syrian military group was transferred aboard 20 Russian-made Syrian Mi-8/17 helicopters.TwootherMi-8/17 helicopters were held in reserve and took off after the first 20 to execute search and rescue missions, if necessary.Many of the helicopters had experienced Russian crews. The helicopters took off four or five at a time, in formation, and maintained a distance of 4 km between formations.Flying over territory occupied by the Islamic State, their flight path bypassed all locations under terrorist control. The 250km flight path included several changes of direction to avoid giving away what was the final destination. En route Qamishli–Deir ez-Zor, none of the helicopters used its position lights and they did not descend below the altitude of 2,500 m.The formations of Mi-8/17 helicopters were tracked by Russian military air traffic controllers and were displayed on the Syrian army’s radar screens.It is assumed that an Il-20M1 ELINT may also have been flying in the airspace over eastern Syria, monitoring these formations and other aircraft in the area. TheIlyushin-20M1 is equipped with Kvalat-2 radar, which can spot aircraft and land vehicles up to a distance of 300 km.Since the Mi-8/17 helicopters’ flight path was intersected by the bombing routes used by the anti-Islamic State terrorist coalition led by the US, twoRussianSu-35 fighters gave them air cover.

One of defensive measures used to secure the landing area was, again, the Russian Su-25 close air support jet. Located in the service area above Deir ez-Zor, their primary mission was to strike Islamic State terrorists approaching the landing zone.In the event that one of theMi-8 transport helicopters was shot down or damaged,the mission of the Russian bombers was to provide air cover to the two reserve helicopters that would conduct the search and rescue operation.Other support missions over the Deir ez-Zor air base were executed by Russian reconnaissance drones.They monitored the landing procedure of all the helicopters from a high altitude.Through images transmitted in real time, the mission coordinator at the headquarters of the Hmeymim air base had a complete picture, and so was ready to intervene in case of any special situation.

The Mi-8/17 helicopters made a steep descent from 2,500 m, flying in close circles above Deir ez-Zor airbase, covered by Syrian soldiers. The helicopter crews had night vision equipment and the Deir ez-Zor air base had Russian laser equipment.They marked rectangles to indicate the landing sites for the Russian helicopters.The laser beam was invisible to the IS terrorists but was visible from the air, using the crews’ night vision equipment on the Mi-8/17 helicopters.The helicopters were on the ground for 30–50 seconds to land the ground troops.

The detachment that was thus transported by the Mi-8/17 helicopters was made up of about 500 Syrian soldiers, in other words a tank battalion from Brigade153 / Division 1 Tanks (minus their tanks) and two companies of special ops forces (minus weapons and ammunition). The defense formation at Deir ez-Zor comprises 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers.They belong to the T137 Mechanized Brigade (BMP-1 IFV, T-72, T-55 tanks, and the ZSU-23-4 Shilka — a lightly armored self-propelled weapons system), the 104 Airborne Brigade, 121 Artillery Regiment (M-46 Field Gun, D-30 howitzers, BM-21 Grad MRLS-multiple rocket launchers) and reservists from the national defense forces.

Those defending Deir ez-Zor had the advantage of large stocks of arms and ammunition. Deir ez-Zor was the headquarters of the 17 Mechanized Division that was just formed for this war and was meant to defend northeastern Syria. The 93 Tank Brigade (100 T-55 tanks and 40 BMP-1 IFV) and Special Operations Forces Brigade 154 had battle equipment stored in depots in Deir ez-Zor but not the men to use it.

As a result of this move to increase the fighting forces, Syrian soldiers were able to execute a successful counter-attack and restore the connection between the two formations to the north and to the south of the city of Deir Ez-Zor.

[1]. RUSSIAN-MADE IL-76 STRATEGIC AIRLIFTERS OF HELP TO SAVE AIR FORCE Syrian Deir ez-Zor (PHOTO)

27-Jan-17 A Comparison: Russian Soldiers Have the Best Personal Protection Gear

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

The motto of the US Special Forces is “De Oppresso Liber” (to liberate the oppressed), which is defined as the spear tip for the imposition of democracy by invasion — or by training secret paramilitary groups with the aim of overthrowing governments that are hostile to the US.

To handle complex operations on the ground or on the water, in recent decades the elite forces of the main NATO armies have been equipped with modern, high-performance protective gear. The personal protection kit has several important features.

  • The soldiers are better protected with the use of equipment that is bullet resistant but at the same time allows more mobility.
  • Every soldier is provided with night-vision equipment, with detection sensors and optical rangefinders. These give the advantage of seeing first and shooting first. This enables the soldier to fight in the dark just as well as in daylight.
  • Instead of every man having a portable radio, they now have multifunctional data devices, which display in real time digital maps of the tactical situation, known enemy positions, etc.
  • Fire power is increased by the use of modern automatic weapons and grenade launchers that can be attached to the automatic rifles.

FELIN Personal Protection Systems

Fantassins à Equipements Liaisons Intégrés is the French version of “future soldier infantry equipment,” the most advanced in the world. Félin equipment weighs 24 kg and is designed in four variants: group commander, gunner, rifleman, and sniper.

Félin equipment consists of a bulletproof vest, ballistic protection for the feet and knees, a ballistic helmet (weighing 1.36 kg), with a protective visor and goggles with an anti-laser filter. The electronics equipment consists of portable computer with a color multifunction display. It has a voice communication system and a data link. The computer is also serves as an interface to integrate the soldier with a military transport vehicle — IFV (infantry fighting vehicle) or APC (armored personnel carrier). Félin also has night-vision device (which detects a person from a distance of 1,650 m) and an infrared scope with laser rangefinder designed specifically for assault weapons. To know the position of every soldier in the group, the Félin system has a radio transmitter in the RIF-NG (Réseau d’Information du Fantassin de Nouvelle Génération, or Infantry Information Network) interconnected data network, along with a GPS.

The group commander has a battle management system integrated into a laptop. The laptop provides digital maps and gathers data from each soldier equipped with Félin gear. With this management system the group commander can coordinate his soldiers’ actions.

Félin was tested in Operation Serval, 2013, in Mali, and is being used by the 200 French Special Forces fighting to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

RATNIK Personal Protective Equipment

NATO has expanded up to Russia’s borders and deployed American, British and German armored units near the borders of Russia. In case a conflict with NATO, Russia has equipped its front-line soldiers with individual equipment that is just as good as its NATO counterparts. On October 23, 2014, the Russian armed forces adopted the “Ratnik” standard equipment produced by the Russian defense industry. Apparently Sagem, NEXTER, and Thales have been contributing to the designing of the Ratnik equipment — the same firms that are manufacturing the Félin infantry equipment.

Ratnik protects nearly 90% of the body. In tests, ten 7.62mm-caliber bullets were fired at Ratnik equipment without it being penetrated. By comparison, by the tenth shot, the Germany or US equipment already had at least two bullet holes. Ratnik has the 6B45 bulletproof vest, 6B46 bulletproof shields for the thighs, legs and shoulders, and special 6B47 ballistic helmet. These all provide the sixth level of protection. The 6B47 helmet weighs 1 kg and is fitted with a 1PN139 thermal visor; a 1-P88-2 variable-range sight; and night vision. The sights and night vision systems are synchronized with 5.45mm-caliber AK-12 assault rifles, and the 6VM7 and 6VM7-1 (12.7mm-cal.) sniper rifles and the PKP Pecheneg machine gun.

In addition, Ratnik has the “Strelets” computerized system (“Musketeer” in English) for intelligence, control and communication. Strelets handles voice and video transmission and also has a satellite navigation mode using GLONASS. With the help of the Strelets system, the group commander continuously has the location of each of his subordinates on the monitor. This reduces the risk of friendly fire. Strelets also gives commanders who are on reconnaissance missions a way to send videos and photos of enemy targets to participating soldiers. Each soldier has his own Strelets tactical computer device, smaller than the commanding officer’s, the size of a phone.

The Ratnik uniform material is reinforced with a resin that contains carbon nanotubes (CNT). This resin is used in manufacturing wind turbine blades, hockey sticks and surfboards. The material is three times stronger than the usual stuff, and under infrared light it is only visible from two times closer than ordinary cloth. When used with night vision equipment, the camouflage uniforms printed on Ratnik makes it possible to distinguish between a soldier using Ratnik and those with a different type of equipment.

Ratnik comes with sensors that automatically transmit information about the medical condition of each soldier. When a soldier is injured, medical groups receiving the information can locate him by GPS, give first aid and take him to a hospital.

To obtain battlefield information, groups of Russian soldiers have a silent, mini UAV, powered by an electric motor. The Ratnik personal protection kit includes a gas mask, food and water supplies, water decontamination filters, a medical kit and a sleeping bag; it weighs 20 kg. Currently about 150,000 Russian soldiers are equipped with Ratnik.

CORSAIR- MP Floating Body Armor

The Russian Naval Marines and the US Marines used to be quite different from each other due to the different missions set by the Russian and US governments for these elite units. However, both are recognized for being highly effective, for high professionalism, and for having the latest technology. Russian marines have started to receive as standard equipment the latest floating body armor, “Corsair MP.” In recent years the Corsair MP floating body armor was tested, and training on how to use it was carried out, by Marine units at the Chukotka base in the Arctic, on the Bering Sea.

Corsair MP personal armor gives protection from projectiles, as it is derived from Ratnik. But Corsair MP also functions as a life jacket. Corsair MP keeps a fully-armed marine at the surface for several hours. The equipment has sealed pockets for ammunition (cartridge chargers, launchers, hand grenades), food and communications systems. Corsair MP also beats out all existing floating armor in the world; it allows Marines to shoot with precision in the water as their movements are not restricted. The equipment is a network-enabled ‘Air/Land & Sea Operational Bubble’ combat system.

Russia now has five infantry brigades and other “Spetsnaz” groups of marine special forces for actions at the shore with 13,000 active soldiers. Russian marines and Spetznaz special forces under the Black Sea and the Baltic Fleets have already received the first Corsair MP equipment, preparing in advance for possible challenges in these two theaters of military action.

24-Jan-17 The Russian Army Has Redesigned All Its Armored Forces

By Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

Originally posted at Algora Blog.

The new Russian Armata T-14 main battle tank appeared in public for the first time on May 4, 2015, at the final rehearsal for the military parade on Red Square. Along with the Armata T-14 were several new armored vehicles, the T-15 Armata-IFV (infantry fighting vehicle), the BTR / BMP Kurganets 25-IFV, the Boomerang 8 × 8 APC, the BTR-MD Rakushka and BMD-4M (for paratroops) and the 35 2S Koalytsia self-propelled gun. The Armata T-14 tanks at the parade in Moscow were pre-series, for equipment testing purposes, and did not have all the systems mounted on them. But the Armata T-14 tanks to be received by the Russian army will have them all. And their equipment will have to meet the performance targets required in the specifications. The Russian army has already ordered a first batch of 100 Armata T-14 tanks; they began performance trials in late 2016 and will be operational by 2018.

In this way, Russia shows that it has redesigned its entire armored force. The General Staff of the Russian army aims to replace all the armored vehicles left over from the Soviet era and those designed immediately after the collapse of the USSR. So 70% of the technology used by Russian ground troops is being replaced with the latest generation of armored vehicles. Meanwhile, the vehicles replaced by the Russians are seen and will continue to be seen in the equipment of the armies of NATO countries that are former members of the Warsaw Pact (Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) and the former Soviet republics (Moldova Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States).

  1. The Need to Build New Russian Armored Vehicles

The Israeli­­­–Arab wars in 1967 and 1973 and the Vietnam War, in which neighboring countries were also involved, resulted in massive purchases of US M60A3 tanks and the Soviet T-64 and T-72. But there was also the rapid design of three successful new vehicles: the German Leopard 2, the Soviet T-80 and the American M1A1. The treaty on the reduction of conventional weapons in Europe obliged the former members of the Warsaw Pact, which later became NATO members, to give up many of their Soviet tanks. Currently, the two Western types mentioned (the Leopard 2 and M1A1) have reached the limit as to any upgrades that could be made. It is now cheaper to design a new vehicles than to continue building on the same line. The same is true for the American M2 Bradley IFV or Stryker APC.

The Stryker appeared in 1972 and is part of the Piranha family produced by the Swiss company MOWAG, now part of the American concern General Dynamics–Land Systems. It became part of the US Marines infantry arsenal in the early 1980s, and was used in the invasion of Panama (1989), the First Gulf War (1991), and the invasions of Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan. The Stryker APC provides protection against projectiles of up to 14.5 mm. In the front, the shield is reinforced, and it is resistant to projectiles up to 20 mm caliber. The floor is also reinforced to withstand landmine explosions and IEDs up to 8 kg. Neither the US nor Germany has any new tank, IFV or APC in the planning or design stages.

The Armata T-14 is different from previous types of Russian tanks. It weighs 57 t, has a low silhouette, and a maximum speed of 90km/h with a range of 500 km. It tackles slopes with a 60-degree inclination and passes over obstacles 1.3 to 1.5 m high. The T-14’s turbodiesel engine is a version of the T-90 MS Taghil that reaches 1,800 hp. The coating was also borrowed from the T-90 MS Taghil: it is painted with a special rubberized Nakidka primer that is radio-absorbent and reduces the thermal footprint.

  1. The Armata T-14 Tank’s Suspension

The T-14 has Russia’s most modern suspension, controlled by a microprocessor. One of the configurations created by the suspension is “seated,” which gives the tank a very low profile when underway and better traction on a straight course. Another configuration is “raised,” in which the front is higher than the rear, used in maneuvering over obstacles. The T-14 has an 8-speed (or more) automatic transmission, so there is no need for a manual gear shift. By comparison, the US M1A2 Abrams tanks and Germany’s Leopard 2A5 have 4 forward speeds and 2 in reverse.

  1. Types of Armor Used by the Armata T-14

The main objective in designing the T-14 army was full crew protection, unlike the T-72 and T-80 where the level of crew protection was low. No crew member is positioned in the turret. The three crew members are in the enclosed and well reinforced compartment. The armor itself (of the armored crew compartment in the Armata T-14) consists of layers of composite, like a sandwich, made with ceramic, plates of titanium–steel alloy, and CNT – carbon fiber nanotube (most likely based on hybtonite, a nanoepoxy resin). Like the T-14, the Leopard 2A5 tank has Chobham type armor, using a 3rd generation multilayer composite which includes steel, tungsten and plastic, reinforced with ceramic components. In tests conducted by the US Army, the armor of the Leopard 2A5 tank demonstrated that it provides twice as much protection from kinetic projectiles as the American M1A2 Abrams tank (equivalent penetration depth 350 mm versus 650 mm).

The operative version of the Armata T-14 also has additional ERA armor (explosive reactive armor) that was not shown on the tanks on display during the parade. This armor, 600–1000mm thick, is called Relikt and it neutralizes the cumulative effect of antitank shells or missiles. The cumulative effect of anti-tank shells or missiles is to penetrate by melting the actual armor itself and then exploding inside the armored compartment. Relikt is constructed of RHA (rolled homogeneous armor) panels mounted at an angle tilted toward the front. ERA also protects the turret, the rear and the sides of the Armata T-14 tank, where the armor itself is not as thick. The Leopard 2A4 tanks that the Turkish military bought from Germany did not have this ERA armor. Between November 2016 and January 2017, Turkey used the Leopard 2A4 tanks in offensive operations to capture the Syrian city of Al Bab that was occupied by the Islamic State. In urban areas in Al Bab, the Turkish infantry had no room for maneuver in order to synchronize with the Leopard 2A4 armored vehicles, and the tanks fell into an Islamic State ambush. Turkey lost ten German Leopard 2A4 tanks in Al Bab, hit from the side and rear by SPG rocket launchers (self propelled grenades) and antitank missiles. In the war in Yemen, the Saudi army has lost twenty American M1A2 Abrams tanks that they bought from the US and that didn’t have ERA armor.

The third type of protection for the Armata T-14 is optoelectronic; it’s called Malachit and serves to blind the infrared- and laser-seeking heads of antitank missiles guided in the optical wavelength spectrum. It uses two automatic grenade launch systems with suspensions of aerosols, which prevents the photoelectric sensors from guiding the missile to the tank in the final stage.

The fourth protection system is a type of APS (Active Protection System) called Afganit and is intended to detonate anti-tank missile warheads and missiles at a distance of 1–2 m from the tank. So Afganit intercepts and detonates anti-tank missiles and rockets before they touch the armor. Afganit uses a small Doppler radar that operates in tandem with a set of sensors in the infrared spectrum to discover targets and measure the distance to them. The Afganit microprocessor system calculates the trajectory of the rocket fired at the tank and fires explosive interceptors back at it.

Afganit can track multiple targets and prepare to destroy two of them simultaneously. The interceptor tubes have a fuel block and a proximity fuse. Unlike other protection systems, Afganit tubes do not produce shrapnel. They use only the blast wave from the explosion to destroy the incoming missile or cause it to explode early. Afganit is a generation ahead of the Shtora, Arena and Trophy APS systems (the most advanced in the world at this time). In the operation to liberate the city of Aleppo, the Syrian army used a company of T-90 MA tanks. In videos posted on the Internet, you can see that the APS on the T-90 MA (Shtora) tanks neutralizes American BGM-71 TOW-2 anti-tank missiles.

  1. The Armata T-14 Tank’s Weaponry

The T-14 is equipped with an electrically-operated remote-control turret, in which the main cannon (2A82-1M, 125mm cal.) is mounted — which is superior to the 2A46M 5 on the T-90 MS tank. The gun has a 3-D laser gyroscopic stabilizing system. This cannon is said to develop 30% more kinetic energy than the cannon on the M1A2 Abrams tank (which pierces armor up to 810mm thick) and the Leopard 2A5. The T-14’s main gun has an automatic mechanism for cooling the barrel, which enables it to fire at a higher rate than the ones on T-90MS tanks. The gun uses tungsten-core armor-piercing explosive projectiles, with Kitolov 2M laser-guided Sense-and-Destroy (SADARM) antitank sub-munitions, and laser-guided antitank rockets that can be fired at helicopters or low-flying aircraft. Variations on the Armata T-14 tank are envisaged, on which the 125mm-caliber howitzer can be replaced with a 152mm-cal. 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled gun. The 2S35 Koalytsia self-propelled gun is a new Russian weapon with a maximum range of 70 km that uses Krasnopol-2 laser-guided projectiles. As a secondary weapon, the T-14 has another gun, 30mm cal. (firing at a rate of 620 projectiles / min) which was not on the tanks shown at the parade in 2015. Another secondary weapon is a 7.62mm cal. machine gun, remote operated, for anti-air and anti-land use. All the weapons in the turret are automatic loading.

The weapons in the turret are connected to the fire control center, which is equipped with two full sets of HD night vision gear (with video screens protected by anti-laser filters) with x 15–20 magnifying power), a laser rangefinder, and a ballistics computer coupled to wind speed and wind direction sensors. Optoelectronic devices provide a full 360-degree field of vision around the tank. The IFF (friend or foe) identification equipment has two channels (laser and electronic) that send an encrypted digital signal to the target. The laser identifies the target in 0.6 seconds, and if it’s a friend, it stops the weapons in the turret from firing.

  1. The Armata T-14’s Electronic Countermeasures Equipment and Navigation Equipment

The Armata T-14 has an Electronic Countermeasures suite to jam enemy laser guidance systems. A laser warning receiver locates the light source that guides enemy anti-tank missiles, and it emits a high-powered laser spot that blinds the optical guidance equipment (laser rangefinder, night vision equipment, TV cameras in the visible and infrared spectrum). The Armata T-14 tank also has EMT-7 (electromagnetic pulse transmitter) equipment that short-circuits the electrical sensors that can trigger anti-tank mines from a distance of 5–8m.

The Armata T-14’s navigation system displays the tactical situation as a digital map using GPS channels to determine the coordinates of still and moving targets. Its communications equipment transmits and receives information from similar equipment on other T-14, IFV, and APC tanks, and recon and attack helicopters/airplanes and drones. From detection to location (the transmission of a target’s coordinates), identification, and attack, takes no more than 9 sec. The Armata T-14 also has electronic combat capabilities featuring a broadband receiver transmitter and a jammer.

  1. Other Russian Armored Vehicles that Complement the Armata T-14

In practice, the Armata T-14 has certain limitations. A 125mm-cal. rocket weighs 5.6 kg, so the T-14 only has a reserve of 42–50 projectiles. As targets, the T-14 will choose to neutralize tanks, artillery pieces and fortifications on the enemy’s territory.

Armata T-15 heavy infantry fighting vehicles fight together with the T-14s to destroy the remaining 70% of the targets, i.e., the enemy’s infantry support (artillery groups, tank line-ups and light and highly mobile armored vehicles such as Humvees or PCA Strykers). The T-15 has the same chassis as the T-14, but it is equipped with an Epoch Almaty universal turret, with remote control, the same as the new 25t Kurganets-25 IFV and the 8×8 Boomerang APC. The Almaty Epoch turret is armed with a 30mm-cal. cannon, a 7.62mm-cal. machine gun and a launch container with two Kornet / Kornet-EM laser beam guided-rocket launchers (8–10 km range). The 2A42, a 30mm-cal. automatic cannon, can fire at a rate of 550–800 shots/minute. The mass of a shell is 300–400 g. The Armata T-15, Kurganets-25 and Boomerang each have 500 30mm.-cal.projectiles.

As with the Armata T-14 tank, the T-15 IFV is protected by four types of armor. It uses the same navigation equipment and optoelectronics, the same engine, a similar central fire control, etc. The BTR/BMP Kurganets-25 IFV is for infantry and elite mountain troops; it is powered by a 800hp engine. It has a 3-man crew and can carry eight infantrymen.

Comparing the Armata T-14 to the German Leopard 2, the American M1A2 Abrams, the French AMX 56 Leclerc and the British Challenger 2 tanks, the Russian tank comes out 3/1 ahead. Therefore, Russia plans to acquire 2,300 Armata T-14s by 2020-2025. No European army and not even the US has the equivalent of the Armata T-15. Therefore the Russian army will acquire 4,000 of the Armata T-15 heavy IFVs to serve as weapons platforms with mortars and anti-aircraft missile systems. They may also be usable for towing damaged tanks. Russia also aims to acquire 4,000 of the Kurganets-25 IFV by 2020-2025.

  1. Russian Armored Vehicles for the Airborne Divisions are Intended to Surprise NATO

Russia is making great efforts to develop the capability to stop a potential NATO offensive, which would revolve around the extraordinary firepower of the US armored brigades. Russia is counting avoiding being surprised by NATO and hoping, instead, that the Russian army will be able to surprise its opponent. By avoiding surprise, we refer to airborne operations conducted by the US military deep in Russian territory: operations by units of airborne troops carried on board C-5 Galaxy, C-17, and C-130 transport aircraft and tilt-rotor aircraft (MV-22), and units transported by CH-47, CH-53E and UH-60 transport helicopters. These aircraft are accompanied by multi-role aircraft (F-15, F-16, F-22, A-10, AV-8) and by attack helicopters (AH-64, OH-58 and the AH-1W/Z used to “hunt” Russian armored groups that are near to where the airborne troops landed).

In turn, Russia wants to be able to surprise NATO, which cannot be achieved using the cumbersome Russian armored vehicles described above but with the mobility and firepower of Russia’s new armored vehicles for airborne troops. Projecting force at a great distance in a few hours, the Russian paratroopers’ IFVs are parachuted behind US armored brigades. Then Russian paratroops can come around the flanks of the American battle formations. They can create deep breaches or surround and isolate battalions of US armored brigades. Once encircled, these armored subunits become vulnerable and can be destroyed easily. To this end, the Russian paratroops have begun acquiring more light IFV: the BTR-MD Rakushka and the BMD-4M, designed to be parachuted from IL-76 aircraft.

The BTR-MD Rakushka is an IFV that weighs 13t and is capable of running at 70 km/h and crossing streams of water. It can safely transport a commando group of 13 paratroopers, or 2 tons of ammunition. It is armed with a PKTM 7.62mm machine gun and a .30mm automatic grenade launcher. To provide fire support for the BTR-MD Rakushka, the paratroopers have another IFV, the 13 ton BMD-4M. The BMD-4M is armed with a 100mm turret-mounted cannon that launches regular projectiles and also laser-guided anti-tank missiles (9M117 Bastion). And in the turret the IFV also has a 30mm cannon and four banks of guided anti-tank missiles.

In addition to the BMD-4M, Russian amphibious forces have fire support from the Sprut-SD light tank (with a mass of 18 tons), armed with a 125mm cannon that can also launch laser-guided antitank missiles (the 9M119 Svir). An Il-76 transport plane can parachute two such tanks every time it flies. For greater mobility, Division 106 from Tula (a city located 165km south of Moscow) has additionally selected wheeled armored vehicles (6×6) with a speed of 90–130 km/h (the UAMZ 5313-Kolun, UAMZ 4901-Toros and the Typhoon MRAP).

  1. Russian Counter-Battery Fire Equipment for Parachute Troops

To achieve its aim, Russian paratroops need maximum precision at night or in fog. They have modern equipment for target detection and identification in the area into which they are parachuted. These devices are known as counter-fire artillery. Reconnaissance subunits of the Russian paratroopers create mobile outposts capable of creating a digital map in real time using GPS coordinates from devices on the enemy’s vehicles, especially normal and reactive artillery and tanks. Using a data line, Russian reconnaissance subunits transmit the coordinates of a target to fire support installations up to 50 km away.

The new reconnaissance system on the “PRP-4A Argus” self-propelled artillery was obtained by mounting an IL120-1 radar on the BMP-1 (IFV), instead of the turret. The equipment also has electro-optical night vision devices coupled with two 1D14-1 periscopic laser rangefinders, placed one in front and one in back. The crew consists of commander, mechanic-driver, an operator for the reconnaissance radar system and one for the electro-optical sensors. The two sensor operators have KL-85 multifunction displays and are connected to Russian military telecommunications satellites. The combined sensor equipment has a 360° field of vision with +/- 5 ° elevation for determining the coordinates of enemy artillery and armored vehicles up to a distance of 20–25 km and isolated groups of soldiers at up to 7 km. For jamming antitank laser-guided missiles launched at it, the PRP-4A Argus has a 1PN125 stroboscopic laser transmitter and 3VD35 grenades that produce a curtain of aerosols.

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