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Russia's Huge Military Build Up - A Modern Military for the 21st Century

A staggering array of new weapons is appearing, as every branch of the Russian military is upgrading

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This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The Russian military industrial complex is on a roll.

Over the course of the last month Russia has revealed: 

  1. The public display of three armoured vehicle families: (i) the heavy Armata tracked vehicle family; (ii) the medium Kurganets 25 tracked vehicle family; and (iii) the Bumerang wheeled vehicle family;
  2. Confirmation that the SU T50 fifth generation fighter aircraft and the TU 160 long range bomber will be entering production next year;
  3. Announcement that production of the futuristic S500 surface-to-air missile system will begin next year.

Elsewhere there is information that another heavy supersonic fighter aircraft, the MiG 41, is being developed to replace the veteran MiG 31, while increasing numbers of SU 30 and SU 34 strike aircraft and SU 35 and MiG 35 fighter aircraft are entering service.

Three types of military helicopters, the MI 28, the KA 52 and the Ansat are now in production and service and there is now also a new generation of new jet trainer aircraft, the YAK 130, in production and service.

The air transport fleet is also being updated with introduction of the revised IL 476 freighter aircraft, with more air transport aircraft in advanced design.

Meanwhile the navy - usually the Cinderella service of the Russian military - is receiving its first fully modern large surface warship since the fall of the USSR, in the form of the first in the series of Admiral Gorshkov class frigate, now on sea trials, which are reputedly going well. This is a futuristic design with an advanced carbon fibre hull and a powerful range of anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, some of which are supersonic.

The navy is also taking into service the first of the very advanced Yasen class nuclear submarines, which is also armed with an impressive range of torpedoes and missiles.

Production of Kilo class diesel electric submarines and Admiral Grigorovich class frigates, primarily for the Black Sea Fleet, is also underway.

Beyond that there are plans for more advanced closed cycle submarines of the Lada class to replace the Kilos, as well as ambitious plans for nuclear and conventional powered destroyers (of the so-called Leader class) and (eventually) for aircraft carriers.

All this is going hand-in-hand with further steps to upgrade Russia’s nuclear defences. The Borei class nuclear ballistic missile submarines are now fully operational with their Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles. Three are in active service, a further three have been laid down, and there are said to be plans to procure four more.

On land the powerful road mobile solid fuelled Yars intercontinental ballistic missile has begun entering service to compliment the existing Topol missiles. The Rubezh solid fuelled intercontinental ballistic missile, based on the Yars, is in development. Apparently the plan is that the Rubezh will be equipped with hypersonic warheads. There are said to be plans to develop railway based versions of either the Yars or the Rubezh.

A powerful liquid fuelled submarine launched intercontinental ballistic missile - the Layner - is now in service on Russia’s Delfin class ballistic missile submarines, while a gigantic liquid fuelled land based intercontinental ballistic missile, the Sarmat, which will carry at least ten warheads and possibly as many as fifteen, is in priority development to replace the Cold War era Voevoda (or Satan) missile.

Some question whether this programme will bear fruit. However a lot of the hardware is already appearing. At this rate by the 2020s Russia will have a very modern military -- more modern in hardware terms than that of the U.S.

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