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Russian Defense Minister Reveals Army's Top 2017 Picks

By Fuad Mukhtarli February 7, 2018


Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu / TASS

In 2017, Russia upgraded its armed forces with armored military vehicles, cruise missiles, warships and special hardware, according to Defense Minister Army General Sergey Shoigu.

"Over the past year, the army and the navy received more than 3,500 advanced armaments and items of military hardware," Shoigu said while speaking at the National Defense Control Center on January 31.

Throughout last year, Russia’s military received delivery of "over 110 jets and helicopters, two warships, three brigade sets of the Iskander-M air defense missile system, nine surface-to-air missile systems and complexes of various classes, 116 Kalibr tactical cruise missiles and over 400 pieces of the armored vehicles," Shoigu said.

There Russia is reported to have widely tested its Kalibr cruise missiles, hitting nearly 100 Islamic State (IS, or “ISIS”) targets. The Russian military first launched Kalibr-Nk terrain-guided missiles against IS targets in Syria from warships in the Caspian Sea, located about 1,500 km (930 miles) away. The defense ministry reported hitting 11 targets that way in 2015.

Russia’s leaders have admitted to using operations in Syria as a sort of testing ground for over 200 new weapons and advanced systems.

High-technology weapons and equipment used there, where Russia has been supporting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad against terrorist and rebel forces, are a key component to Russia’s new state armament program, which runs from 2018 – 2027 and was recently endorsed by President Vladimir Putin. The 10-year program is expected to eat up approximately $328 billion dollars from Russia’s state budget, which will be used to upgrade the army and navy and include nuclear deterrence systems and precision-guided weapons.

Kh-101 long-range cruise missiles were also deployed to Syria. Using stealth technology, they are used in Russia’s Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic missile platforms and are capable of hitting targets at a distance of more than 5,000 km (3,107 mi).

"In past years, the Aerospace Forces employed Kh-101 more with the aim of testing it. Checking the data, studying the particular features, and optimizing all procedures," military historian Dmitry Boltenkov told Izvestia.

The Russian air force was not left out of mix. It received engineering and motor vehicles, communications tools, and aircraft weaponry and ammunition, Shoigu said.

Late in 2017, Russian troops received the Iskander-M missile systems, said to boost conventional strike capability and give Russia a non-nuclear deterrent capability, and termed ‘pre-nuclear deterrence’. The systems use cruise and aero-ballistic, and are being introduced into existing missile and artillery brigades across Russia, including in Kaliningrad. Iskander-M can deploy its missiles and destroy targets within 10 minutes of a launch. It was tried and tested in Syria, which was met with alarm in European capitals.

"In 2017, the army got two brigade sets of the Iskander-M tactical missile complex, four sets of air defense missile systems for the ground forces, 183 pieces of the armor and military hardware, 1,183 various motor vehicles, over 13,000 communications means and 433 electronic warfare stations," Colonel Oleg Stepanov from the Defense Ministry Military Representations Department said on January 31.

Commander of the 933rd air defense missile regiment Colonel Andrey Yelizarov said that a regiment set of the Tor-M2 surface-to-air missile complex was also received. The Tor-M2 (bagel in military slang) is a tactical air defense system with a firing range of up to 15 km (9.3 mi). It is amphibious and is capable of operating in fully automatic mode, shooting down airborne targets without the operator's participation.

The military deployed one battalion of Buk-M3 brand new air defense system in Kursk Region to cover a radius of 70 kilometers (43.5 mi), the Commander of the 53rd air defense missile brigade Col Sergei Muchkayev said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry completed the construction of two radars for the country’s Space Forces and four storage facilities for Bulava sea-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles, Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov said on January 31.

The radars were built in Orsk in the Urals and in Barnaul in southwest Siberia, while the Bulava storage facilities are based in Severomorsk in northwest Russia, he said. "With regard to the Space Forces’ facilities, the construction of two radars was completed in Orsk and Barnaul," Ivanov added.

The construction of four storage facilities for 3M-30 items of the basic loading terminal No.17 has been completed at the items’ loading point in Severomorsk, the deputy defense minister added. The item 3M-30 is designed in various documents as the Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile.

As part of the aerodrome network development, Russia restored artificial pavements at the airfields in Mozdok in the North Caucasus and Engels in the Volga area for the basing and the use of the Russian Aerospace Force, the deputy defense minister said.

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force received 21 ballistic missiles last year, Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Military Representations Department Col Oleg Stepanov said.

"Overall, 21 ballistic missiles, 19 autonomous launchers, 33 combat duty support vehicles, 7 command posts and 310 other integral parts of the systems were delivered," he said.

"A total of six launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles were carried out in 2017 to extend the warranty periods for the operation of missile systems that are on combat duty, and also for training purposes. The hardware showed its operation in a normal mode and the assigned tasks were accomplished," the defense official said.

Military and special hardware of Yars-S missile complexes went on combat alert in 2017, Commander of the 39th Missile Division Maj-Gen Pavel Burkov said. The rearmament of the 357th missile regiment with mobile Yars-S systems was completed, he said.

The commander added that the 39th missile division has been on combat duty since December 2017 comprising two missile regiments armed with mobile Yars systems and one missile regiment equipped with Yars-S mobile complexes.

Read more: Syria, armed forces, arms, Russia