Russia’s 2018-2025 state armaments program will focus on nuclear deterrence, aerospace defense and “smart weapons systems,” Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said adding that defense contractors had been tasked with making sure that the Armed Forces are 70% equipped with modern weapons.
A source at the Defense Ministry told Sputnik that the program will also include, among others, the S-500 air defense missile systems, the fifth-generation T-50 PAK FA fighter jets, Armata tanks and armored vehicles.
The Russian Defense Ministry Board headed by Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed on Wednesday the draft state armaments program for 2018-2025, the Ministry said in a statement.
“Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov, Chief Commanders and Commanders of the military branches, Chiefs of military headquarters will make reports on proposals for the draft program,” the statement read.
The senior members of the Russian Armed Forces, representatives of the government and military-industrial complex participated in the meeting.
However, many military experts believe that, amid the current financial crunch, some of the ambitious projects could be put on ice.
“I think that the Navy will be the main victim of the drop in funding. While construction of the Borei-class nuclear submarines will continue, the construction of new surface ships could slow down,” Andrei Frolov, Editor-in-Chief of Arms Export, told Sputnik.
He added that the planned construction of Shtorm-class nuclear aircraft carriers could also be put on hold and that Lider-class destroyers would hardly be floated before 2025.
Meanwhile, the current overhaul of the nuclear-powered missile cruisers Admiral Nakhimov and Pyotr Veliky and the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier will proceed as scheduled, Frolov added. The planned construction of ships for the Arctic will hardly be rolled back either.
“The geopolitical and economic importance of the Arctic region can hardly be exaggerated. The Ilya Muromets icebreaker is slated to be commissioned before this year is out, and two multirole patrol ships are likely to enter service before 2025,” Viktor Nikolayev, Editor-in-Chief of the Military-Industrial Courier, told Sputnik.
The experts believe that the Aerospace Forces will likewise be spared the cuts with the focus being on the tried-and-true Su-30SM, Su-34, Su-35 fighter planes, Mi-8AMTSh, Mi-28N and Ka-52 helicopters and the S-400 air defense missile systems. As for the top-of the-line S-500s, they will have to wait.
“I believe that a number of advanced but expensive projects, such as the PAK DA (photo) next-generation strategic stealth bomber, will be dropped. They are modernizing the Tu-160 strategic bomber and developing two such projects all at the same time, which is something even very rich countries can’t afford,” Andrei Frolov said.
However, the PAK FA T-50 fifth-generation fighter planes are slated to join the Air Force before 2025. Also, mass production of the Il-112 short-range transport plane is scheduled to begin in 2019 and the Il-214 medium-range transport is slated to fly before the end of this year.
By 2020 modern tanks, mostly T-72B3s, will account for 70% of Russian armored forces. Meanwhile, orders have already been placed for the delivery of 100 top-notch T-14 Armata tanks.
Late last month, a source at the Military-Industrial Commission told the media that emphasis in the 2018-2025 state armaments program will also be on “intellectual weapons systems,” communications, intelligence, command and electronic warfare systems and high-precision weapons.