Translated from the Russian by New Silk Strategies (originally translated from Swedish)
A new Putin tool: "Satan-2" can cover a territory the size of France
Olle Ohlsén Pettersson
In recent years, Russia has invested heavily in modernizing its armed forces. In addition to the innovative missile system, it includes new nuclear submarines and one advanced air defense system.
On Wednesday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu presented in the State Duma new plans for their development. Here are some types of weapons that affect the balance of the world - and in the Baltics.
RS-28 "Sarmat": "Satan-2"
The RS-28 Sarmat is an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead. It can cover an area comparable in size to Texas or France. The missile has a range of 11 thousand km, and weighs 100 tons. It was developed to replace the older R-36M Voevoda, known as the "Satan" [This is the name assigned by NATO. Obviously picked for emotional impact—NSS]
The name of the new missile according to the NATO classification is Satan-2, and it is supposedly much faster than its predecessor. In addition, it is assumed that it is much more difficult to intercept, since it does not follow a straight trajectory.
The missile is expected to go into service in 2018. The nuclear warhead "Satan-2" weighs 10 tons, and it is estimated to be two thousand times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The missile has been under development for several years. According to the general director of the Makeev Mass Media Center Vladimir Degtyar and the leading designer of the center Yuri Kaverin, they received from the Kremlin "instructions to begin work on design and development" as far back as 2011, before the official conclusion of the agreement. [Possibly refers to the US-Russia arms limitation treaty that went into effect in 2011.—NSS]
"The strategic missile complex of strategic importance, Sarmat, was created in order to guarantee and effectively fulfill the tasks of nuclear deterrence by Russia's strategic forces," the press release said.
Next is the world's most advanced tank.
T-14 the Armata
The T-14 Armata is an ultimate weapon platform, which can function, among other things, as a tank, air defense, artillery gun and combat engineering machine.
The T-14 Armata tank during rehearsal for the parade in honor of the victory in the Great Patriotic War [WW II—NSS] in Moscow.
According to a report of the British Intelligence Service, it will be very difficult for the British military forces to resist against the Armata in battle. Internal documents written by high-ranking intelligence officers state: "without exaggeration, it can be said that the Armata represents the most revolutionary breakthrough in the development of tanks for the past half-century." The report then says that "it is not surprising that this tank became a sensation." At the same time, it criticized the inability of the UK to create a combat vehicle comparable to the Armata.
The Armata first saw the light in 2015, when its prototype took part in the annual May parade. According to the report, the tank is revolutionary because its crew is protected from fire by a tower of innovative design.
It is also believed that the tank is lighter, faster and has a lower profile than its competitors.
The report also says that the tank will be equipped with a radar system, which is used on new Russian fighters, and is protected by armor made of modern composite materials.
According to the publication The National Interest, however, the Armata has many problems. One of them is that the tank is too expensive. Russia simply does not have enough money to produce these machines in large quantities. According to the British report, Russia will be able to produce 120 new Armatas a year. According to Mike Kofman of CNA Corporation, a well-known expert on Russian military affairs, it will take Russia 21 years to replace all 2,500 tanks that are currently in service with the Armata, but that's only in the event the Kremlin has the means to do so, which, according to the National Interest, is unlikely. Since this article was published, Russia has sold a substantial batch of the Armata to the Iraqi army. Such exports will be a major contribution to financing the construction of more of them than the National Interest expected—NSS]
New missiles, airplanes and troops
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the military sphere was subjected to severe austerity. The ships and submarines rusted in the ports, and the planes did not take off. But with the arrival of Vladimir Putin, the army again began to receive funds for new weapons and large-scale exercises.
This year, Russia's strategic missile forces will receive 41 new ballistic missiles. At the same time, the air force will receive 170 new aircraft, the army will receive 905 tanks and combat vehicles, and the fleet will receive 17 new ships. This was reported by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
During 2017, three new units of the Russian strategic nuclear forces will also receive new ballistic missiles, Shoigu said. Each unit will take up to 10 missiles to operate.
The growing number of new weapons has led to the need to hire new personnel. Shoigu said that the Air Force now needs 1,300 new pilots and they will be completely trained in 2017.
The Russian military is operating in Syria on the side of the regime [since this article was written for Western consumption, the author used the de rigueur, but inappropriate, word “regime” to describe the legitimately elected Syrian government—NSS], and the Russian side has used the conflict to test new weapons under high-stress conditions.
Due to the project for the modernization of the Russian Armed Forces, the country's million-man military potential has come close to the Western potential, primarily with regard to conventional weapons, communication technologies and drone technologies.
Shoigu reports that the armed forces now have two thousand drones, and in 2011 there were only 180. He also mentioned that Russia has deployed radar systems to monitor the entire length of its border.
The minister said that the military is going to deploy three new infantry divisions in the west, south-west and east of the country (the Pacific Ocean). The Western Division will be active near Sweden. Even more acute from the geopolitical point of view will be the situation with Russia's deployment of troops in the Pacific region. The Kuril Islands have been disputed since the Second World War: both Russia and Japan believe they are entitled to these territories.
The deployment of the Russian infantry division there will not exactly reduce the tension. Earlier, the Russians deployed anti-ship missiles there to protect the coast.
Next comes an invisible submarine in the Baltic Sea.
The Lada project is the latest attempt of the Russian fleet to create a compact diesel submarine that will be very difficult to detect.
Diesel submarine “St. Petersburg”
The submarine is quieter than its Soviet predecessor, the Kilo sub; it is also quieter than the engines of any of the modern Russian submarines.
Development of the “Lada” class began in the late 1990s. The first submarine of this project, the “St. Petersburg,” was launched in 2005. Currently, this submarine is the only one of the Lada class in production, but in the next few years, Russia plans to build two more of them.
Unlike the Borey class, the Lada is not designed to transport ballistic missiles. It is a non-nuclear combat submarine equipped with modern self-guided torpedoes for the destruction of other subs and ships. In addition, submarines of the Lada class are equipped with Vodopad torpedoes, created in Soviet times and intended to destroy other subs.
Details about this boat are for the most part kept under wraps. According to some information, the sub, with a length a 72 meters, can dive to a depth of 300 meters, and carries a crew of 37 sailors and officers. The sub’s maximum speed while submerged is 21 knots.
The Lada project is also known as the St. Petersburg class, and its subs are adapted for operations in the Baltic Sea and other relatively shallow waters.
[Although the Shkval supercavitating torpedo was known as early as the 90s, this author for some reason does not mention anywhere herein supercavitating torpedoes, which are capable of dazzling speeds unattainable by any Western torpedo. In fact, Russian developers are now working on another supercavitating torpedo called Khishchnik, which, unlike the Shkval, is capable of elaborate maneuvers.—NSS]
9K720 “Iskander” missiles can hit Sweden
9K720 Iskander missiles are short-range ballistic missiles that can carry a nuclear warhead. The Iskander missile system replaced the old Soviet Scud system.
Missile system Iskander-M
In addition to nuclear weapons, the Iskander can be equipped with many different types of warheads. Examples include high-precision bombs capable of penetrating the walls of a concrete bunker, cluster bombs and even electromagnetic missiles for destroying enemy radar systems.
At launch, the Iskander missile weighs about 3.8 tons and travels at speeds as high as 2,100 meters per second, making it very difficult for enemy air defenses to intercept it.
The missile systems are located near Kaliningrad, the former Koenigsberg in East Prussia, which at the end of the Second World War became part of Russia.
Last week, Iskander missile systems were transported from Luga, near St. Petersburg, to Baltiysk. The range of the missiles is from 400 to 500 kilometers, which means that they can strike southeastern Sweden.
In Baltiysk, which is located about 40 km west of Kaliningrad, the bulk of the Russian Baltic fleet is anchored.
Next comes the Soviet-era missile system, which is still used in the Baltic states.
Tactical missile system OTR-21 “Tochka”
The missile system OTP-21 “Tochka” is a tactical ballistic missile that was introduced to the world back in 1976. When the NATO Military Alliance learned of its existence, it was given the classification name SS-21 Scarab.
Preparation of the Tochka missile system for launching a tactical missile at the Pavenkovo military training ground in the Kaliningrad region. In the ’70s, the “Tochka” was considered a revolutionary breakthrough, because it used inertial navigation, which favorably differed from the predecessor of “Luna-M”.
The most modern version, which NATO calls Scarab C, weighs 1.8 tons, and has a range of 185 kilometers.
The missile can be equipped with either a conventional warhead or a tactical nuclear head.
SS-21 is part of the 53rd rocket brigade stationed in Chernyakhovsk, Kaliningrad region, says defense analyst Jørgen Elfving, a former lieutenant colonel working at the National Defense Institute.
“Every year, according to the Russian plan, two rocket brigades are re-equipped and receive Iskander missiles. When the brigade in Chernyakhovsk will be re-equipped is not known, but in the course of the debates in Russia it is often said that placing Iskander in Kaliningrad can be an adequate response to training activities of NATO and deployment of their forces in Eastern Europe,” says Jørgen Elfving.
The S-400 can track 80 enemy aircraft at the same time
The S-400 is the new star of Russian air defense. The mobile anti-aircraft system is considered the most modern version of defense against enemy missiles and aircraft, along with the touted Israeli system “Iron Dome”.
The S-400 has a very advanced tracking system that can target 80 missiles and planes simultaneously. The main task of the S-400 is to neutralize the enemy’s missiles and aircraft before they reach Russian territory.
The anti-aircraft missile system uses three types of missiles: the 40N6 with a range of 400 km, the 48N6 with a range of 250 km and the 9M96, a version with a range of 120 km.
The launched missile travels toward the target at a speed of just over 1,000 meters per second.
In 2009, the Russian Armed Forces reported the deployment of S-400 complexes near the North Korean border. This was done in order to destroy nuclear missiles of North Korea in the event they should mistakenly approach the Russian territory.
Production of the S-400 began in 2007, and the system was developed in the late 1990s. Since then, at least 152 complexes have been deployed.
These complexes are included in the at Gvardeysk 183rd anti-aircraft missile regiment in Kaliningrad. S-400s were deployed in the Kaliningrad region in 2012.
Their predecessor, the S-300VM, was exported, for example, to the oil-rich country of Venezuela in South America.
Next on the list is a bomber that Russia has deployed near Sweden.
Fighter-bomber "Sukhoy" Su-34
The Su-34 is a bomber that the Russian Air Force has used, for example, in Syria.
The aircraft is used primarily to destroy targets on the ground.
It carries a crew of two, and has a flight range of 4,500 km. The maximum air speed at sea level is1,400 km per hour. At an altitude of 11 thousand kilometers, the aircraft can accelerate to 1,900 km per hour. The maximum flight altitude is 17,000 m, and the maximum takeoff weight is 44.4 tonnes.
The aircraft's armament consists of air-to-air missiles, guided missiles to destroy ground targets, medium-range missiles, guided and unguided bombs.
According to Jørgen Elfving, a number of Su-34 planes are located in the Baltic region.
"The military unit there, according to available information, has 24 Su-34 planes. It is reported that by 2020, from 150 to 220 Su-34s will be supplied to the Russian air force and will replace the Su-24. Su-34s have been used in Syria," says Jørgen Elfving.
According to Jane's Defense Weekly, Russia has at least eight Su-34 planes in Syria.
Below we will discuss one of the most modern landing assault ships in Russia.
Russia has several large landing ships of the 775 Minsk Class, ie, the Kaliningrad, the Korolev and the Alexander Shabalin.
The ships are armed with 57 mm artillery guns, one 76.2 mm battery and several antiaircraft missile units, two of which are 30 mm caliber.
A battalion of marines with combat vehicles can be loaded on the ship.
"These ships are quite old, but at the moment they are working on one new landing ship, the Ivan Gren, which is under development, is now being tested and will be put into service by the Russian Navy later this year." Initially, six such ships were to be built, but now it has been decided to hold it at only two," said Jørgen Elfving.
Next is a Soviet-era submarine, which will soon be replaced by more submarines.
Non-nuclear submarines of the "Kilo" class.
The crew of the Soviet-class "Kilo" subs consists of 57 sailors and officers. The sub has a surface speed of this submarine is 10 knots and a submerged speed 17 knots. On average, the submarine can dive to 240 meters. "Kilo" class subs can remain submerged for up to 45 days. Armament consists of six torpedo tubes, and up to 18 torpedoes or 24 mines can be taken on board.
Russia has two non-nuclear submarines of the Kilo class in the Baltic Sea - Vyborg and Dmitrov. The latter is currently docked, according to Jørgen Elfving.
Now we come to the submarine used in the Barents Sea.
The "Borey" class – Russia’s new supersubs
The "Borey" is a nuclear submarine intended to replace the famous submarine of the Akula design, the largest ever created. The "Borey" is much smaller than its predecessor, but it is more difficult to detect, and it is much more maneuverable. Submerged, this submarine can travel at a speed of 30 knots, while its submerged speed is 15 knots. The Borey has an OK-650 nuclear reactor, the same type used in Soviet submarines since the early 1980s. It carries a crew of 107 sailors and officers, and can dive to about 450 meters.
The sub, 170 meters in length, is equipped with ballistic missiles that can carry both tactical and strategic nuclear warheads. It is equipped with 12-meter missiles of the RSM-56 Bulava type. Reportedly, problems were encountered during the tests with the "Bulava.” For example, they exploded in the water when fired in the submerged position. The theoretical range of the missiles is 8,000 km, and the accuracy radius is 350 meters.
In addition, the "Borey" class is equipped with Vyuga (blizzard) missiles, which protect it from enemy submarines and surface ships. They can be loaded with a non-atomic explosive or carry small tactical nuclear warheads. In addition, the "Borey" has many smart torpedoes.
Since the submarine uses an atomic engine, the time of its operation is "unlimited", which theoretically means that the Borey can stay on the job for many years.
The Russian fleet ordered ten submarines of the Borey class. Three of these are currently in service.
Due to its size, the Borey is primarily adapted to work in the open sea and is not intended for the Baltic region, where it could run aground because of the relatively shallow depth.
Olle Ohlsén Pettersson