Tags: Russia | Increases | Military | Buildup

Russia Increases Military Buildup

Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM

While Washington talks about building a closer relationship with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Moscow continues its military buildup by developing and deploying new generations of its weapons systems. Many of these systems, if not all of them, were especially designed for a war against the U.S. and its friends and allies – in other words, to kill Americans.

According to media reports, at the end of last year a third group of the new intercontinental nuclear missile "Topol-M" was deployed at a base in the southwest, as a part of Moscow efforts to make this the rugged, extremely hard-to-detect weapon the backbone of its nuclear forces.

A regiment at the Tatischevo base in the Saratov region was equipped with SS-27 (NATO classification for "Topol-M"), which was designed for the penetration of an American National Missile Defense system (NMD) if it ever becomes operational.

Before last year's deployment, Russia already had 20 SS-27s in service, 10 per regiment, all deployed in 1998 and 1999. This missile can be fired from a mobile launcher, making it harder to detect and more likely to survive a first strike in a nuclear war. It was designed to replace older missiles that have outlived their service or must be dismantled under arms control agreements. Some experts have said the SS-27 could be converted to carry several warheads, a change that would violate START II.

Recently Russia has conducted a test of a long-range missile with a new jet-powered last stage, or so-called "scramjet," designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses. The flight test of an SS-25 ICBM took place in July from a launch site in Central Russia and it was tracked to an impact area several thousand miles away on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Its last stage was a high-speed Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound or more) cruise missile that flew within the Earth's atmosphere at the altitude of about 100,000 feet.

However, while deploying new missiles, Moscow continues modernization of its older weapons. For example, Russia recently carried out a test launch of an aging strategic missile RS-18 (code-named Stiletto by the West) from Baikonur cosmodrome in neighboring Kazakhstan. This missile test , which successfully hit the target area on one of the Kamchatka islands off Russia's Pacific coast, followed a statement by a Moscow military official, saying Russia would offer strategic missiles to launch commercial payloads into space.

In his words, about 250 such missiles would be available by 2009 and the proceeds from their sale could reach about $700 million. The test also confirmed the reliability of the aging missile complex, despite its being in operation longer than originally intended.

According to the Russian press, in the near future Russia's Navy will commission a new nuclear-powered submarine named Gepard (Cheetah), which is designed to carry cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. The tests of Gepard had started in Arctic waters in early December 2000, just months after the tragic sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine with 118 men on board.

The Gepard will be Russia's 13th submarine of what NATO classifies as the Akula class. The new nuclear-powered submarine is half the length of the 505-foot Kursk and would have a crew of 67. The Kursk is still lying on the seabed, but Russia continues its efforts for the development of its navy.

In June, Russia has begun testing a new, super-quiet, nuclear-powered attack submarine. According to Russian navy officials, the new sub, the Severodvinsk, "beats the newest Western subs in most measures, including noise level". This submarine was being tested at sea but was not yet complete. It could take several months of sea tests before the Severodvinsk is commissioned.

At the same time, Russia has begun production of a new anti-submarine torpedo system capable of hitting targets 2.7 miles away and up to 3,200 feet beneath the surface. This weapon, called RPK-8, would represent an advance beyond most current torpedoes, which cab reach a depth of only about 2,240 to 2,560 feet, and has good prospects for sales in international arms markets. In addition to submarines, the new torpedo system could be also be used against other torpedoes and underwater objects near the surface.

According to the Moscow press, the Russian navy is deploying a high-speed underwater missile, Shkval-E, which is fired from a torpedo tube, travels underwater at speed of 200 to 224 miles per hour - three to four times faster than conventional torpedoes. Shkval-E is capable of sinking surface ships, protecting ports and blocking straits. The U.S. Navy is said to have very limited defenses against these high-speed underwater missiles.

The Russian government is also continuing to increase its arms sales abroad and considers the growing military strength of rogue nations as a sufficient support to its own military preparations. Moscow is selling its arms abroad for a quick cash as and also because Russia's military brass believes that when many of the rogue states have nuclear and missile weapons America, limited by international arms control agreements will not be able to maintain its policy of strategic deterrence.

Moscow is very careful about its secret weapons of mass destruction and related technology sales and is closing these deals using all possible covert means. But their conventional weapons are ready for sale in the arms bazaars to everybody who is willing to pay. Currently, Russian items for sale including such weapon systems as SU-27 and SU-30 fighter-bombers, Sovremenny-class destroyers with SS-N-22 missiles, Kilo-class submarines, S-300 surface to air missile complexes and many others.

We know that there is no question against whom these systems were designed. For example, Russian TV showed just exactly how the new Pechora air-defense missile system can destroy the American F-117 Stealth jets, and the Russian arms merchants advertise this weapon as a "Safer Sky" product with "immunity" to electronic counter-measures.

Over the past several years, while the Russian economy in general has fallen off a cliff, Moscow arms dealers have prospered on Chinese, Iranian, Iraqi, and other rogue nation money. According to intelligence experts, a new model Sovremenny-class destroyer for China is secretly under development in Russia. It will have vertical launch tubes and the latest missiles, especially designed for fighting against the U.S. Navy and will dramatically increase Beijing's military capabilities.

Russia also has announced increased military cooperation with Iran, including a major arms deal, over the explicit objection of the U.S. State Department. The Iranian deal, including spare parts for armored vehicles and combat tanks, as well as different weapons systems, came shortly after Russia repudiated a secret understanding with the Clinton-Gore team to restrict weapons sales to Iran.

In February, Russia and India signed a deal for at least $600 million for 310 of the latest model of Russia's T-90 main battle tanks. According to an agreement, India would buy 124 of the tanks ready-built and assemble the rest. Previously India had bought high-tech SU-30 fighters from Russia, and most of this country's 3,500 tanks are Russian made.

Last May, a group of Russian scientists arrived in India to test Russian-made surface-to-air OSA-AK missiles being used by the Indian military. The anti-aircraft missiles are deployed by India's Air Force and were showcased for the first time in last May's war field exercises in the Thar Desert.

In violation of its obligations as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, recently Russia has shipped nuclear fuel to the Tarapur power reactors in India. The Tarapur reactors near Bombay are under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, but some other Indian nuclear facilities are not, and this country is pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

A list of Russia's new weapons and arms sales abroad could be continued for many pages, but if 30 years ago only nine countries possessed ballistic missiles, today that number has increased to 28 nations - thanks to the Russian efforts in arms proliferation. If this tendency continues at the same speed, the strategic global military situation will be changed very soon, and our world will be even far less safe.

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While Washington talks about building a closer relationship with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Moscow continues its military buildup by developing and deploying new generations of its weapons systems. Many of these systems, if not all of them, were especially designed...
Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM
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