Russia’s Military Modernization 2015

Russia’s plans of military modernization are quite ambitious. They result from the operational needs determined by New Generation Warfare. In Putin’s own words “our responses are to be based on intellectual superiority. They will be asymmetrical, and less costly.” In other words, it’s about adapting hardware (the Armed Forces) to a new software (New Generation Warfare). One question, however, is if the sanctions are affecting the modernization plans. Accordingly to the numbers presented by the Russian MoD during session of the Board in March 11, the answer is a clear no. In 2015, 97% of the modernization was fulfilled. By now, 47% of the armament and hardware of the Russian Armed Forces are modernized.


Overall, the troops received around 4,000 major advanced weapons and military equipment, including 96 aircraft, 81 helicopter, 2 multi-purpose submarines, 152 anti-aircraft missile systems, 291 radars, more than 400 pieces of artillery and armored vehicles. These equipment are already in operation and were used in Syria. In details:

Ground Forces

– 1,172 tanks and armored vehicles;

– 2,292 vehicles of different purposes (more then 3,400 accordingly to the “Red Star”);

– 148 missile and artillery systems (more then 300 accordingly to the “Red Star”);

–  About 22,000 units of communication equipment;

–  650 Systems of Electronic Warfare;

–  2 full sets of the “Iskander” system. Each set consists of six types of machines (51 units in a missile brigade):

Self-propelled Launcher (SPL): 12 pcs. – Is intended for the storage, transport, preparation and launch of two missiles at a target.

Transporter and Load Vehicle (TLV): 12 pcs. – It is designed to carry  additional two missiles.

Command and Staff Vehicle (CSV): 11 pcs. – It is designed to manage the entire complex “Iskander”.

Maintenance and Repair Vehicle (MRV)  – it is designed to test missiles onboard equipment and devices for maintenance.

Information Preparation Station Vehicle (IPS) – it is designed to determine the coordinates of the target and preparation of flight tasks for missiles and their subsequent transfer to the SPU. It is conjugate with reconnaissance.

Life Support Vehicle: 14 pcs.

Set of arsenal of equipment and training aids: set of equipment for TEL training class; set of equipment for CSV training class; training posters; training missile mock-up.

Aerospace Forces (since August 1st, 2015, as a result of merging the Air and Aerospace Defense Forces)

– 243 aircraft;

– 158 helicopters;

– 208 radar stations;

– Four division sets of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems (90 units in total);

– More than 35,000 aircraft weapons;


– Eight surface warships (four accordingly to the “Red Star”);

– Two submarines, Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh (four accordingly to the “Red Star”);

– 52 warships and auxiliary vessels of destination;

– Two shore missile systems “Bastion”;

– 27 naval aviation aircraft;

– 45 units of missile and artillery weapons.

Airborne Troops

– 114 units of armored vehicles;

– Two sets of divisional anti-aircraft missile system “Verba”;

– 11,000 (4,000 new) parachute systems.


Strategic Missile Forces

– 21 strategic ballistic missiles;

– 386 units and components of mobile and stationary missile systems.

Strategic Nuclear Forces

– Two modernized Tu-160

– Three modernized Tu-95MS

– Five modernized Tu-22M3.


However, the Russian Armed Forces didn’t receive 57 unites of new weapons and hardware, including two aircraft, three spacecraft, and two surface ships. Also, 199 pieces of military hardware haven’t been repaired, and 679 items haven’t been provided with maintenance.

Regarding 2016, the plans are similar to 2015. The staffing level must be 93%. The number of contract servicemen must reach 384,000, while the share of modern hardware must reach 51%. More specifically:

Land Forces

– Two sets of the “Iskander” system;

– Two sets of Tornado-S;

– One set of AA systems Buk-M3

– Six battalions must be re-equipped with new tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.

Aerospace Forces

– More then 200 new and modernized aircraft

– Five AA missile regiments must be re-equipped with AA missiles systems S-400.

– Three prefabricated radar stations – Voronezh-DM in Yeniseysk and Barnaul and Voronezh-M in Orsk.


– Two multirole submarines

– Seven surface warships

Strategic Nuclear Forces

– Five missile regiments equipped with modern missile complexes

– Two Tu-160

– Seven Tu-95MS

Additionally, 600 general objects of military infrastructure must be built, including 142 military towns must be arranged, as equipping airfields with modern shelter facilities as well.

Will they be able to fulfill the plan? The 2015 Russian defense budget was reduced by approximately 4%. This year, it was around 5% or roughly 2.2 billion euros. There are some points to consider. First, Putin said that military spending won’t change regardless of the country’s economic conditions. Second, the idea of military spending as a Keynesian instrument to promote growth and development has been growing in popularity. Third, the state defense order is expected to continue to grow. The plan is more than 40% between 2014 and 2017.  Finally, one third of the Russian Federal budget is classified. This means we don’t know exactly how much is the real defense budget.

Sources: Russian MoD and “Red Star.”


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