Philippines Ready to Buy Arms From Russia Amid Crisis in Relations With US

 

 The 10th Russia Arms Expo international exhibition's opening

   Philippines are ready to buy arms from Russia if there is money amid a rift in relations with the United States, the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday.

On November 8, Duterte claimed he would cancel an order for 26,000 US-made M16 rifles, originally intended to arm the country’s national police, to “look for a cheaper source.”

   “He [Russian President Vladimir Putin] was pleased to hear our offer of friendship, pleased with the fact that the initiative came from us. Not because we need money … or arms. If we have money, we will buy them [arms],” Duterte told the Rossiya-24 broadcaster.

   The Philippine president stressed that his country did not participate “in any military blocs.”

   “We have not discussed anything similar neither with Russia, nor with China, except the issues of trade, finance and economy. But, perhaps, in the future we will have to do business with the European Union and Russia in the area of arms trade since it seems that the Americans have canceled orders on arms supplies [to the Philippines],” Duterte said.

  On November 19, Putin was taking part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council the Peruvian capital of Lima. On the sidelines of the event, the Russian leader held a separate meeting with his Philippine counterpart.

Advertisements

Who’s the Secret Buyer of Ukraine’s ‘Grom’ Tactical Ballistic Missile System?

Concept art of the Grom SRBM system

 

The Ukrainian press has reported that military engineers have made significant progress in the development of the Grom, a new tactical ballistic missile system, with R&D funding provided by a mysterious foreign buyer. Russian military experts comment on the system’s prospects, and ponder who the Ukrainians’ secret foreign partners might be.

Last week, the local media in Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk region launched a tirade against authorities in Kiev for the latter’s supposed attempts to sabotage the creation of a new weapon, the Grom short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) system. If created, it would be a Ukrainian analog to the Russian 9K720 Iskander.

According to Dnepropetrovsk’s MOST news agency, Kiev officials are ‘twisting the arms’ of the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and the Pavlograd Chemical Plant, two enterprises involved in creating the weapon.

Engineers speaking to the news agency explained that the Grom is being developed using money from a mysterious foreign client. Moreover, the system, presently in its third year of active development, will be prepared for testing as soon as this fall.

Rendering of a component of the Grom SRBM system
Rendering of a component of the Grom SRBM system

Speaking to MOST, Pavlograd Chemical Plant general director Leonid Schiemann explained that after receiving private financing of about one billion hryvnia ($40 million), engineers have created the necessary manufacturing potential, restored laboratories, and engaged in the testing of the system’s components. As a result, they were able to create a prototype of the weapon.

According to Sheimann, Grom would allow the army to fight at a distance from the front lines in the civil war in eastern Ukraine, “and to preempt the attack of any aggressor.”

However, according to Evgeny Ustimenko, the plant’s technical director, the policy of a number of institutions of the government in Kiev not only shows an unwillingness to stimulate the production of modern weapons system, but gives the impression of a purposeful campaign to destroy the country’s leading defense enterprises.

Work on the Grom complex was first announced at a defense exhibition in Kiev in 2014. A year later, it was announced that mass production of the weapon could begin as soon as 2018. Expected to have a firing range of 280 km (and the possibility of upgrades to up to 500 km), the system would replace the aging Soviet-era Tochka-U systems currently used by the Ukrainian military. The complex is expected to use the prospective ‘Korshun’ cruise missile to destroy ground targets.The system’s designers have asserted that the complex would be able to defeat the most advanced missile defense systems, including the Russian S-300 and S-400 systems. Like the Russian Iskander, Grom’s missiles are expected to use unpredictable flight trajectories.

The Russian Iskander SRBM system being prepped for launch during military exercises. File photo.
© Sputnik/ Alexei Danichev
The Russian Iskander SRBM system being prepped for launch during military exercises. File photo.

Moreover, according to Svobodnaya Pressa military observer Anton Mardasov, the system’s described 300 km range “is no more than a formal legal constraint associated with the Missile Technology Control Regime,” a multilateral export control convention to which Ukraine is a partner. Domestically, the journalist noted, Ukraine would not be subject to that agreement’s restrictions.

According to Mardasov, questions remain as to whether the Ukrainian military-industrial complex will actually be able to build the new weapon. “The fate of the Borisfen and Sapsan missile systems, hatched earlier by Kiev, is well known. The former was scrapped due to a lack of funding in 2003. The latter was shuttered in 2013, after over 200 million hryvnia (about $24.5 million dollars at the time) was spent on it…”

The Grom design, too, actually dates back to 2003, but at that time Kiev lacked the funding to move forward. Following the February 2014 Maidan coup d’état, “Kiev announced with great fanfare that projects such as Neptun (an anti-ship missile system), Olha (a ground-based missile system), and Korshun (a sea and ground-based cruise missile) would soon be realized. In the end, the Korshun, which remains untested, outwardly looks very similar to the long-range Soviet-era air-based Kh-55 cruise missile, while the Olha turned out to be just an ordinary round for a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) used by the Soviet army.”

Still, Mardasov suggested that the situation surrounding the Grom system may yet be different. Firstly, “it is possible that this project will combine all the developments previously reported on by Kiev,” resulting in movement “toward the creation of a unified high-precision missile system.” Second, the key factor limiting previous developments, including the Sapsan, had been financing. “But if media reports are to be believed, Grom is being financed from abroad. This radically changes the picture.”

The Soviet-era 9K79 Tochka-U SRBM system, currently the mainstay of the Ukrainian army's missile systems.
© Sputnik/ Nikolay Lazarenko
The Soviet-era 9K79 Tochka-U SRBM system, currently the mainstay of the Ukrainian army’s missile systems.

Accordingly, the journalist suggested that there are two important questions which require answers: “Is it possible that in the near future we will see Ukraine’s 19th Missile Brigade, deployed in Khmelnitsky, armed with the Grom system? And who is the project’s foreign sponsor?”

For answers to these questions, Svobodnaya Pressa turned to several Russian experts, including Yuri Savelyev, a veteran rocket scientist and the former rector of the Baltic State Technical University.

Savelyev began by recalling that the United States has been actively cooperating with Ukraine in the field of rocketry. For instance, he said, in the 1990s,”Boeing took part in the ‘Sea Launch’ ocean-based space rocket project, using the [Ukrainian] Zenit-3SL, consisting of the Zenit-2S two-stage launch vehicle developed by Yuzhnoye design bureau, and the DM-SL booster, developed by Russia’s Energiya design bureau outside Moscow.”

Still, the expert also suggested that he hasn’t seen any evidence of US involvement in the Grom project. In fact, he believes that it’s the German government that may be looking to use Ukrainian know-how to develop a new SRBM system. “Germany could be the sponsor…The German army is equipped only with the American MLRS M270. With the help of the Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash design bureaus, the Germans would be able receive designs both for short-range ballistic missile systems, and, in the future, for long-range systems as well,” Savelyev noted.

For his part, Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute of Political & Military Analysis, suggested the mysterious foreign customers could be countries like Pakistan or North Korea, and possibly even Belarus.”According to some reports, representatives of Ukraine’s Luch design bureau participated in the Sino-Belarusian project on the Polonez MLRS, recently successfully tested by Minsk,” Khramchikhin said.

Polonez MRLS at the Belarusian Independence Day parade in Minsk.
© Sputnik/ Viktor Tolochko
Polonez MRLS at the Belarusian Independence Day parade in Minsk.

However, Andrei Frolov, the editor-in-chief of Arms Export magazine, said he was very doubtful about Grom’s prospects, pointing to a long list of failed projects previously announced by Ukrainian authorities, and Ukrainian designers’ habit of putting a new label on old systems.

With regard to the possible foreign sponsors, Frolov suggested that these could be Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.

“As far back as 2003, representatives from the UAE showed interest in Ukraine for the development and production of cruise missiles for the UAE’s air force, and in ballistic missiles. The commander of the country’s air and air defense forces even visited Kiev.”

Moreover, Frolov recalled that “in March 2015, information appeared in the media that the Saudis are interested in the delivery of the first stages of the R-36M rocket (NATO classification SS-18 Satan)…As for Belarus, I do not think their budget could afford to purchase SRBM systems following the development of the Polonez. Moreover, if Minsk took such a step, it would receive strong pressure from Russia.”

Ultimately, the analyst warned that if Ukraine does manage to finish development of the Grom and actually build the system, its primary targets will be the rebellious regions of the Donbass.

Details Show the Extent of Flaws in $1 Bln Afghan Vehicle Maintenance Contract

Afghan National Army (ANA) arrive at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2016.

 

 

A number of questionable edits to the initial US-Afghanistan contract on military vehicle maintenance has made costs rise dramatically, from $182 million to over $1 billion, with a number of contract points clearly designed to solely stimulate local profits.

In 2010, the Pentagon established a five-year contract with the Afghan National Army (ANA) to support ANA’s fleet of some 26,000 vehicles. The program, called Afghanistan Technical Equipment Maintenance Program (A-TEMP), was intended to last five years and cost some $182 million. It was designed to provide aid to ANA, enabling “a fully operational fleet of vehicles to provide mobility and protection needed to support its fights against the insurgency.”

An investigation performed by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko discovered that the initial contract wording has been significantly modified. Sopko reported that the contract underwent 68 such modifications, leading to a dramatic rise in the cost of the program and its effective paralysis. The term of contract was also been extended by two years.

The contract is now about to be extended for five additional years, Sopko reported, and the new contract, if authorized, is projected to exceed $1 billion.

During the development of the initial contract, the Army Contracting Command and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan “made inaccurate assumptions about the capacity of the Afghans to manage the supply chain and conduct maintenance,” said the report.

Reports from the ground suggest that the contractor, Afghanistan Integrated Support Services JV (AISS), constantly addresses low literacy rates among Afghan soldiers, as well as the difficulty in encouraging soldiers to simply show up for training and keep that training current. AISS has been hamstrung by a “limited pool of ANA managers who possess the skills necessary to manage the supply chain and maintenance shops,” the report stated.

 

Notably, the contract did not establish performance metrics related to the contractor’s accomplishments. This effectively removed any interest for the contractor to achieve any goals outlined in the agreement.

The most eye-opening aspect of the modified contract, however, is that the Pentagon is being charged based on the total number of vehicles in ANA’s possession, rather than on the number of vehicles repaired.

“Payments to AISS based on ANA vehicle density and not vehicles actually repaired resulted in escalating per-vehicle repair costs from a low of $1,889 to a high per-vehicle repair cost of $51,395,” the SIGAR statement highlights.

The contract wording caused the US government to pay more for AISS to do less work than was required in the original text. The SIGAR report notes that the number of vehicles the AISS repaired in the second quarter of 2012 was 3,072, while the number repaired in the third quarter of 2015 was 82.

The flaws in the contract terms and conditions were exacerbated by deteriorating security conditions that reduced oversight of maintenance work in 2013 and beyond.

As a result, the contract has not only become a “waste of US taxpayer funds,” the report states, but it has also made it difficult for the ANA to carry out military operations.

Sopko’s report says the Pentagon tried to improve its oversight, giving the US Army’s product manager for Allied Tactical Vehicles authority over the contract and hiring seven additional contracting officer representatives.

According to the SIGAR report, “DoD has begun to take initial steps to address the issues raised and apply better practices to the current and upcoming contract.”

Russia maintains parity in arms supply to Armenia, Azerbaijan — official

© EPA/HAYK BAGHDASARYAN / PHOTOLURE

MOSCOW, July 19. /TASS/. Russia is committed to maintaining parity in the supply of military equipment to Armenia and Azerbaijan in the conditions of the intensified Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between the two countries, Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Alexander Fomin said in an interview to the Izvestia daily published on Monday.

“Conflicts begin regardless of the fact that one side may be armed better than the other,” Fomin said. “However, it is necessary to seek parity, so Russia is taking efforts to maintain parity both in absolute terms and in the quantity and quality of the basic weapons systems”.

Fomin also said that the main purpose of military-technical cooperation is to preserve peace and stability in a given country, in a region and in the world in general. “Russia’s military-technical cooperation system is organized in such a way as to cause no harm, including to a particular region. We make all the decisions on the delivery of arms to one or another country invariably with taking into account such acute regional situations”, he added.

The situation along the line of engagement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone deteriorated dramatically overnight to April 2 when fierce clashes began. The parties to the conflict accused each other of violating the truce.

On April 5, Azerbaijan’s Chief of Staff Nadjmeddin Sadykov and his Armenian counterpart Yuri Khachaturov met in Moscow with Russia’s mediation. At the talks the sides came to an agreement on cessation of hostilities at the line of engagement between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces. On the same day, the two countries’ defense ministries announced that the ceasefire regime in Nagorno-Karabakh would start at 12am local time. Since then, the parties to the conflict have been accusing each other of violating the ceasefire agreement.

On May 16, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Vienna. Serzh Sargsyan and Ilkham Aliyev agreed to “make steps to monitor observance of agreements on ceasefire and introduce a mechanism on investigating incidents.” The participants in the Vienna talks on Nagorno-Karabakh on May 16 that also involved the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, with mediation of the foreign ministers of the countries co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Russia, the United States, France) reach an agreement on observing the ceasefire in the region in the format of the 1994-1995 agreements. In addition, the conflict sides agreed to complete as soon as possible the work on the OSCE mechanism for investigating incidents at the line of engagement of the conflict sides.

On June 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts Serzh Sargsyan and Ilkham Aliyev adopted a trilateral statement where they expressed commitment to the normalization the situation along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said previously that Russia would continue to supply weapons to Azerbaijan and Armenia as its strategic partners under the corresponding contracts.

 

Armata Tanks to Get Russian-Made Sights as MoD Phases Out Imports

T-14 tanks with the Armata Universal Combat Platforms

 

The next generation of armored vehicles based on the Armata and Kurganets tracked platforms will feature Russian-made sight matrices instead of French ones now, Gazeta.ru wrote citing Defense Ministry sources in Moscow.

The program of import substitution was launched in Russia in 2014 after Western nations stopped selling important parts and other equipment to Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.President Vladimir Putin then ordered the country’s defense industry to speed up the development and production of a number of vitally important “units and parts,” while still allowing them to look for alternative Western suppliers.

Shortly before the famous showcase of Russia’s top-of-the-line tanks and armored vehicles based on the Armata and Kurganets platforms during last year’s Victory Day Parade on Red Square, the deputy head of the Military-Industrial Commission, Oleg Bochkarev, said that they were 100-percent developed and built in Russia.

“We are already working on hardware components needed for mass production of [the next generation of tanks and armored vehicles],” he said early last year.

Gazeta.ru learned that by “hardware components” Bochkarev meant, among other things, thermal sights and motion control gear for Armata and Kurganets tanks and APCs.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry is closely monitoring the process of replacing US, European and Ukrainian-made parts in Russian defense production.

The Russian Defense Ministry unveiled its new Armata tank at the May 9 Victory Day military parade in Moscow in 2015.

The tank is operated by a crew of three, housed in an armored capsule at the front. Its main armament includes a 125-mm smoothbore cannon and a 7.62-mm remote-control machine gun.

US Arms Industry Dead: World Bought American Weapons, Stole the Technology

South Korean T-50 Fighter Jet

 

The expansion of American arms exports leaves the military-industrial complex at risk of being overtaken by countries who scooped up defense secrets without the cost of research and development.

On Tuesday, US defense industry analysts offered a report claiming that American military contractors will be overtaken in coming years by defense contractors in Israel, South Korea, and Brazil, marking an end to Western dominance over war profiteering.

The report, “Dynamics of International Military Modernization 2016,” authored by Daniel Yoon and Doug Berenson from Beltway consultants Avascent blamed American military exports for the market threat, as countries buy arms at a cut rate to back-engineer US weapons technology.

“In many cases, these emerging players developed through diffused technology via prior export arrangements with Western suppliers, often through offset requirements and domestic industry participation,” stated the report. In layman’s terms, foreign countries purchase US arms to steal American know-how, avoiding the burdensome taxpayer-subsidized cost of research and development.

The development occurs as the US military-industrial complex has shifted its focus toward exporting weapons to tyrannical regimes throughout the world, as a means to offset reductions in the size of the American war machine following the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the report, “in 2010, only 17% of defense equipment manufactured in the US was exported; by 2015, that number jumped dramatically to 34%.”

US weapons-manufacturing expertise has been suggested as being in decline primarily due to Washington’s reticence to engage in war, opting instead to be the Walmart of weapon retailers for the world.

The situation is exacerbated by the Obama Administration’s trigger-happy approach to sell arms, often including troubling “offset requirements” making it easier for the nascent domestic defense industries of countries to “absorb suppliers’ technical expertise.”

In addition to the rapid growth of weapons manufacturing expertise in Israel, South Korea, and Brazil, the US contends with other leading arms exporters, including Russia and China, who offer high-end military technology. Analysts also suggest that the American military-industrial complex will soon forfeit market share to other nations, including Japan and India.

The report claimed that Israel may soon become the world’s premier supplier of radar, missile, and drone technology, noting that the country’s unmanned aerial vehicles are competitive with US hardware.

South Korea looks to make its mark in air superiority with the development of an indigenous fighter jet and a next generation T-50 design. In addition to the aerospace field, South Korea excels in the production of destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault vehicles, and assault submarines, the report said.

Brazil, by contrast, looked to occupy the lower-tech echelons of the market, at a cut-rate price exploiting a niche in light attack aircraft thanks to a partnership with Saab to produce the Gripen fighter.

American military superiority is thought to be endangered by the growing export of defense technology throughout the world, leading some analysts to worry about the future of the US weapons industry, and the safety and security of the country.

 

Russia may re-equip Bolivian army within next 10 years — FM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday held talks with Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca

MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. Russia and Bolivia plan to make contact in connection with the requests for reequipping the Bolivian Armed Forces, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday after talks with Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca.

According to Lavrov, the meeting was “constructive and businesslike,” the sides discussed the current state of and prospects for the development of bilateral relations, “including trade and investment ties.”

“We also touched upon military-technical cooperation. We have a working relevant commission that held a regular meeting last year. Contacts are being prepared on the meeting results in connection with specific requests made by our Bolivian friends in the context of the approved in their country program for the re-equipment of the Bolivian armed forces within the next 10 years,” the Russian foreign minister said.

“We’ll try to take an active part in these affairs,” Lavrov said.