The most important events of the month. The first month of the new year was saturated with events. The most important was the press-conference of the Deputy Minister of Defense for armament General-Mayor Igor Lotenkov on January 30, 2014. He reported that on the average 15-20 newest samples of armament and military equipment are put into service annually. According to the General I. Lotenkov one of the main tasks of the Department is reduction of operational costs of armament and military equipment. For this work was arranged to equip the centers of technical maintenance and repair of military units with new production and diagnostic equipment.
A decision was made to hold overhaul (starting this year) to upgrade aircrafts MiG-29 and Su-25. First 10 aircrafts are already at the territory of the Aircrafts Repair Factory 558 in Baranovichi. Yet it is unclear, whether the whole aircraft fleet shall be upgraded or only its part.
Traditionally statements were made about the priority of equipment of troops with unmanned aircraft complexes (hereinafter UAC).
The Ministry of Defense lays hopes on 2015, when it is expected (only expected) the supply of four divisions of air defense missile systems С-300, as well as radar equipment, training-combat aircrafts Yak-130 from Russia.
In near future it is also planned to establish a continuous low-level radar field at the border with the EU countries and Ukraine.
Under development is the counter precision weapons system at the cost of the systems providing:
-generation of radiointerference, suppressing of communication and navigation;
-destruct of artillery ammunition with radio proximity fuzes
-interference with laser semi-active targeting systems.
Further development was given to the radio-intelligence means. The greatest part of intelligence information at the moment is obtained with the help of the complexes for satellite communication monitoring systems Pelena and Kolorit.
Also General Lotenkov reported that they have developed and approved within the bodies involved the project of the concept of military-technical policy of Belarus for the period till 2025. The document shall relate to the sphere of armament, MIC and military-technical cooperation of Belarus with other countries. The list of priority types of armament and equipment shall not be changed cardinally: communication; automatic control systems; intelligence means; on-land and air means of electronic warfare; aviation; missile defense systems and tactical ballistic missile systems (“long arm” weapon); means of information, survey, navigation assurance.
Dynamics of the situation for a month. The year has begun with discussion of personnel issues in the Ministry of Defense. Progress was noted in comparison with 2012. However it was achieved mostly due to remedial actions. On the basis of the school for qualification improvement and personnel retraining of the Military Academy of Belarus they trained non-commissioned officers from warrant officers, taking officers’ positions. Officer titles were assigned also to women – military servants. They still have common practice of substitution of free officer positions with warrant officers and civilian personnel; first class officers-specialists were suggested to continue their service after pension age is reached.
The matter of officer positions stuffing has escalated also in the Interior Ministry troops (hereinafter IMT). Judging by all, the current situation is pretty acute and forces the Ministry of Interior to share the practice of the Ministry of Defense. Thus, in the school of Interior Troops of the Military Academy there was graduation of the students of the department of qualification improvement and personnel retraining of the IMT. The retraining course took 2 months; totally there were 23 students-military men, who were appointed on officer positions, having higher or vocational secondary education certificates.
Analysis of costs, provided by the state budget for 2014 dedicated for force structures, allows stating that we should not expect sound improvement of the situation. Except for that there is still an open issue of the revenue side of the budget feasibility. It’s worth reminding that in the end of the last year the state budget was sequestered for the amount of about EUR 1 bln.
Let’s note that funds issued for the Ministry of Defense cover only current costs for maintenance and preparation and a bit for upgrade of armaments. Material support of the Army is financed only for 40%. It is not surprising that the reduction of Armed Forces personnel shall continue also in this year. Thus on January 15, 2014 on the basis of the 8th Radar, Chemical And Biological Protection Regiment (hereinafter RCBP) they had a meeting within the frameworks of which among other issues they observed the matter of optimization of the body, number and location of RCNP troops, and their prospect image. Or simply – reduction of the number and disbanding of the troops.
In other bodies of the military forces financial situation is similar in general. Under the results of January it has become known that in the Ministry of Emergency Situations they stopped payment of bonuses to junior enlisted. In order to ease the situation with the wages at least to some extent, the establishment has allowed jobbing for its employees in free of main service time.
Completion of IMT reorganization was announced. 7 brigades have been formed, which include territorial formations and military units (6 regions and Minsk). Disbanded was the corpse of public order protection, at the cost of which they are going to form a unit for the Belarusian NPP protection in Ostrovets. In Baranovichi they have restored a patrol unit of IMT, which had been earlier dismissed.
In near future the fate of Military Prosecutor shall be decided on. After elimination of military courts starting from July 1 2014, its urgency is obvious.
The Border Guard Service is also expected to be reorganized. On January 27 2014 A. Lukashenko during the session of the State Border Committee board ordered to optimize the department. A target is set to get rid of extra functions and get down to rational using of existing human resources. According to our information there is no issue of the department elimination. The Border Guard Service, as the other force departments, suffers of HR “hunger”. Belarusian leader criticized involvement of the force departments with innovations such as UAC, wisely noting their auxiliary role.
A representative of the State Border Committee General-Colonel Leonid Maltsev noted the negative attitude of a part of pre-frontier residents towards frontier guard, fighting smuggling.
In general Lukashenko stated his dissatisfaction with the department’s performance. In his traditional manner Belarusian Leader demanded from the State Border Committee to enhance interaction with the EU, using its interest in a stronger frontier with Belarus. By this the character of activities in this direction has changed to the absolutely contrary line. If earlier Belarusian authorities frightened the EU with the flow of migrants, threatening to reduce the level of border protection, then now “… they (European officials) should see that we are fighting migrants as well as smuggling, and intercepting radioactive materials”. The target remains the same: the EU funds. And traditional (also in its hopelessness) seeking of recognition in West as equal partners.
Examination of combat readiness of the Armed Forces promised by A. Lukashenko has started in January. The main focus was laid on Air Forces and Missile Defense Systems, as well as Special Operations Forces. In Miory area of Vitebsk region they worked out the issues of territorial defense and deployment of territorial troops. Aviation was subjected to dispensing with relocation to alternative airfields in Luninetsk and Bobruisk. The subdivisions, protecting airfields, had to perform in terms of activity of sabotage-reconnaissance groups of the maneuver enemy.
On January 21 2014 the General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (hereinafter CSTO) N. Bordiuzha stated, that the main task of the block, in relation of Afghanistan, is strengthening of Tajikistani-Afghan border. He is convinced that the urgent funds for border strengthening shall be granted in near future. Also N. Bordiuzha stated that approval of the project on collective aviation forces establishment is getting to its end. The new structure shall include transporting aviation. Combat aviation is included into the Collective Rapid Reaction Force (hereinafter CRRF) of the CSTO and consists of Russian subdivisions. It is pretty probable that the allies shall provide Russia an opportunity of independent formation of collective air forces. It is enough to remind that the program of CRRF CSTO rearmament was started in 2009 and yet is still far from finalization.
January also had some positive moments. Thus, new Belarusian radar unit Vostok-D has started its combat alert duty within the 49th Radio-Technical Brigade of Air Forces and Missile Defense Forces. The manufacturer is KB Radar. The advantages of the new unit include higher resistance to passive interferences, inefficiency of programs of reduction of radar signature of targets of Stealth and the kind of types, high-level capabilities for detection of low-level targets and unmanned aerial vehicles. Let’s remind that on February 10 2013 the USA imposed sanctions in relation to KB Radar. The reason could be the demonstration by Iranian TV channel IRIB on February 6 2013 of a documental about interception of the US unmanned aerial vehicles, including top-secret RQ-170. The documental demonstrated the equipment used (according to Iran) for interception: Belarusian radar units Vostok-E.
The plans for military-technical cooperation of Belarus and Russia for 2014 were announced. RUR 3.15 bln shall be given for joint activity (10 programs and 4 events) RUR 3.16. Under the results of the last year in course of bilateral military-technical programs accomplishment RUR 2.5 bln were spent. The funds were directed for the projects in the sphere of space exploration, electronics and development of military infrastructure within the territory of Belarus, which can be used for Russian interests.
Belarusian MIC is ready to perform deep upgrade of military Su-27. This was announced by the Chairman of the State Military Industrial Committee Sergey Gurulev on January 31 2014.
Also Gurulev reported about the plans of space satellites group development. The main partners are the People’s Republic of China (the system of protected satellite communication and broadcasting Belintersat) and Russia (Earth sensing). The Belarusian-Russian system engages BKA satellite (Belarus) and an identical Russian satellite Kanopus-V. Except for mapping of the area the units working together are able to monitor set areas. Totally it is planned to include into the group 5 satellites (2 of them are Belarusian) which shall also provide commercial services.
Conclusions. Regarding putting of new equipment and weapons into service General Lotenkov did not specify the scope and distribution of novelties among the troops. And whether they have been distributed at all. It’s worth noting that MIC products are often put into service to increase the chances or their marketing within foreign markets.
Increased attention to UAC is related primarily to their relative cheap cost. They can be produced inside the country and possess certain export potential. However, these are remedial actions and UACs are not able to eliminate the problem of outdating of the fire systems.
It’s interesting to note the intentions of the Ministry of Defense to create low-level radar field at the border with Ukraine. There is a high probability that the decision is connected with the facts of aircrafts usage for smuggling goods in this direction. Thus in October 2013 An-2 aircraft fell within the territory of Ukraine, it transported smuggling goods from the territory of Belarus. As a result we observed rotation of the top-officials of the State Border Committee and the Security Council of Belarus. A. Lukashenko perceives any failure of frontier-men extremely painfully.
We should focus individually on the plans of receipt from Russia of 4 divisions of surface-to-air-missile complexes С-300, which constitute a peculiar bonus to the planned establishment of air base of Russia in Belarus. If earlier the transfer of complexes was promised to happen this year, then now we are already talking about 2015. Attention should be drawn to that these 4 divisions have been planned for supply yet since April 2011. In July 2012 it was reported that deliveries would be performed in near future. And this “near future” now is reported to be in 2015. In this respect the prospects of rearmament of the 377th Surface-To-Air Missile Regiment from С-200 to С-300 looks pretty blurry.
Speaking about elimination of RCBP units it seems that the biggest threat is for the 40th and 80th detached battalions of RCBP. European experience of defense development demonstrates that such auxiliary forces in the armies of small and medium countries are represented with one unit (battalion — regiment) and are subordinated directly to central bodies of military control.
Liquidation of Military Prosecutor is observed as quite probable and shall not be of any problem. In many European countries there is no such body and the function of law order in troops rests within military counterintelligence or military police. In case of Belarus the analogue can be the Military Counterintelligence Department of KGB.
It’s interesting to note that in course of examination of the combat readiness of the Army for defense of temporary aviation location sites they used the units of small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery ZSU-23-2, which as it turned out are still used for low-level missile defense systems of anti-aircraft missile brigades. Earlier this armament was demonstrated only in mobile brigades of Special Operations Forces. Increasing of the number of airfields, from which aircrafts were involved into combat alert duty after dispersion, extended the options for missile defense. Thus, reduction of the number of air bases, resulted from budget restrictions, in the essence affects negatively the security of the country. Despite calming rhetoric of the power.
The CSTO plans should be treated skeptically with caution. Regarding the measures of Tajikistan support from other post-Soviet states, we should remind that yet in September 9 2013 the Council of Frontier Troops Commanders-in-Chief of the CIS prepared an offer for the Council of the Heads of the CIS states about provision of emergency (!) aid to Tajikistan within strengthening of the border with Afghanistan. As a result, emergency aid has been postponed for already 5 months. Although the session of the Heads of the CIS states took place yet on October 25 2013.
Apparently the announced scope of the budget of the Ministry of Defense for the current year is able to cover upgrade of only single pieces of Mig-29, Su-25 and Su-27.