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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arms Industry to Get $960M Boon

About 27.3 billion rubles ($960 million) of the 62-billion-ruble 2000 defense procurement budget approved by acting President Vladimir Putin on Thursday is to be spent on buying weapons systems.

Details of the budget are classified, but the Defense Ministry's armament chief, Anatoly Sitnov, has already released the 27.3 billion-ruble figure.

At least 15.6 billion rubles of the budget will be spent on research and development, and all the money is to be spent within Russia's defense industry sector, which has been starved of funds since the end of the Cold War.

Half of the procurement budget will go to research and production of conventional weapons, defense industry guru and Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said Thursday.

In comparison, last year saw nuclear forces consume 80 percent of the procurement budget, according to Alexander Pikayev, a military expert with the Moscow Carnegie Center.

Klebanov said more cash will be allocated this year to develop and buy advanced tactical-level radios and advanced infantry battle equipment, which Russian troops in Chechnya lack. Also, more night-vision equipment and automatic-fire control systems will be procured to ensure Russian troops have a 24-hour, all-weather combat capability.

Among other programs, the 2000 plan provides for more than a dozen Su-25 attack planes to be upgraded by the Ulan-Ude Aviation Production Association in eastern Siberia, enabling the aircraft to fly night missions in Chechnya, an officer at Sitnov's office, who declined to be named, said in a recent telephone interview. An unspecified number of Mi-24 gunships will also be upgraded by the Urals Optical-Mechanical Plant of Yekaterinburg to attain all-weather, night-flight capabilities.

The navy also seems poised to get extra funds. The navy is to commission several high-speed combat boats this year and an advanced hovercraft, dubbed Samum, that will be armed with Mosquito anti-ship missiles and be equal in firepower to a destroyer, according to its designers.

The navy will also keep its powerful cruiser, the Admiral Ushakov, which has been on the verge of being decommissioned due to a lack of cash for repairs and upgrades, Chief Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said recently.

Klebanov said the fleet of military intelligence satellites will be replenished to provide targeting data for troops fighting in Chechnya. One radio-technical intelligence satellite is going to be launched by a Ukrainian-made Zenit rocket next month.

Also, three satellites will be launched to replenish the constellation of Glonass global navigation satellites, which has only nine fully operational sat ellites instead of the 24 needed.

However, these plans may not come to fruition; in more than five years as the Defense Ministry's procurement boss, Sitnov has repeatedly seen his budget fall short, and last year was no exception.

Despite repeated promises by Klebanov to pay all arrears by the end of last year, Sitnov has gotten only some 60 percent of funds for his 1999 budget.

This is still better than 1998, when Sitnov's office got only 12 percent of what was allocated.

Last year, the Defense Ministry was able to commission 30 tanks, 130 armored personnel carriers and 80 aircraft. Ideally, the military should commission at least 130 aircraft, 350 tanks, 400 armored personnel carriers and 950 artillery systems annually, Sitnov said.

He said the military still has attack systems equal to those operated by Western armed forces but lags five years behind in the development and procurement of control, telecommunications and information systems.