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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Security Council Debates Plan to Modernize the Military

Re-armament of the Russian military will start in 2008 and will be completed in 2015, according to a government plan debated Tuesday by the Security Council.

By the end of this year, more than 30 federal ministries and agencies will pool efforts to start work on the new armament program, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters after the meeting.

"Our strategic task is to provide the armed forces with the newest weapons," President Vladimir Putin said in televised remarks opening the Security Council meeting.

"We are setting the tasks for the future but we should not forget what the army needs today," Putin said, adding that Russia must be realistic about its economic capabilities.

"Our defense spending should not be a burden," he said.

Russia's defense budget, while nowhere near the hundreds of billions of dollars the United States spends every year, has been on the rise for three consecutive years.

This year Russia is to spend almost 350 billion rubles ($11 billion) on national defense, of which 110 billion rubles is to go toward procurement, research and development of new types of weapons, up from 80 billion rubles in 2002.

Alexei Moskovsky, deputy defense minister in charge of procurement, was quoted by Interfax as saying that the defense industry will concentrate on the development of next-generation systems from 2006 until 2010. These include a fifth-generation fighter jet and a new tank, he said.

This year, Moskovsky said, the military does not plan to buy any new armored or aviation systems but will focus on modernizing its existing weapons.

For Russia's mammoth defense industry, work for the Defense Ministry accounts for only a trickle of its business; more than 80 percent of companies' revenues comes from arms export contracts.

Last year, Russia received a post-Soviet record of $4.8 billion in revenues for arms sales.

Yet export revenues are not enough to overhaul the industry's aging production facilities, of which 80 percent are worn out, Alexander Nozdrachev, head of the Russian Conventional Arms Agency, said on the sidelines of its annual meeting Tuesday.

The industry's employees are old, and younger staff will not come to work for current salaries of $150 per month.

To help streamline the industry, the government wants to put its more than 1,000 defense companies into 70 integrated holdings by 2006, but the process has been slow so far. Some 20 such holdings are to be created this year.