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Russia set to boost military modernization

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File photo of a military parade in Moscow's Red Square

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia is significantly boosting its military preparedness with the addition of at least eight new generation submarines, a new nuclear missile capable of penetrating missile shields and a significant increase in military spending.

According to several Russian officials, while some of the increased spending was on the cards already, the Georgia war and America's aggressive deployment of ballistic missile shield in Poland and Czech Republic are prompting them to shore up the preparedness and capabilities.

"We are planning to launch large-scale production of warships, primarily nuclear submarines with cruise missiles, and multi-purpose attack submarines," Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said last week.

State-run RIA Novosti reported that the Russian Navy will receive at least eight new-generation submarines as part of a state armaments program through 2015. The deputy commander of Russian Navy Admiral Alexander Tatarinov said, "We have already built a new-generation nuclear powered submarine." He said, "So far a series of eight warships are being planned - possibly more."

Russia's current armament programme proposes an across-the-board new generation weapon systems by 2011, the state agency reported, adding that the present defence budget of $40 billion would be increased by 50 percent in the next three years.

President Medvedev said the military modernization should move faster, with a twin strategy: Of more advanced weaponry and better facilities and conditions for the service personnel. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced $3.1 billion of extra spending over the next year, primarily to replace those equipment lost in the Georgia war.

Deputy defence minister Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin quoted by the Defense Ministry newspaper 'Red Star' as saying that the recent Georgian war has forced them to "rethink the current state of the armed forces and how they should develop further." He said the submarine launched ballistic missile Bulava, which can penetrate missile defence shields, should be accepted for induction sometime next year. Bulava, a modified version of the land-based Topol-M, was successfully test fired on September 18, from the White Sea to the Far East, flying over Russia. Topol-M is already being inducted into the strategic nuclear forces.

Elaborating the Russian upgrade plans, Popovkin gave a clear warn, "As long as we are a nuclear power, no hotheads will venture to attack our country." The deputy minister also said that the Tupolev (TU)-160 supersonic strategic bombers are being upgraded.

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