February 21, 2007 (the date of publication in Russian)

Maxim Kalashnikov


Medium-range missiles are a good weapon against a strong and wealthy aggressor

It is quite probable that the Russian Federation will soon withdraw from the Soviet-American Treaty on Elimination of Medium-Range and Short-Range Missiles (the INF Treaty). The shadow of menacing weaponry will again emerge over Europe. Still, Europeans realize that the Russians haven't got any other options. NATO's military superiority is forcing Russia to address the "weapons of the weak of the XXI century" – missiles with nuclear warheads. As a paradox, the history is returning to the point where Gorbachov's perestroika started, with its "new thinking" and unrestrained surrender of our positions, to year 1987 when the INF Treaty was signed.

Russia's intention to withdraw from the treaty was expressed by Moscow three times: by the Minister of Defense, the Head of the General Staff, and by the President. Still, it has to be understood that this decision is a very resolute move requiring radical changes in domestic policies.



From the NATO base in Emori, Estonia, a missile can reach St. Petersburg for a matter of four minutes. In Europe, NATO possesses 15,000 tanks, 25,000 artillery systems and 5,000 aircrafts. At Russia's disposal, on all the directions, there is not more than three thousand military aircrafts.

Once, the USSR possessed a complete superiority in conventional arms in Europe. At that time, NATO initiated a plan of deployment of 572 medium-range Pershing-2 type missiles. That was the only opportunity for the West in case of a war.

Since then, everything has changed by 180 degrees. Today, the Russian Federation has no opportunity to oppose NATO in conventional warfare. Therefore, the buildup of a medium-range missile arsenal becomes a natural response to the overwhelming superiority of the North Atlantic Alliance.

Still, the Russian Federation's withdrawal from the INF Treaty and NATO's eastward expansion would demand essentially new military decisions. The time when our country was protected with a broad East European "forefield", is gone. NATO enjoys a huge quantitative and qualitative advantage of military forces. Today, we have to focus exceptionally on asymmetric response, only on unconventional moves which allows to oppose a strong and wealthy aggressor most efficiently.

Today, Russia's land forces would be unable to withstand a direct clash with the perfectly equipped forces of the Americans and their European allies. Robotized vehicle-borne infantry, tank-helicopter strike groups, unmanned surveillance, striking and target designation systems, allow NATO to defeat our troops in a matter of hours.

Do you remember how US land troops led their offensive during the wars in Iraq in 1991 and 2003? They delivered deep and dashing "jabs", not bothering to protect their divisions from the flanks. They did not fear of any flank attacks, as the US aviation, dominating in the air, prevented any attempts of the Iraqi to concentrate forces for a flank operation. In case of a war against Russia, the NATO forces will similarly advance from the south-west and north-west, in order to meet near Moscow, and similarly protect their flanks.

Today, the Russian Federation, from the economic standpoint, would not afford a land army of the NATO dimension. Therefore, the obvious first asymmetric response is nuclear weapons and not tactical missiles (as their reach is too short) but precisely medium-, up to 5000 km-range missiles.

Nuclear armaments are significantly cheaper that thousands of modern electronic-stuffed tanks, search-and-strike and artillery systems. Already today, the circuit of the probable Russian "medium-range" deterrence forces is visible: a Topol M missile, shortened by one stage, or a modernized Iskander missile system with augmented range. A land-based version of an X-101 missile, today expected to equip Russian long-range aviation, is acceptable as well. With a range of 5.5 thousand kilometers, X-101 will be able to keep the whole Europe under fire.

The new Russian missiles may be installed on unique Vityaz-M amphibians produced by Ishimbay Plant. These perfect vehicles, designed in USSR for equipping strategic missile troops, don't fear impassability, are able to move in water and across a dissected terrain.

Definitely, such missiles would need reliable communications with command points. Satellites? Certainly! But at the same time, we can also equip them with non-satellite ultra- broad-band connectivity, developed by Russian specialists (this author is acquainted with a whole group of talented scientists in this field, who were forced, after USSR's disintegration, to work for Western companies, using their technology for Wi-Fi access to the Internet, but are today eager to work for their fatherland again). Such communication technologies are not exposed to interception and suppression by jamming.

The warheads of our new medium-range missiles are to posses an exceptionally high accuracy. On the one hand, this may be guaranteed with board equipment, receiving signals from the Russian satellite navigation system GLONASS-M, which the Ministry of Defense decided to reanimate in early February. On the other hand, this task may be fulfilled by use of unique designating optical trackers, produced by CNIIAG (used in Iskander-type systems). The principle of their effect is in the insertion of the satellite-made photo of the target into the warhead’s memory; when the warhead is moving towards the target, the system recognizes it and chooses the necessary direction, changing the trajectory by means of short air rudders.

The targets for a Russian response are known: these are NATO airdromes (including those in the Baltic states); secondly, bases of land forces (as Vladimir Putin mentioned in Munich, the United States deploy so-called "light frontline bases" for contingents of a 5,000 manpower in Bulgaria and Romania; actually, such bases are deployed on Poland's territory as well). The next targets to be included in the warheads' memory are the ABM objects in Czech Republic and Poland.

It is also essential to enforce the satellite missile warning systems, to complete the deployment of land radars, and resume the construction of the "Splav" early warning system, designed in the SSR in late 1980s. (Unfortunately, Splav's designers are today forced to work as "freelance engineers”.)

Proceeding in these directions, we could seriously reduce the danger of unexpected aggression. With no doubt, the United States will respond to Russia's pullout from the INF Treaty with deployment of relevant-type missiles in Europe. By the way, they will also have to build them.

This, generally, is the missile component of a new, asymmetric Russian strategy. However, that is only one of its elements.



At present, there is already no doubt that the old, "heavy" army of divisions and regiments massive, clumsy, and assailable for the highly accurate robotized weaponry of the United States, is useless today. We'll not be able any longer to concentrate masses of thousands of tanks for an offensive operation: they would be destroyed yet at the stage of advance to the site of deployment. Instead, we need a military machine of a new type, capable to oppose both the potential NATO aggressors and irregular units and private armies.

How to create such a new machine? In terms of discussion, we would propose our version.

Up to the mid-1930s, the USSR which was certainly much poorer than the leading powers of the West followed a rather original strategy of a possible war with powerful imperialist armies. The essence of the idea was to encounter the aggressor with organized guerilla units. While the regular troops of the enemy would get stuck in the European part of the country, long-range TB-3 bombers would deliver heavy strikes at the deep rear of the enemy: Warsaw, Berlin, Paris. Meanwhile, the working class of the relevant countries would raise insurrections in support of the Soviet state, and the USSR would start an offensive to help them.

This design is associated with the names of the "red marshals", executed by Joseph Stalin particularly, with the names of Iona Yakir, Ieronim Uborevich, and Mikhail Tukhachevsky. Until the mid-1930s, a relevant program of education and training of spies and guerillas was steadily implemented, with a lot of bases with subsistence, explosives, and ammunition deployed in forests. However, Stalin cancelled this program. To a certain extent, that was correct, as the former system was associated with the Utopia of proletarian solidarity. As the experience of World War II demonstrated, German and Italian workers were not much eager to confront their Fuehrers and Duche to embrace the USSR. Still, a new edition of the cancelled strategy may be revived today as an asymmetric response to the gigantic advantage of today's NATO military potential over the Russian troops.

Accepting such a kind of strategy, we would develop our land forces into mobile units of spetsnaz (special forces) and guerilla armies, instead of the old regiments, divisions, and corpses. In case the NATO troops invade Russia, mobile units and covertly operating brigades of spetsnaz may respond with network warfare attacking the aggressor from the rear, inflicting damage both to the manpower and the logistics; using satellite navigation systems and laser designators, guiding the strikes of Russian land artillery, operative-tactical missiles (with low-yield warheads as well) and aviation upon the spearheads of the adversary.

At the same time, the Russian strategic deterrence armaments, such as the long-range ballistic and cruise missiles from land-based launchers, submarines and long-range aircrafts, would deliver strikes at the enemy's rear, with horrific, unacceptable losses. In this case, we count upon not an insurrection of the working class but upon a wild panic of common civilians before the perspective of immense casualties and deterioration. In this context, it would make sense to identify the sites of residence of the well-to-do elite of the West as "special targets", selecting the areas of their compact residence (rich city quarters and "golden" suburbs, stock markets, banks and business centers, suburban clubs and cruise ships.

All this corresponds with a cheap version of "star wars", with use of anti-satellite weapons for disabling ABM systems, as well as communication, surveillance and navigation satellites.

It is noteworthy that a mobile high-tech "guerilla army", in case of a victory, would easily accomplish the task of occupation. A few mobile groups may be reinforced with artillery, tank, and helicopter modules. In this way, Russian troops would be able to confront not only the NATO army but also the "conventional" regular industrial-type armies (like Chinese, Turkish, or Polish), as well as irregular units of fighters like Chechen separatists and Afghani Talibs.

Armed forces of this type would require development of new classes of military technique. In particular, mobile land units would need support from unmanned surveillance aircrafts, in a range from small, portable vehicles to large aircrafts, able to carry not only surveillance and navigation technique but also a couple of air-to-land missiles up to artificial-intellect machinery, capable of assembling into a "thinking" flock.

Equipment of an infantry soldier is to be also modernized. Means of transport should involve new light go-anywhere vehicles, as well as traditional armored machinery. The new-type land forces would require highly efficient coup-de-main facilities, such as mines, light and high-power anti-tank missiles and portable anti-air systems, new-design small arms, new-type sniper rifles, night vision devices, as well as technique for guiding missile, artillery and air strikes, plus undoubtedly, broad-band connectivity stations along with a lot of portable stuff like tents, campsites, field rations etc.

This kind of asymmetric response to an overwhelming superiority of NATO troops was proposed by the authors of the Russian Doctrine already in 2005.



We view the future of the nation's military forces as a flexible, futuristic military organism. Russia has to achieve a perfect potential, allowing conduct of land-based, marine and aerospace military operations, superseding the United States and China.

The general scheme of defense is as follows: Moscow is protected from an unexpected "beheading" strike by means of a district of military space defense (VKO). Other VKO districts are designed to protect the sites of Russian forces of nuclear deterrence, not allowing the potential adversary to destroy them with an advance strike of ballistic missiles or high-accuracy cruise missiles. Considering the fact that Moscow is located in the range of a 5-10 minutes access for NATO's medium-range missiles, it is necessary to establish "reserve capital cities" in Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk, which can't be reached by "medium" missiles. In this way, another center will take charge in case of destruction of Moscow.

Next, Russia is to develop powerful air forces, with emphasis on long-range aviation as a truly flexible military mechanism as these planes will carry both nuclear-charged and conventional high accuracy cruise missiles of X-55 and X-101 types. Therefore, the Russian aviation's heavy strategic bombers will be able to affect equally NATO troops, irregular armies, or selected targets in third countries in case they threaten Russia. The space troops are to be developed as a part of the Air Forces but not in today's peaceful but in a war version. In this process, Russian designers should not imitate the US ABM system: this would be exhausting for the national budget. Means of elimination of the adversary's satellites are a decimal cheaper alternative. A strike at several key systems of the United States may disable the whole ABM system of the adversary. Academician Anatoly Savin, the "father" of the Russian space war program, called it "a blow at the eyes".

Disabling a number of GPS satellites would undermine the accuracy of US cruise missiles, "smart bombs", Trident-type ballistic missiles, as well as the orientation of NATO's groups of special forces, along with their air support. By knocking out satellites, we are able to destroy the systems of communication and target designation of the US forces, sharply reducing its military efficiency. Space is the Achilles heel of the Americans.

The Russian "star wars" are also to contribute to the general development of national economy. They will require micro- and nano- satellites, distributed ("cluster") satellites, cheap means of launching cargo into space, and new types of electronics. All this may give birth to lots of most profitable commercial ventures, as technique of this type is of dual use by definition. Military lasers, produced by Astrophysica Holding, have their own prospects of conversion. And, finally, there is a plan outlined by Academician Anatoly Savin: to create a unified military-commercial satellite group, capable to function both in the regime of a civil enterprise (used for geological and communication purposes), and in a regime of a military system, completely transforming into an element of the armed forces.

We equally need a powerful Navy. Its objective would be not only to be able to deliver military strikes across the ocean, but more significantly, to destroy aircraft-carrying navy groups of the adversary, as well as cruise missile-carrying ships. This task admits development of futuristic types of weapons as well: for instance, high-speed surface-effect vehicles, able to hunt ships and carry anti-sub weapons. Definitely, the marine missile-bearing aviation is to be revived as well. In future, we'll also require our own aircraft carriers with escort groups of ships and submarines.

Obviously, we require the fourth kind of military forces, in addition to the Land Forces, Air Forces and the Navy. We definitely need to develop means of information warfare, generating electronic interference in the adversarys aircrafts, ships and land troops. We need devices, able to distort the signals of the adversary's satellite navigation systems, and devices for assaults in the cyberspace, essential for disabling crucial systems of life support in adversary states, their transport facilities, as well as financial systems.

In order to accomplish the essentially necessary program of modernization of the whole military machine of the country, the Russian Federation will have to undertake a crucial change in its domestic policy, generally, to mobilize itself. This policy may be also identified as Russia's self-concentration, and serve as the basis of its qualitative revival.

Mobilization is equally required in the civil political and economic spheres, in the military sphere, in culture, education and fine arts. All these spheres are intertwined. Definitely, the country needs a new-type planned economy, involving a National Innovation System. This requires a thorough purge of the state apparatus from corruption, and emergence of new efficient institutes of state administration, using the latest achievements of managerial technologies.

Today, every ruble from the state budget is to be used with maximum efficiency. In this regard, a real war has to be declared to corruption, especially in the army ranks. It is no secret that today, many scientific and technological studies are ordered by the army not on the principle of higher efficiency but on the considerations of the amount of a share, which could be abducted from the allocated finances by corrupted bureaucrats with starred straps.

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