Russia’s Military: More Bark Than Bite

    Richard Connolly, Mathieu Boulegue

    Security, Eurasia

    Russia remains a long way from possessing the ability to overwhelm larger, better equipped peer competitors.

    For the first time during the May 9 Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, the Russian armed forces paraded unmanned vehicles. Korsar surveillance drones equipped with electronic-warfare capabilities, Uran-6 autonomous demining vehicles, and Uran-9 unmanned tanks were showcased on the Red Square. Furthermore, fifth generation Su-57 multi-role fighters and MiG-31 fighters equipped with the recently-unveiled Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles flew over Moscow for the first time.

    In many ways, the 2018 celebrations outlined the shape of things to come for the Russian armed forces in the context of the recent approval of the new State Armament Programme (GPV) 2018–2027. This new program will replace its predecessor, the GPV 2020.

    The procurement, refurbishment and development of new military equipment that took place under GPV 2020 played an important role in reshaping the Russian armed forces by delivering new and modernized equipment in significant volumes for the first time in the post–Soviet period. GPV 2027 is therefore expected to build on the progress made under the previous program and strengthen the Russian armed forces.

    GPV 2027 will guide defense procurement and the modernization of the armed forces. It is likely to focus on power-projection capabilities, force mobility and deployability, military logistics, and strengthening Command & Control systems (C2) systems. Additional emphasis is likely to be placed on the standardisation and optimization of existing systems. The GPV 2027 should allow the Russian defense industry to streamline priority technological developments for the armed forces. Advanced air defense systems, honing deterrence and anti-access capabilities will also probably play an important part of the program.

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