ABOUT US
CONTACT US
SUBSCRIPTION
Moscow Defense Brief


Current Issue



#4 (42), 2014

CONTENTS

SEARCH : Search

Armed Conflicts

Russian Army Operations and Weaponry During Second Military Campaign in Chechnya

Alexander PASHIN


The war in Chechnya has lasted for eight years. The experience of the second military campaign that began in1999 indicates that the necessary conclusions to improve the operations of the armed forces in such a specific theater had not been drawn after the end of the first Chechen war. In addition, the weaponry of the federal troops involved in the counter-terrorist opera­tionwas not changed, either. The federal side has been using the same weapons and military equipment as in the first war.

The second Chechen war can be divided into two stages:

  • Stage 1 - August 1999 (the invasion in Dages­tan) through March 2000 (the siege of Komsomolskoye village) - was marked by large-scale hostilities.

  • Stage 2 - begun in April 2000 and continuing to this day. The number of major hos­tilities sharply declined and active guerilla war­fare began.

Stage 1

Key operations

The second Chechen war began in August 1999. In the very first days of August the situation sharply deteriorated in the mountainous Tsu­mada and Botlikh districts of Dagestan border­ing on Chechnya. In the early hours of August 2, groups of militants crossed the Snegovoy Range pass separating Chechnya from Dagestan to the Tsumada district, entered the village of Ag­vali and attempted to establish control and Is­lamic order there. After an armed clash with the local police supported by the population they were forced to withdraw from the district capi­tal and entrench in three other villages: Echeda, Gigatl and Gakko. Meanwhile, other rebel groupings started infiltrating other villages in Tsumada and the neighboring Botlikh districts and entrenching themselves there. Prominent field commanders Shamil Basayev and Ibn ul-Khattab assumed control over the operations of the Wahhabis.

Armed units of Dagestani and Chechen Wahhabis, who had the objective of separating Dagestan from the rest of Russia and forming a united Islamic state, started building up a bridgehead in the remotest mountain districts of Dagestan. The rebels assumed control over two mountain passes linking Dagestan and Chechnya (Gigatlinsky and Yagodak) and started transferring forces. By August 10 up to 2,000 rebels had assumed control of 10 vil­lages in the districts of Tsumada (Echeda, Gakko, Kedi, Kvanada, Gadiri, Gigatl) and Bolikh (Godoberi, Miarso, Shodroda, Ansalta, Rakhata, Inkhelo).1 There were reports that they had also entered Gumbeta and Akhvakh districts.

The efforts of federal troops against separatists in Dagestan were characterized by the large-scale use of all types of conventional arma­ments. At that time large groups numbering from 500 to 800 rebels constituted the core of the rebel force in Dagestan and Chechnya. Such a con­centration of rebels in a relatively limited territo­ries allowed federal troops to benefit from their overwhelming superiority in firepower.

By August 24, 1999 the federal side regained control over all villages in Botlikh district. On August 29 units of the Armed Forces, Interior Troops, task forces of the Dagestani police and other law enforcement bodies launched an offen­sive against the rebellious villages of Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi in Buinaksk district of Dagestan.

The operation against the insurgent villages, ini­tially planned as a police action, developed into full-scale hostilities. The invasion of Chechen rebels in the Novolakskoye district of Dagestan at the height of the hostilities in the Karamakhi zone on September 5 came as unpleasant sur­prise to Moscow and Makhachkala. According to field commander Shamil Basayev, the pur­pose of the invasion was to distract federal forces attacking Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi. The hostilities in Novolakskoye district were intensive until September 12 when the zone was cleared of rebels, even though sporadic armed clashes continued for some time after­wards.

The outcome of the hostilities in Dagestan was saddening: 275 federal servicemen were killed and 937 wounded in action between August 2 and September 20, 1999. According to the Rus­sian Defense Ministry, the losses of army units were 104 men killed, 24 of them officers, and 291 wounded, 74 of them officers. As for the In­terior Ministry, Interior Troops and police units, lost 171 men were killed and 646 wounded. In addi­tion, there were 15 missing in action.2 Dages­tani law enforcement bodies and home guards also suffered significant losses. Over 20,000 lo­cal residents fled from the zone of hostilities, but by the end of September most of them re­turned to their home places.

The storming of the capital Grozny became the biggest army operation in Chechnya itself. After the storming of the city during the first Che­chen war in January 1995 that had cost the fed­eral side enormous losses, the second attempt was looked forward with mixed feelings. Ac­cording to the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, over 1,800 Russian soldiers and officers died in the first storming. There are still no accurate of­ficial figures of the losses. It is known that the 131st Maikop brigade was almost fully annihi­lated in the area of the railway station.3 Para­troopers and marines also suffered heavy losses. For instance, a Northern Fleet marine battalion that stormed the government compound - Lassau and Kavkaz hotels, the National Bank and the presidential palace - lost over 50 men.4

This time the mistakes of the previous storming were taken into account in the process of plan­ning the operation. First, Grozny was com­pletely be­sieged. Then mop-ups of separate dis­tricts be­gan. Unlike the first storming, this time artillery fire was opened at the slightest sign of resis­tance. All dominating heights around the city were occupied by artillery and tanks that some­times opened direct fire. 240-millimiter Tyulpan self-propelled mortars and Smelchak advanced guided rounds for them were used for the first time in urban combat.5 Assault de­tachments armed with Shmel infantry rocket flame-throw­ers, AGS-17 Plamya automatic gre­nade launch­ers, Kalashnikov machine guns and AK-74 Kalashnikov assault rifles with GP-25 underbar­rel grenade launchers also proved effec­tive. Such detachments always contained snipers armed either with the Degtyaryov sniping rifle or the Vintorez low noise special sniper rifle. In addition, these groups were supported by tanks supplied with so-called dynamic protection that enabled them to sustain several hits from man-port­able grenade-launchers.

The operation: codenamed Wolf Trap, on the night of January 29, 2000, however, was the great­est success.6 Thanks to the concerted actions of intelligence agents, radio intercepting detach­ments and radioelectronic security, a plan of retreat from the city was imposed on the rebels. Numer­ous minefields were created on the expected flight routes of the rebels at the last moment. In addition, the artillery had ranged the area. As a result two thirds of the 600 rebels who at­tempted to flee died or were severely wounded. A key rebel figure, Shamil Basayev, lost his leg. On February 6, 2000, federal troops assumed full control over Grozny.

The storming of the village of Komsomolskoye completed the first stage of the second Chechen war. As soon as rebels were besieged in it, the operation became simple from the military viewpoint. The main reason for the unjustifiably high losses, however, was the lack of coordi­nation between formations of different subordi­nation. The storming involved units of the Armed Forces, the Main Intelligence Depart­ment, the Federal Security Service, Interior Troops and the Interior Ministry. The mass use of the UR-77 Zmei Gorynych line-charge mine­field breaching vehicle can be singled out among the technical innovations used in the storming. The weight of a charge exceeds one tonne and the power of the explosion is such that houses in Komsomolskoye were simply wiped off from the face of the earth. Neverthe­less, part of the rebels led by Ruslan Gelayev managed to break away from the encirclement, a situation quite typical of many operations in Chechnya.

Analysis of Russian army actions and ar­maments

Russian De­fense Ministry General Staff chief Anatoly Kvashnin actually as­sumed command of the forces in the North Caucasus. During the previous war he also planned the ill-famed storming of Grozny in the first days of January 1995. As a result the main mistake of the first Chechen war was repeated in Dagestan, namely the use of formations of different subordination in the same operation. Already after the first war many officers ex­pressed the opinion that at least two rapid reac­tion divisions staffed and equipped according to wartime standards should have been set up and used in hostilities first of all. Nothing of the kind had been done, however,  in the three years be­tween 1996 and 1999. And from the very first days of the hostilities troops from all over the country were flow to Dagestan. In addition to regular units of the North Caucasian military district, there were air-borne formations, marines from three fleets, OMON and SOBR special police forces from two dozen territories, task forces from the Main Intelligence Department, the Federal Security Service, Interior Troops and Interior Ministry formations. It was impossible to coordinate the efforts of such a diverse mass of troops, especially considering the state of the means of communication. As a result, the experi­ence of the first Chechen war recurred with fed­eral aviation and artillery pounding their own forces and units belonging of different ministries shooting at each other.

An analysis of the developments in Dagestan and Chechnya indicates that it is possible to lo­calize seats of hostilities with immediate and strong reaction which, however, require the ex­istence of control bodies and well-trained, fully staffed units kept in constant combat readiness. The control system should be deployed before a military grouping is formed. For instance, dur­ing the anti-terrorist operation, rocket troops and artillery were deployed simultaneously along with their control bodies which reduced the quality, reliability, swiftness and stability of command and in a number of cases required adjustments in their entire structure. In addi­tion, the control bodies of the rocket troops and artillery had only 50-60% of properly trained staff, which obstructed effective decision-mak­ing in planning and organizing attacks and in control­ling and commanding units and formations. In order to guarantee its round-the-clock operation, the fire destruction planning and coordination group with the head­quarters of the federal force in the North Cauca­sus had to be supplemented by officers from the Rocket Troops and Artillery research center and the Military Artillery Uni­versity.7

Ideally permanent readiness rocket and artillery formations should have such personnel and ma­teriel that they can immediately fulfill combat tasks on a full scale. Out of the artil­lery bat­teries involved, however, only 48% were units of permanent readiness while others were formed out of reduced units. The hostilities in Chech­nya showed that a permanent readiness artillery battery spends four to five times less on prepa­rations for firing, has higher fire accu­racy and lower injury rates than a newly formed, though trained battery.

The core of the arsenal of the federal force in the North Caucasus consisted of T-72 main bat­tle tanks, BMP-2 AIFVs, Su-25 ground attack air­craft, Su-24 frontline bombers, Mi-24 assault helicopters and Mi-8 transport helicopters. Rocket and artillery strikes were delivered by Grad and Uragan MLRS, D-80 howitzers and Msta-S self-propelled artillery systems. Troops moved on BTR-70 and BTR-80 wheeled armored person­nel carriers. All of the weapons were quite old but have gained a good reputation in local con­flicts. The use of these weap­ons and ammunition cost virtually nothing to the Russian taxpayers be­cause they had been manufac­tured in Soviet times.

The use of T-90S tanks in Dagestan deserves mention. A group of these vehicles consisting of 8 to 12 units according to different sources was supposed to be delivered to India. Fol­lowing a sharp aggravation of the situation in the Cauca­sus, however, the tanks were transferred to Dagestan. In the Kadari zone one T-90 was hit by seven RPG anti-tank rockets8 but remained in action. This indicates that with regular equip­ment T-90S is the best protected Russian tank, especially if Shtora and Arena defensive protection systems are integrated in it.

The use of 1,500-kg aircraft vacuum bombs was another innovation of the hostilities in Dages­tan. There are practically no official reports of the use of vacuum bombs. According to diverse sources, the bombs were used any where from two to six times.

The role of frontline aviation and helicopters should be singled out. During the developments in Dagestan federal aircraft and helicopters op­erated as intensively as ever. At that time over 80% of targets were destroyed from the air. The Air Force, though, suffered serious losses as well. In the three months of fighting in Dagestan, five pilots and two aircraft gunners were killed. The rebels managed to destroy five helicopters: four Mi-8 and one Mi-24.9

There has been little difference in the aircraft fleet compared to the first Chechen war. Like in 1994-1996, Su-24M frontline bombers have been playing the role of an all-weather and round-the-clock weapon while Su-25 ground attack aircraft operate in ordinary weather conditions. The wars in Chechnya have demonstrated the acute need for war planes capable of discovering and classifying small ground targets and de­stroying them with high-precision weapons at any time of the day and in any weather. The successful use of upgraded all-weather Su-25T assigned to a separate air group was the main novelty. Fire accuracy from such aircraft has proved quite high. For instance, with Kh-25ML (AS-10) air-to-surface missiles, the Su-25T destroyed several small targets, such as satellite communi­cation stations and an An-2 airplane on the ground.10 Unfortunately, neither Su-25TM ground at­tack aircraft having such capabilities, nor mod­ernized Su-30 multirole fighters, MiG-29SMT or MiG-29UBT air superiority fighters were tested in combat. Neither is there any informa­tion available about the use of receivers of the GLONASS satellite navigation system, which could significantly improve the interaction be­tween aviation and ground forces. Unguided bombs and missiles were mainly used in air at­tacks. Among the high precision weapons the federal side used were air-to-surface missiles, KAB-500 steer­able bombs, and also KAB-1500L and KAB-1500TK heavy bombs with laser or television guidance. On the whole the correlation between unguided and high precision weapons did not change insignificantly compared to 1994-1996.

Traditionally the Russian army has paid more attention to building up fire power than to means of control, intelligence or communica­tions (C3I) in which it lags behind Western countries by some 10-15 years.

For instance, NATO armies, especially in the US, are actively using unmanned aircraft from strategic to special miniature ones.11 The Rus­sian army so far has only one Stroi-P system with the unmanned aircraft Pchela. In 1995 five Pchela-1T were used in Chechnya that flew 10 missions, eight of them combat missions. Their combined flying hours were 7 hours 25 minutes. The maximum distance of the aircraft from the ground control station was 55 kilometers with the flight altitude ranging between 600 and 2,200 meters.12 The aircraft, however, have a number of drawbacks. Firstly, they are launched from catapults and use parachutes for landing. As a result, each Pchela may be used no more than 10 times. It would have been more logical in the conflict in Chechnya to use remotely pi­loted vehicles (RPV) taking off according to the airplane principle because Russia has no shortage of airfields around Chechnya. The ser­vice life of such aircraft would grow 10-fold or more. Russia does not, however, have such RPV. Secondly, it has been clear for a long time that up-to-date RPV should carry night vision equipment. Military experts believe that only in this case can rocket and artillery strikes be de­livered at rebel groups round-the-clock. The Defense Ministry does not have the money to acquire such equipment, how­ever. Thirdly, we must single out the very short range of Pchela actions and their low ability to survive combat conditions. During the first war two Pchelas were shot down by Chechen rebels who managed to organize inten­sive defensive fire from small arms and anti-air­craft installations along the RPV flight route.13

Generally speaking, however, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive system of reconnais­sance, control and communications beginning from surveillance satellites which Russia has only two to unmanned aircraft instead of indi­vidual elements. All the forces and means of intelligence and attack that the headquarters of the grouping has at its disposal should be linked in a single automated reconnaissance and firing system. It is clear that at present the absence of such com­plexes or an automated control system has to be compensated by operations of land forces in close combat in which combat losses cannot be fully ruled out.

Analysis of Chechen separatists' actions and armaments 

Like during the first war this time virtually all anti-aircraft means of Chechen rebels are mo­bile: the ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled air de­fense gun system, the ZU-23 air defense gun on a Kamaz truck chassis and DShK machine guns and grenade launchers mounted on off-road cars. In addition, they were armed with Strela-3 (SA-14) and Igla-1 (SA-18) and Stingers MAN­PADS. All sources, including official, confirm their pres­ence. It has been reported that even during the first war Chechens "captured depots with large quantities of these rockets." Intelli­gence has es­timated the combined number of portable anti-aircraft systems on the rebel side at 70 to 100 units.

Nevertheless, they have not been so widely used in combat. Firstly, the experience accumulated by aircraft and helicopter pilots in Afghanistan has helped them avoid being hit by them. The sim­plest way to reduce losses from man-portable anti-aircraft rockets is to fly at altitudes beyond their reach. It is true that attacks from the alti­tude of 4,000-4,500 meters are less accurate and as a consequence increase the spending of am­munition and destruction in the target area. The other option is to fly at minimal altitudes with maneuvers against air defense weapons which only top pilots are capable of. The most radical solution is the jamming of the self-homing de­vice of the missiles.

The other reason for the limited use of man portable missiles was that rebels are not trained to use Stingers. The rockets' batteries are one problem because as their active life is very short: some 40 seconds between the discovery of the target to launching after which they go out of order. The angle of the Stinger's homing head is small and it is a difficult task for a poorly trained operator to bring a Stinger into combat readiness and capture a target in such a short time. Besides, the power unit of a Stinger has a ser­vice life of two years and the United States long ago stopped their deliveries to Afghanistan from where Chechen rebels received them. It should also be noted that Russian intelligence services evidently managed to prevent the large-scale transfer of the latest weaponry to Chech­nya which reduced the effectiveness of the rebels' air defense. Experts believe only one Su-24MR was shot down with a Stigner in the area of Urus-Martan.

The Igla-1 used by rebels is superior to the Stinger in reliability and simplicity, flight speed and the power of its warhead - 600 grams com­pared to 500 grams of the Stinger. There have been reports, however, that the Igla cannot be ap­plied against Russian aircraft because its guid­ance system contains IFF.

Simpler weapons have been used much more frequently against low flying aircraft and espe­cially helicopters, specifically anti-tank guided missiles, RPG-5 and RPG-7 anti-tank rockets and heavy ma­chine guns. The technical weak­ness of the rebel air defense was compensated by good organiza­tion and certain specific features of application. The actions of all mobile air de­fense weapons have been accurately coordinated with the help of well-organized radio communi­cations, which the federal forces did not jam but in many cases intercepted. Rebels were skillfully camou­flaged and constantly changed their firing posi­tions, making it difficult to dis­cover and destroy them. The use of ambushes was one of the means of using air defense weap­ons. The Che­chen firing teams tried to stay hid­den up to the moment when an airplane or heli­copter entered their effective firing zone and only then opened mas­sive fire for effect from several positions. Often they stationed their air defense weapons in the directions of flight routes of attack aircraft, near the possible air attack targets and opened fire for effect at a fa­vorable moment. The den­sity of anti-aircraft fire simultaneously opened from the entire range of the existing weaponry - small arms, heavy ma­chine guns, anti-aircraft guns and grenade launchers - was another spe­cific feature. Not a single helicopter that was shot down or dam­aged had been hit by only one type of weapon.

By January 1, 2000 the losses of the federal side caused by air defense fire and technical failures were 3 Su-25 (September 9, November 3 and December 13) and 1 Su-24MR (November 4). Between the beginning of the second Chechen war and September 5, 2000 11 Mi-24 assault helicopters and 12 Mi-8 multi mission helicop­ters had been put out of action. Half of the air­craft were shot down in combat, approximately the same number were lost due human errors.14 The ratio of losses was approximately the same as during the first war in Chechnya.

Stage 2

The second stage of the anti-terrorist operation was marked by the transition of Chechen sepa­ratists to guerilla warfare. Open confrontation with regular troops became useless due to their greater manpower, better organization and overwhelming firing superiority. The hopes of the separatists for political support from foreign countries did not materialize and in order to survive they radically changed their tactics. Re­bel formations were split into smaller groups. Each group was assigned an operating area and bases. Already in summer 2000, however, it be­came clear from intercepted radio communica­tions and the interrogations of captured rebels that the separatists were facing serious shortages of arms and ammunition, especially high quality mines. Federal convoys daily moving around Chechnya became the main target of the rebels who widely used home-made land mines con­cocted on the basis of 152 or 122 mm shells.

Under these circumstances, the tactics of federal troops have had to be altered. Now the main respon­sibility lies with helicopters and the personnel of district commandants' offices, task forces of the Main Intelligence Department and the Fed­eral Security Service. Large army formations, Interior Troops, OMON and SOBR police forces are responsible for enforcing the control system, conducting mop-ups in towns and villages and identity checks. They are also called to reinforce task forces, whenever there is such a need. Regular checkups, mop-ups and also tight control on the roads significantly hinder rebel operations.

Analysis of Russian army actions and ar­maments

In the new conditions, the main role belongs to the task forces of the Main Intelligence Department and the Federal Security Service. Already one can say that their efforts have proved quite effective. Firstly, they are always better trained than regular army formations. Secondly, they are much better equipped and armed with more advanced weaponry.

Each group has been assigned a strictly defined zone of responsibility. Some formations special­ize only in operations outside populated areas. They block the foothills and set up ambushes against rebel units that try to change their posi­tions. Many more task forces operate inside populated areas. The responsibility zones of such groups have remained unchanged since the be­ginning of the anti-terrorist operation.15 Thanks to this, each has a perfect knowledge of the situation in its area which significantly increases their efficiency. As a rule, most of the special operations are conducted at night. Hence, there are the special requirements to their equipment.

The task units, however, suffer from a shortage of effective Russian-made night vision instru­ments and night sights for sniper rifles. The lat­est Russian inventions in this sphere are not reaching the troops and they have to use what was developed decades ago. The early night vision instruments, which the military have to be content with for now, operate only with power sources made especially for army pur­poses. Sights that can operate on regular house­hold batteries were developed much later. Nei­ther do troops have light and mobile IR imagers though according to foreign military experts, the IR imagers are a crucial element of anti-ter­rorist equipment.16

The 12.7 mm V-94 rifle won a high reputation in mountain warfare.17 Its large caliber and firepower allows snipers to remain outside the rebel firing zone while shooting. In addition, the V-94 proved effective in firing at vehicles with no armored plating. The 9 mm Vintorez low noise special sniper rifle has been praised as being highly effective in urban combat. The Russian 7.62 mm SV-98 sniper rifle has also been suc­cessfully used. The quality of the ex­isting Russian sniper sights, however, leaves much to be desired. For instance, the adjust­ment knob of practically all Russian optical sights is unpro­tected, therefore during transpor­tation the sight is distorted and precision fire is impossible without additional adjustment. As a result, task forces of the Main Intelligence De­partment and the Federal Security Service have started using foreign weaponry: rifles made by SAKO (Finland) and AVS (Britain), sights made by Zeiss, Schmidt&Bender etc.18

As for small arms, task forces almost never use 5.45 mm AK-74 Kalashnikov rifles. Those with the underbarrel grenade launcher GP-25 consti­tute the sole exception. For missions task units usually take trophy 7.62 mm AK-47 assault ri­fles because their more powerful cartridges have a longer range and puncturing capacity. Low flame and low noise weapons are also actively used. They are ordered in small batches and paid for from one's own pocket, though. Among grenade-launchers one should single out the Shmel infantry rocket flame-thrower. Despite its great weight (12 kilos), groups take one or two of them for a mission as a rule. In case of an armed clash, especially in urban con­ditions, the Shmel increases the firing power of the group. The power of its thermobaric round is equivalent to the power of a 122 mm howitzer shell.

Despite the enormous experience gained during the two Chechen wars the traditional short­comings inherent in Russian armed forces re­main. Neither the ground forces, nor the task groups have mobile radars, hydrophone listening gear or convenient night sights. The available means of radio communication are incapable of guaranteeing reliable communications in combat conditions. In addition they are fully scanned and intercepted by the rebels.

The heavy Mi-8MTKO round-the-clock night vision helicopter has been actively used during the second war. Thanks to its onboard equip­ment the crew easily discovers and destroys small rebel groups, dugouts, automobiles and other equipment at any time of the day with high precision. The night computing devices and adapters guarantee the use of digital maps and navigation support for nighttime shooting. An IR imager facilitates high-precision targeting. It "sees" objects emitting heat from +0.3oC or more relative to the surroundings, and its powerful radar discovers the enemy firing posi­tions even through the foliage. All the helicop­ter systems are connected so that the pilot has a good picture of the space outside the cockpit and the data on the indicators. The new avion­ics permits the helicopter to operate effectively in any weather conditions at minimal heights (30-50 meters) using high precision and conven­tional arms. It is also equipped with a more powerful engine resistant to overloads. Over 20 such helicopters were expected to appear in the North Caucasus by the end of last year, but only two were built and one of them crashed.19

There have also been reports of the use of Ka-50 Black Shark helicopters in Chechnya. The absence of night vision equipment has hin­dered their effective operation, however. Immediately af­ter the Ka-50 was introduced in Chechnya many re­bel groups started appearing in relatively open spaces only at night. The helicopters of the Ka­mov Design Bureau capable of operating at night, for instance Ka-52, have not been used in Chechnya.

The heavy flame-throwing system TOZ-1 Bu­ratino is another novelty. Experts say it demonstrated excellent qualities but was used rarely due to the prohibitive price of its ammu­nition.

Conclusions

On the whole it can be said that the Russian army has proved quite combat capable during the second war in Chechnya. Different tactics and tricks were widely applied: using disinformation against the adversary, landing operations and ambushes. Whenever there was a chance, the superiority in firepower and domination in the air were used to the utmost.

There remained the shortcomming inherited from the first war - the disasterous application of units subordinate to different agencies in the same operations. The Russian leadership tried to reduce the negative consequences of such a policy to the minimum by placing the Federal Security Service in charge of the anti-terrorist effort as a whole. Overlapping has not been fully elimi­nated, however. In addition, one should admit the very strong influence of temporary political consid­erations on the course of the hostilities.

Still the biggest problem of the federal side in the Chechen war has been the use of outdated arms systems. The army has not received any­thing new from the Russian defense industry, except several upgraded models of old weap­onry. Evidently, the entire system of arms pro­curements should be changed in principle.

It is time to give up the concept that Russia should manufacture all weapons and equipment for its armed forces by itself. The priority direc­tions of the domestic defense industry should be defined and priority given to companies in­volved in large scale exports, R&D, especially in science-intensive technolo­gies and also those having strategic importance for the country.

The output of all others should be compared in cost effectiveness with foreign analogs. If some foreign systems or others are better, they should be bought, naturally on a competitive basis and under close control from experts. For instance, this applies to field radio stations and scanners that the Russian defense industry will never be able to manufacture even close to Western analogs and also to special clothing and equipment.

Another possible step could be the priority de­velopment of the systems already taken into service or the up­grading of the existing types of military hard­ware. For example Ka-50 at­tack helicopters with more advanced avionics giving them all-weather and round-the-clock ca­pabilities. Even a relatively small grouping of 15-20 such helicopters could deliver fairly effec­tive strikes at rebels and reduce the losses of the Russian army in Chechnya. Such helicopters have already been adopted by the Armed Forces: about a dozen are deployed at the aviation training center in Torzhok. But they are used solely for training pilots and developing instruc­tions on their future use. Two years ago the Russian army placed an additional order for 10 Ka-50 helicopters but later the order was can­celled due to the absence of funding.

The integration of new avionics in Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters would permit their more effec­tive operation at night and in bad weather. Su-25 ground attack planes have been criticized in Chechnya even though they are generally reli­able. The Sukhoi Design Bureau has developed a fundamentally upgraded version of it - Su-39 Supergrach. The Russian army still cannot afford to buy it, however. At the moment there are only a few units in Moscow and at the plant in Ulan-Ude.

Currently the main losses of the federal forces in Chechnya are caused by land mines, 90% of which are radio controlled. Vehicles operating in Chechnya should be supplied with what are known as white noise generators, which reliably jam all radio signals over the range of 100 me­ters. It is much more difficult to blast a vehicle equipped with this generator. Vehicles with such equipment have started appearing in Chechnya but there are very few of them.

The procurements of new armaments and the upgrading of the existing models of military hardware require the revision of the military policy for the benefit of developing smaller but more mobile armed forces. The presence of up-to-date equipment in the troops will increase their effectiveness as well as reduce casualties in hostilities.


1 "Dagetsan - khronika sobytiy", National Electronic Library, www.rd.ru/chronoras.

2 Official fugures.

3 Vyacheslav Mironov, "Ya byl na toi voine", Biblion, Moscow, 2001.

4 Interview with the participants of the combat opera­tions.

5 Gennady Troshev, "Moya voina - dnevnik okopnogo generala", Vagrius, Moscow, 2001.

6 Ibid.

7 Col-Gen Mikhail Karatuev, Chief of the Russian Rocket and Artillery Forces, "Minoborony delaet vy­vody", Grani.ru, 14.12.2000.

8 Interview with the participants of the combat opera­tions.

9 Report by Col-Gen Vitaly Pavlov, Commander of the Russian Army Aviation, 23.11.1999.

10 Gennady Matveevich, "Primenenie aviatsii v Chechne", 1999, www.airbase.uka.ru.

11 "Operatsiya Burya v pustyne", Zarubezhnoe voen­noe obozrenie, #1, 1991.

12 Nikolay Novichkov, "Komplex Story-P snova v Chechne", Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, 15.02.2002.

13 Ibid.

14 Official figures by Russia's Defense Ministry, cited on Lenta.ru website.

15 Interview with the participants of the combat op­erations.

16 Ian V. Hogg, "Counter Terrorism Equipment", Greenhill Books, 2001.

17 Interview with the participants of the combat op­erations.

18 Ibid.

19 Vozdushnyi Transport Journal, #22, May 2001.



Print version
© Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, 2014
www.cast.ru