Forces: November 5, 2004


The Russian government will increase defense spending for 2005, but is also planning to cut back the size of all three services to free up additional funds for research and development, and to buy next-generation equipment. Overall personnel strength is expected to be cut by 100,000. The biggest cuts will hit the Russian air force. It will lose 36,000 personnel, two bomber regiments of Tu-22 Backfire bombers, three regiments of Su-24 aircraft (two strike, one recon), four fighter regiments made up of a mix of Mig-29, Mig-31, and Su-27 units, two Su-25 ground attack regiments, and two Aero L-39 training regiments. A typical regiment has 30 to 40 aircraft, depending on its role and where it is assigned. 

The army will lose 20,000 troops, along with several regiments of Mil Mi-8 transport helicopters and Mi-24 armed-support helicopters. The navy will lose 16,000 personnel and retire two Typhoon ballistic missile submarines. Some older Delta-class ballistic missile submarines may also be retired. 

More money will be spent to buy more SS-27 ICBM missiles or its submarine-launched derivate, which is going into the new Borei-class ballistic missile submarine. One Borei-class sub is nearly complete and two more are under construction. Each will be armed with twelve SS-27 derivative missiles. The three-stage solid-fuel SS-27 Topel-M is nearly 23 meters (75 feet) long, with a diameter of 1.95 meters (6 feet) and has a range of 11,000 kilometers.

It is likely that the surplus fighters, ground attack aircraft, and helicopters will ultimately show up in another country's air force, for the appropriate amount of hard currency. The Backfire bombers may be sold or leased, but the U.S. and others are likely to register a protest if they change hands. The swing-wing Backfire bomber has a range of 6,800 kilometers, cruise speed of 900 kilometers/hour, dash speed of 2300 kilometers/hour and can carry a payload of up to 50,000 pounds. Doug Mohney


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