And why is that?
The Mig-29 design was a point interceptor of short range for Frontal Aviation.
The Russian AF had no money so even if they wanted to upgrade their aircraft they couldn't. If they had the money there was no need to upgrade the Mig-29 to SMT standard because it continued to be able to do the job it was designed for.
Why would an interceptor need the ability to deliver expensive guided munitions that the Russian AF couldn't afford either?
Now they are getting money, why waste money upgrading old Mig-29s to SMT standard when they would get a better deal by spending the new money on brand new airframes like the Mig-35 and Su-35 that are significantly more capable than the SMT upgrade.
Russian government had money since 2000 when oil prices started rising. The profits were placed in the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Instead of spending money to save RAC-MiG from going bankrupt and obsolete back then, they let it rot along with the fleet of MiG-29s. SMT includes increased range and ground attack capability. If we had gone ahead with the upgrade of 200 MiGs, we could have disbanded many Su-24s before they started falling like flies. VVS still hasn't grasped the concept of multirole, doing more with less. It will be good when we can finally merge tactical aviation.
I agree it is too late now to upgrade MiG-29s, they are too old and corroded. It is really getting too late to upgrade Su-27s as well. I already said we should buy more Su-35 and MiG-35.
That had more to do with Sukhoi than Mig. I would expect that they simply liked the Flanker more and wanted them in service rather than the Fulcrum. The Flanker clearly suited their needs better. A bit like South Korea buying F-15Es instead of F-18Es. Both are capable aircraft and lets face it, both are overkill if the enemy is North Korea. The range of the F-15E suggests they want to reach to China.
It had more to do with corruption at Sokol and Algeria having us over a barrel. Who would refuse Flankers at Fulcrum prices?
In the late 1980s it was pretty good. Now there are other options including pod mounted systems, and I don't think the systems in the Su-35 and Mig-35 are the same as those fitted to the Mig-29S in 1989.
I also doubt the latest Russian jammers are likely to be exported anyway, whether the customer wants them or not. The latest generation of that sort of stuff is not usually cleared for export for obvious reasons.
If you want DRFM jammers then there are Russian models available like the MSP-418K or the KS418 being developed from it.
I here alot that Russia won't export our jammers, that just isn't true. Yemen bought the MSP-418K for their SMT upgrades because they aren't on terms with Israel. The fact is Israeli and European jammers have cut Russian producers out of the market because ours are nowhere close to theirs in performance.
South Africa make some good stuff, lots of it clandestinely with the Israelis and others. New Zealand is not well known as a high tech exporter of weapons and technology but a New Zealand company developed a chip the size of the nail on your little finger that acts as a GPS receiver that can be put in things that already have an antenna like a cellphone to give electronic devices the ability to act as a GPS receiver. Not everything new and high tech comes from the US or western europe.
What does New Zealand have to do with anything? The broke state of South Afrika should not be surpassing Russia in avionics, plain and simple.
Customising a product to meet the needs or wants of the client. That is just normal.
For the Russian Armed forces however the client in this case wants stuff made in Russia, even if it is developed elsewhere they want to licence produce it in Russia. That is no big deal either, every major user of military equipment does that... the US has Italian pistols, Swedish AT4 rocket launchers, their tanks have had british 105mm and then german 120mm guns, their tanks currently have british designed armour, etc etc, all licence produced in the US.
Its one thing to integrate a missile or pod that the customer wants, but when you have to start changing out the guts of the aircraft, it isn't a good thing for Russian industry. It is the evidence we have lagged behind because nations don't have faith in our products.
The point is that a lot of stuff that went into Russian aircraft came from the Ukraine or Belarus or wherever. These are now foreign countries, so if you don't want to wait ten years for a Russian company to develop the technology from scratch and then create factories to produce it then the alternative is to find a foreign product that is the best that you have access to and negotiate licence production.
It worked well with the Thales Catherine Thermal imager. There are several Russian companies that have developed cooled and uncooled thermal imagers, but Thales has products tested and ready to go. The Russian company that will make these sights will gain tooling and a skilled workforce and the agreement includes future cooperation with Thales France to improve and develop new systems.
The other Russian optics companies will also learn from the new technology and also improve or they will use the money generated from sales of what they can sell to improve their products.
Why should countries have to wait ten years is the point. Russian industry in all of these fields exist and they have failed to keep up. I agree they will have no choice but to get license production of French objects, hopefully in ten years they can come out with their own products. But the turning point is already happening, MIC will be dominated by French companies, just as they have taken over our domestic automobile industry.
SMT 1 is a minor change that retains the existing radar, but adds self diagnostic equipment and changes the maintainece method to save money and parts. The original maintainence method simply had time limits for parts, when the time expired the part was replaced without inspection or testing. This meant that you went through a lot of parts as life span was a very conservative number.
It also added R-27E compatibility and also R-27T and ET compatibility and also added some guided air to ground weapons so operationally was a significant change. Lots more fuel is added including inflight a refuelling probe.
SMT 2 changed the radar and added R-77 capability and added RHAWs and RWRs and jammers. It also included new engines and a lot of other internal changes including a digital mil std bus so new weapons could be added plug and play. The larger wing of the Mig-29K is fitted with a 4 pylon and larger control surfaces but it doesn't fold like the Mig-29K.
SMT 3 replaced the radar to the best available and added lots of stuff that was intended for the Mig-29M.
The M2 was based on the M which has a different structure from the previous model Migs. The single seater and two seater are the same but the single seater just has stuff where the other crewman would sit.
There are not three blocks of SMT, there are several variants of MiG too numerous to even mention, but the taxonomy of generations compared with Western block upgrades only goes two steps, MiG-29A/MiG-29SMT/MiG-35. We aren't even finished with our second modernisation, much less initiating the first, while the F-16 has undergone 4.
Certainly they wouldn't make them completely different but the similarities are constrained by the fact that SMT is an upgrade programme to modify previously made Mig-29s and would have been what the Russian AF had applied to its in service Mig-29s if it had the money. Any new build replacement aircraft would have been M2s simply because they were superior.
Don't bother mentioning M models, it doesn't even exist as a production aerocraft.
The K was designed from the outset to be a naval fighter for use on a carrier, so much stronger undercarriage, folding wings, tail hook, more powerful engines etc etc.
The K is a naval variant, it isn't a block upgrade.
...because the Russian AF has spent peanuts in the last 20 years on new avionics... the companies that develop avionics in Russia have been starved of funds for two decades.
There are other markets besides VVS. There was nothing stopping the stakeholders of ZAO Russkaya Avionika from taking profits from exports and putting it into research. They decided to skimp on research and base design on available COTS architecture which is never going to be cutting edge, it is recycled tech.
Even the F-22 has parts made in Japan. The F-35 has parts made all over the world... including the jet nozzle which is Russian designed because no one in the west has any experience developing a jet nozzle that can turn more than 90 degrees in full afterburner.
The parts for F-22 aren't core avionics, they are outsourced resource suppliers. The F-35 is an international project, the MiG-35 is not. Rather like comparing apples and oranges where the Russian apple is half European.
And that is why RAC-MiG has to partner with SIBIT (Israel), Finmeccanica (Italy), and SAGEM (France) to make MiG-35 an exportable platform.
Russian aircraft design bureaus never worked alone before. Mig has never made engines or radars or cockpit displays etc etc. It has always been a company that Mig was working with. Whether that company is in Italy or Kazakhstan is not important. What is important is the final product. The Russian government have stated they will buy some Mig-35s but that is clearly to give it a chance in the Indian MRCA competition. It is a bit like the Mig-29K, when the Indians reordered that kept the production lines open so it became the best choice for the Russian Navy when they decided they would need a new fighter for the Kuznetsov. The Mig-29K is a capable aircraft but there was no competition because the Su-33 is not in production.
The fact that those companies aren't Russian is important. The business that would go to Russkaya Avionika and others are going West. Unless we can license produce their products in Russia, we are losing jobs and the competitiveness of our industrial base. It is better to install them than not sell MiG-35, but the damage is still done. Unless the order is put on paper, it doesn't exist. No MiG-35s for VVS or MiG-29Ks for the Navy as of yet. Talk from this government is cheap.
The problem is the state doesn't place orders for them. They mentioned a possible order at MAKS but nothing came of it.
Those kms of factories are mostly empty shells because to make a state of the art modern fighter you need more than a lathe and a chisel like in WWII. You need high tech computer controlled tools and skill workers who can use those tools... and you need money for the raw materials. You get the money from orders so when you have no orders, you have no tools or trained workers or raw materials.
The orders mentioned at MAKS were a step forward as they included new weapons too. There is no point having T-50s if they are armed with R-73s and external R-27ERs.
Orders are easy to make, but you need to get the money and use that money to retool and when you retool, you have to retrain and hire. Securing raw material is obviously important too and then you finally get to start production... assuming your parts suppliers deliver the parts on time and in good condition.
You aren't going to retool before you have markets for your products. There is much equipment being bought for new orders to India and Burma but the MiG-35 production line is dragged in the dirt. Companies put their money into where they know it will be profitable. If India doesn't buy MiG-35, MiG would have wasted a billion dollars starting a line for nothing. Even if India buys, it will only be 18 produced with the rest built in India with equipment purchased from Europe and Asia to build it. When you look into the minds of CEO you see where your profits are, which is export and refurbishment of old models. That is why they have hard times producing new things, there is little impetus to do so. They do not believe the government will buy their products which is why it is so vastly important that VVS puts the order to paper. CEOs will know the state will support it which they will match with capital investment.
I would suggest Israel spent more than 5 billion rubles to make their drones work.
You make it sound like all Russian UAVs are rubbish and were a waste of money and time.
I would suggest to you that there are an enormous number of a wide variety of Russian UAVs which look to be as good as any other you might buy anywhere else.
The problem is that the Russian AF wants long range high altitude and high speed, which basically means something like a manned aircraft performance, which is very expensive to develop when there is no money and no guarantee that the Russian Armed forces will even buy it.
Now that the Russian Armed forces show they are prepared to spend money on UAVs, which got almost no attention before the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia BTW, the makers in Russia can now look at what they want and start to work towards that.
VVS has requirements in all ranges from micro to long endurance to UCAV. Manufactures have failed to meet the requirements they stipulated, not only failed but miserably. The Israeli MALAT division builds UAVs not mainly for Israel, but export. They didn't need huge state stimulus to keep them in business, they did it with good products. The more they sell the more money they have to put into more projects until they get to where they are today, world leaders. The demands of the VVS are not too demanding, Russian companies are simply incompetent in the area. It is not difficult to make a quiet tactical UAV, but local producers put loud engines on them because they do not want to buy better. The engines and optics are what hold us back. We try putting heavy local optical packages on underperforming loud engines. If they spent the money on better engines and better optics, we would have what we need. They are trying to load their pockets like all corrupted officials.
Before the invasion of SO the Ru Armed forces didn't want anything, after they still didn't know the details of what they wanted, they just wanted a working system.
With an aircraft industry like Russias there is no reason why Russian UAVs and UCAVs can't be developed in Russia... except for this "I want it now" problem.
The armed forces have been wanting equipment long before the August War. When I was in VDV there were plenty of things we wanted, GPS recievers that we would buy ourselves, certainly wanted Kornet to replace Konkurs, tactical UAVs were on the list as well. It wasn't 2008 that we knew we wanted this stuff, we have known all along.
The problem isn't "I want it now" or as I like to say, McDonald's Syndrome. The problem is industry has not had the competence to respond to challenges posed to them. They are more concerned with lining their pockets, I want it now is for money, not with producing results. For example, when companies are ordered to retool, they don't go out and buy the latest machines from Japan and Europe as is often portrayed, they go to China and buy second hand machines they are disposing of. This has a big impact on the quality and efficiency of long term operations. They save in the short run but come out losers in the long. It is the same thing in UAVs, they buy cheap engines and cheap optics and end up with failed devices.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. What I was trying to say was that the AK-103 has new modern plastic stocks and is made on new computer controlled machines to a much higher standard than the Soviet period AKM.
The practical difference in performance is not important at all as the weapons are very similar. The AK-103 on paper is much better, but in practical terms both will do the job.
The AK-100 series is better than the AK-47, it is more accurate, far more accurate actually. That matters in terms of doing "the job." Some will argue over the stopping power of the bullet, but it is better to get a hit than a miss.
Now you seem to switch sides?
Do you mean import western stuff to give Russian workers a kick in the pants and to get them moving after a period in the doldrums?
I would say a better solution is for the government to get the funds to the factories and designers so the former can start making new stuff and the latter can start working on upgrades for the new stuff.
There is no switching sides, all of it is a disgrace that we are no longer able to make competitive equipment. It is especially a disgrace for something as simple as a rifle. Throwing money at it isn't going to solve all problems. They need new blood, average age of MIC developers is 56.
Soldiers should always be properly armed. If you aren't willing to give them night-sights then they will never be able to fight in the dark. There are simple things that need to be done now while we modernise C4ISR, which will take a decade.
A soldier with an obsolete rifle is still properly armed. They are just not optimally armed. BTW regarding night sights I was looking at a website yesterday showing some interesting new toys:
A soldier armed with an AK-47 vs one armed with an AK-101 or even AK-74 is going to be at an extreme disadvantage when firing at 100m. If you are fighting across the Russian plains, this makes a big difference.
Bunch of nice civi toys, but they aren't going to the troops who are the ones who need them. They also aren't on the level of Western products. If you see the optics the French are distributed as part of FELIN, it makes these look like the toys I mentioned.
T-95 isn't being dropped due to production issues, it is being dropped because it is obsolete now, much less when it gets off the production line
The things I have heard suggest to me that it is more like the F-22 than the F-4 you are suggesting. The Black Eagle was largely a shell, a concept vehicle that was not operational. The T-95 has been worked on for a very long time and I can't see how it can go from... this is technologically difficult to make to obsolete overnight, especially when most western tanks were developed in the 1980s and have just received upgrades the same as the T-90.
It isn't obsolete overnight, it is a concept that was started in the CCCP and whose requirements are now obsolete. It took too long to get off the drawing board. The main difference between Western tanks and aircraft is quite simply electronics. Electronics are integral components of every battlefield system, we severally lag in this area and is the main cause of our obsolescence. Our great mechanical engineering was never in doubt, it is our lack of ability to develop electronics and timely integrate COTS components when we can't do it. Our weapons lack the sophistication that the West has over us and until we close that gap, we will never compete with them.
If the issue is being netcentric then what is the point of buying the Leclerc when the issue is the computers and systems inside the vehicle. Why not just buy the "system" and install it on T-90s, the latest Burlak upgrade looking rather good and certainly not inferior to any foreign tank.
Netcentric is only one, I want all the electronic advances in Leclerc in Russian tanks. No point in spending alot of money for that on outdated T-90s. The Catherine FCS is 1/6th the cost of a T-90S already. The SIT network system would cost in the same range. If we are going to spend big money on a tank, I want it modernised from head to toe. I want auto-transmission, hyrdo-pneumatic suspension, cutting edge FC, muzzle reference, and all the other high-tech stuff the French have and we don't. That requires a brand new tank. If T-95 had it, we would continue with it. As it stands now, T-95 would be better off being a license production of Leclerc.
Burlak is a turret upgrade. as I already mentioned, our problems are not mechanical engineering. Burlak is a mechanical upgrade to a problem that requires electronic solutions. It isn't going to make the engine better, it won't make the firing more accurate, it won't deal with net-centricity and it won't increase visual performance. It is another answer our designers have come up with that doesn't address the fundamental problems.
But where do you draw the line? Replace your rifles with FAMAS rifles because they fit the FELEN design better? French APCs because they are integrated into the C4I system already too? Drop the T-50 for the RAFALE?
If Russians can create a netcentric 5th gen fighter, even if it takes 10 years, why can't they design and build a system for their army and take 10 years doing that?
Even if they buy a French Net centric system that will take a decade to introduce so why make any decisions about replacing the T-90 with Leclerc now?
The FELIN scopes can be adjusted to fit on any rifle rail. There is no need to change our rifles. The SIT network can be installed on any vehicle connecting the infantry squad to the battalion level. Imagine having troops pouring out of BMP-3M armed with FELIN combat systems, the results would be devastating to our enemies. We would know where they are before their command does. We already export French sub-systems to our customers to sell our products. We might as well buy license and start adding it to systems that are worth upgrading, like BMP-3M. This is the easiest and quickest way to make our troops net-centric. It wouldn't take 10 years to introduce, it is already an operational system in France. We would buy a few regiments worth for immediate delivery, they would train and set doctrine while we set up production facilties and France completes installing our bandwidth. It could be spread to all 48 combat brigades in less than 10 years.
The reason Russia can't do it on our own is simple, our electronics are not up to the task.
It costs more money to maintain old aircraft which comes directly out of the operations budget.
Not really. Most of the spares should have been bought, and there are lots of old airframes that can be canabalised too which are all already paid for.
Yes really, the maintenance costs on Soviet era jets are double to triple that of new ones if you spend what is required. The reason our training rates are so low is because we can't afford to maintain the aircraft we have. They require more overhauls and checks than new planes which decreases operational time and increases costs. The parts are not available for many grounded planes despite cannibalisation. If you fork out a bundle of cash now, it will save us in the future but people are too short-sighted to see it. That is the biggest problem in the establishment today. They do not understand spending money to save money.
Certainly most of the money should be invested in new aircraft, but upgrades of existing types can be implimented during overhauls and as most earlier upgrades like SMT for the Fulcrums and SM for the Flankers were focused on reducing operational costs keeping some of the old aircraft can be affordable.
The SMT upgrade for the Mig-29 replaces the old obsolete non digital wiring and hardware and reduces operational costs by 40%.
Some old aircraft can just be used till they need an expensive overhaul and scrapped, others can be upgraded at low cost... the SMT upgrade was something like 6 million per aircraft but as I said reduced operational costs by 40%.
I don't know where you get your figures, but an SMT upgrade costs way more than $6 million. It costs that much just for the engines. It is more like $18 million. If you stick it on aircraft that are 10-15 years old, it makes for a worthy upgrade. But once you reach 20-25 years, it is a little too late for that. The structural reinforcement isn't going to give you a brand new frame, it only adds some years to its life. The reduction in operational costs is 20%. 40% is the support cost decrease when you practically ground your fleet, or as MiG likes to call it our "new maintenance approach."
In the long run we will be able to operate double as many aircraft than we do on the current budget.
But buying new aircraft is expensive. Compare spending 40-60 million dollars for the new aircraft with 10-20 million at most for upgrading existing aircraft to a level where they have R-77 compatibility.
Remember with the withdrawl of all those single engine fighters the Russian AF lost most of its short range strike aircraft like the Mig-27s and Su-17s, so having a few Mig-29SMTs and Su-27SMs able to carry guided air to ground weapons will fill a large capability gap too.
Like I said before, it is too late. It would have been a good idea if they started 10 years ago. The frames are too old to get a meaningful life extension on most of the aircraft. The best candidates, the storage fighters, have already been cannibalised and is too late to use them. We have 48 Su-27SM, I fear that is about all we get for upgrades. Everything else has to be new. Thanks to Algeria we at least get a couple squadrons of new SMTs. I stress again why we need orders, not just for industry but also cannot rely on upgrades to 20-25 year old frames.
Between modernised and new fighters, we only have, 48 Su-27SM, 12 Su-30MK, 28 MiG-29SMT, and 8 MiG-31BM. You can add 18 Su-34s if you take them out of tactical strike but they haven't reached weapons certification yet. Total we have 114 modernised combat aircraft and a third of those are still not in Front-line aviation. VVS is in a sorry state right now. Adding 48 Su-35BM by 2015 isn't going to cut it.
Retooling a factory is not going to improve the research divisions. They are full of geriatrics that have no vision. What is needed are good salaries and university partnerships to bring in young blood to reinvigorate the R&D. We need people trained in Western management to bring reform to our state run disaster areas. We need an infusion of European technology to give the researchers the tools to get back on track and stop focusing on Soviet obsolescence.
That is your opinion and of course I respect that. However I think a better way is to actually make orders of Russian hardware, put it in service and then with experience with the hardware give the design bureaus feedback of what needs to be improved and what they want to replace it.
As I keep harping on, some technologies simply did not exist in a mature form in Russia like thermal imagers. The solution was French for tanks and I believe Swedish for helicopters and French for fixed wing aircraft. Right now several Russian optics companies have caught up and are able to offer rifle sights and portable thermal imagers so Russian soldiers are actually going to be getting Russian thermal sights for their rifles rather than French models.
This makes sense to me.
You know Garry, that is exactly what we have been doing. We have test units that get new equipment and tries it out. Most of the time it turns out to be either be full of bugs or just doesn't perform. Instead of withdrawing participation from the project, the state pushes forward anyway until we get to the point today where we stop much of our land system development. I'm just waiting to see how long they will wait until they pull the plug on SIGMA.
As you harp, Russia has many technologies that are not in a mature form, most of them revolve around electronics. As for optics: French for tanks, French for ships, French for fighters, French for helicopters... you name it, our new thermal optics are French.
Right now several Russian optics companies do not have orders from the state. They only sell 2nd generation optics while France sells 3rd. You tell me which one we want, I want 3rd generation.
Stating that the T-95 is rubbish already is highly suspicious because it will be a net centric tank in an armed force that is not yet net centric.
Stating the current attempt to make the armed forces net centric is useless because it crashed twice... welcome to the world of computers.
I have read an article that stated it was too easy to jam, but then the system it replaced... a radio... was slow and inefficient and also easy to jam.
Progress can happen in leaps but also in small steps.
The important thing is to keep the steps in the right direction.
This French FELEN suit will have certain elements that are rather more advanced than Russian designers can provide, but in other areas like protection levels I would expect Russian stuff would be good enough.
It is a bit like India and the Brahmos.
The system the Russians end up with will be a combination of French technology and ideas and Russian technology and ideas.
The T-95 is obsolete for many more reasons than just its lack of net-centricity. The guts of the tank are still going to be similarly obsolete items going into T-90s today. We just don't have the mastery of electronics to make it happen.
The system didn't just crash twice, it crashed half a dozen times at Kavkaz 2009. At the end of the day they gave up on it. During West 2009, they had to downscale and use it in a very limited fashion because it couldn't handle the bandwidth.
As for Russian protection, I can tell you do not want to wear Russian body armour, it is far heavier than Western counterparts. Russian level III vest weigh close to 9kg. They are very heavy and do not breath. We would often take off our body armour when jumping because landing with that weight on your shoulders gave a good chance of damaging your spine. It was against regs, but we all did it. I have worn French kit and it is much lighter and ergonomic for the same level of protection. The entire combat gear of a FELIN soldier is 25kg and that includes everything from batteries, weapons, armour to food. It even has shoulder protection with very good ergonomic movement of the arms. Russian kit weighs 36kg and you get next to nothing for C4ISR. 11kg difference in weight is alot.
BTW Vlad, I am not trying to be annoying, and I don't see this discussion as an arguement and hope you don't view this that way either.
I respect your inside knowledge and understand you probably don't have time to spend all day answering my posts...
It doesn't take me terribly long to respond. It isn't like I don't know what I'm talking about. I would appreciate it if you would break up long posts into two or three shorter ones. It does become a little tedious responding to an entire page in one post box.