Russia, China, Military Moving Rapidly Ahead

Chengdu J-10 Photo by: Xinhua/Liang Xu

In most of the world’s freely elected governments, officials explain their defense budgets almost apologetically. There is a media inclination to frame spending on military needs as an unwanted diversion of funds from civilian programs. It is startling when one reads the pronouncements from Russia and China that boast with considerable pride of their new weapons programs. Much of that language and the related facts are given little air or print space in western news coverage.

A Chinese PLA J-11 pilot fires a live air-to-surface missile in a training exercise. Photo by:

While the U.S. limited its defense spending for a span covering several years, Moscow and Beijing moved vigorously and rapidly ahead.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken issue with NATO.

National Interest article by  Dan Goure notes: “Since the end of the Cold War, chronic under-funding resulted in a [American] military that today is relatively unready, particularly for high-end conflict, and increasingly obsolescent. It also forced many companies to make the painful decision to reduce their research and development (R&D). During this same period…competitors were investing in both traditional defense products and advanced technologies designed to achieve superiority vis-a-vis the U.S. military. Russia, for example, has been engaged in a decade-long, comprehensive program to modernize its conventional force structure. Now it poses a credible threat to NATO. According to the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark Milley, ‘U.S. ground forces are  out-ranged by Russian tanks and artillery… we are technically outranged and outgunned.’ Much attention focuses on Russian and Chinese investments in next-generation platforms and weapons designed to give them decisive superiority over the U.S. and its allies.”

According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, (DIA)  Russia has an ambitious armaments program which has dramatically increased its military spending, even as the national economy endures tough times.  The DIA notes that “Russia’s commitment to building its military is demonstrated by its retention of the draft. All Russian males are required to register for the draft at 17 years of age and all men between the ages of 18 and 27 are obligated by law to perform one year of military service…Russia’s 2011–2020 State Armaments Program reflects President Putin’s ambitious mandate that 70% of Russia’s weapons inventory consist of new or upgraded equipment by 2020.”

Many of Russia’s technological advances are startling. A Spacewar report revealed that Russian military expert Viktor Baranets specifically touted the unprecedented the damage radius of Russia’s next-generation S-500 missile system, “which is currently undergoing state tests.… Pavel Sozinov, chief engineer of the Russian defense corporation Almaz-Antey, said that Russia’s next-generation S-500 surface-to-air missile system would be able to engage targets in the upper layer of the atmosphere, 100 kilometers [62 miles] above the Earth’s surface.… The system can simultaneously intercept up to ten ballistic and hypersonic missiles traveling at a speed of up to 7 kilometers per second. Speaking to Sputnik, Viktor Baranets pointed, in particular, to the unique performance characteristics of the new Russian missile system.According to him, among other things the S-500 system is also designed to destroy combat blocks of hypersonic missiles. He noted that in terms of its characteristics, the S-500 will significantly exceed Russia’s S-400 missile system and its American competitor, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile system.”

The Russian news source RT proudly states that “Russia has floated its new state-of-the-art nuclear-powered multipurpose submarine called Kazan as its fleet returned to Soviet-era operational levels in terms of sea patrols, according to the Russian Navy chief.  ‘The Yasen-M class nuclear-powered submarine cruisers are some of the most advanced battleships that amassed all cutting-edge submarine shipbuilding technologies,’ Admiral Vladimir Korolev, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, said as the most advanced Russian nuclear attack submarine, Kazan – the second submarine of the Yasen-M class – was launched.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government.

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