Friday, October 17, 2008

We can do it!

We can do it! That might have been the motto of the recent days of the Russians. The military conducted its Stabilnost-2008 exercise.

The show started on Saturday, October 11, when the Tula submarine successfully launched a R-29RM Sineva SLBM. Officials bragged that the missile reached its target after flying 11,547 km which was reported to be the longest range demonstrated by the missile.

On the following day, October 12, the Northern Fleet’s Ekaterinburg and the Pacific Fleet’s Zelenograd joined the shooting. While the Zelenograd fired a R-29R missile (SS-N-18 Stingray) the Ekaterinburg test-launched a R-29RM. Pavel Podvig writes on his blog:

Unlike the test a day before, on October 11, 2008, this one was not reported to be a test of the Sineva modification of the R-29RM missile. It appears that Ekaterinburg normally carries older R-29RM missiles, but can be used to launch Sineva as well.
However, the Russian First Channel reported that it was a the Sineva-type of the R-29RM. Have you recently improved your Russian? Give it a try here:

For a few notes on a comparison between the original and the Sineva-type of the R-29RM take a look at an earlier post.

Also on October 12, Russia test-launched a Topol ICBM which hit a target on Russia's Pacific coast.

It seems that attending missile launches is becoming the new favorite hobby of president Medvedev. He was not only present at the launches of the Sineva on Saturday but also at the one of the Topol on the following day. On September 26 he attended the firing of the Tochka-U (SS-21 Scarab) short-range tactical ballistic missile. The Tochka-U is a 1989 modification of the Tochka missile system that went into service with the Soviet military in 1976. It has an effective range of 120 km.

Reuters India reports further that:

Over the course of the weekend, 12 Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers took off for an exercise that involved launching multiple cruise missiles to pulverise a dummy town on a testing ground in the Arctic.
Pavel reports that in the course of the exercise, some bombers launched full complement of their missiles. Tu-160 never fired full complement of their missiles before.

Reuters also quoted analysts saying that the Stabilnost exercise was a show of military preparedness for domestic consumption and not a Kremlin warning shot to the West. President Medvedev added to this PR-campaign by saying that two new systems were being developed. However, he provided no details.

RIA Novosti cited Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as stating that plans were already under way for a follow-up exercise with a joint strategic command-and-staff exercise called Zapad-2009 next year.

Besides playing with its own missiles, Russia is optimistic to sell its Iskander-E to a number of countries. Rosoboronexport-official Nikolai Dimidyuk said that Syria, the UAE, Malaysia, India and some other countries have shown an interest in the missile system and that Russia will also seek to export the missile to Algeria, Kuwait, Singapore, Vietnam, and South Korea.

But it is not all offensive. There are also some developments on the defensive side. UPI came up with the news that mobile air defense units around Moscow planned to conduct live-fire exercises on this Thursday, October 17, using Buk-M1 surface-to-air missile systems. Apart from this announcement I have not found any post-firing news.

Moscow is also keen to extend its missile defense to other areas. Russia and Belarus will sign an agreement creating a joint missile defense system, secretary of the Union State Pavel Borodin told journalists on October 8. He added: "Military speaking, it is virtually a shield against NATO”. Belarus has several Russian-made S-300 air defense divisions on combat duty and is negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which will be made available by 2010. The signing of the agreement will take place on November 2.

At the same time Russia tried to present itself as a responsible global actor and nonproliferator. Its Foreign Ministry suggested that Moscow would not sell advanced anti-aircraft missiles such a S-300 to Iran, a possibility that has alarmed Israel:

We have declared more than once at the very highest political level that we do not intend to supply those types of armaments to countries located in regions that are, to put it mildly, uneasy," he said. "This is not in the interests of our country's policy or the interests of preserving stability in one region or another of the world."
© Medvedev, Topol: Reuters
© Iskander: Kommersant

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