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Russia’s modernisation will continue as planned this year, according to an interview with Alexei Krivoruchko, Deputy Minister of Defence, published in the first 2020 issue of the journal published by Russia’s JSC "Concern Radioelectronic Technologies," otherwise known as KRET. Priorities are to include the first deliveries of the S-500 air defence system as well as the S-350 VITYAZ air defence system. In addition, the Pacific fleet will receive the Project 20380 corvettes.

The S-500 PROMETHEUS was tested during 2019 and Krivoruchko states that “there is confidence that the new complex will be ready for supply to the troops in 2020.” He adds that it will be used to intercept medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) while in their mid and terminal phases.

Other air defence assets, which form a vital element of Russia’s interdiction capabilities, due to be delivered in 2020 include the S-350 VITYAZ. This will replace the S-300PS and BUK-M1-2, Krivoruchko explained. Russia will also continue its state tests of the DERIVATSIYA 57 mm self-propelled air defence system, which is based on a BMP-3 hull.

He adds that Russian ground troops will receive around 400 new and modernised vehicles in 2020, including the recently qualified T-90M PRORYV-3, further deliveries of the T-72B3M, T-80BVM and the BMP-1AM infantry fighting vehicle. The deputy minister’s claim that the T-90M is “impenetrable” is certainly bluster: however, his assertion that all 400 T-90s in Russian service will be upgraded to this standard does indicate a slight shift in capability, if only because the T-90M borrows from some of the systems developed for the T-14 ARMATA.

2020 will also be a big year for the Russian Navy, with deliveries of “six submarines from the industry at once: four nuclear projects 955A (BOREI-A) and 885M (ASH-M) and two diesel-electric projects 636.3 and 677,” said Krivoruchko. He added that this is the first time in 28 years that such an event has happened.

The Pacific Fleet will receive the first corvettes from project 20380 “Hero of Russia Federation of Aldar Tsydenzhapov,” as already mentioned and it is expected to take further deliveries in 2021. The technical design process for a universal landing ship will also be initiated.

The An-26 replacement, the Il-112V, will continue its trials in the first quarter of 2020, the Deputy Minister said. The tests of the l-96-400TZ refueling aircraft, which Krivoruchko claims will be able to carry 65t of fuel over a distance of 3,500km, will be completed in May.

Overall, 2020 promises to continue what Russia started in 2008, following the South Ossetian War. It appears that all of Russia’s domains will gain capabilities and grow further into their new roles of supporting and protecting the Kremlin in its geopolitical, economic and strategic aims. Krivoruchko’s interview is also indicative of the Russian psyche: he states that “Despite Western economic sanctions, we will continue to create technologically independent weapons systems that can effectively counter attack weapons, no matter where they come from.” This reveals a Russia that continues to view itself as a major power, besieged by the malign ambitions of an historically hostile or ambivalent Western world.

Miles Quartermain in London for MON

A Russian Project 885M (ASH-M) nuclear submarine in 2019. The first – designated NOVOSIBIRSK – was floated late in 2019. The class will carry 32 KALIBR-PL or ONIKS cruise missiles, and at least six are expected to be built by the Sevmash Shipyard. (Photo: Russian MoD

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