Monday, May 14, 2018

The Russians fall further behind ( and remember, their economy is about the same size as Australia's)

India is now facing the possibility of having to seek American F-35s if they want to have any stealth fighters to match those China is already producing and Pakistan is planning to order.

In April 2018 India revealed that it had, in February, withdrawn from the joint development and manufacturing agreement with Russia regarding their Su-57 stealth fighter. That agreement committed India to eventually contribute over $8 billion to developing and building Su-57s. India said they might still purchase the Su-57 once it is ready for sale and might even rejoin joint development efforts. But for now, India is writing off nearly $300 million it has already invested. 

The Russians have been trying to conceal Su-57 problems since 2013, when Indian pilots and aviation experts had a chance to examine Russian progress and noted that the Su-57 as it was then put together was unreliable and far from finished. The Russian radar, which promised so much has delivered, according to the Indians, insufficient performance and as of 2018 that had not changed. The Indians also noted that the Su-57s stealth features were unsatisfactory. Instead of answers to these questions, all the Indians got until early 2015 were excuses and promises.

Some Indian Air Force officers who had first-hand experience with the Su-57 now feel free to express their frustrations with the Russian developers. As one Indian officer put it, all the current version of the Su-57 could do was take off and land. That may be overstating the situation but not by much. The Su-57 currently lacks the needed engines, sensors and electronic combat and communications systems the Russians promised.

Next, the Russian space program has been forced to concede defeat to SpaceX.

In mid-April 2018 Russia confirmed the obvious and admitted they had lost their huge market share of commercial satellite launches. As recently as 2013 Russia had half that market. Five years later their market share had fallen to about ten percent and Russian showed no signs of regaining their dominance and expected their share of the commercial market to sink to as low as four percent. After 2013 Russia faced growing competition from cheaper, more reliable Chinese satellite launch services. But what really accelerated the Russian decline was the surprising emergence of new American launch technology, mainly the SpaceX reusable launchers (that can regularly return and land intact). This is particularly annoying because it was another unexpected new American technology (fracking) that drove down the world price of Russians main export; oil and natural gas. Fracking also made the United States the major producer of oil and gas and a new competitor for Russia in export markets.

Finally, the Russian submarine force is struggling.

 The Russian Navy has made a mess of its SSBN (ballistic missile nuclear subs) force and has done slightly better developing new SLBMs (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile). This is all about what kind of SSBN force Russia will have in the future and what those SSBNs will be capable of. At the moment the answers seem to be “diminished” and “not much”.

 In early 2012, Russia announced that its SSBNs would resume long range "combat patrols" within a year. On schedule, the Russian Navy finally accepted its first new Borei class SSBN (Yury Dolgoruky) for service on December 30th 2012. Thus, it appeared that the newly commissioned Yury Dolgoruky would be the first Russian SSBN in many years to make a long range cruise, as soon as it has a working SLBM to arm it. Mass production of Bulava began in 2013, with the goal of producing at least 124 of them. Yury Dolgoruky finally made its first combat patrol in 2015, although it was understood that only about half of the 16 Bulava SLBMs carried would work if launched. Since then the Bulava SLBM is still considered combat ready but only if you accept that about half of them will not work.

1 comment:

  1. Well, the F-35B would go well with their carrier program. And it's about time that India realized that Russia/USSR/whatever has been playing it for a cash cow since they first bought Russkie equipment.