Russia's $650 bn arms drive 'senseless': developer

17th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A top Russian arms developer on Thursday slammed the country's new $650 billion rearmament drive as a misguided attempt to mass produce old systems that have little use in modern warfare.

The military last month unveiled the details of a new procurement plan through 2020 that analysts said placed a strong emphasis on heavy nuclear missile spending that could keep Russia's parity with the United States.

The long-discussed programme aims to fill major gaps in a dilapidated Soviet-era force that Western experts believe is no longer capable of engaging in large-scale warfare.

But the head of a prestigious Moscow institute that is designing one of Russia's latest ballistic missiles said the new drive could potentially leave the country decades behind the West.

"I feel bad for the state when they propose this senseless spending," Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology head Yury Solomonov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Solomonov noted that the United States was now pouring money into the development of new X-37 and X-51 hypersonic space vehicles, "something that we simply do not do."

Instead, the new programme intends to "reproduce things that were made decades ago for absolutely unlikely scenarios."

Solomonov said much of the spending was being funnelled into the development of a new line of liquid-fuelled nuclear missiles whose use vanished with the end of the Cold War.

"I would like to assure you that it is based on delivery vehicle technology that is about 30 years old," the developer said.

The programme unveiled by Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Popovkin sees Russia building 100 new ships and acquiring 1,000 helicopters along with 20 submarines and more than 600 warplanes.

But the exact breakdown of the spending plan was not revealed and analysts said much of the money appeared earmarked for missile programmes that seek to ensure Russia's ability to penetrate a new European missile shield mooted by NATO.

© 2011 AFP

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