The idiocy of the Russian officials has no limits. The head of the state-owned Rosteck umbrella corporation has announced the development of “swarm drones” project. This is a dead born project, which will waste a lot of time, money and engineering work hours and will produce nothing more than a few power-point presentations. Today, Russian military mostly uses commercial entertainment-level drones for reconnaissance, fire correction etc. The truly useful designs, like the MiG’s stealth combat drone, that should have been able to penetrate Ukrainian air-defenses and surveil and engage high quality targets (like HIMARS launch vehicles or air-defence systems) with high precision in the enemy rear, has never passed the mock-up stage. The project was revealed in 2007, and since then it was cancelled, joined with the much more advanced and complicated Sukhoi’s project for future unmanned fighter jet, etc. This situation could be seen all over the state-owned corporations. The recent impressive looking video of the Ukrainian S-300 launcher destruction was made from the civilian surveillance drone, produced by a private Russian company for non-military use. The less government officials, who view state-owned companies as their private piggy banks, have control or say in the company, the better it does.
One of the exclusions of this rule is the Almaz-Antey company, which still manages to do its job. Like the recent announcement that new model of Pantsir air-defence system will “soon” be arriving to Russian troops in UA. Designated Pantsir-SM it should have about twice the range of detection (70 km vs 45) and intercept range (40 km vs 20), in comparison to a basic mode. It could also have more ready-to-fire missiles (24 vs 12) in a gunless variant (not confirmed). The new missiles will have more than twice the speed (3000 m/s vs. 1300 m/s) and higher G tolerance. The system should be based on eight-wheel armored KAMAZ truck. While still far from groundbreaking, this is the move in right direction, making the system better suited to intercept MLRS rockets and drones. One such system has theoretic capacity to intercept two full packets of rockets, launched from one M270 MLRS or two M142 HIMARS. Considering almost daily citizen fatalities and infrastructure destruction caused by those, it is a welcomed update for Russian military.
That being said, even the one of the best performing Russian MIC companies like Almaz-Antey is dropping promising projects due to MoD incompetent planning and purchase policies. While UA announced it is now expected to receive 321 main battle tanks from its Westen puppet masters (probably more than half of those are actually not Western but Eastern tanks), the UVZ – the only Russian company still able to produce tanks, has nothing to say about its wonder-weapon T-14 Armata, after 13 years of development and investments. The country which was first to field an active protection system for its tanks, the Drozd, in 1983, has no such systems in active service, leaving its tanks exposed to “top attack” anti-tank missiles such as Javelin or TOW-2B. The latter is expected to arrive in numbers as a weapon system of M2 Bradley IFVs.
In the meantime, the front remains largely unchanged. Slow grind of forces in positional and urban warfare with high attrition rates for personnel and material on both sides. The relentless assault of Artemovsk (Bakhmut), going for months now, is still happening on the outskirts of the town. On Ukrainian side, the line or mobilized units are used, with the high-quality units mostly held in reserves, in hopes of opportunity for Kharkov-still offensive. On Russian side, the “unaccountable” (meaning, not accounted as the Russian Army personnel in MoD reports of losses) assault units of some of the more professional and experienced soldiers as well as volunteered criminals fighting for a pardon is being used. On the rest of the frontline, commando and advance units doing recon missions, and a lot of artillery bombardment. While UA is waiting for Western weaponry to arrive, it is unclear what the Russian military is waiting for, half a year after the mobilization of 300,000 men. Some reports suggest problems with training and equipping the mobilized men, to the point where artillery or armor units are used as infantry, due to the lack of hardware and ammunition. Although, I’m still in opinion that we’ll see a large Russian offensive in February, or else we will see large Ukrainian offensive in the late spring (after the snow has melted and the earth dried up).
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