Monthly Archives: April 2013

Russia to Take Part in NORAD Antiterror Drills

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A Russian military delegation arrived in the United States to take part in a series of planning meetings with US and Canadian counterparts ahead of the joint Vigilant Eagle 2013 anti-terrorism drills to be held this summer. The exercises are due to be held at the end of August 2013. The meetings will coordinate the scenario and the schedule of the drills, the composition of trilateral air force assets involved, communications and security issues.

Vigilant Eagle is one of several exercises and exchanges agreed upon in a July 2009 agreement between the Russian and US military. The basic scenario of the previous three Vigilant Eagle drills involved a simulated hijacking of a commercial plane by terrorists that requires both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch fighter aircraft to intercept the seized plane and force it to land.

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NATO Inspectors to Fly Over Russia

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Military inspectors from Canada and Hungary will carry out a joint monitoring mission over Russian territory under the international Open Skies Treaty on April 26-30. Under the treaty, each aircraft flying under the Open Skies program is fitted with a sensor suite including optical panoramic and framing cameras, video cameras with real-time display, thermal infrared imaging sensors, and imaging radar.

The NATO experts will fly on board a Hungarian Air Force’s Antonov An-26 plane using surveillance equipment certified internationally and approved by the Russian side.

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force on January 1, 2002, establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 35 member states to promote openness and the transparency of military forces and activities.

First Project 11356 Frigate to Join Russian Navy in 2014

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Russia’s first Project 11356 frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich, will join the Black Sea Fleet in 2014. The Project 11356 frigates, displacing 3,850 tons, are designed for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, both independently and as an escort, and are also armed with air defense systems.

The Kaliningrad-based Yantar shipyard is to build a total of six Project 11356 frigates for delivery between 2014 and 2016 under a contract with the Defense Ministry. The lead warship in the series, the Admiral Grigorovich, was laid down in December 2010, the second, the Admiral Essen, in July 2011 and the third, the Admiral Makarov, in February 2012.

The class is armed with an eight-cell launcher for Kalibr and Klub (3M54E) anti-ship and surface-to-surface missiles, a 100-mm main gun, Kashtan gun/missile close-in air defense systems, Shtil vertical-launch air defense missile systems, two torpedo tubes, an anti-submarine rocket system and a Ka-28 or Ka-31 helicopter.

Lukashenko Denies Plans for Russian Air Base in Belarus

Sergei Shoigu

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied that Moscow and Minsk are negotiating the possible establishment of a Russian air base in Belarus.

Lukashenko told journalists that the two sides are discussing Belarus’ desire to purchase about two dozen Russian-made fighter jets. Belarus is interested in buying Su-27 and MiG-29 fighter jets to ensure the inviolability of its state borders.

Shoigu said Russia and Belarus had begun considering plans for a defensive base with fighter jets, the first of which could arrive by year’s end, with the contingent potentially growing to a full regiment — roughly 60 warplanes — by 2015.

New Russian Pilot Trainer to be Developed

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The Nizhny Novgorod-based Sokol aircraft manufacturer said it will develop a light aircraft for training air force pilots. The new aircraft will be a modernized two-seat version of the M-101T Gzhel utility turboprop aircraft.

The order for the development of a new training aircraft came from Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev earlier this year.

The M-101T Gzhel was Russia’s first high-speed multirole turboprop able to use unpaved airfields. The original Gzhel has a seating capacity of six and a maximum speed of 430 kilometers per hour.

Sokol manufactured Gzhel planes from 2003-2009, but halted production due to a lack of commercial demand. Just fifteen of the planes were built. It previously said the modernized Gzhel will have twin engines, a longer range and higher altitude.

Russia to Establish Air Base in Belarus

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The military plans to deploy fighter jets in Belarus this year and eventually establish an air base there. The moves would increase Russia’s military presence in Belarus and could unnerve neighboring members of the Western alliance.

“We have begun considering the plan to create a Russian air base with fighter jets here,” Shoigu said. Shoigu said the plan was for the first fighter jets to arrive in Belarus this year. Russian aviation regiments normally consist of roughly 60 warplanes.

Russia has a military presence in a number of former Soviet republics, including air bases in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, and it is the most powerful nation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Norilsk Nickel to Suspend Operations in Botswana

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Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel and palladium producer, may suspend operations at its Tati Nickel mine in Botswana after a sharp drop in metal prices. Global prices for nickel, a key ingredient to make stainless steel, have fallen 10 percent since the start of 2013.

These pricing trends contributed to the group’s decision to suspend operations at Lake Johnson in Australia in April 2013, and it is possible that the group may also decide to suspend operations at Tati Nickel in Botswana. The group owns a 85 percent stake in Tati Nickel — a nickel mine and processing facility — with the other 15 percent held by the Botswana government.

Russia Launches Freighter Rocket

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Russia launched a freight rocket to the International Space Atation from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur space centre.

The Soyuz-U rocket, carrying a Progress M-19M cargo spacecraft, lifted off Wednesday. The launch was carried out as scheduled. The docking of the Progress M-19M with the International Space Station is set for 4.27 p.m. Moscow time April 26. The Progress M-19M will bring over 2.5 tons of cargo to the ISS, including payloads for the crew’s work, fuel for the space station, food supplies, water and oxygen for cosmonauts and astronauts.

The previous three Progress space freighters traveled to the orbital outpost under a “shortened” programme, delivering cargo in six hours rather than usual two days.

Russia to Get New Air Defense System in 2015

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The Russian military will start receiving the new Morfey short-range air defense system in 2015.

Morfey, a mobile air defense system with an effective range of five kilometers (three miles), has been in development since 2007. Morfey will complement the Vityaz, S-400 and S-500 air defense systems in a future aerospace defense network able to engage targets at ranges from five to 400 kilometers, and at altitudes from five meters to near space.

The medium-range Vityaz air defense system, which is due to replace the outdated S-300PS system, is still under development.

Russia to Spend $300 mn on Special Forces Training

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The Russian defence ministry will allocate 10 billion roubles on training programmes for special forces.

The special forces will be trained at a military intelligence department and the programme will be launched within the next two or three years. Special forces include Special Operations Troops, VDV and Navy and Army special units. They will be trained at a military intelligence department of the Ryazan VDV Academy.

Also the establishment of a rapid reaction corps and creation of a separate “mobile” military district in Russia is proposed. That would result in the creation of a fifth tactical-strategic command that would make it possible to provide “a comprehensive response to threats and challenges both inside and outside the country”.