RIA Novosti

Russia to put 50 Topol-M missile systems on duty before 2015

14:22 07/02/2007

Russia will put several dozen silo launchers and over 50 Topol-M mobile missile systems on combat duty before 2015, the defense minister said Wednesday.

MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will put several dozen silo launchers and over 50 Topol-M mobile missile systems on combat duty before 2015, the defense minister said Wednesday.

Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, said 50 Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95 MS Bear strategic bombers would be in use in Russia's Air Force in 2007-2015 according to the $189 billion armaments program for the period.

Delivering a report in parliament, the minister outlined plans to create space reconnaissance, communications, retransmission and topographical surveying systems and systems to spot launches of new-generation ballistic missiles.

The minister said the construction of the Angara and Soyuz-2 rocket vehicles would be completed, and the closed peripheral radar field of the missile warning system would be fully restored.

"Forty tank, 90 motor rifle and 50 airborne battalions will be completely overhauled," Ivanov said.

"Five missile brigades will be equipped with advanced Iskander-M theater ballistic missiles, and two multiple launch rocket system regiments with Uragan-1M systems," he added.

The Army will also buy over 100,000 cars, and the Navy will receive 31 new vessels.

Ivanov said a decision on the construction of a shipyard to build aircraft carriers will be made in 2009.

"A total of 45% of combat vehicles will be replaced in the Navy and the Armed Forces, under the program," Ivanov said.

The minister said such an extensive army overhaul had been impossible until recently. Now the situation has changed due to the country's economic growth and science and technical reserves accumulated in 2002-2005.

A Defense Ministry official said last week that Russia's defense spending would be over 860 billion rubles ($32.42 billion) in 2007, 23% more than in 2006.

Over 300 billion rubles ($11.28 billion) has been earmarked for procurement.

In 2007 alone, the Armed Forces will buy 17 intercontinental ballistic missiles, four spacecraft and booster rockets, and overhaul a long-range aviation squadron, six helicopter and six combat aviation squadrons, seven tank and 13 motor rifle battalions.

Ivanov said the Russian Armed Forces, which numbered 1,340,000 in March 2001, has declined to 1,130,000 today. He said the number was currently optimal and Russia cannot afford to further cut the numerical strength of its Armed Forces.

The minister said the number will decline to one million by 2015. "But we will not reduce combat units," he added.

He said two-thirds of Army personnel will shift to contract service by late 2007.

© RIA Novosti