Key point: Russia is a leader in many military technologies.
Russia’s military is on the brink of transformation—or not. The Russian government has big plans for revamping its forces, planning to replace 70 percent of its equipment by 2020. New fighters, bombers, aircraft carriers, destroyers and nuclear weapons would flow to the Russian Armed Forces, boosting their ability to protect their borders and operate in the “near abroad” of the former Soviet socialist republics, and in farther-away locations such as Syria.
Those plans, spurred by high oil prices and a booming Russian economy, have since fallen apart, due to falling oil prices and Western-imposed sanctions. Still, a number of intriguing projects are sitting on the drawing table and could enter service by 2030 if things turn around.
RS-24 Yars Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
In recent years Russia has put its ICBMs on the road, trading silos for mobile launchers that patrol the ample Russian countryside. The latest of these is the RS-24 Yars. Entering service in 2010, Yars is equipped with four multiple independently targetable—and maneuverable—reentry vehicles, each packing a 150-to-250-kiloton warhead. (For comparison’s sake, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was about fifteen to eighteen kilotons.)
The Yars missile has a reported range of 6,800 miles, making it capable of striking any point in the United States, Alaska and Hawaii. The missile uses GLONASS—Russia’s version of the GPS satellite navigation network—and inertial navigation to achieve a circular error probable of 250 meters, meaning half of its warheads will land within a 250-meter-radius circle. This high degree of accuracy makes Yars a dangerous first-strike weapon.
Russia’s first fifth-generation fighter, PAK-FA is a joint project with India to produce a large, stealthy multirole fighter for both countries. The fighter is being developed by the legendary Sukhoi aviation bureau, responsible for many of the Soviet Union’s most famous and effective designs.