Check out Russia's Big Stealth Plane and Aircraft Carrier Shopping List

David Axe

Key point: Moscow wants all kinds of weapons, but it doesn't have the money. Russia will no doubt look after its security, just not in the way it would like to.

The Russian armed forces have committed to a wide range of expensive acquisitions programs, in particular new ships and planes. The likely cost strains credulity.

With a mere $70-billion annual budget, a tenth what the United States spends on its own military, the Kremlin is trying to match many of the Pentagon’s major ship and plane programs. There’s a new stealth fighter. An armed wingman drone. A stealth bomber. An aircraft carrier.

If America struggles to afford all these new weapons, surely Russia struggles more.

But one expert is bullish, while also admitting that Russia might not acquire nearly as many new ships and planes at the United States does. “I think these systems will eventually be built and fielded,” Samuel Bendett, a researcher with the Center for Naval Analyses and a Russia studies fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, told The National Interest. “This is now a matter of national pride for Russia.”

The Russian air force’s Su-57 stealth fighter has dominated headlines with two brief deployments to Syria in 2018 and 2019, Sukhoi’s aggressive sales efforts in Turkey and the Middle East and Russian president Vladimir Putin’s personal championing of the plane’s development.

The Russian air force possesses just a dozen or so of the type, which flew for the first time in 2010 but has suffered from a dearth of funding and the collapse of a co-development deal with India.

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