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Outside View: Russia's next navy -- Part 1

By
NIKITA PETROV, UPI Outside View Commentator

MOSCOW, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The Russian navy will become the world's second-largest in 20 years, said its commander in chief, Adm. Vladimir Masorin, speaking ahead of Navy Day.

He said the navy's core would consist of the newest strategic nuclear-powered submarines and six squadrons of aircraft carriers.

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For Russia's navy, this will be its third modernization program, he said. The previous two, though they gave the service a boost, were never completed. Now, said the admiral, there is such a chance.

Recently approved, a rearmament program until 2015 for the first time in Soviet and Russian history puts the development of the navy on an equal footing with strategic nuclear forces. Out of $192.16 billion allocated for military rearmament, 25 percent will go into building new ships.

"We are already building practically as many ships as we did in Soviet times," First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said during a visit to Severodvinsk. "The problem now is not lack of money, but how to optimize production so that the navy can get new ships three, not five, years after laying them down."

Ivanov said Russia has a strategy for shipbuilding until 2030 under which warship production is to increase by 50 percent. For the first time in 15 years, a series of 40 frigates has been laid down, with no less than 10 each for the Northern and Baltic fleets. In February 2006, after a 16-year break, the frigate Admiral Sergei Gorshkov had its keel laid down, a surface ship intended for long-range operations in distant seas. The navy has plans for about 20 such ships.

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Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, a former commander of the navy, outlined the concept and strategy for naval development they are to fit into: "We should abandon the existing multitude of ship and aircraft classes. Compact-sized fighting blocks going to make up ships should increase their fire power and reduce research and development costs."

The idea is to drop the use of specialized ships capable of fighting only submarines or aircraft carriers and to go over to multipurpose fighting units meant to carry out a wide range of missions away from home. Such ships will be assembled from modular units, and their weapons and equipment will be unified for all types of combat craft. In the future, this will not only facilitate the provision of spare parts and ammunition, but also simplify maintenance, repairs and modernization.

Of special note are plans to build six aircraft carriers, which would make the Russian navy the world No. 2 in terms of combat capability. The government program, however, does not provide for their construction before 2015. Nor is there mention of them in plans for the period until 2030.

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(Next: Russia's plans for new strategic submarines)

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(Nikita Petrov is a military commentator. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

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(United Press International's Outside View commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interest of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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