Russia’s navy will get short shrift in the next defense budget cycle

The Russian navy will be at the bottom of the Kremlin’s defense priorities in the next budgeting cycle, which runs from 2018-2027.

Rather than building bigger destroyers or new aircraft carriers, Russia plans to sink money into bolstering its formidable submarine force while building smaller surface combatants like frigates and outfitting them with the lethal long-range Kalibr cruise missile.

“SAP-2027 will undoubtedly include financing for the completion of six Yasen-M nuclear attack submarines and possibly for a seventh, as well as for the modernization of four to six each of the Soviet-era Oscar- and Akula-class nuclear attack submarines,” Center for Naval Analyses senior research scientist Dmitry Gorenburg wrote in a new PONARS Policy Memo.

“Construction of fifth-generation nuclear attack submarines (tentatively named the Husky-class) will begin in the mid-2020s. In diesel submarines, the focus will be on developing air independent propulsion systems for the forthcoming Kalina-class, while Lada- and improved Kilo-class boats are built in the meantime.

“The key takeaway is that the Russian Navy is looking to increase the size of its smaller ships in order to increase their armament and endurance, while reducing costs by indefinitely postponing the procurement of larger ships such as destroyers, amphibious assault ships, and aircraft carriers.” [source]

Analyst comment: By making the decision to put more money into land- and air-forces and less in naval power projection ships, Moscow is concentrating more on self-defense and deterring peer competitors (the U.S. and NATO) and, if the opportunity presents, projecting power mostly to Europe, as it has no real enemy east towards India and China.

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Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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