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592 words - March 7, 2013 | © DiploNews, all rights reserved.
"Every step we take must make the state defense procurement work more effective and guarantee that we carry out our big plans for re-equipping our armed forces."
On March 6, the Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on the current state and future development of Russia's military aviation. Before the meeting, Mr Putin visited the Chkalov Novosibirsk Aviation Plant, where he saw the final stage of the Su-34 multipurpose bomber's assembly process.
His visit was part of an ongoing "series of meetings on modernizing the armed forces' weapons systems". It followed through the discussions about the state armament program for aviation technology which started last June when the Russian leader pointed out the four biggest priorities for the Russian Armed Forces: first, he said, "we must carry out more intensive and better quality combat training;" second, "another of our definite priorities is work to continue developing the new branch of our armed forces - the Aerospace Defense Forces;" third, "the entire armed forces must undergo a complete re-equipment;" fourth, "we must draw attention to the need for new approaches to the way the armed forces are manned."
In February 2012, while still the Prime Minister, Mr Putin wrote that space and information will determine the nature of an armed conflict. Consequently, he stressed Russia needs "a response system for more than current threats" and urged the military-industrial complex to answer the good questions like what kind of weapons will the Russian army need and what will be the technical requirements. By 2015, he said the share of new equipment shall be brought up to 30 percent of the total, up to 70 percent by 2017. The same applies to the Russian Air Force. "We plan to buy nearly 2,000 planes and helicopters in order to bring the share of modern aviation equipment in the armed forces up to 70 percent of the total by 2020. At the moment, modern equipment accounts for only around 20 percent," the President said. The strategy also aims to gradually reduce the number of conscript servicemen and increase the number of professional servicemen. "The plan is to increase the number of contract servicemen 2.5-fold over the next five years - up to 425,000 people," Mr Putin said.
In his third term as President, Vladimir Putin shows greater determination in the building of more robust and modernized armed forces for Russia. Recently, he appointed Sergei Shoigu as the new Minister of Defense and quickly approved the latter's pick for new chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov. President Putin directly follows the issues facing the armed forces and seems convinced that Russia will not meet the challenges of the 21st century without a modern and appropriate military strength.
In 2002, Mr Putin rejected the Chief of the General Staff's proposition to liquidate a base for strategic ballistic missile submarines on the Kamchatka Peninsula. He considered this move would have deprived Russia of its naval presence in the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, President Barack Obama reinforced Mr Putin's choices when he decided the United States' military shift from Europe to the Asia-Pacific region. The war against Georgia in August 2008 exposed the ageing military forces of Russia to the world media, prompting decisions at the highest level that such a situation should never occur again. Though able to "force Georgia to sue for peace", Russia had mobilized a 20th century army, thus weighing up the very necessary steps needed to protect Russia's interests in the current century.
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