The Independent is shocked. So is Israel, so is "West". Oh mama, and how could this be?
In related news, the sky is blue and the water is wet. What else? Ah, the cold is cold and when it is hot--it is hot.
I am not a Russian internet "military" fanboy, who wastes his time away "fighting" all kinds of uber-patriotic ignoramuses from Anglo-sphere on all kinds of discussion boards. Take a pick at a "repository" of military "competence", as an example, at The National Interest, and I don't mean just discussion boards, if you want to understand what I am talking about. What they "produce" in the magazine proper should give people some peek into the reality of the Warholian media world we live in.
I have an advanced graduate degree in what, in layman's lingo, could be called a degree in sinking NATO navies. Well that, plus qualifications (long ago expired) for naval infantry (marines) command. All came with the territory in Soviet Naval academies and yes, I know how it feels when T-64 rolls over, with you ready to shit your pants while in between the tracks of this rolling armored beast. So, yes, being today a consummate armchair strategist, and being quite content, in fact, enjoying this position (beats being shot at by both bogeys and....friendlies--someday I will tell the story), I, however, cringe each time when I hear (read, see) any kind of western shock regarding the fact of Russian Armed Forces deploying some weapon system. Unlike fanboys, however, I don't wave the respective flags of paper military uber superpowers, which are figments of imagination and, when speaking about Russian/Soviet Armed Forces, am always ready to and DO talk about their flaws, problems (which are plenty) and shortcomings. So, here it is--instead of incorporating this into my "Military Power" series of posts I have to deal with it separately.
Why "West" is always shocked? Because it is generally incompetent when dealing with USSR/Russia and is good only in "perception management", that is telling own fabricated stories about some parallel reality. It was always like this, it is just only recently that it went into the super acute phase. Indeed, and how those russkies, exlaim in desperation all those journos, sociologists and political "scientists", continue, time after time, to produce not just very advanced weapons but, what is even more important, military capability? How do they do it? For people like that, who, apart from appalling ignorance, suffer also from cultural and racial revulsion towards Russia, it is, indeed, difficult to comprehend the fact that what Russians know about war both on a genetic and cognitive levels is on order of magnitude larger than what combined "West" can offer. In simpler words: history made Russians produce fully combat-oriented advanced weapon systems. This reality definitely contradicts the picture (or narrative) of those ever drunk, dumb barbaric Russians, who still live in dugouts while suppressing everything "progressive". Indeed, it is so fashionable to proclaim oneself a "winner" in arms race that some things simply escape the mind.
I want to start with very late 1950s of the last century. No, I don't mean Sputnik and educational shock to the western establishment. I want to look at what is known in the West as Echo-II SSGNs, while in Soviet Union and Russia it is still known as "screaming cows", for a horrendous noise levels of these nuclear submarines. I will omit the issue of noise, not for once mitigated by excellent professionalism of the COs and crews of these submarines, but will concentrate on the missile, communications and guidance complex of these subs.
It was a combination of radar Argument and comm complex Kasatka, among others, which allowed this ungainly sub to be able to launch her cruise missiles (from older Pyatyorka to, later, P-6) in salvo with target selection and separation in it. This was first. Those subs, also known correctly as kamikaze and suiciders (well, you are bound to be when launching surfaced) were capable to receive targeting information from satellites and TU-95RTs (Bear D), later, updated system received the name of Uspekh. The trick of this whole system was in the fact that Bear D was translating real time radar picture of the area or, rather, targets to the consoles of the weapons operators on the sub, who, using electronic pencil (in reality--gun) selected targets on the screen of their displays. This targeting method was used when the ranges of launch were larger than sub's radar range. I will omit here a reliability issue of this salvo, but, while risky (hence kamikaze title), they were possible and, actually, were done not for once. This is not 2016, boys and girls, we are talking here about 1950s and 1960s--the times of non-solid state electronics. Yet, what I just described to you, today is known as elements of the Net Centric Warfare.
This whole system of targeting and launch, at that time, was nothing short of revolutionary, even when considering reliability and other, purely tactical and operational, issues--the joyful moment for any ASW or Patrol Aviation is the moment of flaming datum, and Echoes were the ones. But it was this whole vacuum tubes-driven shebang which attracted a very serious attention from Killian Committee as early as mid-1950s, with their report to Eisenhower of missile, both ballistic and cruise, age dawning. Echoes were one of the horsemen of apocalypse, since were capable to deliver both conventional and nuclear payload against both sea and ground targets. And it was thanks in large degree to those Echoes that US Navy eventually developed and then put its Harpoons at own P-3 Orion patrol planes. Ah, those russkies, with all their mischief, always seem to turn out some toys which make the peaceful and democratic "West" to be on its toes. For nation, which opened the door to space and by 1950s boasted arguably the best educational system in the world, all that seemed quite natural. Fresh from the colossal physical and mental trauma of the WW II, it took a lot of ingenuity and plain simple sheer engineering brilliance to come up, time after time, with at least adequate (forget superior--narrative doesn't allow it) response to just about anything what the "West" was throwing at those inferior russkies. And it is this narrative, which completely ignored number of the crucial facts of Russian military development which remain her constants:
1. Guided long-range cruise and anti-shipping missile IS the national weapon of Russia/USSR. From 1950s on, at first USSR, and now Russia produced unrivaled spectrum of guided missile weapons, which is, of course, a first sign of a very advanced R&D and industry, including....drum roll....electronics and software engineering. From old P-6/35 missiles of 1950s design, through terrifying RK-55 Granat (aka S10 for subs, projects 671RTMK and 971. NATO--Victor III and Akula classes) with range exceeding by far that of the Tomahawk missiles, to modern day stealthy Kalibrs and X-101 with reported (most likely downplayed, for security reasons) range of 5000+ kilometers, to upcoming hyper-sonic weapons, Russia always was and still remains a global leader in missile technology. I don't know under what 1990s "stone", loaded with images of drunk Yeltsin, crooked "reformers" destroying own (???) country and hordes of dissidents, all these western "experts" still live, but didn't they try to study real history? We all know the answer. They didn't. Everything what is going on today with Russian/Soviet Precision Guided missile (and other) weapons is NOT some accidental GRU "stealing" some magical western, greatly overrated, technologies but the result of decades of serious and continuous R&D, development and implementation of the range of the requirements, developing and applying tactical and operational concepts for these weapons.
2. USSR/Russia always lagged behind "West" in radio-electronics, this is a scientific fact. But here is the puzzle, how crucial was this lag in, namely, military field? Here is an interesting fact from 1970s. Actually, the Soviet Union was one of the major providers of microchips for the bulk of electronic watches produced globally. Yes, including ones produced in the "West". Small fact but a very important one, none the less. Just as an example, the steady improvement of the acoustic (both noise reduction and sonar capability) by Soviet submarines in 1980s can be very easily correlated (traced back) to the fact of vast improvement of the quality of Soviet consumer electronics. Yes, yes, I know, all this popular BS about Walker case, who "supposedly" opened eyes for Russians about noisiness of their subs. Sure, how could those stupid russkies know of their own short-comings without "West's" turncoats. What is amazing is that this BS is being peddled in the "West" for decades now, disregarding a simple scientific fact of Soviet Union having a number of the acoustic institutes WAY BEFORE Walker started to spy for USSR. In fact, one of the activities of Soviet external intelligence both by GRU and KGB was a delivery of "Western"-made innocuous consumer acoustic systems as early as 1950s specifically for the study of their acoustic properties. With them came vinyl records of a lot of popular music. That is how rock'n'roll made it (among other routes) into the USSR. How do I know this? Let's say I know this for a fact. This is just one such example. Yet, by 1988, this is what US Navy had to say about this whole thing.
Indeed, the arrogance of those Russians simply has no bounds. Why did they decide to produce arguably the best submarines in the world is simply inexplicable. But more than that, for some reason Soviet Union developed a massive ECM capability and, in general, was never far behind this whole C4ISR business. For older generation this item is well-known.
This piece of equipment known as Rostov-101 (102 etc.) was truly first Soviet 1st class reel-to-reel deck with superb characteristics. The start of production was in 1975. But the popularity of this excellent machine (I wish I had one) was not only in the fact of its modern design and competitive characteristics for its time. It was also in the fact of Rostov being made of military-grade element base, which provided a very impressive durability and reliability. In 1970s it was a very desirable item, and an expensive one. Eventually Rostov went on to produce a truly world class equipment.
While other Russian military-industrial firms went on in 1980s to directly compete with the best of the best.
So, for young students of Open Source Intelligence (OSInt)--do not discard consumer products, they may give you some interesting insights into the real state of the affairs. Does iPhone give some insight today? Sure it does--decent processing power. It is also produced in China, but does China produce processors? No, in fact, it merely packs crystals into the package. But again, does military need this kind of processors? Well, not quite. Military applications are a different game. It could be a truly shocking revelation for many when they will learn that Soviet Union pioneered satellite television and, in fact, after US satellite navigation system Transit (NAVSAT) was launched, Russians followed with their own Parus (and its civilian version Cicada) satellite navigation. Where was Europe and others? Nowhere to be found. In fact, at that time, Jean-Loup Chrétien (one of my heroes) flew to space on Soviet Soyuz ship (becoming the first European to do so) and, later, became the Hero Of The Soviet Union, which is a title awarded to some really special people and Jean-Loup is one of them.
Considering the fact that today GLONASS is the only other truly global satellite navigation system, GPS being first, of course, what does this say about Russia weapons? Obviously for people "being shocked", it also comes as a surprise that Russia actually produces this:
And this allows Russia to produce this:
So, when US (or NATO) generals say this: "Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”. For decades, this was Western military leaders’ view, steeped in condescension, of their Russian counterparts. What they have seen in Syria and Ukraine has come as a shock. " They better learn Russia's history. Will they? No. So, prepare for more "shocks".
To Be Continued.......
P.S. US media space was so poisoned by Israeli "achievements" (this is not to say that Israelis are not good, no, they are pretty good and I do have respect for them) that they completely forgot that they dealt with the enemy who is manifestly not ready for serious combined arms warfare. They are learning, though. Vietnam...ahem....