According to reports Russia will soon have the last two of eight new Raptor patrol boats at its disposal.Of the original order only two boats remain to be commissioned into service in the Russian Navy as part of a military modernization program. The Raptor patrol boats are built by the Pella factory in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will enter service following a final testing period, according to UPI.
Short-range, high-speed Raptor boats to enter service
The Russian Ministry of Defense reports that the Raptor boats are intended for use on short-range missions within 100 miles of base. Each Raptor measures 17 meters in length and can reach a top speed of 50 knots.
Raptors are designed to carry out transportation and rapid landing missions, in addition to patrol and protection of ships. The boats are capable of carrying as many as 20 troops and are armed with a 14.5 mm remote-controlled combat module and two 7.62 mm machine guns for protection.
The boats will be expected to patrol assigned sea areas, intercept and stop naval targets and undertake rescue missions. They can also protect ships and stationing points from sea, ground and air attacks.
According to the Ministry of Defense final technical and formal tests must still be undertaken, but the boats are expected to enter service with the Russian Navy by the end of November. The last boat was reportedly set afloat on November 14.
Russia continues to modernize armed forces
Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to make good on his promise to modernize the Russian armed forces, despite the fact that the country’s economy is suffering due to Western sanctions, a devalued ruble and depressed world oil prices. While there are some questions as to how he is finding the money, this article will focus on the technology currently being developed by Russia and what it means for relations between Russia and the West.
Some Western politicians love to deride the Russian armed forces as a technologically backward relic of the Cold War that would be easily defeated by the United States and its NATO allies if war broke out. A number of recent developments suggest that the technological gap may not be as wide as many would have us believe.
While the Western military-industrial complex continues to plow billions of dollars into programs which are later abandoned or declared unfit for purpose, a steady stream of new military technologies continue to emerge from Russia. Seasprite helicopters, Zumwalt stealth destroyers and Crusader mobile artillery may never be fit for combat, whereas Russia is closing the technological gap with Armata tanks, new Sukhoi Su-34 warplanes and Yassen attack submarines.
Closing technological gap evident in development of fighter jets
One particularly illustrative area of comparison is the development of next-generation warplanes. While the U.S. struggles to keep the F-35 stealth strike fighter project afloat amid development issues and huge overspending, Russia is working on the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA stealth fighter.
In fact at this rate the PAK-FA could enter service before the F-35 it was designed to hunt down. It will be the first full-stealth Russian warplane and if it lives up to early promise it will cause a huge headache for Western air forces.
The PAK-FA looks set to offer great speed and range, the ability to carry large payloads and great maneuverability. At the same time the designers of the F-35 have had to sacrifice several of these functionalities in order to maintain a low profile.
Will Russia be able to afford this new technology?
As Russia continues to work on new missile systems and next generation radar systems that will further cut the technological gap, some analysts are pointing out that while developing impressive prototypes is worrying for the West there are doubts as to how many new weapons Russia will be able to afford. Given the ongoing economic difficulties facing the country, orders may have to be cut back.
Putin has already ordered 2,300 T-14 Armata battle tanks, to be delivered by 2020. Its makers estimate that each unit will cost around $3.7 million dollars, and that is one of the cheaper items on Putin’s shopping list.
Each Yassen submarine is estimated to cost around $1 billion, and previous reports claim that Russia has already cut back on the number of T-50 PAK-FA fighters due to costs. While the prototype technology look great, Russia will need to buy a considerable amount of new equipment if it is to truly upgrade its military capabilities.
Given the secrecy which surrounds military developments it is hard to know quite what effect the economic situation will have on the modernization of the Russian armed forces, but Western military analysts should certainly sit up and take note.