Saturday, May 21, 2016

Russian Naval Expert Calls US Navy’s New Stealth Destroyer ‘Giant Washtub’


Russian Naval Expert Calls US Navy’s New Stealth Destroyer ‘Giant Washtub’

Image Credit: U.S. Navy

Russian Naval Expert Calls US Navy’s New Stealth Destroyer ‘Giant Washtub’

The U.S. Navy is slated to take possession of its newest surface warship this Friday.


Russian military experts have been belittling the U.S. Navy’s next generation guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt, the largest and most technologically sophisticated destroyer in U.S. naval history, which will be handed over to the U.S. Navy tomorrow, in Russian state media. Speaking to Russian state-owned media outlet Radio Sputnik, a prominent Russian military analyst, critically examines the Zumwalt program and its high price tag:

With an annual defense budget of over $600 billion, the Pentagon can take the liberty of conducting various kinds of experiments, including spending $4.4 billion on a single destroyer. By comparison, one US [Virginia-class] nuclear submarine, the newest in the fleet, costs about $2.2 billion. In other words, they used the budget for two nuclear subs to build one Zumwalt. What can be said? Americans love grandiose projects which sometimes go beyond the scope of reason.

The total cost for the U.S. Navy’s most expensive destroyer program ever is now estimated at $22.5 billion, as I reported previously. In April, a U.S. Navy spokesperson detailed the total procurement costs for the Zumwalt-class vessels, including “$3.8 billion for DDG 1000 [USS Zumwalt], $2.8 billion for DDG 1001 [USS Michael Monsoor], and $2.4 billion for DDG 1002 [USS Lyndon B. Johnson].” The spokesperson, however, notes that the “DDG 1000 remains well within the program baseline (…).”

The future guided-missile destroyer is allegedly 50 times harder to detect than current U.S. Navy destroyers. However, the Russian analyst is also taking issue with the destroyers’ stealth capabilities:

With regard to its stealth, this is just a fairy tale for fools. Imagine a colossus with a solid wall the height of a sixteen-story building. Given the capabilities of current weapons using space and aerial reconnaissance, in addition to those of UAVs, this giant washtub cannot remain an inconspicuous target on the sea surface.

Once inducted into the U.S. Navy, the USS Zumwalt will be one of the most heavily armed surface ships in the world, capable of striking its targets far inland. Yet, another Russian military expert speaking to Sputnik Radio says that the United States has been exaggerating the ships combat capabilities:

The Americans have presented the Zumwalt as the best warship in history; this of course is an exaggerated characterization. The ship really is interesting in terms of innovation, when looking at its power plant, the types of weapons installed, and its control system. All this really is a breakthrough. But taken altogether, this does not turn the destroyer into a super-menacing weapon. This is a floating supercomputer with missiles…It doesn’t alter the balance of forces.

The USS Zumwalt, the lead ship of the U.S. Navy’s new destroyer class is slated to achieve initial operational capability in October, 2016. One can expect disparaging remarks from Kremlin-influenced Russian media outlets about the U.S. Navy’s newest stealth warship to continue in the months ahead.

VIDEO: The Spectactular Salvage Operation to Save the Modern Express By Mike Schuler

Cargo "Modern Express " le Samedi 30 Janvier 2016 au large des côtes françaises.

In this video, SMIT Salvage tells the story of the amazing race to save the Modern Express, a 164-meter-long Roll-on/Roll-off vessel which earlier this year lost stability in heavy weather and was drifting dangerously fast towards the French coast in the Bay of Biscay. To prevent the vessel from running aground, a team salvage experts from SMIT Salvage […]

The post VIDEO: The Spectactular Salvage Operation to Save the Modern Expressappeared first on gCaptain.

Read in browser »

PEARL HARBOR (May 18, 2016) - USS Mercy (T-AH 19)


PEARL HARBOR (May 18, 2016) Sailors assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) handle line as the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) moors at JBPHH. Mercy is deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2016. Pacific Partnership, in its 11th year, is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the region, and was born out of the military-led response to the tsunami that struck parts of Southeast Asia in December 2004. It is designed to improve disaster response preparedness while enhancing partnerships with participating nations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Johans Chavarro/Released


Rock Island Argus. (Rock Island, Ill.) 1893-1920, May 20, 1916, Image 1 « Chronicling America « Library of Congress

Administrative Summary of Investigation Regarding Wait Times - Colorado

The Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General (OIG), conducted extensive work related to allegations of wait time manipulation after the allegations at the Phoenix VA Health Care System in April 2014. Since that event and through fiscal year 2015, we have received numerous allegations related to wait time manipulation at VA facilities nationwide from veterans, VA employees, and Members of Congress that were investigated by OIG criminal investigators.

As we stated at Congressional hearings, at this time the OIG has completed 77 criminal investigations related to wait times and provided information to VA’s Office of Accountability Review for appropriate action. It has always been our intention to release information regarding the findings of these investigations at a time when doing so would not impede any planned prosecutive or administrative action. As other administrative summaries of investigation are completed, we intend to post them to our website so that veterans and Congress have a complete picture of the work conducted in their state.

You may view and download these administrative summaries of investigation by clicking on the link to our webpage at and selecting the appropriate state. The individual summary may also be accessed by selecting the weblink below.

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Denver CO VA Medical Center (14-02890-296)

Please use either Adobe Acrobat Reader version 8 or equivalent PDF reader software to open and view our reports. Adobe Acrobat Reader may be obtained free of charge from Adobe's website. Vision-impaired customers and those with text-only browsers may want to try Access Adobe for converting PDF documents into text. (Our disclaimer for these software products)

Bataan Honors Death March Survivor

Bataan Honors Death March Survivor

Story Number: NNS160520-12Release Date: 5/20/2016 3:06:00 PM
A A A Email this story to a friend Print this story

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Minami, USS Bataan (LHD 5) Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) hosted a dedication ceremony in honor of Alcide "Bull" Benini, a World War II combat veteran and Bataan Death March survivor, May 20.

Benini was honored for his distinguished military service to the United States.

Bataan Commanding Officer Capt. John "J.C." Carter officially dedicated Bataan's 844-foot long flight deck in Benini's honor during the ceremony, christening it as Bull Benini field.
Carter shared Benini's experiences through World War II and what came after.

"I would like to tell you a story about survival, resilience and redemption," Carter began when speaking to Benini's family, friends and Bataan's crew about the "Bull's" life.

Benini was born Oct. 15, 1921, in Cologna, Italy. He proudly served in the U.S. Military during World War II, the Korean War, and also completed two tours of duty to Vietnam. He served in both the Army and the Air Force, achieving the rank of chief master sergeant.

He went on to become the founder of the Air Force Pathfinders -- later renamed Combat Controllers -- which are ground combat forces who specialize in traditional pathfinding with simultaneous abilities for air traffic control, fire support command, control and communications in covert operations environments. He retired in 1976 after serving for more than 30 years.

Ten of Benini's family and friends attended the ceremony, including his daughter Jane Ables.

"Just like many of his comrades in arms, he did not ever think of himself as a hero," said Ables. "It was his duty to his country, and he did it well, without faltering like those before him, those after, and those who serve today. Service before self is not just [a] saying, it's a reality."

Nicknamed "Bull" from his experience, Benini was a World War II prisoner of war who was captured in Bataan, Philippines, in 1942. He was forced to endure the infamous Bataan Death March, and then rode one of the notorious 'Hell Ships' to mainland Japan where he was brutally forced to do rigorous labor in Japanese mines.

"Benini literally lived through hell," said Carter. "If he were alive today, he would tell stories of the hard work in the lead and zinc mines of Japan."

After his release, he served with the 82nd Airborne Division, Pathfinder Platoon while serving in the Army. During his assignment to Pathfinder Platoon, Benini became a fully-trained master parachutist. In January 1953, he left the Army and enlisted in the United States Air Force. "Bull" past away April 16, 2015, and was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

"I know dad is in a much better place now, and I imagine he is smiling down on us as this flight deck is dedicated in his honor," said Ables.

In closing, Capt. Carter spoke of how it was an honor and an inspiration to have met Benini.

"Bull, you have given the men and women on the USS Bataan inspiration, and in exchange, we give you the recognition of Bataan's flight deck -- forever being called Bull Benini Field in your honor."

For more information, visit,, or

For more news from USS Bataan (LHD 5), visit

“Herman the German”

Engineers at the Terminal Island Naval Shipyard in Long Beach, California, had a problem on their hands: how does one reassemble one of the tallest and largest crane in the world? That was the situation in January, 1948 as the U.S. Navy worked to erect the gigantic, floating Schwimmkran Nr. 1, taken from Germany as war reparations at the end of World War II.

USS YD-171 lifts another crane. . Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Craneception: USS YD-171, nicknamed "Herman the German," lifts another crane. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

The gigantic crane, "naturalized" after the as USS YD-171, was one of four built by Demag A. G. in 1941 in Bremerhaven, Germany to lift U-Boats out of the water for repair and for other heavy-lifting tasks. Crewed by three officers and twenty men, the four Schwimmkräne served in the Baltic Sea, Denmark, and the northern seaports. "Self propelled, the crane [could] slither through the water forward, backward, or sideways," noted Lieutenant Warren R. Hughes in a 1949 Proceedings article, by virtue of its six azimuth thrusters mounted below. Though quite maneuverable, the crane could not outmaneuver British and American bombers during the war. It was hit on several occasions and repaired.

General overview drawing of YD-171. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

General overview drawing of USS YD-171. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

One of her sister cranes was sunk in Hamburg, and the three others were divided among the victorious Allies by the Triparite Naval Commission. One, incomplete at the end of the war, went to the Soviet Union, who moved it overland in pieces to Danzig (Gdańsk) where for decades it was thought lost until it was spotted working at St. Petersburg’s Admiralty Wharves as late as last year.

The other went to Great Britain, where it capsized in the English Channel under tow. The American crane, unofficially dubbed "Herman the German," was dismantled and towed across the Atlantic starting on 14 August, 1946, through the Panama Canal, and arriving at the Terminal Island Naval Shipyard on 18 November 1946. After its arrival, the delicate work of reassembly could begin.

The chief concern facing the engineers was how one reassembles a crane taller than the ones available. The Navy had USS Crane Ship No. 1 (AB-1), the former battleship Kearsarge, could lift the 200-ton booms but could not lift it high enough to reassemble them. Finally, one bright engineer came up with the idea to put the big German derrick into drydock, lowering it by about 50 feet below sea level while Crane Ship No. 1 remained afloat. The delicate operation of assembly could begin.

Crane Ship No. 1 (AB-1), ex-Kearsarge makes ready to lift part of the massive crane's boom in January 1948. . Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Crane Ship No. 1 (AB-1), ex-Kearsarge, begins lifting part of the massive crane’s boom in January 1948. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Riggers working on the mammoth crane "clung to the booms by their imaginations," remarked Master Rigger O. A. Faircloth, as they dealt with the rolling of the crane ship, high winds, and the delicate process of hammering home linking pins. But it all went smoothly. "Never did a job I was more proud of than this one," continued Faircloth, "And to do it I had some of the best riggers in the world, all trained in the fact that safety comes first and showmanship plays no part in the rigging game . . . . When it was over I took a deep breath and went fishing."

USS YD-171 lifting a section of steel at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. . Naval Institute Photo Archive.

USS YD-171 lifting a section of steel at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

After extensive testing throughout the year, YD-171 was officially placed into service on 31 December 1948, and was a fixture at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard for decades. She lifted everything from the gun barrels of USS New Jersey (BB-62), steam locomotives for South Korea, the underwater habitat SEALAB II, the first atomic reactor on the West Coast, and even Howard Hughes’ H-4 Hercules (the "Spruce Goose") when she was placed on display in Long Beach in the early 1980s.

YD-171 Herman the German at Long Beach with USS New Jersey (BB-62) in 1982.

YD-171 "Herman the German," here also sporting another nickname, "Titan II", at Long Beach with USS New Jersey (BB-62) in 1982.

Under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990, the Naval Station at Long Beach was ordered closed by 30 September 1994, and YD-171 was deemed obsolete. She was sold to the Panama Canal Company on 19 September and was moved there in 1996 — this time, fully assembled aboard a float-on/float-off ship.

Titan, ex-YD-171 in service on the Panama Canal ca. 2011.

Titan, ex-YD-171 in service on the Panama Canal ca. 2011.

The crane still serves there tending the locks and expansion project with a new name — Titan.

Friday, May 20, 2016

US Navy Submarines Maintain an Edge--Russi


US Navy Submarines Maintain an Edge--Russia

Navy submarine developers tell The National Interest the US is working intensely to maintain its undersea technological advantage over near-peer rivals such as Russia and China.

Though Russia continues to develop and build newer and ever more capable nuclear attack submarines such as the Project 885M Yasen-class, the U.S. Navy continues to maintain its technological edge by incrementally improving its Virginia-class attack boats.

“I think we have a very focused program called the acoustic superiority program to make sure that we in fact keep our technological lead—our acoustical advantage—and that's a focus of every one of our developmental programs,” Capt. Mike Stevens, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Virginia-class program manager told me at the Navy League’s Sea, Air and Space symposium on May 17. “It doesn't do any good to build submarines that aren’t up to par, so it’s a main part of our focus to make sure those submarine do maintain their acoustical advantage—not just today but 10, 20 years out.”

----This Story Originally Appeared in The National Interest----

Those modifications are often retrofitted to older vessels in the class where possible—but not always. However, Stevens explained if the Navy does find a significant acoustical breakthrough, the service will make every attempt to retrofit older boats. Indeed, while the Navy used the Virginia-class as the basis for the Ohio Replacement Program, many of the technologies developed for the new ballistic missile submarines will eventually find their way back to the later Blocks of the Virginia-class.

Modern submarine design is an evolutionary process. The latest Block V Virginia-class boats—which are the first to incorporate the Virginia Payload Module—will be some 83-feet longer than their predecessors as a result of the new missile compartment when the first boat starts construction in fiscal year 2019. Along with the increased length comes significantly greater displacement, however the performance degradation is minimal and the boats will meet the Navy’s requirements bandwidth even without modifications to the powerplant and other ship systems. “It’s in the bandwidth of our requirements,” Stevens said. “We exceeded that on our initial submarines, now we’re still going to be in that bandwidth, but little bit less.”

But that’s just the most visible improvement. There are a host of less obvious modifications to the submarine that will help to maintain its technical edge. Indeed, future Virginia-class Blocks will eventually form the basis of the next-generation SSN(X) replacement for current boats, Stevens said. That’s a pattern that’s been laid out for decades. Stevens noted that late-model Improved Los Angeles-class boats trialed many of the technologies for the Virginia-class and he expects that pattern to continue. “The Virginia-class leveraged a lot of technology from the last few 688s that were developed with the next class in mind,” Stevens said. “We’ll do that same thing.”

However, while America’s submarine fleet maintains its technical edge, the submarine fleet is too small. The Navy will need more attack submarines to counter a resurgent Russia and growing Chinese subsurface fleet.

----This Story Originally Appeared in The National Interest----

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor of The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveMajumdar.

New Video Shows U.S. Navy Destroyer’s Aggressive Encounter With Russian Fighter Jets in Baltic Sea By Mike Schuler

A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a low altitude pass by the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook while the ship was operating in international waters in the Baltic Sea, April 12, 2016. U.S. Navy Photo

Some new video released by the U.S. Navy gives a better look at when two Russian fighter jets made multiple low-altitude passes by the USS Donald Cook in international waters in the Baltic Sea on April 11 and 12. The video was released following a FOIA request by the Virginian Pilot. Video released earlier by […]

The post New Video Shows U.S. Navy Destroyer’s Aggressive Encounter With Russian Fighter Jets in Baltic Sea appeared first on gCaptain.

Read in browser

UK navy museum explores 'misunderstood' Battle of Jutland -


NMRN's Nick Hewitt - arguing the case for British victory at Jutland (Photo: Centenary News)

UK navy museum explores 'misunderstood' Battle of Jutland

Posted on on 19 May 2016

Britain's Royal Navy Museum has opened its major exhibition devoted to the Centenary of the Battle of the Jutland.

Centenary News visited the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard site amid intensive preparations for an event that doesn't shy away from lingering controversy over the outcome of the biggest sea battle of the First World War.

The exhibition title is unambiguous: '36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle that Won the War'.

Britain lost more ships and men than the German High Seas Fleet in the clashes off the Danish coast on May 31st/June 1st 1916.

Germany immediately proclaimed victory, while recriminations followed in Britain over the conduct of the battle by Admirals Sir John Jellicoe and Sir David Beatty.

But Nick Hewitt, Head of Heritage Development at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), argues that the battle was misrepresented at the time, and has been misunderstood ever since.

"We are making the case really strongly that it was the battle that won the war. The reason is it allowed the maintenance of the blockade of Germany and the blockade was eventually instrumental in causing Germany to fall apart at the end of the war.

"It's not a clean victory. It's not a brilliant victory. It's a messy, clumsily fought battle but it is still a victory. The emphasis was on the Germans changing the status quo and they did not do that."

Toby Read, whose grandfather Ernest Read was killed on HMS Invincible, at the NMRN exhibition (Photo: Centenary News)

A series of audio-visual presentations has been designed to explore key moments of the battle, including the German side of the story.

These are complemented with exhibits drawn not only from museum collections, but also contributed by the Jellicoe and Beatty families, and descendants of Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Commander of Germany's High Seas Fleet.

They include Kaiser Wilhelm's telegram of congratulations to Scheer, and his citation for Pour Le Mérite, one of Germany's highest military honours.

Yet it was Scheer, after his experiences at Jutland, who recommended the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare to beat Britain, with consequences that would provoke America's entry into the Great War in 1917.

Royal veteran

A large deck gun from the German destroyer SMS B98 and smaller guns from British counterparts HMS Narborough and HMS Opal, lent by Orkney Islands Council from Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, have been restored for the exhibition.

NMRN has also worked in partnership with Imperial War Museums (IWM), whose contributions include a letter written by a royal veteran of Jutland, publicly displayed here for the first time.

Prince Albert (the future King George VI), who saw action on the Dreadnought HMS Collingwood, wrote: ‘It was a great experience to have gone through and one not easily forgotten. How and why we were not hit or damaged beats me, as we were being fired at a good part of the time."

A shell damaged section of HMS Barham (Photo: Centenary News)

NMRN's Nick Hewitt says: "We're doing all we can to get across the scale of Jutland."

"If there is one thing to take away it is that scale. There were 250 ships at sea -that's more than all of Europe's navies combined today.

"I would make a case to say it's the greatest sea battle in history. It's hard to imagine now that number of men (105,000) and ships at sea."

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the NMRN, comments: "One hundred years after the fleets of the Imperial German and Royal Navies fought the defining naval battle of the First World War, it is essential that we mark and commemorate the incredible sacrifice made.

"Jutland’s significance in turning the tide of the First World War must not be underestimated. We are proud to be able to tell its story."

'36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle that Won the War' opened at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, on May 19th. More information can be found here.

Centenary News Editor Peter Alhadeff visited NMRN for this report

Images: Centenary News

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Russian nuclear forces, 2016 - Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Russia is in the middle of a broad modernization of its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces, including some new developments. The authors estimate that as of early 2016, the country had a stockpile of approximately 4500 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter range tactical nuclear forces. In addition, as many as 2800 retired but still largely intact warheads awaited dismantlement, for a total inventory of about 7300. The modernization program reflects the government’s conviction that strategic nuclear forces are indispensible for Russia’s security and status as a great power. Unless a new arms reduction agreement is reached in the near future, the shrinking of Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal that has characterized the past two decades will likely come to an end, with the force leveling out at around 500 launchers with roughly 2400 assigned warheads. Combined with an increased number of military exercises and operations, as well as occasional explicit nuclear threats against other countries, the modernizations contribute to growing concern abroad about Russian intentions.


Russia is in the middle of a broad modernization of its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces. While much of this process continues well-known programs that have been underway for many years, some developments are new. The modernizations, combined with an increased number of military exercises and operations, as well as occasional explicit nuclear threats against other countries, contribute to growing concern about Russian intentions and, in turn, help justify nuclear modernization programs and political opposition to reductions in other nuclear weapon states.

As of early 2016, we estimate that Russia has a stockpile of approximately 4500 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces. Of these, roughly 1800 strategic warheads are deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage along with nearly 2000 nonstrategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number – perhaps 2800 – of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement,1 for a total inventory of 7300 warheads. (see Table 1)

Table 1. Russian nuclear forces, 2016.

CSVPDFDisplay Table

With its total inventory of roughly 550 deployed strategic launchers, Russia is already well below the limit of 700 set by New START for February 2018. Since the treaty entered into force on 5 February 2011; however, Russia has increased the number of accountable deployed launchers by 5 (from 521 to 526), and increased the number of warheads attributed to those launchers by 111 (from 1537 to 1648) (US State Department 2011, 2016). Those increases are temporary fluctuations, however, Russia is still expected to be in compliance with New START limits by February 2018.

Overall, Russia’s nuclear modernization effort will present the international arms control community with new challenges. Unless a new arms reduction agreement is reached in the near future, the shrinking of Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal that has characterized the past two decades will likely come to an end, with the force leveling out at around 500 launchers with roughly 2400 assigned warheads. To remain below the New START limit of 1550 deployed strategic warheads after 2018, Russia will probably have to reduce the warhead loading on some of its missiles.

The broad modernization reflects the government’s conviction that nuclear forces – in particular strategic nuclear forces – are indispensible for Russia’s security and status as a great power. Moscow is motivated in part by a strong desire to maintain parity with the United States, but the development of multiple versions of the same missiles also indicates the strong influence of Russia’s military industrial complex on nuclear planning.

The ambitious nuclear modernization program is likely to be challenged by Russia’s financial crisis. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov warned in October 2014 that the country’s wider plan to modernize the armed forces was unaffordable (Reuters 2014), and the budget crunch is already forcing trade-offs between nuclear and conventional programs. Plans to build a rail-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) appear to have been delayed or canceled (Novichkov 2016), the Russian Defense Ministry’s construction company has been forced to cut back on key projects (Novosti 2015a), and engine deliveries for some warships and submarines have been disrupted (Novosti 2015b).

Nuclear Doctrine

Like the other nuclear-armed states, Russia does not publish much information about its nuclear strategy or the circumstances under which it would consider using nuclear weapons. The government published its military doctrine in December 2014, stating that Russia “shall reserve for itself the right to employ nuclear weapons in response to the use against it and/or its allies of nuclear and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, as well as in the case of aggression against the Russian Federation with use of conventional weapons when the state’s very existence has been threatened” (Russian Federation 2014). This formulation is almost identical to the previous version from 2010 (Russian Federation 2010).

Yet, since 2008, Russian officials have made several statements about potential use of nuclear weapons that appear to go beyond the published doctrine. They have, for example, said that Russia may use nuclear weapons against NATO missile defense facilities,2 and may increase the readiness of its nuclear forces in reaction to limited regional scenarios that do not involve WMD attacks or threats to its “very existence.”3

In addition, several Russian military exercises have, according to NATO documents and officials, simulated nuclear attacks against Western countries. A 2009 NATO briefing concluded that the Ladoga and Zapad exercises held in western Russia and Belarus in August and September of that year included “missile launches, some of which may have simulated the use of tactical nuclear weapons.” The briefing described an exercise scenario in which Russian conventional forces apparently could not repel a NATO attack launched from Poland and Lithuania, and said the Russians “still rely on the use of tactical nuclear weapons, even in local or regional conflicts” (US NATO Mission 2009).

Most recently, the NATO secretary general’s annual report for 2015 stated that Russian exercises over the past 3 years (even before the invasion of Ukraine) have included “simulated nuclear attacks on NATO Allies (e.g. ZAPAD) and on partners (e.g. March 2013 simulated attacks on Sweden)” (NATO 2016). The simulated attack on Sweden apparently involved two nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 (Backfire) bombers from Shaykovka Air Base in western Russia.


Russia deploys an estimated 307 ICBMs that can carry approximately 1040 warheads, nearly 40% of the country’s total strategic warheads. The ICBMs are organized under the Strategic Rocket Forces in three missile armies, with a total of 12 divisions with approximately 40 regiments.

The replacement of Soviet-era ICBMs with modern types is more than halfway done and scheduled for completion in 2022. Deployment of the first-generation SS-27 Mod. 1 (Topol-M) is complete; deployment of the second-generation SS-27 Mod. 2 is continuing at an accelerated pace; and development of a compact version of the SS-27 (RS-26) is in progress. The remaining Soviet-era ICBMs include:

SS-18 (RS-20 V). The SS-18 is a silo-based, 10-warhead heavy ICBM first deployed in 1988. The missile is being gradually retired with approximately 46 SS-18s with 460 warheads remaining in the 13th Missile Division at Dombarovsky and the 62nd Missile Division at Uzur. The SS-18 is scheduled to remain in service until the early 2020s, when it will be replaced by the RS-28 (Sarmat) ICBM.

SS-19 (RS-18 or UR-100NUTTH). The silo-based, six-warhead SS-19 entered service in 1980 and is gradually being retired and replaced by the silo-based SS-27 Mod. 2 (RS-24). We estimate that a total of 20 missiles remain in service with 120 warheads, possibly split between the 60th Missile Division at Tatishchevo and the 28th Guards Missile Division at Kozelsk. The SS-19 is scheduled to be retired in 2019.

SS-25 (RS-12 M or Topol). Russia is retiring SS-25 missiles at a rate of one to three regiments (nine to 27 missiles) each year and replacing them with the SS-27 Mod. 2 (RS-24) and the new RS-26. We estimate there are 90 SS-25s left, although the number could be as low as 72 if divisions converting to the SS-27 Mod 2 retire all SS-25s in one step instead of gradually, regiment by regiment. The last SS-25s will be withdrawn from service in 2021.

The new ICBMs include SS-27 Mods. 1 and 2 (Topol-M and RS-24). The SS-27 Mod. 1 is a single-warhead missile, known in Russia as Topol-M, that comes in either mobile (RS-12M1) or silo-based (RS-12M2) variants. Deployment of the SS-27 Mod. 1 was completed in 2012 with a total of 78 missiles: 60 silo-based missiles with the 60th Missile Division in Tatishchevo, and 18 road-mobile missiles with the 54th Guards Missile Division at Teykovo, northeast of Moscow.

The SS-27 Mod. 2, known in Russia as the RS-24 or Yars, is a modified SS-27 Mod 1 (Topol-M) that carries a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV). Following initial deployment of the first two regiments of SS-27 Mod. 2 in 2010–2012, with a total of 18 mobile missiles at the 54th Guards Missile Division at Teykovo, deployment is now well underway at the Novosibirsk and Nizhniy Tagil divisions, where the first regiments went on combat duty in late 2013. Altogether, the Russian military says that six new SS-27 Mod. 2 (RS-24) regiments were put on combat duty in 2015 (Russian Federation Defense Ministry 2016), but some of those were only partially armed.

Novosibirsk, the home of the 39th Guards Missile Division, received its first SS-27 Mod. 2 regiment in late 2013. A second regiment entered service in 2014 and a third followed in 2015. A fourth and last regiment will probably follow in 2016 or 2017, for a total of 36 missiles with an estimated 144 warheads at this division.

Nizhniy Tagil, home of the 42nd Missile Division, received its first SS-27 Mod. 2 regiment in late 2013, followed by a second regiment in 2014 and a third regiment in 2015–2016, for a total of 27 launchers with an estimated 108 warheads at this division.

Introduction of the first SS-27 Mod. 2 regiment started at the Yoshkar-Ola division in 2015. The 14th Missile Division is expected to complete installment of three regiments by 2017–2018, with a total of 27 missiles and 108 warheads.

Deployment of the silo-based SS-27 Mod. 2 version is well underway at the Kozelsk division in western Russia, home of the 28th Missile Guards Division. The first two missiles were loaded in late 2014, and the first full regiment of 10 missiles was complete by late 2015. Installment of the second 10 missiles is under way, replacing the remaining SS-19 s at Kozelsk. How many of the original 60 SS-19 silos will be converted for SS-27 Mod. 2s is unknown, but at least 30 seems plausible.

The Russian military says it plans to put five new missile regiments on combat duty in 2016 (Russian Federation Defense Ministry 2016). But several of those will probably not be fully armed right away; the Strategic Rocket Forces are scheduled to receive 20 SS-27 Mod. 2 missiles in 2016 (TASS 2016) – only enough to arm two regiments. Bringing new missile regiments online will include completing installment of mobile launchers at Novosibirsk and Tagil, and continuing with deployment of the second regiment of silos at Kozelsk.

Upgrade of the missile divisions at Yoshkar-Ola and Irkutsk started in 2015 and each is scheduled to receive one SS-27 Mod. 2 regiment in 2016 (VPK-News 2015), although neither regiment is expected to be fully loaded until later. The 51st Guards Missile Division at Irkutsk will be the first equipped with the new version of the SS-27, known as RS-26 or Yars-M, a compact and lighter version of the SS-27 Mod. 2 that will also carry multiple warheads.4 Initial deployment was scheduled for 2015 but has been delayed to 2016.

Announcements have not yet been made about upgrades to the two remaining road-mobile ICBM divisions at Barnaul and Vypolzovo. But Strategic Rocket Forces commander Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakayev said in early 2016 that Russia plans to continue to operate 12 missile divisions in the future (Interfax 2016), which implies that both Barnaul and Vypolzovo might be upgraded to SS-27 Mod. 2 or RS-26 as well.

A rail-based version of the SS-27 Mod. 2, known in Russia as Barguzin, has been reported to be in early design development. But this program may have been delayed or even canceled because of Russia’s financial crisis (Jane’s Defence Weekly 2016).

Russia is also developing the RS-28, or Sarmat, which is intended to replace the SS-18 (RS-20 V) in the early 2020s. A “pop-up” test launch (involving ejection without engine ignition) scheduled for 2015 was delayed, but Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov says the plan is to start up serial production before 2020, with deliveries beginning in 2018 or 2019 (Interfax 2015a). General Karakayev has said the RS-28 will carry “new types of warheads” (VPK-News 2015), and Borisov says the missile “will be able to carry equipment for surmounting missile defense” and “have a sufficient power reserve to fly over the North or South Pole.” Borisov has also said the RS-28 “will be equipped with maneuverable warheads” (Rossiyskaya Gazeta 2014). It is possible that the program may be delayed by the financial crisis.

Despite the modernization of the ICBMs, it seems likely that the size of the Strategic Rocket Forces will drop below 300 missiles by the early 2020s. Because this force is significantly smaller than the 400-strong ICBM force the United States plans to retain, Russian planners are compensating by increasing the share of ICBMs equipped with multiple warheads. Although, the overall number of ICBM warheads is unlikely to increase, the composition of the force is changing significantly: Prior to 2010, no mobile ICBMs carried MIRVs; by the early 2020s, all will do so.

Russian road-mobile ICBM forces normally conduct two large-scale exercises each year: a winter exercise in January or February and a summer exercise in July or August. The winter exercise in 2015 involved SS-25 and SS-27 launchers from about 20 regiments at six divisions: Bernaul, Irkutsk, Teykovo, Vypolsovo, Yoskar-Ola, and Yurya. The summer exercise was even bigger, involving 30 regiments, including silo-based ICBMs.


The Russian Navy operates a fleet of 12 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) of three classes: Six Delta IVs (Project 667BRDM), three Delta IIIs (Project 667BRD), and three Boreis (Project 955).5 Each submarine can carry 16 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) for a combined total of nearly 800 warheads.

For the remainder of this decade, the mainstay of Russia’s nuclear submarine force will continue to be the six third-generation Delta IVs built between 1985 and 1992, each equipped with 16 SLBMs. All Delta IVs are part of the Northern Fleet and based at Yagelnaya Bay on the Kola Peninsula. Since 2007, Russia has been upgrading the Delta IVs to carry a modified SS-N-23 SLBM known as the Sineva. Each missile carries up to four warheads. All six boats have now completed an overhaul and conversion to the Sineva. Up to five of the six Delta IVs are operational at any given time.

There are news media rumors that the Delta IV SSBNs will be upgraded to carry a modified version of the Sineva SLBM known as the Layner (or Liner) (Izvestia 2012). Some speculate that the Layner is a new missile with 10 warheads, but it appears to be a modified Sineva with four warheads: “It is in fact a Sineva. Only the warhead is new,” said a Russian navy spokesperson. The Layner may carry an enhanced payload, which might include modified warheads and additional penetration aids.

Two Delta III nuclear submarines remain operational with Russia’s Pacific Fleet on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Each boat is equipped with 16 SS-N-18 M1 Stingray (RSM-50) SLBMs with three warheads each. One of the Delta IIIs – Podolsk (K-223) – launched an SS-N-18 on 3 November 2015. The other boat – Saint George (K-433) – returned from a combat patrol in December 2015. Launched in the late 1970s, the Delta IIIs are outdated and will be replaced by Borei-class SSBNs over the next few years.

The first three new Borei (Project 955/A) SSBNs are in service, with another five in various stages of construction. The first boat, Yuri Dolgoruki (K-535), is based at Yagelnaya in the Northern Fleet, from where it conducted its first two-month patrol under the Arctic ice from August to October of 2015 (Interfax 2015b). The second boat, Alexander Nevsky (K-550), arrived at its home base at Rybachiy near Petropavlovsk in September 2015, where it will be joined by the third Borei, Vladimir Monomakh (K-551), in 2016 or 2017.

A total of eight Borei-class submarines are listed in Russia’s 2014–2020 defense plan. The first three are each armed with 16 SS-N-32 (Bulava) SLBMs that can carry up to six warheads apiece. The subsequent Borei-class submarines will be of an improved design known as Borei II (Project 955A). The first improved Borei, Knyaz Vladimir, will be delivered in 2016 for service in 2017. The keels for the fifth and sixth boats – Knyaz Oleg (or Alexander Suvorov) and Generalissimus Suvorov – were laid down in 2014 for possible completion in 2018 or 2019. The schedule for the last three boats means that the eight-boat program will probably not be completed until the early- to mid-2020s.

The Borei-class modernization will increase the capability of the Russian SSBN fleet. The Borei submarines will carry SS-N-32 (Bulava) SLBMs. The SS-N-32 carries six warheads, compared with three and four on the SS-N-18 and SS-N-23 respectively. As a result, the future SSBN fleet will be able to carry more warheads than the current one. The implication is that the strategic importance of the SSBN fleet will increase, which will make it more important for Russia’s adversaries to threaten that fleet should there be a war.

Strategic bombers

Russia operates two types of nuclear-capable heavy bombers: the Tu-160 Blackjack and the Tu-95MS Bear H. We estimate that there are 70–80 bombers in the inventory, of which about 60 are counted as deployed under New START. Both bomber types can carry the nuclear AS-15 Kent (Kh-55) air-launched cruise missile (ALCM)6 and possibly gravity bombs,7 and the Tu-160 can also carry the nuclear AS-16 Kickback (Kh-15) short-range attack missile.8 A new long-range nuclear cruise missile, designated the Kh-102, is being fielded and will probably replace the older nuclear missiles.

Estimating the size and operational status of the Russian heavy bomber force is difficult because neither Russia nor Western intelligence provide substantial information. Moreover, as the Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers are being modernized, they change operational status. New START counts all bombers with some residual nuclear-capable equipment, not just those currently assigned a nuclear mission. Russia will have to eliminate 77 launchers to meet the New START limit of 800 deployed and nondeployed launchers by 2018, so some of the Tu-95MS bombers will probably be denuclearized or retired.

Our current estimate of roughly 60 deployed nuclear bombers is based largely on commercial satellite images, which show an average of 54–57 bombers typically present at the two strategic bomber bases, Engels and Ukrainka. Another half a dozen or so aircraft from these bases might be on training flights or temporarily at other bases. (On 8 October 2015, for example, two Tu-160s from Engels were present at the Tu-22M3 base at Belaya.) Satellite images show another 23 to 26 bombers typically present at the Ryazan training base, the Kazan production plant, and the Zhukovsky design plant, for a total inventory of 77–83 bombers. These numbers are probably a little high because some of the visible bombers may have been retired, some were Tu-142 naval bombers, and the satellite images were not all taken on the same day. Nevertheless, by averaging the numbers visible in the available images of all six sites, we arrive at a rough estimate of approximately 70 nuclear-capable bombers in service.

It is a great unknown how many nuclear weapons are assigned to the heavy bombers. Each Tu-160 can carry up to 12 nuclear AS-15A air-launched cruise missiles. The Tu-95MS can carry 6–16 cruise missiles, depending on configuration. Combined, the 60 operational bombers could potentially carry an estimated 670 cruise missiles. The Tu-160 may also have a secondary mission with nuclear gravity bombs, but it seems unlikely that the old and slow Tu-95 would stand much of a chance against modern air defense systems. Most bomber-appropriate nuclear weapons are probably in central storage, with only a couple of hundred deployed at the two bomber bases.9.

Nearly all of the ageing Tu-160s and most of the Tu-95MSs are undergoing various upgrades. The first seven upgraded Tu-160s and Tu-95MSs returned to service in 2014 (Interfax 2014), and two more Tu-160s and seven Tu-95MSs will be delivered in 2016 (TASS 2015a). Only a few dozen of the Tu-95MSs – perhaps around 44 – will be modernized, while at least 10 Tu-160s will be modernized by 2019 (TASS 2015b; Novosti 2012). Modernizing 10 aircraft would cost at least 34 billion rubles ($10 billion) (Novosti 2013a). The future bomber force will likely include 50–60 aircraft.

In addition to modernizing some existing bombers, in 2015, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it plans to restart production of the Tu-160. According to Deputy Defense Minister Yuriy Borisov, production will begin sometime after 2023, and Russian Air Force Commander Col. Gen. Viktor Bondarev reportedly said that the plan is to buy at least 50 of the new version, known as Tu-160M2 (Sputnik News 2015). If so, this would probably result in retirement of all remaining Tu-95MSs.

The plan to reopen production of the Tu-160 indicates that the next-generation bomber known as PAK-DA, which has been in development for several years, will be delayed. In 2013, the government signed a contract with manufacturer Tupolev in 2013 to construct the PAK-DA at the Kazan factory, and the first flight was planned for 2019 with delivery to the Russian Air Force around 2023 (Novosti 2014). It is unlikely, though, that the Russian aviation industry has enough capacity to develop and produce two strategic bombers at the same time.

Nonstrategic (tactical) weapons

In addition to modernizing its strategic nuclear forces, Russia is also updating some of its shorter-range, so-called nonstrategic nuclear forces. This effort is less clear and comprehensive than the strategic forces modernization plan, but also involves phasing out Soviet-era weapons and replacing them with newer but fewer arms. The emergence of more advanced conventional weapons will likely have a stronger impact on the numbers and composition of nonstrategic nuclear forces than on strategic forces, and result in retirement of many nonstrategic weapons over the next decade.

Nonetheless, the Russian military continues to attribute importance to nonstrategic nuclear weapons for use by naval, tactical air, and air- and missile-defense forces, as well as on short-range ballistic missiles. Part of the rationale is that nonstrategic nuclear weapons are needed to offset the superior conventional forces of NATO, and particularly the United States. Russia also appears to be motivated by a need to counter China’s large and increasingly capable conventional forces in the Far East, and by the fact that having a sizable inventory of nonstrategic nuclear weapons helps Moscow keep overall nuclear parity with the combined nuclear forces of the United States, Britain, and France.

We estimate that Russia has roughly 2000 nonstrategic nuclear warheads assigned for delivery by air, naval, and various defensive forces.10 Like the US government, the Russian government does not provide any information on how many or what kinds of nonstrategic nuclear weapons it possesses. We estimate that the Russian inventory is declining and will continue to do so over the next decade with or without an arms control agreement. The Russian government has repeatedly said that all of its nonstrategic nuclear weapons are in central storage.

The biggest user of nonstrategic nuclear weapons is the Russian Navy, which we estimate has an inventory of approximately 760 warheads for use by cruise missiles, antisubmarine rockets, antiaircraft missiles, torpedoes, and depth charges on submarines, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates, corvettes, and naval aircraft.

Naval modernization programs include work on the next class of nuclear attack submarines, the Severodvinsk (known in Russia as Project 885M or Yasen). The first of these boats entered service in 2015 and is thought to be equipped with a nuclear version of the Kalibr sea-launched cruise missile (the SS-N-30A) (Gertz 2015). The subsequent seven planned boats will have an improved design. The Severodvinsk-class submarines will also be able to deliver SS-N-16 (Veter) nuclear antisubmarine rockets, as well as nuclear torpedoes. Other upgrades of naval nonstrategic nuclear platforms include those planned for the Sierra class (Project 945), the Oscar II class (Project 949A) and the Akula class (Project 971). While the conventional version of the Kalibr is being fielded on a wide range of submarines and ships, the nuclear version will likely replace the current SS-N-21 nuclear land-attack cruise missile on select attack submarines.

Tactical air forces are Russia’s second largest user of nonstrategic nuclear weapons, with an estimated 570 assigned for delivery by Tu-22M3 (Backfire) intermediate-range bombers, Su-24M (Fencer-D) fighter-bombers, and the new Su-34 (Fullback) fighter bomber. All types can deliver nuclear gravity bombs and the Tu-22M3 can also deliver AS-4 (Kitchen) ALCMs. NATO reported in early 2016 that Tu-22M3s carried out a simulated nuclear strike exercise against Sweden in March 2013 (NATO 2016). The Tu-22M3 and Su-24M are being upgraded. The Su-34, which will gradually replace the Su-24M, has already been deployed to the Voronezh and Morozovsk bases in western Russia. A total of 120 Su-34s are planned through 2020.

Russia’s air- and missile-defense forces are also upgrading nuclear-capable systems. The S-300 air-defense system with nuclear-capable SA-10/20 interceptors is deployed across Russia and is slowly being upgraded to the S-400 system with SA-21 interceptors, and an upgrade of the nuclear-tipped A-135 antiballistic missile defense system around Moscow is said to be underway.

It is highly uncertain how many nuclear warheads exist for the air.defense forces or which interceptor types are nuclear-capable, but Russian officials have stated that about 40 percent of the 1991 stockpile remains. Alexei Arbatov, then a member of the Russian Federation State Duma defense committee, wrote in 1999 that the 1991 inventory included 3000 air-defense warheads (Arbatov 1999). Many of those were probably from systems that had been retired, and US intelligence officials estimated that the number had declined to around 2500 by the late 1980s (Cochran, et al. 1989), in which case the 1991 inventory might have been closer to 2000 air defense warheads. In 1992, Russia promised to destroy half of its nuclear air-defense warheads, and Russian officials said in 2007 that 60 percent had been destroyed (Pravda 2007).

If those officials were correct, the number of nuclear warheads for Russian air defense forces might have been 800–1000 a decade ago, significantly more than the 68–166 warheads assumed by a 2012 study (Sutyagin 2012). Assuming the inventory has shrunk since then (due to the improving capabilities of conventional air-defense interceptors), we estimate that roughly 400 nuclear warheads remain for air-defense forces today, plus an additional 80 for the Moscow A-135 missile defense system and coastal defense units, for a total inventory of about 480 warheads.

The Russian Army is in the middle of a modernization of its short-range ballistic missile force that involves replacing the SS-21 (Tochka) with the SS-26 (Iskander-M). Whereas, the SS-21 launcher carries a single missile with a range of 120 kilometers (km), the SS-26 launcher carries two missiles with a range of about 300 km. We estimate there are roughly 140 warheads for short-range ballistic missiles.

In 2014, the US government formally accused Russia of being “in violation of its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500– 5500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles” (US State Department 2014). Russia’s GLCM presumably is intended for potential deployment with Army forces, but neither Russia nor the United States has provided public details about the weapon system (Kristensen 2015).



Naval Search Engine

Total Pageviews

Find-A-Grave Link

Search 62.2 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: