Procurement: October 26, 2004

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The Russian navy announced that it is going to concentrate on upgrading equipment and weapons on current ships, rather than building new ships. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, the Russian fleet has been starved of funds. Except for some submarines and a few surface ships, no new ships were purchased. Currently, the fleet has about three dozen major surface ships (destroyers, cruisers, frigates, carriers), fifty submarines and a about hundred small coastal warships. The Russian fleet has shrunk to less than a third of its Cold War size. Worse, maintenance has not been kept up, and ships have not spent much time at sea. Crews are poorly trained and morale is low. Thus the new Russian policy makes sense, despite the desperate need, of the Russian warship building industry, for new work. For the moment, the Russian shipyards will have to continue building warships for foreign customers, and be content with a lot of refurbishment and repair work on the warships Russia is trying to keep in service. This work will include the installation of new electronic systems and weapons. The Russian strategy is a wise one, but was resisted for many admirals who could not bear to give up their former status as the largest (in terms of the number of ships) fleet on the planet. At the moment, Russia is second, in the number of warships, behind China, and ahead of the United States. But the American fleet is the largest in terms of tonnage and combat power. Actually, when it comes to fighting, the U.S. Navy could probably take on the rest of the combined top ten and still come out on top. So the Russians are wise to go for quality over quantity.

 


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