Program Delays Don’t Just Affect Roscosmos

Anatoly happier times

A couple of weeks ago, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov lost his job after two high-profile launch failures and various programmatic delays. One of the more serious charges leveled against Perminov was that the space agency hadfallen behind badly on the production of spacecraft, failing to meet schedules last year.

Well, it looks Roscosmos’ shortcomings are part of a much broader set of problems affecting the entire Russian defense industry.  On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev chaired a meeting with the leaders of the Russian defense sector – including new Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin — in which he sharply criticized them for delays in implementing key programs that are part of a broad effort to modernize and improve the nation’s defenses.

In remarks published on the Russian President’s website, Perminov said:

The Defence Ministry must complete the placement of defence contracts in full by the end of May and to make advance payments to companies in accordance with the plan for 2011 and the period up to 2012-2013.

This work has been proceeding very badly and slowly. I want to remind you that the state defence order was approved in December 2010 and at the Defence Ministry Board meeting in March I spoke about the failure of the previous state armaments programme. Today I want to hear from all those present why this happened, from the Government members and CEOs of companies. Who has been punished for it and how? Submit your proposals, if you haven’t already, containing details of the posts and the accountability. If such reports are not submitted, that suggests to me that it is sectoral heads and Government members who must be held accountable.

It is an unacceptable situation when decisions are made at the highest level, the money is allocated, and yet products are not delivered. Today I took the trouble to go over the 2009 Presidential Address [to the Federal Assembly]. Here are my words from the Address: “In the next year we need to provide the Armed Forces with more than 30 ballistic land- and sea-based missiles, five Iskander missile systems, about 300 modern armoured vehicles, 30 helicopters, 28 combat aircraft, three nuclear-powered submarines, one corvette-class battleship and 11 spacecraft.” As you must realise, I did not make up these things for the Address. All of it had been agreed with those present here. Why has it not been done? I am waiting for your response and your proposals. I am sure you realise that in different times half of you present here would already be engaged in hard physical labour in the fresh air. We must be responsible for our commitments. This is absolutely unacceptable.

We must not delay the tenders, which is the responsibility of the Defence Ministry. Otherwise a number of important weapons would be in jeopardy, as it happened last year.

Russia is in the midst of a major armaments build-up, with the government planning to spend $20 trillion rubles ($720 billion) on developing its defense sector from 2011-20. In his remarks, Medvedev said that this amounts to a 300 percent increase over spending during the previous period. In 2009, defense spending amounted to about 100 billion rubles ($3.6 billion), he added.