A new report from the U.S. Navy's intelligence branch paints a sobering picture of Putin's increasingly aggressive fleet–and its deadly international proves of force.
It is almost as if time was paused for 20 -plus years between the two naval reportsand now the Russian navy and military is reawakening from its slumber .
For the first time in 24 years, the U.S. Navys intelligence branch has published an unclassified report warning against a rapidly rearming and increasingly aggressive Russian fleet.
And while the reportwhich the Navy intends for public consumptionhas been years in the making, recent events have underscored just how serious its findings are. Its becoming clearer by the day that, with the strong backing of President Vladimir Putin, the Russian navy is making a serious effort to challenge the worlds preeminent maritime powerthe United States.
Russia has begun, and over the next decade will make big steps in fielding a 21 st-century navy capable of a dependable national defense[ and] an impressive but limited presence in more remote global areas of interest, manned by a new generation of post-Soviet policemen and enlisted personnel, The Russian Navy: A Historic Transition concludes.
Sixty-eight pages long and lavishly shown, the Russian navy report, published online and in publish in mid-December, is the uncredited work of one manGeorge Fedoroff, the top Russia expert at the Maryland-based Office of Naval Intelligence.
Fedoroff started out as a Navy linguist, reportedly rising to become the sail branchs best Russian speaker in the 1990 s before moving into intel work. While other military analystsand American politicians and the general public, toofocused their attention on terrorists, Iran, North Korea, China, and other military menaces, Fedoroff apparently never wavered from Russia.
The Office of Naval Intelligence had ceased publishing its previous annual report on the Russian fleet, Understanding Soviet Naval Developments , in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed and took the countrys navy with it. Hundreds of ships, submarines, and warplanes rusted away at dilapidated basis, idled by a lack of funding.
But Russia inherited the remnants of fishing fleets and, under Putin, began rebuilding. In early 2014 the resurgent Russian navy supported the Kremlins lightning intrusion of Ukraines strategic Crimean Peninsula, arguably heralding Russias return as a major military power. It was around that time the Pentagon decided the Russian fleet warranted a new public report.
The Office of Naval Intelligence knew just the person or persons for the task, according to Norman Polmar, an writer and longtime analyst who wrote the first edition of Understanding Soviet Naval Developments , route back in 1974. Lets get George Federoff to do it is how Polmar characterized ONIs thinking.
He did a great job, Polmar added.
Poring over the raw data, Federoff get busy counting the Russian fleets new ships, subs, and planes, assessing its new weaponry and gauging the quality of its sailors and policemen, and its standing within the wider Russian military and political systems. He confirmed a naval force on the rebound.
Since 2000, as Russias governmental order and economy have stabilized, there has been a focused and funded great efforts to revitalize the Russian militaryincluding the navy, Fedoroff wrote. Suspended building programs are now moving toward completion and new construction programs are beginning to provide the navy with 21 st-century submarine and surface platforms.
From an early 2000 s nadir when just a handful of boats were seaworthy and capable of combat, today the Russian fleet boasts 186 war-ready subs and surface ships operating in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans plus the Black Sea, the Baltic, the Caspian, the Mediterranean, and even the Arctic, according to Fedoroffs report.
This induces the Russian navy the worlds third-biggest maritime force after No. 1 Americawith more than 280 modern warships plus more than 100 subsistence vesselsand second-place China.
And in certain key aspects the Russia fleet has recently, and to the rest of the worlds great amaze, caught up to the Americans. In October, Russian warships in the Caspian Sea fired new Kalibr cruise missile thousands of miles to reach rebel targets in Syria. And in December a Russian submarine recurred the accomplishment, firing Kalibr s into Syria from the Mediterranean.
Before the twin weapon launches, merely the United States had demonstrated the modern they are able to launch long-distance cruise-missile strikes from ships and subs, against ground targets. Sea-launched cruise missiles are a key weapon system for any country hoping to stage precise military interventions while also avoiding serious hazard to its own forces.
Fedoroff anticipated these impressive weapon strikes by repeatedly highlighting Kalibr in his report. Kalibr offer even modest platforms, such as corvettes, with significant offensive capability and, with the use of the land assault weapon, all platforms have a significant ability to hold remote fixed ground targets at risk utilizing conventional warheads, he wrote. The proliferation of this capability within the new Russian navy is profoundly changing its ability to deter, threaten or destroy adversary targets.
Ironically, the final edition of Understanding Soviet Naval Developments in 1991 had also anticipated the advent of powerful new smart munitions such as Kalibr , according to Eric Wertheim, an independent naval analyst and writer of the definitive reference work Combat Fleets of the World .
It is almost as if time was paused for 20 -plus years between the two naval reportsand now the Russian navy and military is reawakening from its slumber, Wertheim told The Daily Beast. This latest report from ONI allows us to take stock of this newly awakened and growing force.
This is a highly significant publication, Polmar told of Fedoroffs report.
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