Russian Army orders training centre from Rheinmetall as military modernises


The Russian Defence Ministry has contracted Rheinmetall Group and its Russian partner JSCo Oboronservis to build a major army training centre in Mulino, Russia, as the country embarks on its ambitious rearmament programme.

Located in the Volga region, by 2014 this simulation-supported training centre will be able to train 30 000 troops a year. For Rheinmetall the order is worth well over EUR100 million including further options.

This contract has special strategic significance for the Rheinmetall Group, representing the German defence industry’s first significant foothold in the Russian market. In light of plans to modernize the equipment of the Russian armed forces, the opportunities for follow-on orders from the Russian Federation are considerable.

Rheinmetall is one of the world’s leading suppliers and operators of simulation and training systems for ground, air and naval applications.

The Group already operates the Bundeswehr’s Gefechtsubungszentrum Heer, or GUZ, a high-tech army training centre located in the Altmark in central Germany, on which the new facility in Russia will be modelled. A further customer from the Middle East placed an order with Rheinmetall for a comparable facility in 2009.

To execute this project, Rheinmetall has entered into a strategic partnership with JSCo Oboronservis, the Russian company that will serve as general contractor and subsequently operate the facility on behalf of the Russian armed forces.

Simulation-supported training is not only a realistic and efficient means of preparing troops for a variety of operational scenarios, but also keeps cost in check by reducing consumption of fuel and materiel as well as protecting heavy equipment from wear and tear. The Russian military expects the new training centre to pay for itself within the space of a few years.

Rheinmetall is tasked with developing and supplying the live combat simulation system as well as technical implementation of all aspects of the project, including commissioning and quality assurance.

Measuring over 500 square kilometres, the state-of-the-art Russian army training centre in Mulino is designed to train a reinforced mechanized infantry or armoured brigade. An innovative rotation principle will enable training to take place simultaneously at a variety of stations, with the training system tracking and recording the activities of each participant via an electronic identification badge, helping to assure successful results throughout a training process lasting several weeks.

Preceding the rotation principle, which will be employed in Mulino for the first time, will be an introductory qualification phase involving practical and theoretical objectives whereby the theoretical level of qualification presented in the form of CBT modules. Participants will not be allowed to proceed until they meet this basic qualification, after which they move on to other training stations, including live combat simulation, commander training by state-of-the-art constructive simulation, marksmanship with modern firing ranges as well as other practical training components. Another new feature is the networking of Live, Virtual and Constructive simulation elements in an LVC system which promises to set a new standard in military training.

During live combat simulation, formations and units will soon be able to train for military operations using laser simulators and cutting edge communications technology mounted onto their original equipment and tactical vehicles, which will be able to range at will in a approximately 200-square-kilometre zone. Live fire will be simulated by eye-safe laser simulators for all weapons, ranging from small arms and light antitank weapons to tank guns, artillery, IFV-mounted automatic cannon, etc.

Following the training programme, which lasts several weeks, every brigade that passes through Mulino will have attained a comparable, certified level of proficiency.

This takes into account the Russian military’s aim of ensuring that every brigade is optimally prepared for the realities of modern warfare.

The training technology installed at the GUZ combat training centre in Letzlingen, Germany, has proved invaluable to the Bundeswehr ever since operations began in 2001, Rheinmetall says.

During live training operations, every participant in an exercise, from individual soldiers to main battle tanks is equipped from the start with laser sensors and compact data transmission devices.

These wireless devices feature a GPS satellite receiver and constantly transmit information concerning the position and status of every participant to the exercise control cell. When training for military operations in urban terrain (MOUT), special sensors track the position of soldiers even when they are inside buildings. The effects of heavy weapons fire on buildings and the troops inside them can also be simulated.

Moreover, mobile video teams accompany the participating units, transmitting imagery back to headquarters in real time. There, the complete array of data from an exercise flows together, including all voice transmissions. The position and status of all exercise participants are depicted on workstation computer monitors and large screens on a 2D/3D situation map, including video recording in real time.

All events taking place during major exercises are electronically recorded and processed for subsequent after-action review (they can be presented to exercise participants in a fixed-position auditorium or in mobile facilities in the major training area).

Russia has recently signed billion dollars worth of deals as part of its ambitious domestic weapons procurement programme that seeks to revitalise the Russian armed forces.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently reiterated the importance of overhauling the Russian military, especially in the wake of the five-day war with Georgia in August 2008. Medvedev has pledged 20 trillion rubles (US$720 billion) to buy domestic arms over the next decade.

Russia has steadily increased its spending on arms procurement, which last year reached 490.4 billion rubles, according to Export Vooruzheniy magazine. That included 318.8 billion rubles on new weapons, 63.7 billion rubles on upgrades and repairs and 107.9 billion rubles on research and development works. Arms procurement is set to increase to 726 billion rubles in 2012 from this year’s 574.6 billion rubles, and top 1 trillion rubles in 2013, Export Vooruzheniy says.

On August 31 the Russia’s defence ministry and the Russian Helicopters group signed a US$4 billion deal for 140 helicopters after long delays caused by price disputes. Russian Helicopters has earmarked US$200-250 million for research, mainly the development of such helicopters as Mi-38, Ka-62, Mi-34S1, and for upgrading the Mi-17.

Russia’s ambitious arms procurement programme stipulates the upgrading of 11% of military equipment every year. By 2020, 70% of the Russian armed forces’ equipment will be modern.

The Russian armed forces last year received 27 ballistic missiles, 37 helicopters and 21 aircraft as well as 19 air defence systems including S-400s, Export Vooruzheniy magazine has reported.

Last year Putin said that 4.7 trillion rubles (US$150 billion) would be allocated to the modernisation of the Russian Navy. Russia plans to build eight Borey class submarines by 2015 and equip them with Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Other new equipment for the Navy will be new conventional submarines, destroyers and corvettes.

Meanwhile, the Russian air force aims to procure more than 1 500 new aircraft by 2020, as well as increasing the quantity of guided weapons in its arsenal. “Overall, we are planning to acquire and modernise about 2 000 aircraft and helicopters by 2020…including more than 1 500 new aircraft and about 400 modernised,” air force deputy commander Lieutenant General Igor Sadofyev told reporters late last year.

Sadofyev said that this year the air force plans to induct Sukhoi Su-27SM, Su-30M2 and Su-35S fighters, Su-34 fighter-bombers and Yakovlev Yak-130 trainers as well as Ka-52 and Mi-28N attack helicopters, Mi-8 armed assault helicopters, Ka-226 and Ansat-U light multipurpose helicopters.
“The priority for the strategic aviation is the modernization of 80 percent of existing Tu-160, Tu-95MS, Tu-22M3 bombers and Il-78M aerial tankers…and the extension of their service life,” Sadofyev said.

He also said that the share of guided weapons in the air force’s arsenal would increase by 18 times and the number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would increase by a factor of six so that UAVs constitute about 30% of the total by 2020.

A Russian defence ministry spokesman earlier this week said that the Russian Air Force will take delivery of about 90 new or modernized fixed and rotary wing aircraft next year.

The Air Force will receive up to 10 Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers, about 10 Su-25SM Frogfoot attack fighters, and an unspecified number of Su-35S Flanker-E multirole fighters, Colonel Vladimir Drik said.

New acquisitions will also include over 20 attack helicopters, such as the Mi-28N Night Hunter and the Ka-52 Alligator, as well as “highly modernized” Mi-35 Hind helicopters. The Air Force will also receive about 30 Mi-8 transport and five Mi-26T heavy lift helicopters.

Other weapons Russia will acquire include S-500 air defence systems, BTR-82A armoured personnel carriers, anti-tank missiles, new multiple rocket launchers and ballistic missiles (including the Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone). Earlier this year Putin said the production of ballistic missiles in Russia will double from 2013 and that missile manufacturers will receive 15 billion rubles (US$500 million) over the next three years to increase production. Russia will also receive a new tank in 2015.

Most of the equipment will be sourced locally, although a notable exception is the French Mistral class helicopter carriers Russia is buying in an effort to gain access to French technology. Two will be co-built with France while another two will be built in Russia.