Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR March 2017 Contents MILITARY ISSUES
Security-wise, Japan is more concerned with North
Korea (tirelessly developing nuclear-tipped ballistic
missile technology) and China (building artificial
islands in East China Sea). Sometimes, a Russian
military build-up is mentioned among other excuses to
enlarge the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). Every
new issue of the "White Book" from the Japanese
defense ministry complains about an ever-increasing
number of drills on the Kuril island chain and in north
Pacific waters. The most recent edition states that
Russian armed forces stationed on the Northern
Territories are being reformed and improved, and
used as "a power demonstration tool".
As things stand, the JSDF enjoys numerical
superiority over the Russian army in the theater. It
has more servicemen and fields more supersonic
fighters (350), submarines (19, with plans to
increase to 22), destroyers (49, including training
ships) and aircraft-carrying cruisers (four, officially
classified as "helicopter destroyers").
The composition and equipment of Japanese and
Russian forces are vastly different. Russia deploys
less aircraft and warships in the area , but is superior
in missiles. Additionally, it possesses a powerful
strategic nuclear deterrent capability, whereas the
JSDF is not allowed to have them by the nature of
Traditionally, Moscow puts a premium on missile
technology. The latter has been playing the major
role in defense of the Far East since 1960, when
the first shore-based missile battery came into
service. Since earlier this decade, Russia began
fielding modern missile systems at key points along
its Pacific coastline. Officials stress that these
systems are being deployed as part of long-term
plans to bolster national security. Commenting on
such developments, the ministry for foreign affairs
never fails to attach a statement that “the Kurils are
an essential and inseparable part of Russia”.
Visiting Kunashir Island in 2011, then-defense-
minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced a big
program to re-equip Kuril garrisons. Among the
first measures to strengthen air defenses, was
the deployment of Thor-M2U short-range air-to-air
systems (SRAAM). Another SRAAM, the Pantsyr
S1, will replace older Tunguska and Shilka systems
in service with the 18th Division.
Expected shortly is the long-range S-400 Triumph,
whose planned deployment was announced by the
Russian MoD back in 2014 (since 2015, S-400
batteries have been operational on the mainland
and Kamchatka peninsula). There have also been
reports about the forthcoming placement of Buk
M2/M3 medium range air defense systems. These
can guide their missiles onto sea going targets,
which increases the Buk’s value in coastal defense.
More recent press reports from Russia's Eastern
Military District spoke of an army unit in the
Khabarovsk Region having received several sets of
Krasukha-4 electronic warfare systems. These can
fool the radars of hostile aircraft and satellites, and
are capable of degrading the performance of most
modern radar and electronic surveillance systems
across a wide waveband.
Speaking to the media in March 2016, defense
minister Sergei Shoigu promised Eleron-3 UAVs and
modern anti-ship weapons for the far east. Press
reports in November 2016 confirmed the fielding
of the Bal cruise missile system (SS-C6) on Iturup
and the Bastion (SS-C5) on Kunashir. A battery of
each is now operational with the Pacific Fleet’s 72
shore missile brigade (previously known as 451
independent missilery and artillery brigade). This
unit continues to operate older Rubezh (SS-C3)
with 2.5 -tonne P-15M Termit missiles (on Sakhalin)
and Redut (SS-C1) with 4.4 -tonne P-35B missiles
The Bastion's 4-tonne supersonic missiles can
defeat seagoing targets at a maximum range of
350 km and land targets at 450 km. Broadly similar
to the U.S . Harpoon, the subsonic Kh-35 weapon
employed by the Bal is notably lighter (620kg),
and has a firing range of 120-130km. Its recent
“ U ” version has the range boosted to 240-300 km.
Recent military parades in Vladivostok - the largest
port city on Russia's Pacific coast – have indicated
that both systems are already present in the area.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian
aircraft inventory in the Far East reduced substantially.
Half of the larger air bases closed down.
Several islands in the chain used to have
aerodromes. Today, none have a proper air force
base. The nearest AFBs on the mainland are about
a thousand kilometers distant. They house the 22nd
and 23rd Fighter Regiments armed with Sukhoi
Su-27SM, Su-30 and Su-35 multirole fighters. A
frontal bomber regiment at the Khurba AFB near
Komsomolsk-upon-Amur is replacing Su-24Ms with
more modern Su-34s.
The Russian navy aviation’s major aerodromes
are found around and to the north of Vladivostok.
Stationed there are Tu-142 ASW aircraft and
Tu-22M3 “carrier-killer” supersonic bombers.
Elizovo on the Kamchatka peninsula is a home base
for MiG-31 interceptors with a top speed of Mach
2.83, Ilyushin Il-38 ASW aircraft (including a pair of
recently modified examples with the Novella sensor
suite) and helicopters.
42 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter MAR 2017
Project 1155 large antisubmarine ship
Credit: V Karnozov
Tokyo has been monitoring closely (as well as enviously and
jealously) the process of Moscow and Beijing making big deals
on oil and natural gas.
24/02/2017 2:49 PM
Links Archive APDR Feb 2017 APDR April 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page