Army Reform, New Gyroplanes and Radar Systems - Belarus Security Digest

Yak-130

Belarus' law enforcement agencies still do not know how much money they receive in 2015, while all remains quiet on the Belarusian border.

Less than they would like but better than nothing – the Belarusian Air Force and Air Defence Force received new weapons purchased for them in small batches. The Belarusian head of state informed the military how they would live from now on, and he has not promised them an easy time.

Lukashenka Speaks on the Reform of the Army

Alexander Lukashenka announced what would happen with the army. On 19 February, Alexander Lukashenka met with the officer corps of the Ministry of Defence. During the event, the Belarusian leader made a number of statements in his traditional manner.

Thus, Belarus remains open to constructive dialogue with NATO based on the principles of parity and transparency. At the same time, the country's participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation guarantees its national security and regional stability.

The Ministry of Defence has developed relevant policy documents to support strengthening the army. In short, everything that requires an upgrade should be upgraded. Lukashenka implied that there would be no mass rearmament just yet.

Troop numbers and combat personnel have mostly been optimised at this point. Lukashenka expects to see the future direction of the Armed Forces reform in the new edition of the Military Doctrine of Belarus. The modernisation of the army should be mostly complete by 2020.

Lukashenka promised to allocate the necessary financial resources to modernise the Armed Forces and its military equipment and to purchase new weaponary. Lukashenka also intends to personally inspect Armed Forces' officers physical and combat preparedness.

The Belarusian leader said that he had no intention of abandoning territorial defence because "armies win battles but nations win wars". The Ministry of Defence, supported by other government agencies, should continue to play a leading role in this arena. Thus, attempts by the military to get rid of this troublesome task (territorial defence) may yet fail. The Security Council should control the building of the territorial defence system.

Lukashenka demanded that ironclad discipline be enforced in the army. "The army penetration of such dangerous phenomena like corruption and malfeasance gives a particular reason for concern; a betrayal of the interests of the service is especially unacceptable", he said.

Lukashenka also requested to solve problems surrounding flight operating safety in the Air Force as soon as possible. "The Ministry of Defence takes inadequate, and sometimes, ineffective measures", he said. However, for some reason, he never mentioned the obsolescence of equipment and the need to replace it. "You won't find it funny if I hear about any accident in the Air Force again", the Belarusian leader said next.

threats to national security begin with destabilisation of the situation within a country

The head of state pointed out that threats to national security begin with destabilisation of the situation within a country. "Nobody has guaranteed us a quiet life", the Belarusian leader stressed once again. The Belarusian government still counts on Russia's support, but it will rely on its own forces as well. Lukashenka gave an order to prepare the troops without the support of the Russian army.

Future Military Spending Unclear

Contrary to expectations, the government failed to introduce in February a new state budget for 2015. All law enforcement agencies are operating under severe budget constraints despite the authorities' assurances that they will satisfy the agencies' financial requirements.

Both external and internal factors have obviously caused the delay in adoption of the new budget. There is no clarity about the size and terms of Russia's financial support in 2015. The economic situation may be worse than the government has predicted. The budget may shrink significantly, resulting in a serious redistribution of public finances.

Update from the State Border Committee

On 3 February, the State Border Committee summed up the results of its activities over the past year and shared some plans for the current year. In 2014, the number of offences on the border went down significantly (by 14%). The nature of the occurrences show they present no threat to Belarus' border security. Illegal migration, smuggling of drugs and weapons and other forms of cross-border crimes brought the main risks.

Meanwhile, there was word of a forthcoming contract to be signed that would supply four two-seat gyroplanes of the Calidus series manufactured by the Russian company AutoGyroRussland to the State Border Committee. The first gyroplanes will arrive in Belarus as early as mid-April. The gyroplanes will be equipped with 24-hour surveillance cameras and other equipment needed to patrol the border.

Interestingly, Russia's Ministry for Emergency Situations and the Federal Protective Service also purchased some, but so far for trial operation only. The Pinsk border detachment has begun forming two units, which will be equipped with UAVs and a gyroplane. The gyroplane will be fitted with surveillance systems. The main task is to find pilots to fly them and technicians to service them.

New Training and Aircraft and Radars for the Air Force

On 10 February, the Air Force made public its plans to replace its aircraft L-39 with the Russian-made Yak-130. They plan to phase in training for the new equipment, and then they will phase out the old equipment. The implementation of the contract for the purchase of the first flight of four aircraft Yak-130 is in its final stages.

In February, technicians and pilots were trained in Russia and will return with the new planes. During their first year of operation, the manufacturer will provide technical support to the Belarusian Air Force. The Belarusian aviators would like to purchase another batch of Yak-130s later on.

Additionally, plans have been made public to equip the nation's radar troops with new locally manufactured radars Vostok-D (one unit) and Rosa-RB (two units). Thus far, the automated control system complexes of Belarus' Air Forces and Air Defence radar troops have seen 90% of there wares upgraded and the radar reconnaissance equipment is 35% renewed. The upgrade is scheduled to continue until 2020. In December 2014, they announced plans to purchase three or four units of the Rosa-RB in 2015. Obviously, the financial crisis has had an impact on their plans.

Andrei Parotnikau

Andrei is the head of “Belarus Security Blog” analytical project.

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