Belarus Defense Digest: F-16 Fighters Stationed Closer to Belarus
Among recent events related to the national security and defense two stand out. First, the deployment of the U.S. F-16 fighters in Poland and the need for the adequate response. Second, new evidence in the criminal investigation against the ex-commander of the Air Force and Air Defense Ihar Azarenka.
Deployment of F-16s in Poland. Although the official explanation on this account was not provided by the parties, it became known that the relocation of a few dozen American jet fighter aircrafts F-16 to Poland from Italy is planned. In view of the fact that in the Polish Army the 48 planes of this type are in service, their total number will approach 90.
It should be noted that although F-16 refer to the class of fighters, they are designed primarily to attack ground targets, i.e. they are primarily offensive weapons. The aims and motives of the United States and Poland in deciding about the placement of the strike air group (if we exclude aggressive ones), remain unclear. The placement of a large number of offensive weapons near the Belarusian border will require adequate response. As such, the following options can be considered:
- additional supply of ZRK S-300 from the stock of the Russian army;
- supply of “Su” fighters and “Su-34” bombers;
- permanent deployment at the one of the national army airbases of the Russian airborne early warning planes “A-50”.
The possibility of supply of S-400 complexes is currently remote due to the low rate of their production for the Russian army and the need for primary coverage from the air strikes against the strategic targets in Russia in the first place – the places of the Strategic Rocket Forces destination in the European part of Russia.
Belarus authorities may decide to create a storage (base) of the Russian weapons, supply of which to Belarus is banned under the international treaties. In the first place these weapons would include cruise missiles and R-37, KS-172 missiles. The base staff can consist of unarmed Russian technicians. The protection of the base should be provided by Belarus. In parallel, it is necessary to carry out the training of Belarusian soldiers, so that they could act, if necessary, as operators of the stored weapons.
The presence on the territory of a neighboring state of a significant number of offensive weapons puts the question before the military-political leadership about the forming of a full-strength “long arm”. However, due to the financial crisis and the continuing conflict with Russia, all of the above response options are theoretical, it is unlikely that in the foreseeable future Belarus shall be able to take adequate for the threat preventive measures.
Ihar Azarenka. There is new information about the ex-commander of the Air Force and Air Defense Ihar Azarenka. Currently, he is released in his own custody. In a criminal case against the General a preliminary investigation proceeds, although on January 26, 2011 the Minister of Internal Affairs Anatoly Kuleshov said that the evidence in the case against Ihar Azarenka is sufficient and in the near future the criminal case would be transferred to the prosecutor for the referral to court.
The release indicates a weak evidence base and confirms our version that the main purpose of the criminal case was to discredit a military commander. This is a demonstration of a nearly unlimited power and capabilities of the current Minister of Defense Yury Zhadobin. In light of the systemic crisis facing Belarus authorities, the imbalance of the decision-making mechanism, the presence of the opposition sentiment among the high-ranking nomenklatura, it is not desirable to concentrate such a vast amount of information and capabilities in the hands of one commander, even if now there is no doubt about his reliability.
MILEX - 2011. The Belarus authorities are satisfied with the results of the exhibition MILEX - 2011, although the specific results were not reported. Interesting is the fact that almost immediately after the event the military delegation from Jordan visited Belarus. Although the details of the negotiations were not reported for obvious reasons, the most likely areas of cooperation can be the upgrading of armor and artillery systems, the production of the unmanned aircraft systems and the training of special operations forces. In our opinion, these areas are of the most concern for Jordan due to the neighboring Israel and the general growth of tension in the region.
In general, foreign consumers may be interested in the 927th center for training and use of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV) in terms of training the relevant specialists. A major shortcoming is the lack of the strike UAV in the Belarusian Army.
This material originally appeared in Russian on Belarusian Security Blog, which is operated by a group of young professionals in Belarus analyzing political, economic and security issues in Belarus.