Russian Army has gross problems with communications

The military communication system in the Russian army is still at a low level.
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In wide application until 2009, the Ministry of Defense of Russia did not have a modern digital fixed network that would link military authorities. Suffice it to recall the compulsion of Georgia to peace in August 2008, when Russian generals gave the troops to the team via a mobile phone. On an analog communication system left over from Soviet times, an attempt to compete with a likely adversary who possesses the latest broadband technologies would look strange.
Has the situation changed? To create a network that in a protected mode would provide the army and navy with modern services, a special program was written. The work was moving at a rapid pace, from a sheet. Such rush facilitated the emergence of random suppliers, why this market was flooded with diverse, sometimes questionable solutions and products, most of which do not even have documentation. Many of them were of foreign origin.

The development of complex telecommunications equipment is carried out in a wide, often international, cooperation, with many co-executors. Produce such equipment on its own - according to modern standards, nonsense. Therefore, in order to ensure its technological independence, it is sufficient to localize the development and production of key radio-electronic components and diversify supplies from outside. It should be borne in mind that Americans today have penetrated not only directly into the product, but also in the whole technological chain of its creation - from computer-aided design systems to manufacturing and measuring equipment. In each cycle, they have their own key elements, without which the final product is impossible.

In doing so, they actively use the so-called backdoors - algorithm defects, which are intentionally built in by the developers and allow you to get secret access to data or remote control of the computer. It's very difficult to get rid of the "control chip". Even alternative developers of the same processors from South-East Asia, Israel or European countries often use licensed IP-blocks from the United States. Russians generally sit on a technological needle.

Network centrism and datacentrism

Today, the complex equipment of military communications networks is built primarily on Russian models, which showed themselves perfectly, in particular, in the Crimea, which, by virtue of a combination of circumstances, became a pilot region for the introduction of advanced domestic technical solutions. In the meantime, new tasks are emerging - the armies are preparing for network-centric wars.

This term is interpreted by experts in different ways. The foundation of such a war is a powerful and reliable information and telecommunications network that unites all types and branches of the armed forces for conducting joint military operations. Therefore, the potential adversary pays special attention to the development of communication and management systems, strives to unify the technologies of data transmission and processing as much as possible. We are far from centrally centrism, military communicators say. Till now in our Armed forces the trunk principle of the organization of telecommunications prevails. In the terrestrial, air, sea and space echelons, various technologies and de-unified communications facilities are still used. Even stationary and field components of the ground level are not really interconnected, starting from network protocols and ending with connecting cable connectors.

In high-tech armies of the world, network centrism is present practically in all echelons of the communication system. Any combat unit on the battlefield, having access to the network, becomes a fully connected element that can work not only as a source or consumer of information, but also as a communication and relay node for other participants in the operation. His capabilities are limited only to the role that his command determines in a particular period of time. At the same time, the control system allows to change the composition and structure of the network instantaneously in an automated mode, reassign roles depending on the rapidly changing operational situation.

The term "network centrism" appeared in the 90s. Defense agency of information systems DISA has long designated the next step of this concept - datacentrism (in fact - work with data). If network centrism only involves the creation of a fully connected network structure to ensure that each element is connected to the battlefield at any time and in any place, then datacentrism implies that all elements are already de facto linked, and work begins directly with data sets in the processing centers : How and in what volume to provide information, so that it is as effective and understandable to the decision-maker as possible and safe.

On the shards of the Soviet system

We lag behind the potential enemy for a whole range of reasons. Once upon a time, our defense industry worked closely with military science and military authorities. The industry saw what the military needs, those - what the industry is capable of, what production and technological capabilities it has. And military and applied science clearly represented where to go. Then all the established ties collapsed, each taking up his own, local, instead of a common task. And then there is a radical change of technologies, yes, not one. Against the background of the loss of such an important institution as the general and chief designers, the outflow of competencies, sometimes the destructive impact of the market, the lack of transparency and the absence of right regulation, the whole system of reproduction of new concepts and technologies has degraded.

The most surprising thing is that Russian military communications are still partially clinging to fragments of the old system, continuing to live with old analogue materials in the new digital world. That's why the problem. Since then the connection could be built only on analog technologies, and each of the arms had its own specificity, they all ordered their own unique subsystems for information transfer. Under them, cooperations were created for the manufacture of everything - up to the last screw. For example, the research institute working for the pilots was not always among the co-executors of seamen. As a result, a huge range of communication media was born, which rarely docked among themselves. It is not for nothing that repairmen are amazed at the number of types of equipment performing the same functions.

Over the past 20 years, the level of technology has changed so much that there are completely different possibilities for the unification and miniaturization of equipment. However, the domestic industry with a creak departs from traditional models of subsistence economy and only tries to develop cooperation on the principles of deep specialization. Many businesses prefer to live the old fashioned way. Lion's share of them simply duplicate each other, developing the same equipment. All this repeatedly pays the budget. And the communication system of the Armed Forces is too big an organism to immediately solve the problem of transition to a new quality.


I remember an anecdote of the Soviet era. After the exercises, the command declares the assessments: five pilots, three locators, and no signalers to punish the signalers. This was the highest score for the signalmen. They themselves believe that such an assessment will be put on for a long time. There is no connection - there is no management. So, the signalman failed everyone.

Combat operations using fire weapons have long since shifted from large-scale wars fronts to local ones, and the global confrontation has shifted to network technologies and is associated with such concepts as military Internet, intelligence, radio reconnaissance and electronic warfare. However, the desire for innovation kills the pricing system in the defense industry. Over the past few years, the domestic defense industry has been creating new models of telecommunications equipment with improved TTX, high level of unification and lower cost. This was won by the Armed Forces, but the company lost because, as a result of lower prices for products, it became less profitable. In addition, the regulatory framework sometimes becomes an insurmountable obstacle to the introduction of promising technologies: it was created at a time when such technologies were not yet available. The industry is working on documents 20 years ago. Another problem is the lack of systematically thinking professionals with high qualifications. Now their units, and this is clearly not enough to build an effective management system.