Russia Wants a Darpa Like Agency

Russian industry and defense leaders announced plans last week to
bankroll the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the
Defense Industry. Russia’s newly re-coronated president, Vladimir Putin,
has already sent a bill to parliament to authorize the agency, which
will be tasked with keeping track of projects that “can ensure Russian
superiority in defense technology,” according to news service RIA
Novosti.

One possible location is near the Gromov Flight Research Institute — an
experimental aircraft test base — to Moscow’s southeast. The future
site, though, may also resemble the Skolkovo Innovation Center, a sort
of Silicon Valley for Russia’s high-tech companies located on the city’s
opposite end. But instead of focusing on civilian IT and biotech like
at Skolkovo, the companies near Gromov would take charge of “all
high-risk and fundamental research projects in the military-industrial
complex,” Dmitry Rogozin, chief of Russia’s defense industry, said.

Basically, Russia wants to modernize, and needs its own far-out research
department to do it. Its military is getting old and risks becoming
dependent on other  countries. It’s also a part of a
larger Russian push for more military tech. And there’s no telling what
projects the agency could come up with. Perhaps the agency, when open
for business, can take on the task of controlling our minds and
constructing robots that will keep the human brain alive forever.


 

It’s also necessary if Russia is serious about moving forward on plans
to build advanced drones and new long-range bombers. Russia has a
stealthy new fighter, the PAK FA (or T-50), but it probably doesn’t have
the radar, avionics and other advanced technology like the F-22. Russia
is interested in making directed energy weapons, like the Pentagon’s
Active Denial System, while at the same time being more willing to use
them to zap crowds. There are plans to upgrade submarines and
stealth-killing radars.

There is also competition from China, which is boosting its defense
budget and has its own Darpa-like tech programs. China has a stealth
fighter of its own: the J-20. China’s navy may not be alarming, but its
missiles are increasingly lethal, and Beijing is catching up in space.

Another problem is that Russia has traditionally built its military
around quantity, not quality. It’s been slow to modernize, and the
civilian sector has historically been left out, nor did it compete for
contracts. That’s changed, but scattered private firms without oversight
can also bog down development.

Russia’s missile-defense-dodging Bulava ballistic missile was prone to
delays and test failures during development. Officials blamed the
hundreds of subcontractors supplying parts, with varying degrees of
quality. Russian defense subcontractors are also prone to duplicating
work because Russia has no centralized database to track research
projects.