[this column was written for the Unz Review]
The past week has been quite intense in Russia – lots of interesting developments took place, and today I will mention three:
- Putin wrote a very interesting essay on the history of Russia and the Ukraine, which he followed up with a very interesting interview.
- Russia just concluded final tests for truly formidable weapons systems like the S-500 and the Mach 8 hypersonic missile Zircon.
- In its yearly aviation salon MAKS, Russia has just presented a 5th generation, single engine light multi-functional fighter the Su-75 “Checkmate” (shown here)
These are all truly huge developments for Russia which we need to look into separately.
Putin’s history of Russia and the Ukraine
First, I highly recommend that you take the time to read the full article here and the full interview here (there is no point for me to use the space here to pepper you with excerpts), especially if you are not well-acquainted with Russian history or live in Zone A. Furthermore, being the “Putin groupie and fanboy” which I so-notoriously am (guilty as charged!), I won’t surprise anybody by saying that I agree with almost every word Putin wrote or spoke. And, frankly, all the facts Putin lists are really common knowledge for most people (unless they have been brainwashed by US/Ukronazi propaganda) and there is really no point for me to repeat “yes, this is true” and “yes, he is right” over and over again.
So all I propose to do next is to just to add a few comments of mine about this article+interview (I will assume that readers will have read them both; if not, I suggest completely skipping this section),
- First, as I just said, there is absolutely nothing new in this article for educated people. But that is not Putin’s target audience anyway. Putin’s target audience are the younger generations (in the Ukraine, the West and even, alas, Russia proper!) who know very little, if anything, about history. And while this is also true of Russia, this is especially true in the Ukraine where people have been massively brainwashed since 1917 (as Putin explains this very well in his article).
- The real reason why this article caused such a stir in Russia and *total* hysterics amongst the Ukronazi nutcases (who, again, are now predicting an imminent Russian invasion, what else?) is that while these facts were known for decades, but considered very politically incorrect to mention them lest the Ukrainians get offended: from the late 80s and until now, the Ukronazis taught a very different version of history, which includes coming from the Sumerian civilization, building the pyramids in Egypt, digging the Black Sea, founding the ancient Aryan civilization, etc. Even more crucially, the official Ukronazi narrative claims that Russians and Ukrainians are completely different people (Ukies are true, pure, Aryans while Russians are Ugro-Altaic Mongols). So what Putin did with this article is simply to (finally!) proclaim that the emperor is naked and the clueless Ukies ignorant of their own history.
- This article also marks a rather dramatic change of tone from the Kremlin. In the past the Kremlin always tried to maintain a polite and respectful attitude towards the Ukies and their Wakanda-like delusions about history. Now this is over, Russia has finally and openly decided to declare to the Ukies (and the rest of the world!) that their founding myths are based on precious *nothing* and that Russia is done treating this utter nonsense as if it has any factual basis in the adult world.
I would like to offer one more commentary on Putin’s statements.
I believe that there has been a “war of words” waged by the Ukrainian nationalists against the Russians for many decades (I remember listening to the Ukie service of RL/RFE and I was always amazed at the completely open hatred – bordering on racist bigotry – of the Ukie propaganda; even when compared to all the other national minority services of RL/RFE which, I assure you, included a lot of bone fide nutcases in many of its services) and the Russian side was mostly quiet and demure lest the Ukies get offended. That is now over, in this war of words Russia will now use her verbal ammunition to debunk the Ukronazi pseudo-historical fairy tales. I very much welcome that!
Finally, I believe that the Kremlin is already working on “post-Ze” options. Frankly, this also comes not a second too soon! The Ukraine has been in free fall for years already, but even by Ukie standards the chaos and tensions which are taking place now have grown into full scale hysterics which is both truly amazing and very concerning (I will spare you all the details now, I have enough such articles already posted, but I will probably have to revisit this slow agony in the near future). I get the feeling that the Kremlin expects a truly bona fide Nazis leader to come to power by one way or another after “Ze” (Note: while “Ze” did end up catering to the Ukronazis, he himself is most definitely not “the real thing” – he only pretends). Maybe a “President Avakov” next (no Nazi either, by the way, just a man very skilled at using Nazis)?
The bottom line is this: the final collapse of the Ukraine is what the Kremlin is now openly waiting for next. And even if “Biden” wants to force “Ze” to abide by the Minsk Agreements, this will mean the end for “Ze” and a return to full/total power of the Ukronazis. Why? There are roughly three forces in the Ukraine right now, at least apparently:
- The regime in power (“Ze” and his gang)
- The opposition (mostly the OPZZh party)
- The real hardcore Nazis (you can think of them as the Ukie version of the Hutu “Interahamwe” in Rwanda
The regime is in deep agony and simply not viable.
The opposition is divided, often politically discredited and lacks both a clear leader and a clear vision.
In sharp contrast, the Ukronazis gang is small, but very well organized, very well funded and very well led (most of the “street level” Ukronazi leaders are imbeciles like Liashko or, better, Tiagnibok, but Avakov is no idiot, he is good at working with his US patrons and with the truly crazy folks like Andrei Biletskii or Aleksei Danilov).
True, in the long term the political prospects of the opposition look pretty good, as they have a few (very few?) pretty sharp leaders, and their program recommends better relations with Russia, something truly vital (literally!) for the Ukraine. But I don’t see the opposition having the strength to take on the Ukronazis just yet: first “Ze” needs to go, the Ukronazis need to seize full control of power again, and then come up with some truly crazy shit (that all Nazis are good for, as history has shown) which will break-up the Ukraine into various successor states. Only at that point will the current opposition have good political chances in the eastern and southern parts of the Ukraine. But the current situation is too complex and too fluid to take anybody’s guesses and predictions too seriously. Only time will truly show.
The S-500 and Zircon weapons systems have now been fully tested
The quick way to summarize this development is to say that both the S-500 and the Zircon have no comparable competitors anywhere in the world, not even vaguely comparable ones. Both the S-500 and the Zircon missiles are way, waaaay ahead of any other weapons system in their categories. Even better, the Empire has nothing, and really I mean absolutely nothing, it could oppose to either one of these weapons systems. And with not too much hyperbole, it would be fair to say that, once fully deployed, the S-500 will make most of the US/NATO aviation and tactical/operational and even some strategic missiles completely obsolete. As for the Zircon, it does the same thing to the USN’s surface fleet. To say that this is huge would be an understatement, especially since US/NATO force planners must now decide what to do about this, and that is no small task considering that is now becoming obvious that US/NATO force planners made some truly major mistakes in their assumptions about what the modern 21st century battlefield will really look like. Force planning deals with many immense technological and bureaucratic inertia and to “simply change course” is not “simple” at all: it typically takes decades!
I have no doubt that the US MIC propaganda machine will now talk a lot about US ‘hypersonic’ weapons and about 6th generation super-dooper aircraft. But let’s be honest here: the US hypersonic weapons program is in its infancy (at best) and is struggling. As for the USAF, it will take it many years to at least reduce the long list of major problems of the F-35, and even that is not a real solution: while I am sure that, given enough time, the USAF/USN will find a way to use this aircraft effectively (at least against non-peer adversaries), the only real solution to this ugly mess is to not only quickly revive the F-15 (in its F-15X form, which looks promising), but also to embark on the development of a 5++ generation aircraft while at the same time working on a real, truly 6th gen, successor (in the good sense of the word) for the F-35. This being said, if the F-35 proves anything, it is that the Pentagon and the US MIC are corrupt beyond what any words could express (from a purely corruption point of view the F-35 was a stunning success!) and this begs the question: can these guys even develop a halfway decent or even a good aircraft?! Or has the country which developed the superb F-16, A-10, 747 or the F-15 lost its ability to produce truly superb aircraft? I don’t know.
What do you think?
The brand new 5th generation single-engine Su-75 “Checkmate”
This is really THE news of the day! This is nothing short of earth-shattering. Let’s begin with a list of factoids I tried to collect from different sources: (since all this info was only unveiled a few hours ago, there might still be mistakes, so caveat emptor!)
- Name: Sukhoi Su-75 “Checkmate”
- High commonality with Su-57
- Single engine (crucial!)
- 3D thrust vectoring of the engine
- Top speed 2400 km/h (about 1500mph or 1300 knots or just under Mach 2)
- Thrust vectoring engines
- 30M dollars typical cost
- 5,5 years development only (using supercomputers)
- 1500km combat range
- STOL (shorter than Su-57’s about 400m)
- Max load: 7.5 tons
- Service Ceiling just under 17km
- Max load: 8+ G
- Ferry range 3000km+ (on internal fuel)
- Low RCS
- Advanced avionics and all glass cockpit
- The Belka N036 AFAR antenna with a detection range of 350-400km
- Long, medium and short range weapons for any targets
- Can engage 6-8 targets (in air, land, water and air defenses) simultaneously
- Will feature the long-range 30P6 air to air missile (range: about 160km)
- AI support and guidance
- Five air-to-air missiles carried internally
- Onboard advanced EW defenses
- The Su-75 has a canon carried inside its internal sections
- The Su-75 can be configured as a single and double seater
- There will be a pilotless version of the Su-75 (automated and remote-controlled)
- The Su-75 has advanced datalinks allowing it to operate together with other aircraft or drones
- Supercruise (not sure? Probably only in a future engine)
- The aircraft is “open architecture” (so it can be adapted to specific needs)
- Sukhoi expects to sell about 300 Su-75 in the next 15 years or so
- The Su-75 can be adapted for naval carrier use
- The target clients are the both the Russian Aerospace Forces (RuASF) and foreign clients (but only export versions for foreign clients).
- Its first flight is scheduled for 2023 and adoption by the RuASF is, assuming a contract is confirmed, set for 2025.
- Price: 25-30 million dollars depending on specific requirements
What do I make of these characteristics? Here are some of my thoughts (keep in mind that while I did some work with the Swiss Air Force, I am not an aerospace engineer, so take all I say with at least a pound or two of salt and wait for real experts to pitch in!).
First, this is a much needed aircraft for Russia which currently does not have modern single engine combat aircraft. Currently, the “core” aircraft of the RuASF are all big twin engines: Su-30SM, Su-35, Su-34, .etc. Even the much smaller “F-16 counterpart”, the Mig-29, has two engines. Even the (comparatively) smaller MiG-35 is a twin engine. These are all superb aircraft, but a single-engine aircraft would be much cheaper, not only to purchase, but even more so to maintain.
Second, Russia’s main weakness when compared to the US/NATO is primarily quantitative: while they are much inferior, US/NATO aircraft are produced in huge numbers the Russian industrial base and finances cannot match, at least not by producing very advanced but also very expensive aircraft a la Su-35S. The RuASF needs many cheap but highly effective combat aircraft and the Su-75 might well be “the” dream machine for Russia.
Third, a single-engine 5th generation aircraft for about 30 million dollars is an extremely attractive option, especially with its open architecture. Especially when its only competitor is the truly pathetic F-35 (which is really not much of a 5th gen aircraft, at least for the foreseeable future (especially since it has fundamentally flawed core-design issues, read all about it here).
By the way, the Russians are officially denying that they wanted to make a “Russian response” to the F-35. They say that the F-35 and the Su-75 are in completely different categories and when you look at such parameters are speed, maneuverability, max load or, especially, price, you can see that the Russians are fundamentally correct: it’s not “just” that the Su-75 is a much superior aircraft, it is really in a completely different “punching weight” category.
Fourth, just like a truly effective air defense system requires different weapons systems all integrated into a single network and working together, so does tactical/operational aviation. These are the main categories the RuASF needs to fill: CAS aircraft (Su-25M), strike aircraft (Su-24M and Su-34), air superiority and interceptors (Su-30SM, Su-35S), advanced long-range interceptors (MiG-31BM) and a cheap, ubiquitous but very capable “dogfighter” for the frontline aviation which can deal with enemy aircraft while also supporting the ground forces: the Su-75. Russians did built some very good single fighters in the past, including the MiG-23 (criticized in the West, but loved by Russian pilots) and, arguably, the most successful fighter ever built, the MiG-21. So Russians know how to do that, they just have not done that in way too many years and the appearance of the Su-75 comes “not a second too late” for the Russian military which will finally have a truly “full-spectrum” of modern, indigenously built, combat aircraft.
Fifth, not only does the Su-75 have a lot of common systems with the Su-57, but it appears that the Russians are working on combining their long-range radars (MiG-31BM, Su-57 and A-50M) with combat drones (like the Orion and the large S-70) with either “silent” (non-radiating aircraft) and advanced, but still smaller and cheaper aircraft, like the Su-75. Combine that with the most advanced air defense network on the planet, and you will see why US/NATO advocates are severely butthurt by all this :-)
Here is a good image showing how similar the Su-75 and Su-57 are externally:
There were some speculations that the Russians were working on a successor for their Yak-141 VSTOL combat aircraft (which the US Americans tried to copy as a basis for their F-35, “improved upon” and, eventually, miserably failed), but the Russians have appeared to be content with “only” STOL capabilities. Considering the catastrophic failure of the F-35B (and the non-deployment of the Yak-141) might be the wiser choice. If the Su-75 ever makes it on a carrier of some kind, short catapult-assisted take-offs is probably the wiser solution.
One last thing: for the first time in decades the Russians have (finally!) managed to keep things really hush-hush and there were almost zero leaks about the Su-75, and most of those which did happen were carefully orchestrated by the Russian authorities. I am not talking about the mass media like Argumenty i Fakty or Popular Mechanics. Even the specialized press had only a few good guesses about what this “soon to be unveiled and totally new 5th gen fighter” would look like. There were a few partial photos, some drawings, a few partial photos, all augmented by educated guesses. Not only that, but there is still a *lot* we don’t know, including on some really important topics like the Su-75 radar and longest range air-to-air missiles. So we can conclude that the Russian counter-intelligence services have finally gotten a good grip on the security situation and are now capable of keeping secret that which needs to be kept secret. Again, this is a much needed and very positive development.
This has been a long and important week for Russia which, I think, illustrates a few important things:
- The Russians have clearly lost their very last illusions about the Nazi-occupied Ukraine and are now actively preparing the “post-Ze” period.
- Putin feels the popular pressure and is embarking on a PR campaign in preparation for the next elections.
- The Russian MIC is doing better than ever and the recent Russian high-tech successes show that Russia has gone into what they call a “high-quality separation” (качественный отрыв) from the West or Asia.
All in all, this is all good news.
PS: just for fun, here is the (a somewhat silly) video of the presentation of the Su-75 at MAKS 2021 (I note with some amusement that neither the BBC nor CNN did not mention this event by a single word, at least as far as I know at the time of writing this)