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Putin says Russia will spend over $13 billion on modernizing weapons factories
MOSCOW (AP) ' Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday that the government will spend over $13 billion in the next three years on revamping the nation's aging defense plants.
Putin told Friday's government meeting that 1,700 weapons factories need to be radically modernized in what he described as a "colossal work."
Putin said the government will earmark 400 billion rubles ($13.7 billon or euro10.2 billion) for modernization of military industries over the next three years, adding that the upgrade is essential for fulfilling an ambitious program of new weapons purchases.
"If we want to have weapons that answer the demands of today's combat, ... we need to revamp the military industrial complex," he said.
Russia plans to spend the total of 20 trillion rubles (about $620 billion or euro460 billion) on new weapons by 2020.
Putin said in Thursday's speech to investors that the weapons modernization program doesn't mean that Russia wants to engage in militarization, arguing that the country must replace old Soviet-built weapons that are approaching the end of their service lifetime.
Russia's arms makers have faced harsh government criticism for failing to meet weapons orders. Analysts blame corruption, aging equipment and broken links between subcontractors.
The pitiful state of Russian arms industries has been named as the main reason behind a string of test failures that have dogged the development of Russia's latest ballistic missile, the Bulava, which is intended for the latest generation of Russia's nuclear submarines. It has remained unclear when the missile could enter service.
The development of Russia's first stealth fighter, intended to match the latest U.S. design, has also dragged on slowly. The Sukhoi T-50 made its maiden flight in January 2010, about two decades after the U.S. F-22 Raptor, which it closely resembles. The new Russian fighter still lacks new engines and state-of-the art equipment, and its serial production is only expected to begin in 2015 at the most optimistic forecast.
The Defense Ministry also has harshly criticized Russian arms makers for hiking prices and failing to explain reasons behind the increase. Military officials said that some of the weapons offered by the nation's arms industries are a slightly revamped versions of the old Soviet designs.
Facing a crisis of its defense industries, the Defense Ministry went shopping abroad for weapons. Earlier this year, Russia has signed a euro1 billion contract to buy two French warships. The country also has bought Israeli drones, Italian armored vehicles, French military electronics and other gear.