* The Economist notes that “money and reform have given Russia armed forces it can use.” There are serious remaining weaknesses, and Russia may not sustain this forever, but with more than 20% of public spending dedicated to defense, the current modernization effort is real and in stark contrast with Western Europe’s sagging investments.
* The Russian Air Force says it will start receiving PAK DAs, its next generation long-range bombers, in 2023, after a maiden flight in 2019. Standard caveats about dates associated with development programs apply.
* The same caveat applies to claims by the chief executive of Tactical Missiles Corporation says a modified missile for use on Russia’s 5th-gen fighters should be ready by 2016, with hypersonic missiles coming by 2020.
* The Havana Times prints one Cuban’s view of the recent Cuban-Russian security agreement: “We are constantly demanding the lifting of the blockade, and now we throw everything to the fire.”
* As Eastern European countries fret about Russia renewed assertiveness near their borders, the White House released an overview of NATO and bilateral reassurance measures in Romania.
Getting in Shape for the Show
* Textron Airland is making some changes to its Scorpion light attack jet ahead of schedule, in order to show it at Farnborough this year. They offer a list of “10 innovation insights” from their experience building the privately-funded aircraft. Aside from the number of contractors involved, the lessons aren’t new. They just aren’t applied often enough.
Yet Another Fuel Scam
* US Army soldier Albert Kelly III was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in stealing fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno in Afghanistan, as well as the restitution of $100K for the 25,000 gallons he diverted.
Memorial Day 2014
Bob Gates on Russia, China
* Former US Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert Gates was hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations to discussed his career. He discussed how the West underestimates the humiliation felt by Russians after the Russian empire, then the USSR, collapsed. Gates denounced China and France for ongoing industrial espionage while bemoaning that he couldn’t get the US Department of Commerce interested in some form of reciprocation to the benefit of US businesses.
* Bob Gates also highlighted that while some aggressive actions taken by the PLA prior of 2011 could be interpreted as their initiative independently from then President Hu, “President Xi is clearly in charge and these things are clearly being done with his approval.” Video below: