The ratio of combat capabilities of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and NATO in

“How much will defeat by Russia in the European theatre of operations cost NATO in blood?”
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print 10 2 2021

The Democrats who won in the United States, backed by the American transnational financial lobby, clearly marked the line for the geopolitical colonisation of the European Union.

The achievement of the stated goal is inextricably linked with the maximum possible aggravation of Russian-European relations. Including on the basis of the exploitation of the Russophobia of the ruling elite of the post-Soviet states of Eastern Europe. In particular, the Baltic states and Poland, which voluntarily assumed the role of the "Eastern defensive wall against Russian geopolitical and military aggression".

Although the political leadership of the United States and the governments of European countries constantly talk about their love of peace, their military-political union, represented by the North Atlantic Alliance, demonstrates the intensification of attempts to strengthen and reformat the military bloc in the light of new geopolitical and economic conditions. Hence, there is a need for a comprehensive analysis of the results of comparison of the strength, material-technical equipment, nature of weapons and the overall combat effectiveness of the NATO bloc and the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

The issue raised has three fundamental components: the list of personnel and equipment; their actual condition (including in the future up to 2024-2027); as well as the political organisation and the degree of real combat capability of the army as a system of ensuring national security.

Separately, it should be noted that this study does not address the nuclear deterrence factor. Firstly, because both Russian and Western strategic studies, mathematical modelling, and practical command-and-staff exercises show the impossibility of conducting a limited nuclear war.

The assumption of the use of even single tactical warheads is invariant and extremely quickly shifts the standoff into a phase of exchanging global strategic nuclear strikes. After this, there will be no tangible winners left.

Secondly, the new NATO strategy of “flexible network-centric war” assumes the possibility of capturing the attacked enemy country without the use of nuclear weapons at all, only by conventional armed forces. In combination with “colour revolution” technology.

According to the composition list, in most parameters, Russia is noticeably inferior to the combined forces of NATO. The total number of the Alliance's armed forces is 2.23 million soldiers and officers. From these, 1.37 million are in the US Armed Forces and 0.86 million are in the remaining 28 countries, including Canada. The armed forces of the Russian Federation number 1.88 million people, including 920,000 military personnel, the rest are civilian personnel.

With a total reserve of 22,000 tanks, about 12,000 vehicles belong to the combat-ready and conditionally combat-ready (located in long-term storage in the warehouses of the mobilisation reserve) in Russia, while the tank fleet of the North Atlantic bloc exceeds 14,500 units, 9,600 of which are US tanks.

A similar pattern is observed in aviation. There are 480 attack helicopters of all types in Russia, and 1,330 in NATO. Attack aircraft in the Russian Federation - 1400, in NATO - 4664. All types of fighter jets are 750 and 4060, respectively.

NATO's naval superiority is overwhelming. For example, the Russian Navy has the only aircraft carrier, in NATO countries - 8 European members and 19 in the US Navy. Russia has about 60 submarines, and the enemy has 158.

The only area where Russia is superior to its opponents is the means of land reinforcement. The Russian Federation has 1.15 times more self-propelled artillery than NATO, 1.3 times more towed artillery, and 2.6 times more multiple rocket launchers.

However, a purely statistical comparison does not reflect the real state of things.

For example, the only tank available to the US Army, Marine Corps and National Guard is the M1 Abrams, the physical production of which was discontinued in the late 90s. During this period, 10,288 units were produced. All subsequent upgrades, compensation for combat and operational losses, as well as export deliveries were carried out only from this amount.

As a result, according to experts, the actual tank fleet of the US Armed Forces is formed by 775 outdated vehicles of the M1A1 SA model and 1609 modernised, and today considered the standard of tank power, vehicles of the M1A2 SEPv2 model, from which tanks upgraded in accordance with the latest SEPv3 program are taken. Another 3,500 early versions of the M1/M2 are in reserve storage and 447 vehicles are in the Marine Corps, as well as the National Guard.

Thus, in the active army of the United States there are about 300 “new" modifications, 1309 – "basic", and 1222 "old". A total of 2,831 vehicles are in service and 3,500 "old" ones are in storage.

With the tank fleet of NATO's European partners, the situation looks even more complicated. Firstly, with 8,800 tanks declared in the official documents of the Alliance, in reality Europe has 2,800 vehicles "on the list". Another 2,600 are registered for Turkey, but given the current geopolitical tensions, Ankara would rather start a war against its allies in the face of Greece and France than go to war with them against the Russian Federation.

Secondly, as follows from the NATO Logistics Support Directorate report, the actual level of technical serviceability of the European tank fleet has fallen below 42%. This means that from the 245 tanks of the Bundeswehr, only 102 are combat-ready.

There is also a third point. The total calculation of the NATO tank fleet takes into account the stocks of tanks of Eastern European countries that were previously part of the Warsaw Pact. As a result, for example, Romania has 943 T-72 tanks of the very first, long-outdated models.

At the same time, less than 80 are in operation in the active forces, the rest are preserved in reserve warehouses and do not have not only the necessary spare parts, but also trained crews. I.e., the tanks themselves physically exist, but they have no real combat value. This also includes 710 tanks in Bulgaria and more than 680 tanks in Poland.

In other words, all 28 European members of NATO in total have barely 600-700 really combat-ready vehicles in service and no more than 1,100 tanks can be taken from warehouses.

While the tank fleet of the Russian Federation has about 6,000 vehicles "in service", including 3,500 in the latest modifications, in terms of real combat effectiveness equal or even superior to the SEPv3 level. The T-14 Armata tank, which the likely enemy has no analogues of, is not taken into account in the calculation, since its deliveries to the troops have only just begun.

The picture is similar for other types of weapons, which leads to the following conclusion. In terms of armament and equipment, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation exceeds the probable enemy "in Europe" by 3-4 times, and by 1.6 times if you count together with the United States.

Including in aviation, where the list of most NATO aircraft is nullified by a low, 23-24% level of actual combat readiness. In addition, in a systemic sense, the Alliance command recognises that the current capabilities of the Russian army and general air defences reduce the combat level of the NATO Air Force by at least an order of magnitude.

In addition, as a result of more than 149 medium and 17 large exercises in the period from 2014 to 2020 inclusive, the NATO command found out that the limit of the Alliance's efficiency in the transfer of troops is a one-time deployment of no more than 12,000-14,000 personnel for at least 2 months. Moreover, before the build-up begins, it is necessary to take at least 3 more months for preparatory measures.

Plus, back in 2012-2014, it was found that the road network of Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and especially Poland, is completely unsuitable for the rapid movement of large masses of troops, military equipment and the necessary amount of supplies. To address this problem, by 2027, NATO has approved an extensive program to modernise the road network of Eastern European countries. However, as of August-October 2020, the degree of its implementation did not exceed 11%.

As a result, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander of the US Army, General Mark Milley, admitted that “recently, in the event of large-scale hostilities in Europe, Russia will have a significant fire superiority”.

As confirmed by the exercises Zapad 2019 and Kavkaz 2020, the armed forces of the Russian Federation, by the end of the 10th day since the beginning of a major conflict, are able to deploy an army of at least 50,000 soldiers and officers on any bridgehead, fully equipped with armoured vehicles, artillery, covered with air defences and provided with aviation.

During this time, the Alliance will have time to mobilise no more than two battalion tactical groups with a total number of 1200-1800 soldiers, without heavy weapons at all. And if to "give the Russians" 20-25 days, then, as the exercises in Belarus show, Russia is able to bring the number of active combat groups in the theatre of operations to 300,000-350,000.

Thus, in terms of tanks, at any point of combat contact, Russia will have a 7 to 1 advantage over NATO, in terms of infantry fighting vehicles - 5 to 1, in terms of attack helicopters - 5 to 1, in terms of barrel artillery - 4 to 1, in terms of jet-propelled systems - 16 to 1, in terms of short-range air defences - 24 to 1, in terms of long-range air defences - 17 to 1, and in terms of tactical and operational-tactical missiles - the superiority of the Russian Federation will be absolute.

Moreover, the simulation of a combat collision between an American (as well as German and British) mechanised brigade and a similar brigade of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the Baltic states leads the American generals to the conclusion that the "Russian side" is five to seven times superior in terms of firepower and overall combat effectiveness.

This problem was recognised as serious before, but until recently it was successfully solved by achieving an overwhelming air superiority of NATO aircraft.

However, the success achieved by Russia during 2010-2020 in the development of its air defence systems (S-400 complexes, new types of long-range high-speed anti-aircraft missiles for the S-300, Buk and Tor, as well as the combined short-range defence systems Pantsir), especially in combination with Russia's unconditional leadership in electronic warfare, made it impossible for the enemy to seize an advantage in the sky over the battlefield, at least in the next 10-15 years.

In addition to the problems at the tactical and operational level, NATO is faced with the fundamental problem of the direct political unwillingness of the majority of the Alliance members to take part in any large-scale military operations against Russia.

Although the bloc statistically includes 29 countries, the aggressive position of the United States is supported only by the extremely militarily weak three Baltic republics and a relatively strong Poland, but its capabilities for any serious strengthening of the American army in Europe are frankly insufficient.

Despite serious pressure from Washington and the Pentagon, the 28 “European" allies in the bloc agree, “in the event of war”, to put on the battlefield no more than 30,000 soldiers and officers, within no earlier than 30 days from the date of the relevant political decision by their governments, with a reserve of ammunition and other consumables for no more than 30 days of active combat operations.

Moreover, the mentioned program "30-30-30" was adopted in 2018 to replace the previous program of the “European Rapid Reaction Force”, which provided for the concentration of a combined group of 50,000 “bayonets” for 6-8 weeks. I.e., the actual forces of the “European allies” are clearly degraded.

However, the above should not serve as a reason for Russia to become complacent and weaken its efforts to improve its defence capability. NATO in general, and the United States first and foremost, do not give up trying to find an alternative way to achieve victory in a possible (and, at the level of the ruling American political elite, even desirable) direct war with the Russian Federation.

The search for a solution is carried out in the direction of developing a strategy of victory by "small forces", through the unleashing of hostilities at once on the largest territorial expanse, with the extremely widespread use of local riots within the framework of “colour revolution” technology.

Thus, it is supposed to impose on the Russian armed forces such a format and profile of war that they will not be tactically ready for, and where they would have to storm, capture and hold numerous cities with legally "their own population” and massively use heavy weapons, which for the Russian Federation will be unacceptable for political and moral-ethical reasons.

Thanks to this, the quantitative and technical superiority of the Russian Armed Forces over the NATO forces will be smeared with small splashes along the 400-500 km wide (approximately from the Russian Smolensk to the Polish Białystok) and 1100-1300 km long (from the Russian Kaliningrad to the Ukrainian Odessa) combat zone.

NATO planners proceed from the belief that it is possible to surpass the Russian army in terms of mobility in this space, aiming, even with smaller forces in general, to achieve overwhelming superiority over the Russian Armed Forces at certain points of local clashes. The development of such a strategy by the NATO headquarters began in the spring of 2019.

It is assumed that, faced with numerous, albeit relatively small on a particular scale, but very large number of defeats “in a common expanse of war”, Russia will be under a permanent threat of loss of trust in Russian society towards the state and the sharp rise in the unwillingness of the people to continue a war “that is already lost”. Further, this should lead to mass riots and, as a result, end with the overthrow of the “bad government of the Russian Federation”.

It is possible (and necessary) to block this strategy by combining an increase in the cohesion of Russian society at the political and idea-ideological-informational level with the further improvement of the combat effectiveness of the Russian armed forces.

The latter is achieved by solving two inter-related tasks.

Firstly, bringing the level of new weapons in their total number among the troops to 75-80%. At the end of 2020, this was achieved only in the Strategic Missile Forces (83%) and the Aerospace Forces (75%). In the Navy and the Airborne Forces, it was possible to increase it only to 63%, and on average for the Land Forces it is 50%. With the exception of the control and command facilities, where the indicator was increased to 67%.

The achieved result is certainly significant – in the mid-2000s, new weapons barely reached 20%, but within the framework of the above trend, it is still insufficient. Russia has managed to create new excellent models and systems, as well as to establish their mass production. Now it is necessary to focus on strict compliance with all the reference points of the State Armament Program.

Secondly, it is necessary to expand the scale and pace of the implementation of the Unified Tactical Management System, also known as "Sozvezdiye–M", among the troops. Thanks to the transfer of troops to the "digital battlefield" and the development of new capabilities of sub-units, divisions and headquarters opened up with its help, the prospect of a two-to three-fold increase in the practical effectiveness of the armed forces in battle becomes achievable.

Thus, it is possible to raise the level of the Russian Armed Forces’ combat capability to a state in which it will be obviously more than the amount of resources that NATO will be able to use in principle within the framework of a "global expanse of war using small forces". I.e., an attempt to implement such a strategy in practice will lose its practical meaning.

Of course, NATO over time will come up with something new to replace its strategy that has lost its relevance. In any case, they will try. But this will take at least 20-25 years, during which the national security of the Russian Federation will remain sufficiently secured.

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