Arms modernization will remain a priority
By Andrei Parotnikau
The Belarusian Army is unlikely to see major rearmament in the future due to financial restrictions. Hence, in terms of military technology, harnessing existing weapons and equipment would be a priority.
On July 10th, 2020, the media reported about the first tests of modernized 9M114MB missile for the Sturm-S anti-tank complex, which was put into service in 1979. The result of the modernization was the reduced weight of the missile, increased flight range, and changes in the missile control unit. That said, Russia has developed a new 9M120 Ataka missile in 1996 purported for use in the Sturm-S weapon system.
In May 2020, BSVT - New Technologies company announced that in 2019 - early 2020, it completed repairs of 140 R-27 missiles. The export value of one missile is about USD 650k, the cost of repairs is circa USD 7k. In addition to the R-27, BSVT is in the process of repairing the R-60 and R-73 missiles, stocked in Belarus in hundreds.
At the MILEX-2019, International Exhibition of Arms and Military Equipment, the TRIO anti-aircraft missile system (SAM) was presented, which integrated Soviet weapons: the 9K35 Strela-10 short-range anti-aircraft missile combat vehicle (in service since 1976) and self-propelled anti-aircraft gun ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" (in service since 1964).
Meanwhile, according to the Finance Ministry, state budget proceeds dropped by more than 40% in May. The announced increase in pensions, despite its meager size, will require an increase in the financing of the Social Security Fund. Amid dwindling public funds and authorities’ populist promises to raise pay, budget expenditures will require a serious revision.
To retain the technical capacities of the army at a proper level, Belarus’ only reasonable strategy would be to use the modernization potential of existing weapons and equipment to the maximum extent. Unless the economy resumes growth or real threats to national security emerge, fundamental improvements in the funding of the national defense sector are unlikely. In this regard, maximum self-reliance plans in terms of arms production would be implemented taking into account export prospects for such products and the import substitution requirement.