Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (UTC)
Russian: Вооружённые Си́лы Росси́йской Федера́ции.

After the dismantling of the USSR, the forces stationed on the former Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the military forces of the new Russian Federation (some of the forces stationed in other former soviet republics also came under Russian control, but usually this was not the case).

USSR’s military power was impressive, and although westerners usually claim they would have won in a direct conflict (which excluded nuclear war), the fact is that no one knows for sure who would have one. Each army had its weaknesses and strengths and we should just be glad such a conflict never took place.

The Russian Forces are undergoing some modernization, with new equipment being introduced and new technologies being developed. Some of the world’s most advanced pieces of military hardware have been developed by Russia. However, most of its army is still at the 1970s level and new equipment has been introduced only on a very limited scale, too small to make a difference. Even so, the Soviet military technology of the 70s is still effective and should be considered a credible threat in any direct military conflict.

Most of the money for new technologies came from foreigner buyers, its main partner is China (there are also some joint Research & Development agreements between the two. The Sukhoi Aircraft manufacturer is actually making profits from exports, if Russian military was to be its main buyer, it will probably be in deep financial problems. The Russian T-90 tank, although has been produced on a small scale for Russian forces, India has order more than 1000 units.

Russia’s Armed Forces are confronted with a serious lack of funds. For example Russian pilots receive only 10% of the American pilots training hours. In addition, human life seems less important, as a result, there has been little research into helmet protection or armour for soldiers.

The current Russian military expenditure is about 5% of its GDP.

Even so, under President Putin, Russia has started to rebuild its military forces and to look for ways of modernizing and replacing its equipment. As a result, by 2010 we should see new, very modern equipment replacing the old soviet one.

These are some rough numbers regarding Russia’s Armed Forces:

Army Forces:

400,000 active manpower

More the 22,000 tanks approximately composed of:
– 278 T-90
– 4500 T-80
– 9950 T-72
– 4700 T64 and T62
– 1200 T-55

2,150 Reconnaissance Vehicles and Light Tanks
26,000 APCs and Infantry Fighting Vehicles
10,500 Self-Propelled Artillery and MLRs (multiple rocket lunchers)
19,000 other artilery pieces

Source: , more info can be found on and

Half of the Ground Force’s tanks are composed of T-72s and T-80s Main Battle Tanks (both entered service in the 70s). Although at their time they posed a powerful threat to the Western world, now they lag behind modern US and European tanks.

Russia has been developing a new generation of tanks, the T-90 and the T-95. The T-90, although modern and with some good capabilities, has only been produced in small numbers. Apparently, the T-90 is just an intermediary design between the older generation of tanks (T-72, T-80) and the T-95. The T-95 project has been kept secret by Russia; therefore, there is little information on it.

There are also about 6000 aging T-64, T-62 and T-55, which will probably be scrapped considering that these models are almost 50 years old.

Russian Tanks:

Russia also has some modern mobile artillery pieces and anti-aircraft vehicles. The S-400 anti-aircraft vehicle is claimed to be the best in the world, but again the bulk of the forces dates back to the 70s.

The APCs (Armoured Personal Carriers) are quite new dating from the 80s and 90s

Air Forces:

– 1390 Fighter Aircraft
– 990 Ground Attack Aircraft (Fighter-Bombers)
– 255 Reconnaissance Aircraft
– 1390 Transport Aircraft
– Around 500 Helicopters

The Fighter Jets are mostly composed of Mig-29, Mig-31 and Su-27 (almost a half are Mig-29 and Su-27, Russian equivalents of F-16). They all first entered service around the mid 70s and 80s. In 2002 the Su-47 was officially introduced and mass production of a seriously stripped down, cheaper version is expected to start before 2010. The Su-47 is currently considered the best fighter jet in the world, outmanoeuvring the F-22 and the Eurofighter Typhoon, however it is only a technology demonstrator.

The Sukhoi Su-50 (codenamed T-50) is expected to be the fifth generation of combat aircraft. This May, Russia announced that 2008 will see its maiden flight. No one knows for sure its specifications, but its expected to be a state of the art aircraft incorporating new technologies, especially from Su-47. It is intended to replace the Su-27 and the Mig-29 in a sort of response to USA’s Joint Strike Fighter and F-22 (USA’s new generation of combat aircraft).

Separetly, Russia has its 37th Strategic Air Army / Long Range Aviation:
– 535 Bombers
– 130 Reconnaissance Aircraft

Most of the Russian bombers are Su-24 (comparable to the F-14), the rest of the long range bombers are quite old models dating from the 50s and 60s. Impresive is the Tu-160 strategic bomber developed in the 70s, only 16 are in service.

Navy Forces:

– 1 Aircraft Carrier
– 5 Cruisers
– 15 Destroyers
– 15 Frigates
– 55 Corvettes (Patrol Ships)
– 95 Patrol Craft
– More than 100 other type ships

– 12 Ballistic Missile Submarines
– 7 Cruise Missile Submarines
– 15 Nuclear Attack Submarines
– 5 Other Nuclear Submarines for special operations
– 18 Conventional Attack Submarines

– 45 Tu-22M (bomber)
– 110 Ground Attack Aircraft (Su-24, Su-27)

The surface fleet was mostly built in the 80s, so it is not very old. Russia is currently bulding a new generation of nuclear submarines while also modernizing the existing ones. This April, the first nuclear ballistic submarine of a new generation set sail. It is believed to be very stealthy, capable of easily avoiding NATO’s submarine detection systems.

Strategic/Other Forces:

At the beginning of 2007, the Russian strategic forces included 741 strategic delivery platforms, which can carry up to 3281 nuclear warheads. The Strategic Rocket Forces have 489 operational missile systems that include missiles that can carry 1788 warheads. The Russian strategic fleet includes 12 strategic missile submarines. Their missiles can carry 609 nuclear warheads. –

This gives a total number of nuclear warheads of about 5,200-5,700 (sources vary).

In the field of cybernetic warfare, little is known about Russia’s capabilities, just that they have been able to cripple a countries informatic system if necessary. It is important to note that Russian hackers are among the best in the world.


When I say the model dates from the 50s or 60s, its just the design and the technology that dated from that period, doesn’t mean they were all build in that period. Some could have been well built in the 80s.

The article is subject to changes, please help me correct and make necessary updates.