Despite Russia’s saber-rattling towards NATO allies and its aggressive intervention in the Syrian civil war, 2016 has seen the country do the unthinkable and cut its defence budget for the first time in decades.
Half of the country’s government revenues come from oil and gas exports , and its economy has taken a big hit since crude prices collapsed in 2014. Military spending fell by 5.6% in 2016 to £39.8 billion ($49.2 billion) from £42 billion ($51.5 billion) last year.
Despite that, Russia’s military spending as a percentage of its GDP continues to outstrip that of countries within NATO by a considerable distance. It currently spends 5.4% of its annual GDP on defence – the closest a NATO country comes by comparison is the United States, which spends just 3.3%.
But how does the modern Russian military stack up against the best that the Western Alliance has to offer?
Lets Take a look:
Russia’s new Armata battle tank is one of the world’s most advanced, with a 125mm cannon capable of firing 10 rounds per minute. It was showcased in Moscow’s Victory parade in 2015, and went into mass production this year. More than 2,000 will be in service by 2020.
Not all of NATO’s highly advanced equipment is American, though most is. Germany’s Leopard 2A7 battle tank, which recently came into service, is perhaps the world’s most well-regarded tank.
The 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV is Russia’s new showcase self-propelled artillery piece, which was also showcased at the parade in May. It has a 152mm gun turret with a range of up to 70 kilometers which fires 16 rounds per minute.
The United States’ M109A6 Paladin is one of NATO’s nearest equivalent weapons, with a 155mm cannon similar to the Koalitsiya-SV. It requires a six-man crew to operate the machine.
These new AK-12 Kalashnikov-built rifles are becoming standard-issue across the Russian military, gradually replacing a variety of previous models. It takes 5.45mm rounds, but can be converted to take 7.62mm rounds, like previous Kalashnikov designs.
Variants of the M16 rifle, which takes 5.56mm NATO rounds, have been standard issue for the US military since 1969. The M16A4, pictured below, is the service rifle of the US Marine Corps.
4. Fighter Jets:
Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 is the country’s most advanced fighter jet. After test flights five years ago, the planes were first deployed in January this year. They participated in Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria.
The F35 is NATO’s latest fifth generation fighter, and is coming into service for parts of the US military this year too. It’s slower than the Su-35, and with a shorter range.
5. Aircraft carriers: