Moscow: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russia needs to replace its Soviet-built arsenals with modern weapons to counter new evolving threats.
Putin, who is running to reclaim the presidency in March 04 election, laid out his vision of military modernisation in an article published on Monday in the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
Putin said that the government plans on spending about 23 trillion roubles (about USD 770 billion) over the next decade to purchase more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles, more than 600 combat aircraft, dozens of submarines and other Navy vessels and thousands of armoured vehicles.
"Within the next decade, the armed forces will receive more than 400 modern ground- and sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, eight ballistic missile submarines, about 20 general purpose attack submarines, over 50 surface ships and some 100 military-purpose spacecraft," Putin wrote in a new article for the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily.
He said the number will also include "over 600 modern aircraft, including fifth-generation fighters, more than a thousand helicopters, 28 regimental sets of S-400 (SA-21 Growler) surface-to-air missile systems, 38 division sets of Vityaz air defence systems, 10 brigade sets of Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) tactical missile systems, more than 2,300 modern tanks, some 2,000 self-propelled artillery systems and guns, as well as more than 17,000 military vehicles".
He said that Russia will respond to the planned US missile shield by developing weapons capable of penetrating it, adding that "there can`t be too much patriotism" on the issue.
This is Putin`s sixth article outlining the points of his election programme in Russian media. The previous articles focused on general and economic issues, ethnic problems, democratic development and social policy.
Putin served two terms as Russia`s president between 2000 and 2008, but the Constitution barred him from standing for a third consecutive term. He became Prime Minister after his handpicked successor, Dmitry Medvedev, was elected president.
Russia will hold Presidential Elections on March 04. Putin, from the governing United Russia party, is the frontrunner in this year`s election campaign. His closest rival is Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party. Other contenders are Liberal Democrat leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov and independent billionaire candidate Mikhail Prokhorov.
(With Agencies’ inputs)