Russian military to get ‘research units’ manned by contract servicemen

Russian military to get ‘research units’ manned by contract servicemen
The Russian Defense Ministry is considering the plan to create several units, engaged in research and development of new weapons and hardware, which are manned by professionals on a contract basis, a senior official has said.

Acting head of the ministry’s directorate for research and development and modern technologies, Roman Kordyukov, told Interfax news agency that the plan can be implemented before the end of this year in the ‘Era Technopolis’ – a special military facility that is now being created near the south Russian town of Anapa.

Kordyukov said that initially there will be four “science companies” but did not disclose the planned strength of these units or the spheres of research they will be engaged in. The Russian military set up the first “science companies” back in 2013, offering male students to join them instead of undertaking regular military service. By April this year there are 18 such units in various branches of the forces – from military medics to military command structures and space forces.

According to Defense Ministry reports, the experiment has been successful – members of the research units have already registered scores of technical innovations, written dozens of computer programs, and published hundreds of research papers in specialist magazines.

Kordyukov told Interfax that about a third of all young people who had undergone service in the research units later became professional scientists or technical specialists with the military. He emphasized that one of the main objectives of the project was to find and select the most talented candidates for such positions.

In July last year Russian National Guard or Rosgvardia – the new agency set up to replace the Interior Ministry’s troops – announced plans to have special units to work on research and development in IT and weapons, as well as the promotion of the agency’s image in the media.

According to the plan, Rosgvardia’s science companies will be manned jointly by conscripts and professional servicemen. Russia currently still has universal conscription but is undergoing the transition to professional military forces.

The duration of the obligatory service has been cut from two years to one and the pay and conditions for contract servicemen has been seriously improved.  As a result, in April 2015, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told reporters that for the first time in Russian history, the number of contract servicemen had exceeded the number of conscripts – 300,000 to 276,000.

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