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    November 6, 2015

    U.S vs. Russia: Military Spending difference, no big deal

    November 6th, 2015 - 

    Svyatoslav Knyazev for politrussia.com Translated for Fort Russ by Soviet Bear - 



    One of the key items in which the Russian army is put below the U.S. in various ratings is the size of the military budget. And the recently announced top countries with the biggest defense spending at first glance, concerns us even more. So do the Russians have cause for concerns about their safety due to the size of military budget?



    Judging by the infographic published by RIA Novosti (with reference to the IHS Jane's), Russian expenditure on military went down to fourth place in the world. Behind the US (569,3 billion), China (190,9 billion), UK (66,5 billion dollars). Russia - 53,2 billion. France with 52.7 billion is right behind us. Then with a relatively small margin follow India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany. Then there is a "gap", behind which are the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Australia, Italy. Then again the gap, and then Canada, UAE, Turkey, Israel, Taiwan, Spain, Algeria.

    Our lag from the US who called Russia one of the major "global threats" and give us serious consideration in their military doctrine, is more than ten times.

    Reaction to the published rating was immediate. Hurrah-patriots became even more nervous, the liberals were even more active in their gloating, Ukrainian nationalists were cheering and proud of the success of the United States. Before the fall of the ruble assessment of our military budget by international experts looked still more impressive, although the lag from the States was still massive.

    But is it such a big deal?

    Even just users of Internet forums are well aware that to compare budgets or salaries in different countries is simply meaningless without comparing the prices. The amount of money is not as important as quantity of goods and services that you can acquire with it!

    We know that in the U.S. real estate prices in New York and medical and utility bills prices are high. But what about more global issues - prices in the defense sector?

    Let's look at some eloquent examples. For example, the cost of pride of the American aircraft builders- F-22 Raptor - is, according to various sources estimates from 350 to 411 million dollars per unit. And that's not the most expensive aircraft. One B-2 Spirit bomber (taking R&D into account) costs U.S. taxpayers $ 2.1 billion dollars per unit, and without science - 1,157 billion dollars. Not cheap at all.

    And what about our aircraft?

    It is clear that the information is very approximate (because of the requirements of secrecy). But in General the cost of one T-50, for example, should not be more than $ 100 million - already 4 times cheaper than the "competitor". Moreover, the T-50 will be superior in practice, not only to F-35 but to F-22 as well.

    As for the multipurpose fighter of 4++ generation - the Su-35 now, according to the media, 48 of these jets are to enter service within the Russian Aerospace Force this year, their cost is about 100 billion rubles. Or about 2 billion rubles per unit. It is about 31,25 million dollars per aircraft. Please compare with the US costs.

    The cost of the "Armata" Tank, which now begins to claim the title of best tank in the world, is about 250 million rubles (less than $ 4 million at the current exchange rate). It is believed that this is almost 2 times cheaper than the famous "Abrams" in "maximum configuration". And at least 3 times cheaper than the French AMX-56 Leclerc.

    A similar trend is observed with most of the weapons. The cost of production of Russian weapons - is much lower than their Western counterparts.

    What is the cost of weapons? Let's talk about earnings of the military men.

    If we go by the dollar equivalent, an U.S. soldier beginner gets 1294 dollar salary (about 82 thousand rubles). A young American Lieutenant is payed over 4,000 dollars (about 260 thousand rubles). Turns out that the equivalent of the salary of the U.S. military is 4-5 times above the Russian payroll (if you do not take those who serve in the Polar North and in other special conditions). But will their earning vary by the same 4-5 times in terms of purchasing power?

    No way! We have already analyzed that the cost of living in the USA is way higher than in Russia. And the Americans win in living standards not because of higher wages (they are eaten by high prices), but due to the cheaper loans. And people attend the U.S. army not primarily for high salaries, but for the  social benefits - in the form of medical care, subsidized education, good credit conditions and other "sweet stuff", which put the American military on the same standards of life with the middle class...

    But again we come to the question of costs. The American government is paying more to its military than Russia to Russian. But for the conventional "one hundred dollars" an average Russian can buy much more goods and services than an average American.

    What we're coming to? If in dollar terms the difference between American and Russian military budgets is more than 10 times, in particular cost of tanks, planes, machines, equipment and the wages of military, this difference is much smaller. Of course, even in this case, the U.S. military budget is still significantly larger than Russian, but not much! And when you consider the fact that the US population is considerably greater than the population of Russia (more than in 2 times), then the military budget in particular "per capita" variables will be even less.

    However, we should not forget that, as in Germany during the Second world war had almost all of Europe as its allies, and the US has NATO plus partners in the Pacific. And we have a lot of work to do in order to sustain our sovereignty in the face of such alliances. But the gap is though large, but not critical. And if you have the desire, will, perseverance and a sensible foreign policy (leading to the formation of military alliances) - it is not insurmountable.

    It won't be easy, but security is always expensive. It is better that way. As we all know, the people who are unwilling to feed their own military are doomed to feed someone else’s. And it will be much more expensive...


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