SOVIET NAVAL STRATEGY AND PROGRAMS TOWARD THE 21ST CENTURY (KEY

Created: 6/1/1989

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/^JT^ Director ol Central Intelligence

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE AS9

Soviet Naval Strategy and Programs Towardt Century

National Intelligence Estimate

VolumeJudgments and Executive Summary

This Estimate represents tho views ofthe Director of Central Intelligence with the advice and assistance of tho US Intelligence Community.

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Director of

Central

Intelligence

Soviet Naval Strategy and Programs Towardt Century

VolumeJudgments and Executive Summary

kdormauon avadabh asasused in the preparation of this Estimaw.

The following intelligence org^izations panietpaied

in iho preparation of this Estimate:

The Central imcuujence Agency

The Defense Inteftgenca Agency

Tho National Security Agency

The Bureau of Intelligence and Research,

Department of State

also participating;

The Deputy Chiel ol Staff for imofcgencc.

Department ot thc Army

The Director of Naval Intelligence.

Department of ihc Navy

The Asaatant Chiof of Stall. Intelligence,

Department ol the Air Force

The Diroclcx of Intelligence.

Headquarters. Marrve Corps

This Esrimsio wos approved tor publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board.

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Soviet Naval Strategy and Programs Towardt Century

We expect Gorbachev to cut spending on the Nary. These cuts will produce significant changes in Netty procurement and forcebut not in missions or strategy.

' The Soviet Navy's emphasis on strategic strike and the defeat of enemy naral forces fill continue.

Integration of naval, land, and air forces into combined-arms operations under the concept ofthe Theater Strategic Operation will improve.

The Soviets mil actively pursue naral arms control in an effort to erode the US maritime advantage, conserve resources, and achieve some political and propaganda benefit.

Soviet Naval Forces"

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In our judgment, thc Navy's role in Soviet military strategy will not change substantially in thc context of (hc Gorbachev revolution. Tlie Nary will suffer cutbacks in defense spending, but we do noi expect radical changes in its missionsajor erosion of its combat capabilities over tbe next decade Since NIE5 was lasl published inhe Soviet Navy has improved its war-fighting capabilities and has assumed greaterin unified Soviet military strategy, especially an enhanced role in strategic strike operations and in national air defense,ore integrated role for ils general purpose forces in theater warfare and in defense of lhe homeland.

Tbc Soviel Navy, unlike the Ground Forces, confronts the era ofsufficiency"osilion of inferiorityis thc West. Although it is too early to estimate with any precision ihe Soviet Navy's share ofcuts, we foresee the Navy trying to absorb its share through: conlinuation of reduced operating tempo and cuts in personnel, accelerated retirement and scrapping of older ships and submarines, program cuts or slowdowns, and various arms conlrol initiatives.

Nevertheless, substantial improvements arc under way in surface strips, submarines, and naval aviation. Although thc Navy will have fewer ships and submarines by the turn of thc century than it has icday, ihe newer units will be more capable:

Submarines will continue to enjoy top priority, including innovative imrjrovements ii. nonnuclcar units.

Soviet Naval Aviation will remainand-based force, but supersonic fighters will be carrier capable.

Surface forces will acquire larger carriers and improved cruisers and dcsiroycrs.

Soviet general purpose naval forces have recentlyignificantlv increased role in combined-arms operation-^

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longer periods of conventional

warfare, ihe Soviels coniinue to prepare for nuclear war. We judge, however, lhal Ihey would probably noi use nuclear weaponsea before they were used on land.

Improvements in thc Soviet ballistic missile submarine force, particularly in terms of survivability, responsiveness, and accuracy of sea-launched ballistic missiles, give thc Soviet leadership greater flexibility in employing ballistic missile submarinesreater capability in using these submarines to conduct nuclear strikesroader range of targets.

^Improvements in the accuracy of Iheallistic missile, and probably in newer submarine-launched*ballistic missiles, would allow the Soviets to use these missiles against hard targets by thc.

Soviet nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles are primarily iheater strike weapons. Wc judge it unlikely lhat the Soviets would conduct anything other than aperiodic patrols by submarines armed wiih these cruise missiles off thc coasts of thc United

Allhough the Sovicis consider countering Western ballistic missiletheir top naval priority, we estimate thai Ihc Soviets' ability to detect and attack such US submarines in thc open ocean is virtually nonexistent and will remain so through. Acquiring this capability willajor Soviet goal, but it probably will noi be achieved during the period of this Estimate.

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We believe significant cuts in Sovicl naval construction programs will notramatic effect on thc Navy's capabilities over the nextears and the mix of Soviet naval forces will slay aboul ihc same. Tlic heart of thc Navy's combat forces in Ihe0 are already operational or nes production. Once constructed, Ihese forces usually remain in act service foroears.

The Soviets will actively pursue naval arms control in an effort to erode the

US maritime advantage, including limitations on long-range cruise

EvenTART agreement ledajor reduction in ihe number of Soviet bailislic missile submarines, we believe that few, if any, general purpose navalnuclear attackbe freed from protecting (heir own ballistic missile submarines to pursue other tasks. This is because the Soviets' protection of their missile submarines is based onnd of the sea in geographic areas.ramatic reduction in the Soviet perception of lhc Western threat from Ihe maritime approaches would enable Soviet naval and air units to shift from protecting Ibe approaches to thc USSR to Other assignments.

Even with fewer general purpose naval units, the basic mission of the Soviet Navy would not change. Il still would be requiredrotect the USSR against the Western threat from the sea. Only radical changes, such as decisions lo eliminate lhc Navy's role in strategic strike againsi the United States, its responsibilities for national air defense, or its support for

operations on land, couldundamental change in sirategy. We

judge that such decisions arc highly unlikely.

The Soviels have somewhat improved their ability to project power, but the purpose of Soviet naval deployments in tlte Third World is not, and never has been, to project power against significant opposition. The Navy is not configured for combat operations beyond the cover of land-based aircraft; it lacks adequate antisubmarine warfare, nir defense, sca-bascd tactical air support, and naval amphibious lift to sustain such operations. It wilt continue to be deficient in these roles, and ongoing naval programs clearly indicate that thc Soviets are not seeking to acquire this type of power projection capability.

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