Syrian war effort has created shortage of Russian bombs

War is Boring:
An air campaign requires a sprawling, complicated supply chain. Fire enough missiles and drop enough bombs, which require a heavy investment in materials and chemicals, and there will come a point when the logistics trail starts to strain.

Nearly 20 months into Russia’s intervention in Syria’s civil war, the strain is starting to show.

Russia has heavily relied on air power to support Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad. At times, the Russian air force has dropped bombs at a faster pace than the United States in Syria, benefiting from significantly shorter flight times, and being hampered by the need to rely on a greater number of unguided bombs.

The results include the deaths of more than 9,000 people including 4,000 civilians from the start of the campaign through September 2016, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

Every bomb contains chemicals, and every rocket requires a propellant to send it from a plane or helicopter’s pylon or pod to the ground. The strikes have “bled our arsenals, according to some estimates, nearly 40 percent,” the influential Russian defense newspaper Military-Industrial Courier noted in a recent report about the Russian military’s chemical shortage. “And there is no way to quickly replenish them.”

The good news for Russia is that there are enough high-explosive compounds and rocket propellants to keep the Kremlin’s aircraft in the war for years to come, if necessary. The bad news for Russia is that the declining stockpiles will reduce its ability to engage in a large-scale, major conflict—which to be fair, is unlikely.
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Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, research institutes and production plants went bankrupt. They lost valuable workers and technical documents. Machinery turned into scrap metal. The Bijskij chemical plant, one of the Soviet Union’s most important ballistic powder and composite solid propellant plants, went under.

Years of planning came to an abrupt halt. Russian plants currently manufacturing high-explosive chemicals have a poor safety record, while Russia faces a shortage of qualified engineers. Opening up a new military powder plant—which Russia hasn’t done in decades—is also a highly complex, capital-intensive project that takes years.
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There is more.

The Russians have fewer people willing to take the jobs needed to build the ammo plants and with a less controlled economy, it is harder to direct people to these plants.  In a functional capitalist system, the workers could be attracted to the jobs by higher salaries and perks, but the Russians aren't there yet either.

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