In September last year, the Vostok-2018 exercises were held, which involved all the main structures of the army, including the airborne troops. Within the framework of the main stage of practical actions at the Tsugol airfield, an important experiment was conducted. 31-I Guards separate assault assault brigade tested in practice a new organizational structure, designed to improve the effectiveness of combat work. According to domestic media, the first transformations in the brigade began in the 2017 year, and at last year’s exercises they were tested in large-scale maneuvers.
Some details of the experiment are known. Two new airmobile battalions appeared in the 31 Guards troop unit, which were equipped with light equipment, including unarmored ones. In the course of the experiment, the brigade reassigned one combat and three transport helicopter squadrons from the air force. With the help of helicopters of a number of models, it was possible to carry out the landing of the landing force, and their translation into submission to the brigade simplified the interaction.
Based on the results of the experiment at Vostok-2018, conclusions should be drawn that determine the further development of individual formations and the Airborne Forces as a whole. The first conclusions are already known. The reassignment of the Air Force squadrons to the Airborne Forces headquarters increases the efficiency of their joint work in combat, but complicates service for organizational reasons. In this regard, there was a proposal to form their own aviation units in the Airborne Forces. The appearance of such units will allow the landing troops to solve some of the tasks independently and without the help of other types of troops.
While we are talking about the creation of a separate helicopter brigade. It may include 4-5 squadrons on multi-purpose, transport and transport-combat helicopters of various types. The formation of new units as part of the Airborne Forces will begin this year. How exactly their equipment park will be built is unknown. It is possible to purchase new helicopters, but we can not exclude the transfer of vehicles from the Air Force.
Last year, the Airborne Forces Command indicated other ways of developing the ground component. The question of the creation of air defense and missile defense units included in the overall battlefield control system was considered. However, while detailed data on the development of air defense and missile defense did not appear. Probably, such information will be announced in the near future.
Fifth Division and First Artillery Brigade
A few weeks ago, part of the current plans was revealed by the Commander of the Airborne Forces, Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov. In an interview for Red Star, he spoke about the formation of a new compound. He noted that the total number of troops is constantly growing - this is one of the measures in the framework of the implemented Concept of construction and development of the Airborne Forces. The concept also provides for the improvement of the organizational structure.
Now there are four airborne and air assault divisions and the same number of airborne assault brigades as part of the Airborne Forces. Before 2025, a new amphibious division will appear in the troops. The formation of a new artillery brigade is also planned. Reform of special-purpose and collateral parts is not reported. Perhaps the planned changes are not affected. The same applies to educational institutions of the Airborne Forces.
You can make predictions about the equipment of new parts and connections. The Fifth Airborne Division is unlikely to be fundamentally different from the existing formations in terms of structure and material part. The future artillery brigade is much more interesting in this context. It is quite possible that new armaments of self-propelled artillery will arrive at its armament, while they are at different stages of development work.
The current programs of modernization and renewal of the army, including the airborne troops, provide for a massive purchase of a variety of weapons and equipment. In recent years, the Airborne Forces received a number of modern models, mass-produced in the required quantities. In the foreseeable future, the fleet of airborne vehicles will be replenished with new products of various kinds - almost all such samples are already known to the general public.
Since 2016, deliveries of tracked armored personnel carriers BTR-MDM and BMD-4M airborne combat vehicles have continued. Modernization of self-propelled guns "Nona". Also in the Airborne Forces formed tank units equipped with the main battle tanks T-72B3. The development of armored cars and vehicles with various equipment continues. Attention is paid not only to combat vehicles, but also to reconnaissance and control equipment. So, all new samples have modern means of communication. It is proposed to obtain enemy data using UAVs of a number of types and reconnaissance radar stations.
According to the current State Armaments Program, which is in force until 2020, the share of modern models in the Russian armed forces should reach 70%. A few days ago, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu indicated that, to date, this parameter has reached 63,7% in the Airborne Forces. Thus, in the very near future, the landing troops will complete the task, and their fleet of equipment and weapons will reach the required degree of novelty.
This year, the Airborne Forces will have to conduct military tests of a number of promising combat vehicles. First of all, you need to "break in" a new version of the self-propelled antitank gun "Sprut-SDM1". It is also expected to begin testing of artillery systems created under the program "Sketch". This is a self-propelled gun "Phlox", as well as self-propelled mortar "Grock". Expected exit on the test self-propelled "Lotus".
Planned for the formation of air defense and missile defense units need appropriate weapons that meet the characteristic requirements of the Airborne Forces. As an addition and then replacing existing models, an airborne airborne “Birdies” system is being developed. According to known data, this machine will be as unified as possible with other airborne equipment. She is scheduled to be put to the test next year.
A future separate aviation brigade will operate various types of helicopters. To solve the characteristic tasks of the Airborne Forces, it needs both combat helicopters Mi-24 or Ka-52, as well as multi-purpose Mi-8 and heavy transport Mi-26. It is not yet clear how the fleet of the brigade will be formed. For her, the Ministry of Defense can order new cars, but it is also possible to transfer finished equipment from the units of other branches of the military. It is also possible to "rent": the Airborne Forces will temporarily receive foreign helicopters, which will then be replaced by new equipment and returned to the owners.
Problems and solutions
The current plans of the Airborne Forces Command and the armed forces as a whole are aimed at increasing the combat effectiveness and getting rid of the existing problems. Indeed, while in the landing troops, not everything is perfect, and some features of the current situation may worsen the overall potential of the troops.
One of the main problems of the Airborne Forces is still a fairly high proportion of old models of weapons and equipment. Thus, in the field of armored combat vehicles, products of previous models, developed several decades ago, still dominate. So, according to known data, the number of BMD-4М airborne combat vehicles in parts has already exceeded 200 units, but the old-fashioned BMD-2 remain the most popular example of this class - there are five times more of them. A similar situation is observed with the fleet of armored personnel carriers, which is based on the old BTR-D.
It should be noted that the problem of obsolescence of equipment in the Airborne Forces is already being actively solved. Due to the modernization, the potential of the existing equipment is maintained, and at the same time new models are being built. Thus, the achievement of the share of new technology in 70% and the further growth of this parameter are exclusively a matter of time.
The second characteristic problem of the Airborne Forces is the interaction with military transport aviation. The Air Force has a large fleet of transport aircraft of different models, but not all of them can be involved in the tasks of transporting and dropping an assault force. In addition, not any domestic transport can carry armored vehicles of the Airborne Forces. Finally, BTA has other tasks besides ensuring the work of the Airborne Forces. All this to a certain extent makes it difficult to plan joint operations.
However, it is not yet entirely clear whether the current state of affairs in the VTA is considered a problem for the airborne forces. During the last combat training sessions, the landing force did not have to face serious transport problems. The air force allocated the necessary number of aircraft for the transfer and disembarkation of troops, and, apparently, other directions did not suffer from this.
At the same time, measures affecting other transport operations have been taken. In the Airborne Forces it is planned to form its own aviation units, which will be armed with transport helicopters. This will allow the landing party to move and receive air support without the need to interact with other branches of the military.
Creation of squadrons on shock and transport-combat helicopters will also reduce the dependence of the airborne forces on the air force and relieve them of organizational problems. However, it is obvious that the appearance of own helicopters at the landing does not exclude the need for interaction with front-line aviation.
Improvement of the troops
To date, the Russian airborne troops are a very serious force capable of starting work in a given area in the shortest time possible. However, there are certain problems that need to be addressed, and further development is needed to preserve and increase the required capacity.
The basis of the current modernization is the concept of airborne development, compiled several years ago. This document takes into account the threats and challenges of the present time and the foreseeable future, and with their consideration suggests ways of restructuring the airborne troops. It provides for simultaneous work in several directions.
The renovation of the material part has been going on for several years now, carried out through the supply of new products and samples of all the necessary types and classes. In addition, new systems are being developed to replace existing ones or to be placed in completely new niches. The results of the modernization of the airborne troops in the material sphere are well visible, and in the future these processes will continue.
The existing organizational structure should undergo some changes. It is planned to create a number of divisions and connections of various kinds. First of all, it is necessary to increase the number of airborne divisions, as well as to form a separate artillery brigade. This year there will be a separate helicopter brigade of transport and combat purposes. In the future, the formation of air defense and missile defense is expected.
In parallel with the formation of new compounds, it is proposed to change the structure of existing ones. Now, on the basis of one of the airborne assault brigades, a new version of the structure is being worked out. He has already shown his potential in a large-scale exercise, and is likely to be deployed everywhere soon.
Thus, the Ministry of Defense and the command of the airborne troops continue to implement the approved Concept for the development of this type of troops in order to increase its combat effectiveness. Works are simultaneously proceeding in several directions, from the purchase of new samples to the formation of new compounds and the restructuring of old ones. All this allows us to consider the current processes not just modernization, but a real reforming of the Airborne Forces. However, their significance does not depend on the term used.
The proposed and ongoing reform will have positive consequences for both the airborne troops and the entire Russian army. The Airborne Forces are already capable of solving the assigned combat missions in the conditions of a modern armed conflict, and the activities being carried out will enable them to maintain and increase such capabilities in the future. According to the results of these works, by the middle of the next decade, the Russian Airborne Forces will seriously change and become stronger.
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