The 15 Brigade of Army Aviation recently formed in the Western Military District caused a storm of negative emotions in the media not only in the Baltic countries and Poland, but also in Germany and Great Britain. The brigade is based at the Ostrov (Veretie) airfield of the Pskov Region.
On December 25, last year, the transfer of the 15 th brigade of the new Mi-28H and Mi-35M helicopters took place. On the same day, at the Far Eastern Progress plant in Arsenyev, in the presence of Alexander Mikheev, Director General of the Russian Helicopters holding company, and Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Lieutenant-General Viktor Bondarev, this same brigade received 12 newest Ka-52. In addition, the specialists of the Air Force and Air Defense of the Okrug have already received at the Rostvertol aircraft factory in Rostov-on-Don a new batch of ten Mi-28Н and Mi-35М combat helicopters, as well as one military transport Mi-26. These vehicles are also designed for the 15 Brigade of Army Aviation. At the moment, the crews are preparing their cars for relocation to the airfield of permanent deployment. It should be noted that in addition to these helicopters, the Mi-2013H and Mi-28М, the transport-combat Mi-35MTV-8 and the heavy transport Mi-5 were already included in the brigade during the summer and autumn of 26.
The 15-I Army Aviation Brigade is a new military unit of the Air Force. After the dismantling of individual combat and transport-combat helicopter regiments, helicopter squadrons are part of the aviation bases of army aviation of the second category. It is noteworthy that quite recently the Veretie airfield itself had no relation to the Russian Air Force, since until 2012 there was based the 859 th center for combat training and retraining of the personnel of the Russian Navy aviation, now relocated to the city of Yeisk, Krasnodar Territory. It is noteworthy that, according to the Minister of Defense of Russia Sergei Shoigu, such brigades will soon appear in every military district.
But if the formation of a new brigade and the arrival of aviation equipment there in Russia caused interest only among specialists, then in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia panic began, sometimes turning into hysterics. Later, the media of Poland and the Czech Republic joined their Baltic colleagues. Traditionally, these countries are very negatively disposed towards the Russian Federation, and any movements of Russian troops and military exercises are issued for aggressive intentions. Therefore, the noise around the 15 brigade could be considered another manifestation of discontent, if not the position of the German and British media, who considered helicopters from Pskov Island to be a real threat to NATO in Eastern Europe.
So what frightened the Baltic States and Poland so much and what are the prospects for the army aviation of the Russian Air Force?
From second rank to new cars
“There were no army aviation brigades in the Soviet Armed Forces, but there were only separate helicopter regiments — combat and control, as well as transport and combat and separate helicopter squadrons,” said a military historian who wrote articles on Military Industrial Courier. stories USSR and Russian Armed Forces Andrei Zhukov. According to him, in the transition to a new look, all the regiments and squadrons were put under the knife in 2009, since linear air groups and squadrons were created as part of the newly formed aviation bases.
“But by December 1, 2010 had created army aviation bases, all of the second category. In essence, these are new formations, but on the basis of squadrons of aviation bases, ”the expert continued. Now aviation bases of army aviation of the second category are in each military district. For example, in the South Military District - it is 393-I based in Korenovsk, and in ZVO it is the 549-I aviation base of army aviation in Levashov.
“Army aviation brigades are new formations that, according to official data, will soon be part of each district. True, besides the fact that 15 was deployed, I did not hear about other brigades, ”said Andrey Zhukov. Most likely, the aviation bases of army aviation of the second category did not justify themselves, however, like the whole idea of transferring the Air Force from the regimental / divisional structure to the air bases. Therefore, it is to be expected that in the near future they will be disbanded, and all the liberated helicopter squadrons will be included in the aviation brigades. Apparently, now, on the basis of the 15 brigade, the state of new brigades of army aviation (BRAA) is being run in.
Its uniqueness also lies in the fact that the entire fleet of aircraft, recently received from the factories, are not newer or restored helicopters, but new ones, just from the manufacturer. Now there are three helicopter squadrons in the new brigade, and in the near future there will probably be five. In particular, 1-I squadron is armed with shock Mi-28Н and Mi-35М, 2-I fly on Mi-8МТВ-5 released in Kazan, and 3-I received 25 of the latest Ka-12 of December of last year. According to aviation specialists, heavy transport Mi-52 will enter the 4 squadron, and Mi-26AMTSH manufactured at the Ulan-Ude plant will be included into the 5 th squadron.
The presence of the latest Mi-28H “Night Hunter” and the upgraded Mi-35M in one squadron is somewhat surprising. By their combat capabilities, these machines are very close, but seriously differ in design, components and assemblies.
“Initially, in the Russian Air Force, the Mi-35М at the air bases were put in one squadron with the Mi-24 helicopters. But as the Night Hunters flew into the park, the question of a training machine became acute, especially when retraining and maintaining the flight skills of pilots who had previously flown on the Mi-24. Therefore, until a specialized Mi-28UB appears in the troops, its role will be performed by the Mi-35M. Fortunately, the onboard equipment and controls of the "thirty-five" allow you to do this, ”says an officer of the Southern Military District, who says“ MIC ”. According to the interlocutor, the young pilots come to the army to the position of weapon operators Mi-24, later they become commanders of helicopters. But when retraining from “twenty-fours” to Mi-28, difficulties often arise.
“The training process of pilots and operators is conducted on the basis of the pulp and paper industry and the aviation aviation command center in Torzhok. But even in the troops, training machines are needed, the tasks of which will be performed by the Mi-35M until the appearance of the Mi-28UB. The main thing is that "thirty-five" - combat helicopters. If necessary, they will act as effectively as the newest Mi-28Н, ”continued the representative of the Southern Military District.
It is not excluded that the 15-I aviation brigade will become the leader in the development of the latest transport and combat helicopters, which received the Mi-8AMTSH-B index and are currently undergoing tests.
“The helicopter received new VK-2500 engines. The cockpit equipment is designed to maximize ease of piloting at low altitudes, especially in the mountains, as well as provide interaction with night vision devices. There is an autonomous power source, thanks to which the helicopter has become completely autonomous. We flew to the mountain peak, turned off the engines, turned on the autonomous installation. The car is warm and has electricity, ”the Russian Air Force officer believes. And an independent military expert, one of the authors of the book "Tanks August, dedicated to the military conflict with Georgia in August 2008, Anton Lavrov says: “This structure of the brigade makes it an independent military force capable of solving tasks at the operational level. It can not only deliver strikes, but also support the actions of ground forces, conduct air assault or, as they are called in NATO, airmobile operations.
At the same time, according to the expert, in the future, the Russian Air Force would be worth considering the possibility of including reconnaissance and assault helicopters like the Kiowa and the French Fenech, capable of conducting reconnaissance, to highlight targets, in the composition of air force light aviation brigades. attack helicopters, and if necessary, destroy the enemy.
“The only thing that is bad in such a brigade is that its squadrons will be separately attached to combined-arms units and formations. In this scheme, there are difficulties with the organization of interaction. Let me remind you that in Soviet times helicopter regiments assigned to specific all-arms associations did not have such difficulties. The ground commanders knew who supported them, and during the exercises they constantly worked out the interaction, ”Vitaly Pavlov, Hero of the Soviet Union, ex-commander of army aviation expressed his opinion.
It is worth noting that in the US Army in the division of each division is one, and in 101-th airborne (air assault) - even two brigades of army aviation. And in the armed forces of Great Britain as part of brigades, both helicopter squadrons and whole regiments of army aviation corps (Army Air Corp).
As the former president of the country, chairman of the national security committee of the Seym Valdis Zatlers, told the Latvian media, from the Russian side, the Baltic states see tactical missiles that can carry nuclear weaponand attack helicopters. This is all, in his opinion, a weapon for attack. The intensity of the information war came at the end of last year, when it became aware of the deployment of the 15 th brigade of army aviation at the Ostrov airfield in the Pskov region. In particular, the Latvian media considered that one of the newest Ka-52 shock drums in the armament of the brigade cost Russia in an amount equal to the entire annual military budget of Latvia.
According to foreign military experts, Russian helicopters can hit the territory of the entire region with impunity thanks to their exceptional tactical and technical characteristics. So, they fly at extremely low altitudes in adverse weather conditions and at night. In addition, in the Baltic countries there is no full-fledged air defense system and a single radar field. The airbase in Šiauliai, where NATO fighter aircraft are constantly deployed, is also under attack, and in the event of an aggravation of the situation, it should be used to significantly strengthen the ground forces by transferring forces and means of military transport aviation. Russian helicopters are capable of practically landing with impunity tactical airborne assault forces, attacking roads and highways along which the troops of the North Atlantic Alliance plan to organize the supply and maneuver with forces and means in this operational direction.
Not only the Baltic, but also German and English experts come to the conclusion that the 15 Brigade can cause significant damage to the NATO forces in the Baltic States by their actions, complicate or even disrupt their actions.
“There are a lot of forests and swamps in this region, which significantly impede the actions of motorized infantry and tank units and formations,” Anton Lavrov explained to the Military Industrial Courier. He is supported by the military historian, the author of several books on the history of the Great Patriotic War, Alexey Isaev: “In 1941, the 4-I tank group of Colonel-General Erich Gepner advanced in the direction of Ostrov - Pskov. According to German documents 4-I TGr experienced a lot of difficulties due to the difficult terrain. German tank crews often complained that the terrain was impassable. In 1944 – 1945, the Soviet troops in this area did not use a significant number of tank and mechanized formations. Soviet documents state that the terrain is difficult, but not as impassable as it was in some districts near Leningrad. ”
Of course, it is difficult to assess how difficult it is for American DRLO E-3 AWACS aircraft to detect percussion, transport-combat and transport helicopters against the background of wooded and swampy terrain. But it must be admitted that over the past few years, the Russian aircraft industry has greatly advanced. On serial Ka-52, Mi-28Н, Mi-35М and Mi-8АМТШ appeared individual night-vision devices for pilots, thermal imagers, optical-electronic systems, radars, allowing to fly in the rounding mode of the terrain in difficult weather conditions day and night.
“In the conditions of the Baltic States, the most effective are the air assault units, which can be easily transferred by helicopter. Judging by the above figures, the 15-I brigade can lift up to an air assault brigade, but without armored vehicles. But in such a place it will be only a burden, ”Lavrov believes. He also recalled that attack helicopters have great potential in the destruction of enemy airfields. It is worth remembering that during the conflict with Georgia in August 2008, the airfield in Senaki was bombed several times and without much success, but with its own losses: the long-range Tu-22М3 bomber died. But on August 11 in Russian, the Russian Mi-7.15 secretly went out to the airfield, destroyed two Georgian Mi-24Ts and Mi-14Bs on the ground, fired other targets and went away without difficulty.
In recent years, the army aviation of the Russian Air Force has made a qualitative leap forward. New combat and transport vehicles appeared on its armament, often not inferior in their characteristics to advanced foreign models. Now there is an experiment on the formation of new brigades of army aviation that meet modern conditions. Hopefully, the Russian Air Forces Commander-in-Chief will succeed. The example of the 15 Brigade of Army Aviation shows how to achieve a great deal with small means, to cause the nervousness of a potential enemy, who will begin to spend significant forces to counter the perceived threat and ultimately play according to the Russian rules.