The actions of the experimental airmobile formations that are parachuted from helicopters at the Kavkaz-2020 exercises were considered successful, sources in the defense department told Izvestia. The results of the strategic maneuvers were summed up last week. Now they are deciding what other parts of the Airborne Forces will be transferred to the new state. Such formations will radically increase the capabilities of Russian troops both in defense and in offensive. They are effective for maneuvering operations when there is no solid front line, experts say.
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New methods of interspecific actions of troops in the difficult situation of a modern armed conflict have been worked out perfectly, said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu after the Kavkaz-2020 exercise. According to him, the joint efforts of a separate airborne assault brigade and army aviation units have significantly increased the indicators associated with the dynamics of the destruction of the enemy.
During the maneuvers, the reinforced battalion of the 31st Airborne Assault Brigade was airlifted by several dozen Mi-8 and Mi-26 helicopters. In addition to the soldiers, the army aviation delivered light vehicles, two batteries of towed D-30 howitzers, mortars, and ammunition supplies for artillery. Together with transport vehicles in battle formations, there were two dozen shock Mi-28N and Ka-52, which covered the landing, and then helped the Airborne Forces to break the enemy’s resistance and disrupt the advance of reserves. This allowed the other participants in the exercises to surround and defeat the main forces of the enemy.
Some of the paratroopers landed from helicopters using a new parachute-free system. They left the cars in full gear at a height of 20-25 m along the ropes thanks to special descenders. Thus, it is possible to quickly disembark soldiers even in an area that is not suitable for a helicopter landing.
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For raids on the rear of the enemy, aviation delivered buggy cars with machine guns and anti-tank missile systems, as well as their crews.
“A similar system was tested back in Soviet times, when airborne assault brigades were created, which included helicopters,” military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Izvestia. – They are good at tactical and operational level to carry out the tasks of enveloping and bypassing the enemy, forcing water obstacles, capturing important areas and lines in the depth of the enemy’s defense, and waging a battle on rough terrain. It was assumed that such formations can participate in mobile combat operations when there is no continuous front line. The use of airborne assault subunits was supposed to ensure quick penetration into the enemy’s battle formations and its defeat in parts. The same tasks will be faced by modern airmobile connections.
The main problem is in helicopters. One such brigade requires about 160 combat and transport vehicles. Therefore, new units will have to be formed in order to saturate the troops with army aviation, the expert said.
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Equipment for the “winged infantry”
Earlier, the Airborne Forces and their military equipment were optimized for landing from the Il-76 military transport aircraft. The emergence of airmobile units will require changes. As Izvestia previously reported, the first own brigade of army aviation should be formed as part of the Airborne Forces in the coming years. It will be equipped not only with airplanes, but also with helicopters. They will cover the landing and support the units on the battlefield with fire. The new unit will be under operational subordination directly to the commander of the Airborne Forces and will be constantly at the disposal of the “winged infantry”.
Now the troops are already receiving modernized super-heavy Mi-26T2V helicopters. They are capable of transporting up to 82 paratroopers or bulky cargo for them at any time of the day, including armed vehicles and ATVs. The delivery of heavier equipment based on the Tiger armored vehicles was also being worked out.
The Ministry of Defense also ordered the first batch of 15 newest Mi-38 helicopters for the army aviation. In terms of their flight performance, they occupy an intermediate position between the giant Mi-26 and the average transport Mi-8. The novelty is capable of airlifting up to 40 soldiers. In the inner cabin or on the external sling, they can carry up to 5 tons of cargo, guns and cars.
At the Army-2020 exhibition, a family of lightweight all-terrain vehicles was presented, which were developed for transport by helicopters. It includes both mobile mortars with a caliber of 120 mm and a vehicle with the most powerful anti-tank missile systems Kornet.
Armed ATVs for the new airborne assault units were repeatedly demonstrated at the parades. The two-seater vehicle can be equipped with a machine gun or used to deliver anti-tank missiles or portable anti-aircraft missile systems.
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Airborne forces of a new type
The fact that the airborne units were engaged in the creation of formations of a new type was announced by the commander of the Airborne Forces Andrei Serdyukov in 2018. The Ulyanovsk 31st Airborne Assault Brigade, the best airborne unit at the end of 2017, was identified as an experimental one for practicing tactics. The battalion of the unit in a new version of application was tested on the strategic exercises “Vostok-2018”, which became the most ambitious in the entire modern history of Russia.
The next year, in the Center-2019 exercise, about 1,500 paratroopers and weapons for them were dropped from helicopters. This required 124 helicopter flights. Together with the Russian military, special forces from Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan were also deployed. And this year in the south of Russia the final “final exam” for the updated units of the Airborne Forces took place.
Additional airmobile capabilities are also planned to be added to the regular infantry. The Ministry of Defense reported on the ongoing experiment on the formation of units intended for airlift by helicopters in all motorized rifle units of the Southern Military District.