As a strategic-level theater asset, spetsnaz brigades typically received greater funding and better equipment than their security counterparts. More often than not, military spets units were/are at the cutting edge of military doctrine.
The armament of spetsnazovtsi assigned to the special services up until recently has been equivalent to the regular forces of the MVD or former KGB. In contrast, GRU spetsnaz units were typically better armed owing to their combat-oriented missions. Fortunately for the special services, this situation has begun to change.
The use of bladed weapons has always been a source of fascination with western observers. The practice of silent killing is an important skill to the spetsnazovets. During the Soviet period, the entrenching tool was commonly seen as the usual weapon of choice for killing an opponent from a distance. The shovel could be thrown or, if close enough, swung, to kill an opponent quickly. Penetration by a sharp entrenching tool spade was usually sufficient to cause severe internal injuries and immediate death.
This technique was well demonstrated by airborne troops in Georgia and the Baltics during ethnic disturbances in which airborne forces were deployed to restore the peace. While MVD troops relied heavily on Cheremukha riot gas and suppressive fire from their automatics, airborne troops resorted to their time-honored tradition of using entrenching tools against armed and unarmed opponents.
In the early 1990's, elite troops gradually turned away from the entrenching tool and began to rely more heavily on various specially-designed knives and bayonets. Knife throwing became an important part of the soldier's training in his basic course. Since the AK-74 was suitable for cutting wire and cutting throats, it began to take on greater importance as a close-in weapon. The typical orange handled, bakelite AK-74 bayonet was the most commonly issued bayonet to airborne and spetsnaz troops and so it became the standard edged weapon.
Later, the black bakelite "6x5 AK-74 bayonet with knurled grip became more widely distributed and it soon took its place among the edged arsenal. By the end of 1992, these two bayonets were supplemented by the less common NRS-1, NRS-2, and other, more specialized airborne and special operations blades.
The NRS-2 folding reconnaissance knife, has a two-edged blade and is capable of firing a single 7.62 mm bullet. The projectile weighs 300 grams and is effective up to 60 feet. The green bakelite scabbard and handle of the knife attach to aim and fire a single round. It is assumed that this is purely for defensive purposes as its range and accuracy are extremely doubtful. Moreover, since the purpose of the recon troop is to remain hidden, firing a 7.62 mm round would surely alert nearby enemy soldiers. The NRS-1 is a non-firing version of the specially designed bayonet.
In addition to the bladed weapons, the AK-74 "6x5", NRS-1, and NRS-2, and the special spetsnozh or special operations knife, spetsnazovtsi might also be issued a shroud cutter bayonet, a ballistic knife (made famous by U.S. dealers selling poor copies), and a compact switchblade.
A spetsnaz team will normally be issued the standard AKS-74 (rifle); the AKSU-5.45 and PBS automatics; the RPG-7d, RPG-18d or RPG-26 antitank weapons; and the BG-15 40 mm grenade launcher (Tishina). Additionally, the designated sniper(s) will receive either the standard SVD sniper rifle or the silenced VSS sniper system.
One platoon in each brigade is trained to use 'Ptur' antitank guided missiles (nicknamed fagot, or 'bassoon'), and will be equipped with four of them. Each team is also equipped with anti-personnel mines (PP), MON-100 directional fragmentation mines, and explosives kits. For special missions, a commander might receive several specially silenced weapons to issue to his team.
Naval spetsnaz teams may receive similar weapons if their mission is land-based. However, underwater missions call for underwater weapons and explosives. Recently a series of specially-designed weapons that fire darts under water have been developed specifically for such special missions. The 5.66mm underwater APS can fire a dart to a range of 90 feet at a depth of 15 feet, or 33 feet at a depth of 120 feet. The rifle holds 26 darts. There is also a dart-firing pistol called a SPP-1 that can fire a dart up to 150 feet out of water or up to 51 feet at 15 feet of water.
Since each spetsnazovets is trained in radio communications, spetsnaz team members carry a R255-PP set that picks up the signal emitted by the R354M burst-transmission portable radio (one per team). The receivers are used for both mission instructions and for air drop coordination. The signals, since they are used in the burst-transmission mode, are difficult to identify and even harder to intercept, making them ideal for special operations usage.
Due to the difficulty in hiding standard analog radio transmissions, it is assumed the Russian military is switching out analog radio equipment for more advanced digital communications sets available off the shelf in the United States and Europe. As with U.S. special operations units, it does not seem unlikely that Russian spetsgruppi could incorporate currently available encryption technology with digital communications and laptop technology to create virtually undetectable ground-satellite-ground communications capabilities.
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