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Airborne Assault Troops [VDV] - Airborne Equipment

Throughout the Second World War, the VDV’s paratroopers had suffered because they lacked easily-deployable and effective anti-armor defensive weaponry. Meanwhile, the war highlighted the importance of armored vehicles for offensive warfare. As a consequence, the VDV concluded that paratroop units needed armored vehicles that could be parachuted behind enemy lines. To remedy this mismatch, the Soviets embarked upon a costly program of mechanizing all their airborne forces. The ultimate goal, achieved gradually between the 1960s and 1980s, was equipping each airborne division with nearly 500 armored vehicles. The cornerstone of this project was a revolutionary new vehicle, the BMD-1, which was designed to incorporate the firepower and protection of conventional infantry fighting vehicles.

The modernization program transformed Soviet airborne divisions into mechanized infantry forces capable of seizing defended objectives and of attacking well-around enemy forces deep in the enemy rear. All combat equipment of an airborne division is airdroppable. The BMD is responsible for the greatest improvement in airborne combat capability, The BMD is an air-droppable, amphibious assault vehicle with armament similar to that of the HMY found in motorized rifle units. However, some older equipment, such as the ASU-57 assault gun and SD-44 antitank field gun, might still be found in some airhorne units.

The Soviets perceived enemy tanks and aircraft to be the two major threats to airborne units after landing. Accordingly, all airborne units contain numerous anti-tank and air defense weapons. The exceptional mobility and firepower of Soviet airborne units made them a formidable threat to an enemy's rear.

The Soviets' use of their airborne troops during the Great Patriotic War was severely restricted for lack of aviation assets. Nevertheless, more than 50 Soviet airborne operations were conducted during the war. Most of these operations were small in scale. The large- scale operations that were conductcd were marked by poor planning and execution. Questions of theory and execution concerned Soviet military planners for the next 1O years. Attention was centered on the problem of linkup between airborne units operating in rear areas and advancing ground force units.

In an effort to find solutions to the problems of employment, they switched control of the airborne forces from one command organization to another and increased the available firepower. In 1946, command of the airborne was switched from the Air Forces to the Ministry of Defense, in 1956 to the Soviet Ground Forces, and finally in 1964, back to the Ministry of Defense. The principal weapons added to the airborne inventory during the first 20 postwar years were the ASU-57 self-propelled assault gun (1955) and the ASU85 self-propelled assault gun (1960).

However, it was not until the 1960s that Soviet military began to solve the problems of force linkup. Solutions resulted primarily from the Soviet decision to deploy nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Nuclear strikes would permit large ground force formations to move rapidly into the enemy's depth. The Soviets' huge buildup of conventional weapons also made possible a massive conventional air, missile, and artillery strike to make linkup easier in a nonnuclear war.

The resolution of the linkup problem resulted in a major program to reequip airborne units. The 120-mm mortar, the 122-mm howitzer, modern antitank and air defense weapons, rocket launchers, and the airborne amphibious infantry combat vehicle (BMD) were added to equipment inventories. The BMD is of particular importance. With its deployment in the 1970s, airborne units made significant gains in mobility and firepower. Today airborne units can conduct a broad range of combat missions to include many normally associated with motorized rifle or light armor units.

The BMD was first seen in the Dvina exercises in the USSR in 1970. It was not seen again until the November 1973 Moscow Red Square parade. Since then, the Soviets used the BMD to completely mechanize the airbome regiments in each Soviet airborne division. This substantially increases the division's firepower and maneuverability. It also equips the assault companies of army-level independent air assault battalions and the assault battalions of air assault brigades. Some naval infantry units also had it.

Although originally thought to be a light tank, the BMD may more properly be considered the air-borne equivalent of the BMP-1 infantry combat vehicle. However, except for the turret and main armament, it is an entirely new design and not a modified BMP. The BMD AAICV superficially resembles the BMP-1, although it is considerably smaller. This full-tracked amphibious vehicle has a BMP-type turret. Like the BMP-1, its main armament is a 73-mm smoothbore gun with a 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun mounted on the right side of the main gun and either a SAGGER ATGM launcher mounted over the gun or a SPIGOT/SPANDREL launcher mounted on top of the turret. The airborne soldiers must dismount over the sides of the vehicles, since there is no rear door.

Like the Russian Ground Forces in general, the Airborne Troops are also experiencing problems with outdated hardware and weaponry. For instance, the BMD-1, the main armored troop carrier, entered service more than 30 years ago, and the BMD-2 more than 20 years ago. Communications and battlefield intelligence systems also needed upgrading. Airborne troops were equipped with 7% new weapons by 2010. Even so, the troops carefully maintained existing equipment and it can fulfill its objectives. A partial refit program will increase the combat potential of the troops by 10%. The VDV was purchasing automatic control systems, landing and monitoring equipment, reconnaissance, observation, navigation and communications systems. The Polyot-M automatic control system runs a continuous chain of command from central headquarters to a battalion headquarters, dramatically shortening the command cycle.

Russia's Airborne Forces received the first batch of a new armored airborne combat vehicle on 21 June 2006. The BMD-4 airborne combat vehicle is amphibious, light and well armed. Like its predecessor, BMD-3, it has a hull made of special alloys and a turret, but features many modifications. In addition, it is equipped with a 100-mm gun. The start of deliveries of the BMD-4 marked a new era in the development of the Airborne Forces and significantly raised the combat strength of Russia's most mobile units. In 2010 Anti-aircraft units of the Russian Airborne Force received new Strela-10M3 man-portable air defense systems, due to replace obsolete ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns.

Boyevaya Mashina Desanta
("Combat Vehicle of the Airborne")

The troops are to be rearmed under a new state rearmament program. They will get BMD-4M landing fighting vehicles with twin 30mm and 100mm cannons and vehicles based on the existing Rakushka personnel armored carrier. We should also improve the aircraft defense and anti-tank capabilities of the troops. To address this, they planned to buy Sprut vehicles with a 125mm combined cannon and launcher.

The Russian Airborne Troops will be mainly equipped with domestically-designed armored vehicles, including Tigr-M, Russian Airborne Troops Commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov said 26 February 2013. “Our brigade-level air assault units will have an armored car component based on Tigr vehicles,” Shamanov said at a news conference. “The deliveries of Tigr-M will start soon, and the first recipients of these vehicles will be special forces units.” The SPM-2 GAZ-233036 Tigr (Tiger) is a high-mobility multipurpose military vehicle manufactured by MIC, a GAZ Group division, at the Arzamas machine-manufacturing plant. In addition, the Airborne Troops may order experimental Typhoon 6x6 armored personnel carriers, manufactured by Russia’s KamAZ, after the company modifies the vehicle’s design to match the demands of the Russian paratroopers, Shamanov said.

The rearmament of Russia’s paratroopers should be completed in the next three to five years, Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, commander of the Airborne Forces, told journalists on 11 May 2013. Shamanov also said that Air Force command is considering options for arming reconnaissance and special operations troops and support units with light-armored vehicles. “The Tigr [high mobility multipurpose] vehicle family has proved quite good, but in order to make a final decision, it’s essential to carry out a full range of tests, including testing their capacity for being dropped from military transport planes,” said Shamanov. He also said that Russian paratrooper divisions would receive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) within the next three to five years.

Formations of the VDV began to receive modern armored vehicles and armament (BMD-4, armored personnel carrier BTR-D «Rakushka», motor cars KamAZ). At the end of 2009 in each airborne division on the basis of separate anti-aircraft missile artillery battalions separate anti-aircraft missile regiments were formed. At the initial stage air defence systems of the Army entered the inventory. Later they will be replaced by landed systems. By 2012 divisions are planned to form the third airborne regiments. Two airborne formations (the 98th Guards Airborne Division and the 31st Guards saabr) are part of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the Collective Security Treaty Ortganization (CSTO’s CRRF).

Airborne troops of Russia will receive 144 combat vehicles BMD-4M, Tass said Deputy Managing Director of Instrument Design Bureau (KBP) Armor, Nikolai Khokhlov, told TASS 14 May 2016. "Last year we did something that was given the contract - five of them, then at the request of deputy defense minister before the new year added to them five more and they left on time this year we have 144 pieces..", said Khokhlov.

Earlier it was reported that according to the current contract, the Defense Ministry shall, within three years, get up to 250 BMD-4M and BTR-MDM "Shell". Track BMD-4M "gardener" is an updated version of BMD-4 with a new body, engine, chassis, and other nodes. It is equipped with a combat unit "Bakhcha-In", which is composed of 100 caliber gun and 30 mm as well as a machine gun.

"Winged infantry" is equipped as a combined arms military equipment, and specially created for certain tasks landing. BTR-80 armored personnel carriers, Tiger combat reconnaissance vehicles, Orlan-10 multipurpose drones, various anti-tank missile systems, self-propelled artillery systems, mortars, howitzers, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, as well as portable short-range anti-aircraft missile systems.

A plan was developed to equip the airborne forces with modern and promising weapons, military and special equipment for the period until 2020. Since 2016, the troops arrive combat vehicles BMD-4M "Sadovnitsa" and BTR-MDM "Rakushka" (by 2020 their total number should exceed 300 units), armored cars "Lynx" (localized version of Iveco LMV). By 2025, BMD-4M and BTR-MDM will completely replace obsolete armored vehicles, such as BMD-2 and BTR-D.

It is modernizing the self-propelled anti-tank cannon "Sprut-SD", standing on the armament of the Airborne Forces, with a gun of 125 mm caliber. At present, new self-propelled anti-tank complexes "Kornet-D1" are being tested. In experimental development are the artillery control vehicles "Testament-D". A self-propelled gun of 120 mm caliber is being developed under the Lotus project, which is the development and replacement of the Zaurales-D project. Start the mass production of a new self-propelled gun is planned in 2020.

In the next two years, the arrival in the army of special purpose vehicles "Typhoon" parachuted, as well as unified means of landing "Bakhcha-UPDS", which will allow the landing of the "Sadovnitsa" and the "Shell" with the crew inside the car from Il-76 planes.

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Page last modified: 30-08-2018 17:21:20 ZULU