Zapad watch – summary of day five

With phase two in full swing and Vladimir Putin now observing, there is action almost everywhere. The past few days have been lively, and somewhat hard to cover so in this post I’m summarizing some other MD’s events that were glossed over earlier.

BLUF: Russian forces are having a conventional high end fight across a 600km front in the Western MD, fleets are defending against enemy amphibious landings, airborne units are doing more drops, missile regiments have started live fire exercises with you guessed it – missiles. So we have horizontal escalation to different fronts and vertical escalation with Russian forces launching SRBM/Cruise missile strikes. The Russian Navy is defending littorals and maritime approaches as expected, recons strike complex is being tested in support of artillery, while airborne and ground forces are working together in defeating concentrated enemy formations. Special designation and special purpose units are also quite active across the districts.

Belarus

Osipovichskiy Range: The new Motor Rifle Regiment (423rd) of the 4th Division (1st Guards Tank Army) is training here with armor, motorized infantry, artillery, and air defense units. Seems this regiment was snapped together with a T-80BV battalion supporting it (4th DIV still has T-80 variants). My understanding is that a 3rd maneuver regiment was added to this division as of last year and is slowly being manned and equipped. MTO and engineering units are busy with camouflage and fortifications, meanwhile the T-80s are running a tank carousel, i.e. shoot and scoot drills.T-80

Another participant at this range is Belarus’ 120th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, they fielded armor, artillery and air defense in support of Russian forces. (4th Tank Division also seems to be in Syria supporting the push outside Deir-ez-Zor with pontoon bridges and logistics, so this unit is basically everywhere right now).

smerch 2

Borisovsky range is active too, but I gave it lots of coverage during the last post. Suffice to say they’re still winning over there and no doubt NATO forces are dying left and right.

Western MD

Luzhsky range (outside Luga) – As expected Putin came to Luzhsky range in Leningrad Oblast for the main event. There he took some lazy photo ops pretending to hold binoculars without looking at them, because they had large monitors setup in front of the glass showing the events, which were also taking place right in front of the window. Russian MoD brought out newer T-90M, T-80BVM upgrade and BMPT to show off in front of the leadership.

Large monitor screens in front of the window somewhat block the binoculars, he’s just holding them seemingly annoyed for the photographer to take this photo op

Putin and crew

Not even faking it

Putin and Gerasimov.JPG

Su-24Ms did a large bombing run at the range, while Su-25s were busy killing enemy convoys. Su-24MP recon variants provided targeting data, along with drones. Mi-28Ns, Ka-52s and Mi-35M helicopters all had a busy day.

Mi-28N at Luzhsky.JPG

Russian forces practiced employing drones as part of a recon strike complex, including artillery recon systems such as Aistenok, targeting and communications system Strelets, along with artillery systems MSTA-B, MSTA-S, BM-21 Grad, and Sani. The goal was to practice command and control of different types of forces, together with EW and air defense units in support, while recon assets fed targeting data in real time. Seems they were using precision munitions too, Krasnopol and Smelchak.

Lots of different types of units drilling at Luzhsky today and Strugi Krasniye (where the 76th Pskov seems to be). Sprut and Shturm-S tank destroyers got to do live fire exercises, along with Kornet ATGMs and Shmels with thermobaric rounds. Engineers practiced demining with UR-77 systems, while combat medics trained in evacuating the wounded from the field of battle. Russian and Belarusian MP units are guarding field command posts, defusing enemy IEDs and the like.

Bridging and MTO

At Kaputsin Yar in Astrakhan, news read that Iskander-M units ran combat launches at 480km range, hitting Makat fire range. In reality it seems to have been R-500 cruise missile variant.

Units named so far as participating include 25th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, 138th Motor Rifle Brigade and 2nd Tamanskaya Division. About 600km wide front in terms of engagement according to Col-General Kartapolov, cdr of Western MD.

T-90M and BMPT at Luzhsky

T-90M and BMPT

VDV (Airborne) – The big day has basically arrived, VDV Divisions from Tula, Ivanovo and Pskov which had been first raised on alert on the 14th began marches to training ranges and loading onto Il-76s. 76th had already been engaged and doing combat drops, while 98th was getting ready for a drop yesterday. Looks like they did an air drop in bad weather later during the day, rain and low altitude cloud cover. I would expect 400-450 troops per air drop + 9-10 vehicles based on the preparations reported previously. About 10 Il-76s employed, seems the drop zone was Luzhsky range. One battalion from each division is likely to do an air drop during this exercise.

Before drop

vdv airborne

At the range

VDV

VKS (Aerospace Forces) – 6th Air and Air Defense Army had a lively day. Weather was bad, but Su-35s escorted Il-76s with VDV onboard to the drop zones. Combat aviation supported the airborne during their drop. Meanwhile Tu-22M3s practiced bombing runs against targets.

Northern Fleet – Peter the Great’s (Kirov-class) surface action group with a Sovremenny destroyer ran live fire exercises defending against enemy forces attempting to land marines on Sredniy Peninsula (just north of Murmansk). Enemy marines also tried to land on Ribachi peninsula to seize strategically vital terrain, where they were met with Russian naval infantry. Apparently Russian units, formed as a reinforced battalion, had to travel 100km to engage the assaulting marines with Su-24Ms and Mi-8 helicopters in support. About 600 naval infantry, 12 BTR-82As, and several artillery  units  were involved. Drones were use to correct ship artillery fire.

North Fleet Naval Inf.JPG

Baltic Fleet – Russian naval infantry and special designation units were busy at Khmelevka range and defending against enemy landings. Some of Baltic Fleet’s naval infantry took positions on the beach, holding ground in Kaliningrad. They dug in with T-72B1 tanks, BMP-2s, tank destroyers and other hardware. Naval infantry also conducted an amphibious landing from LST’s with BTR-82As swimming ashore and Ka-27 helicopters unloading infantry on the beach. Seems to have been a lively scene, Mi-35Ms were overhead, lots of flares and smoke. Photos suggest some units were practicing mine laying just off the beach as well. At Pravdinsky range Spetz units were busy with tactical exercises taking out diversionary groups and ‘illegal armed formations,’ basically urban assault against  infiltrators in buildings. Everyone seems to be complaining that the weather was bad. CBRN troops were working on fighting chemical weapons on a floating platform just off the beach.

Baltic Naval Infantry landing

LST landing.jpg

Defending force

more naval infantry photos

You can tell its raining (looks like B1/BA mix)

Pravdinsky in the raine.jpg

Black Sea Fleet – Outside Novorossiysk, in Tsemes Bay, the BSF nailed an enemy submarine (sorry Turkey). Apparently it tried to sneak in while enemy high speed boats were distracting the defending ships. The enemy submarine manage to land enemy divers, but specialized Russian PDSS diver units found them, meanwhile a small anti-submarine ship (Povorino) sunk the enemy submarine with depth charges. Situational awareness provided by Orlan-10 and Electron drones. BSF minesweepers and small missile boats (about 2) were also involved in various drills outside Sevastopol, minesweeping, artillery and missile fires, etc. Be-12 maritime patrol craft and Su-30SMs supported the operations.

Eastern MD – In Khabarovsk the Eastern MD began some sort of ‘special tactical training’ with Spetz units. Seems they did an air drop by parachute and via Mi-8AMTsh helicopters at night. Probably a Spetsnaz unit. In Primorye, at Turgenevsky trange, specialized units in CBRN trained in dealing with chemical warfare. Apparently enemy diversionary groups got this far and had chemical weapons with them. Although part of the exercise seems to be dealing with potential chemical or ammonia leaks from a factory, evacuating civilians, clearing gases and chemicals, so it is perhaps oriented towards consequences of damage to industrial facilities. A host of specialized equipment being used: RHM-6, TMS-65U, ARS-14KM, and smoke machines for cover TDA-3 (the latter part is to cover the movement of ground forces). About one battalion, 500 men and 100 vehicles involved in this exercise.

eastern md.jpg

Southern MD (catching up on this one) – 8th Combined Arms Army, the latest CAA setup with Ukraine as its primary contingency, concluded its exercise at the Prydboi (Volgograd oblast) training range. The news is odd, says concluded but other info suggests the exercise is still ongoing. A mix of units including T-90A, BMP-3, MSTA-S, Tornado-G, and 120mm Hosta were involved. Drones were also an important part of the exercise, providing real time situational awareness to commanders, reconnaissance of routes for armored columns, etc. About 2000 men and 500 pieces of equipment were involved from motor rifle detachments of the Southern MD based in Rostov and Volgograd regions. Artillery units participating counted 500 men and 100 various systems.  Seems they’re wrapping up as the main piece  of Zapad is just launching, likely offset so as not to scare neighboring countries too much.

Fairly large scale exercise with elements of the 49th CAA taking place, including Stavropol, Krasnodar regions, and Abkhazia. Motor Rifle units from a mountain brigade in Karachay-Cherkessia (Stavropol) had been drilling since September 15 at Zalenchyski range. Seems about 1300 men and 250 pieces of equipment listed, drilling with Olran-10 drones, EW companies, Spetz units, and specialized logistics detachments. They even used horses from the logistics unit, which apparently has 80 of them, to drag a Podnos mortar unit onto one of the mountains at 4000m altitude.

Central MD – Air Defense Units have been practicing at Ashylyk in Astrakhan throughout the Zapad exercise, but it is somewhat co-mingled with the ‘Combat Commonwealth 2017’ exercise done with CIS members. A bit hard to tell which is which 🙂  Anyway in Tuva a mountain motor rifle brigade was concluding its exercises. They fielded a BTG against an enemy equipped with drones, EW, and other high end equipment. About 1000 men, 100 pieces of equipment were involved. This seems to be the light brigade in Central MD, based on Tigr vehicles.

Chekessia

Earlier on during the exercise at Totsk range in Orenburg artillery and armor units from Central MD ran live fire exercises with T-72B3 tanks and MLRS systems, about 2000 men and 400 pieces of equipment listed for that one. I hadn’t mentioned it earlier because those units in Orenburg were raised on alert 12th September, before Zapad started (sneaky sneaky) and hence was never part of my coverage. Meanwhile about 1000 men from an air defense units were drilling at Kaputsin Yar, with Tunguska, Buk-M2, Tor-M1 and Strela-10.

tor-my_550

Notable photos:

Russian psychological eval unit torturing soldiers in preparation for exercise (looks like they’re picking out wall paint colors)

physchological preparation

Deputy commander of 3rd MRR 4th Division and his command kit (lots of colors)

here is the tank battalion deputy commander

Baltic Fleet CBRN unit (this looks like fun)

21587290_1983295155246564_9000925600254627069_o

Teenage angst in T-80BV

not having the best day.jpg

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