We’ve almost made it, only one day to go. What could possibly go wrong? Seriously speaking though, other exercises starting up in the Far East suggest that some drills will continue past the September 20th date. Key activities:
- VDV conducted air drop, raiding, and airbase assault
- Kaliningrad repelled an enemy attack with a task organized BTG
- Russia’s Navy fought off surface action groups and amphibious landings in the Barents with ship borne, submarine, and CDCM launches
- Ground forces employed Iskander-K (R-500)
- Eastern MD went on alert in preparation for a larger ground force exercise while Central MD’s Tajikistan base also began to run drills
- VKS were busy intercepting enemy airpower and incoming cruise missiles
BLUF: Russian forces transitioned from simulated to actual strikes and offensive operations. R-500 GLCM was launched from Leningrad Oblast in Western MD. All in all, there was a healthy demonstration of Russia’s long range precision guided munitions, submarine, ship, coastal defense and ground launched. Horizontal escalation could be seen in the Eastern and Central MD. Scenarios unfolded expecting strikes in Central MD, and Eastern MD troops prepared for a large scale exercise in their district to repel ground forces.
Osipovichsky range – Russian and Belarusian ground forces stopped NATO’s advance at the range, 4th Division’s newest motor rifle regiment continues the fight with T-80BV tanks. Artillery units engaged with Tornado-G, MSTA-S, Giatsint, BM-21 Grad. Belarus used Mi-8MTV-5 to ferry Russian airborne units onto the battlefield. Mi-28Ns provided air support in repelling the enemy. Belarusian drones Busel and Berkyt were employed to recon and target enemy positions for their MLRS detachments using BM-30 Smerch and Polonez. Not all went to plan – the weather was terrible and there was a 30 minute operational pause between defense and counter-attack – apparently someone important had to arrive to see the latter part.
Borisovsky – Various combined groupings including VDV, artillery and combat aviation had a day of fighting. Here 6th Tank BDE from 1st Guards Tank Army. Spetsnaz units were shown for the first time, and they highlighted the employment of KRUS ‘Strelets’ systems for navigation, reconnaissance and communication.
Western MD, where a lot of the action continues (and the occasional live fire accident)
Luzhsky range – Everything was going well, until it wasn’t. A Ka-52 fired S-8 rockets near a crowd of observers. Unclear if it was a weapon malfunction or a judgment malfunction. Three people were hurt, plus a Leer-3 EW vehicle designed to command specialized Orlan drones.
Here is a video of the stike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=4DGQVkuJ1p8
There’s a site with the helicopter’s gun camera http://www.yapfiles.ru/show/1756678/38dd695ae47ae3c0af890282b013b053.mp4.html
Here is the Leer-3 afterwards.
Pantsir-S1 air defense units practiced against low flying targets, with a An-2 simulating enemies at 50m altitude and 200km speed. Aerosol and smoke cover provided by specialized CBRN support troops. MTO troops continued to do MTO things, lots of fascinating stats were provided on number of mobile kitchens setup, etc.
Iskander R-500 cruise missile launches. As promised, they went from electronically simulated strikes to actual launches of cruise missiles today. Luzhsky range same some solid escalation.
Electronic Warfare – Apparently for the first time in exercises EW troops deployed the RB-109A Bylina automatic control system that greatly increases the effectiveness of EW systems, and more importantly eliminates EW fratricide in terms one’s own comms systems. There’s not been much talk about what EW systems are actually being used, although Leer-3 drone EW system has been show multiple times.
VKS Aerospace Forces – Mig-31BMs were busy intercepting incoming cruise missiles fired by enemy planes. They were also engaged in a large air defense operation, intercepting 30 enemy targets approaching the practice ranges in Leningrad Oblast.
VDV Airborne – Another parachuting exercise took place at Strugi Krasniye near Pskov, conducted by the 76h Division based there. Looks like they dropped again near the range, perhaps a different battalion though – since this one had BMD-4Ms in it. Poor weather notwithstanding the drop was made at 800m, with about one battalion of 400 troops and 10 vehicles. After landing they assaulted an enemy airfield. Then the units conducted a raid with BMD-4M and BTR-MD Rakushka, crossing a some water obstacle in the process (perhaps a small river), and overcoming the muddy ground in the area.
Yep that’s mud
Northern Fleet – Peter the Great (Kirov-class) launched five SS-N-19 anti-ship missiles in the Barents Sea at a simulated adversary, together with Admiral Ushakov, which fired a Moskit missile. Alongside the surface action group the live fire exercise was joined by Voronezh and Orel, two Oscar-II SSGNs. Ships in different positions converged missiles on targets at 200-300km range. The goal was to integrate a surface action group, SSGNs, and maritime aviation to service an enemy SAG at sea.
Bastion-P complexes back at the tip of Teriberskiy also fired on enemy forces at sea – range 400km. Yes, that’s right, according to them it was 400km for a complex that officially has a range of 350km in anti-ship roles 🙂 Bastion goes up to 450km but this supposedly is against surface targets in high-high flight profile trajectory which is not what they were testing. From Kotelniy Island, Rubezh fired two Termit missiles (vintage shorter range systems) at 50km range. An Udaloy class destroyer also conducted live fire drills in the same area. This was the “Arctic defense” part of the exercise. Official numbers for Northern Fleet participation are 5,000 troops and 300 pieces of equipment.
Baltic Fleet/Kaliningrad – Pravdinsky range where most of the Baltic Fleet’s 11th Army Corps is drilling had its largest day of battle. BMD-2 vehicles suggest VDV was present in support of motor rifle units together with artillery. Orlan-10 and Grusha drones were employed throughout training, while naval aviation provided support (Su-24 + Su-34). They also had Platforma-M combat UGVs. The mission was straightforward, they found a ‘diversionary group’ and had to march 60km to engage it. The forces were task organized with units from the motor rifle regiment, reinforced by artillery, and airborne units. After forcing a retreat, with Mi-24 helicopters and MLRS systems the enemy was chased down and destroyed. Weather continued to be poor, nothing but rain.
Bal coastal defense units engaged enemy ships with anti-ship missiles along with those fired by a Steregushchiy corvette. The coastal defense missile battery hit a target at sea, while one of the corvettes fired a Uran missiles (sea based variant of same Kh-35). Enemy forces supposedly had jamming and EW. Unclear how that was simulated, perhaps another ship since they were also practicing EW at sea.
Black Sea Fleet – Admiral Grigorovich frigate and the fleet’s newest corvette, Vyshniy Volochek, put to sea for some sea trials and practiced air defense. Turks are visiting Novorossiysk with a LST for some sort of port of call.
Southern MD – Logistics units in Abkhazia, at the Tsabal range, trained in deploying a modern mobile communications system (Redut) in mountainous terrain which allows one to setup a unified radio communications network. They practiced setting up 32m antenna masts to establish a 2 mbps/sec network. This is much lower bandwidth than what’s up at Western MD but still quite interesting. The soldiers worked to setup communications at different frequencies and video conferencing (wonder how well their VTC technology works, and if its anything like ours…). Around 300 servicemen and 100 pieces of specialized equipment took part. Some named pieces of kit include Artek station mounted on a BTR-80, satellite communications Liven on an Ural base, radiorelay L1 on Kamaz.
Eastern MD – About 3000 troops and 500 pieces of equipment are deploying various drills on Sakhalin. Their large scale exercise is just beginning it seems. The war finally spread to the far east, and they too must find enemy recon groups and prepare to defend against enemy ground forces. T-72B tanks, BM-27 Uragan, BM-21 Grad and Giatsint-S systems will be deployed. Drone support includes Orlan and Zastava, while air support consists of Su-25s and Mi-8AMTSh helicopters. Supposedly various flamethrower units will be used as well. In Zabaykalsky Krai (borders Mongolia) Russian S-300 units began drills in defending key MoD infrastructure. About 200 servicemen and 40 pieces of equipment involved.
Central MD -Tajikistan suddenly came alive. Seems Russian soldiers from 201st based there were airlifted to seize the command post of enemy bandits/diversionary groups. CBRN troops deployed heavy smoke and aerosols to cover movement of forces. Meanwhile in Republic of Khakassia railway forces began training in bridge laying 4 bridges with a cumulative length of 1000m across a river. The scenario is quite interesting, some naughty adversary fired PGMs and destroyed the railway bridge over the river Enisey. Hence about 1500 servicemen and 550 pieces of specialized equipment have been raised on alert to restore the railway link across the river. Interesting assumption that Russian interior lines of communication could be severed at this stage of the conflict and railway troops are ready to be summoned in order to restore them (could be US or China really that’s to blame).
Spetsnaz kill (element of surprise possibly ruined by photographer standing right there)
Foreign observers (is that a selfie moment in progress?)