“The Russian Air Force was created and armed on obsolete principles typical of the mid-20th century. They are preparing for large-scale extraction operations that have not been carried out in a long time,” says Military Watch Magazine.
Indeed, in all the armed conflicts of the last decade, the domestic airborne forces were used not as a landing force, but as a well-trained infantry. There were two exceptions.
On August 21, 1968, during Operation Danube, to capture the capital of Czechoslovakia, Prague, simultaneously units and units of two airborne divisions, the 7th and 103rd, landed with a landing.
In December 1979, the 103rd from Vitebsk was also carried out by the method of landing. It should be noted – and this is important – in 1968 and 1979 there was no resistance to the landing of troops.
It is worth emphasizing once again that during these operations, the landing was not made with a parachute, but with a full landing. The latter has not been used on a mass scale since the Great Patriotic War.
Despite the minimum experience of landing operations, the Air Force is traditionally equipped with “special” mobile equipment.
Thus, a whole family of combat vehicles and weapons of various purposes was created and is being produced for paratroopers. These include, first of all, from the 1st to the 4th models (BMD), BTR-MDM “Rakushka”, airborne self-propelled artillery mounts (ACS-57 and SU-85), 120-mm self-propelled guns. 2S9 , 125 mm self-propelled guns 2S25 “Octopus”.
Since the equipment developed and manufactured to equip the Air Force is designed for parachuting from Il-76 aircraft, it has light bulletproof armor, is made of aluminum alloys and has significantly lower security compared to equipment used by the ground forces. This, of course, worsens his fighting qualities.
Another systemic problem concerns military transport aviation.
The fact is that the main domestic transport aircraft Il-76 was “sharpened” precisely for the needs of the landing troops. As a result, the dimensions of the cargo compartment do not allow the transportation of equipment, with the exception of weapons of the Airborne Forces. Everything else is not included without a complete disassembly. For example, helicopters need to be dismantled as well as airplanes. In terms of dimensions on the IL-76, anti-aircraft missile systems also do not fit.
At the same time, the IL-76 can carry almost anything in terms of carrying capacity. Theoretically, it can lift 80% of domestic military equipment, but it cannot be placed on an aircraft.
At the same time, it is important that in the last half century, during hostilities, not a single battalion has ever been parachuted from the Il-76.
The airborne troops are now called the Reserve Commander-in-Chief, but in order to truly meet this requirement, it is necessary to radically change the organizational structure of the air force and equip these troops with heavy equipment – the landing force needs more armor to effectively conduct offensive operations.
It is appropriate to preserve the total staff of the Air Force, leaving the troops all existing names (including honorary ones), banners, uniforms and blue berets.
The organizational structure and armament of the airborne assault (airborne) division should probably look like this. Instead of aluminum armored BMDs, parachute regiments should have heavy T-15 infantry fighting vehicles based on the promising T-14 Armata tank. The tank regiment should receive the T-14, and the self-propelled artillery regiment – 2S35 “Coalition-SV” guns.
The airborne division should be equipped with the required number of unmanned aerial vehicles for various purposes from light to heavy impact.
In such formations, it is recommended to move away from regular units, such as a parachute company, and continue to fight with tactical modules.
The composition of the minimum tactical module in this case may look, for example, as follows: one or two T-14 Armata tanks, two or three heavy T-15 infantry fighting vehicles, a fire support vehicle equipped with a 57 mm cannon, a 152 mm cannon, a combat assault vehicle equipped with a combat control vehicle and a support vehicle.
Such a unit would have greater potential than regular motorized rifle units, and most importantly, would have equally effective mobility and security. In short, the main indicator of the success of airborne units on the battlefield today is improved armor protection.
The author’s view may not coincide with the editors’ position.
Mikhail Mikhailovich Khodarenok is a military observer for socialbites.ca, a retired colonel.
Graduated from the Minsk Higher Engineering Anti-Aircraft Missile School (1976),
Air Defense Military Command Academy (1986).
Commander of the S-75 anti-aircraft missile battalion (1980–1983).
Deputy commander of an anti-aircraft missile regiment (1986-1988).
Senior officer of the Air Defense Forces Chief of Staff (1988-1992).
General Staff Main Operations Directorate Officer (1992-2000).
Graduate of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (1998).
Columnist for Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2000–2003), editor-in-chief of the Military Industrial Courier newspaper (2010–2015).