Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

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Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

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Compiled and analyzed by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Executive Summary

The big news stories of the week are the large BMP-3 procurement contract and the delivery of BTR-82A armored vehicles to Syria. The BMP-3 contract suggests that while the Armata/Kurganets/Bumerang families of armored vehicles will be the mainstay of the Russian Ground Forces in about a decade or so, there is a perceived urgent need to field significant numbers of upgraded older vehicles in the near future. It is not clear whether that need has to do with the perception of the emerging threat that will require a large-scale conventional response by the Russian military, or the need to maintain the production lines in operation until the new vehicle families are ready for mass production. In any event, in the near-term the Russian Army is betting on the T-72B3/BMP-3/BTR-82 as the intermediate solution to the problem of fielding modern armored vehicles in significant numbers.

The delivery of BTR-82As to Syria represents an upgrade of the Russian effort to aid that country’s armed forces. There are even rumors these vehicles are there with Russian crews, and that the Russian military is gearing up to actively participate in the Syria conflict. The VVS training exercises in the Southern Military District featuring Il-76MDs operating from field strips and executing anti-missile maneuvers also suggests the possibility of a Russia-Syria airlift.

Aside from that, this week’s stories show the scope of Russia’s efforts to upgrade its airpower through the procurement of sizable numbers of modern aerial munitions to arm the Su-30 and Su-35 aircraft being delivered, as well as the MiG-35 fighters that are likely to enter production as well. Here, too the emphasis is on upgrading existing systems rather than waiting until the PAK-FA enters service years from now.

It is also evident that Russia’s security in the Far East is being crafted through a growing and increasingly intimate relationship with the People’s Republic of China, as evidenced by the military exercises and the plans to deliver Su-35 fighters to the PRC, which would be a major asset in that country’s confrontation with Japan (and the US) over the South China Sea.

Last but not least, Arctic remains a major focus for the Russian military, and the situation in Eastern Ukraine is not being forgotten either, as evidenced by the nature of the military exercises held by the Russian Ground Forces…

Strategic Forces

1. Vladimir Putin presented with a “secret Russian weapon”

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Moscow
By definition, any weapon wielded by Vladimir Putin qualifies as a strategic weapon, hence the inclusion of the “flying axe” in this category.

2. Aleksandr Nevskiy SSBN to begin its first combat patrol in the fall

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Vilyuchinsk
The Borey-class Aleksandr Nevskiy SSBN has begun its under-ice passage to the Pacific Fleet, carrying a full combat load of 16 Bulava SLBMs. The ship will receive servicing and maintenance on the Kamchatka Peninsula, before joining the 25th Submarine Division in Vilyuchinsk, as part of the Pacific Fleet. It will begin its first nuclear deterrence patrol in October.

3. Voronezh-DM over-the-horizon radar nears completion

  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Barnaul

The Voronezh-DM system is intended to be part of the SPRN anti-ballistic missile warning system, though its over-the-horizon capability also gives it the ability to track aerial targets, including cruise missiles.

Ground Forces

4. Russian MOD to buy several hundred BMP-3 IFVs over three years.

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Kurgan, Kurgan District.

Russian MOD signed a three-year contract to procure several hundred BMP-3s over the next three years. It was not announced what configuration these vehicles will have, but there are a number of possibilities: the standard BMP-3 of which the Russian Army already operates 500 (unlikely), BMP-3M with the Bachkha-U turret used by BMD-4M airborne IFV (very likely), BMP-3M with the 57mm cannon profiled in last week’s Russia Military Report (unlikely), or even the BMP-3 Dragun variant rumored to be in development and which is expected to be shown in September 2015 at the Russian Arms Expo.

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
The Dragun variant has the same basic layout as the Kurganets-25 tracked IFV, and no doubt benefits from the experience gained in designing and developing the new vehicle. The BMP-3 contract is likely intended provide Kurganmashzavod with work until the Kurganets-25 is ready for mass production (hence the three-year contract period), provide the Russian Ground Forces with an interim upgraded IFV to serve alongside T-72B3/4 and BTR-82 until newer vehicles are available, and possibly launch production of various subsystems that will be used on the newer vehicles but which are already available for incorporation on older models, including weapons, observation and targeting systems, and active/passive defensive systems, many of which are likely to be incorporated into the newly procured BMP-3s.

5. Central Military District conducts artillery live fire

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015Location: Totskoye, Orenburg District
Weapons used included Grad and Uragan MRLs as well as Msta-S, Msta-B, and Khosta howitzers, with direction provided by Orlan-10 UAVs, AZK-7 sound-ranging systems and SNAR-10 Leopard ground-based radars, suggesting the emphasis of the exercise was the suppression of opposing artillery systems.  About 1500 soldiers from units based in Orenburg and Samara Districts took part in the exercise.

 

  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Yaroslavl

The 38th Separate Railroad Brigade built an 800m pontoon railroad bridge over the Volga River in the space of one day. One can’t escape thinking that both this and the immediately preceding story have immediate relevance to the events currently unfolding in Eastern Ukraine, where both the suppression of opposing artillery and rebuilding destroyed railroad bridges are a high priority…

Air Forces

7. AWACS suppression system demonstrated at MAKS-2015

  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Moscow

The system in question is the 1RL257E, also known as Krasukha-4, which is intended to jam AWACS aircraft within the radius of 400km, as well as interfere with the operation of enemy UAVs and aircraft.

 

8. 6th Air/Air-Defense Army reformed in the Western Military District

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

The 6th Army includes fighter, bomber, transport, and helicopter units equipped with Su-34, Su-35S, Su-30SM fighters, Mi-35, Ka-52, and Mi-28N helicopters, as well as S-300 and S-400 air defense systems.

9. Russian airbase expansion in the Arctic

  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Novaya Zemlya

Russia plans to build, renovate, and/or expand 9 airbases in the Arctic by 2018, according to the Engineering Main Directorate. One of the largest and most important will be the rebuilt Rogachevo airbase which is intended to base MiG-31BM fighters which will likely arrive there from Perm or Monchegorsk (Murmansk District). The base will be defended by an newly formed air defense regiment, and its responsibility includes maintaining surveillance over territory within the radius of 1000km. Units based on Novaya Zemlya will be under the command of the newly formed Northern Unified Strategic Command.  Other airfields in the Arctic are also being expanded, both to serve as air defense bases to protect Russia from an aerial attack from the North (including by cruise missiles), but also as forward operating bases for tactical bomber units permanently based in other parts of the country, such as the Su-34 which have already performed long-range flights over the Arctic in recent exercises.

  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

10. Khurba and Kipelovo airfield reconstruction

 

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Fedotovo, Vologda District and Khurba, Khabarovsk Krai.
The Kipelovo airbase near Fedotovo is having work done to facilitate the basing of Tu-142M naval patrol aircraft and Il-76 heavy transport aircraft, while the work performed at the Khurba airbase appears focused on facilities necessary to operate UAVs.

 11. 4th Air Army exercise in the Southern Military District

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Krasnodar and North Ossetia
The exercise involved 1500 personnel and 80 aircraft, including Mi-24 and Mi-28N attack helicopters, Su-24M and Su-34 bombers, Su-25 and Su-25SM attack aircraft, and Su-27 and Su-30M2 fighters.
Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Lukhovitsy, Moscow District
The aircraft currently under construction at the RSK-MiG facility at Lukhovitsy include several aircraft for India, but also carrier-based MiG-29KR for the Russian Navy, MiG-29SMT for the Air Force and at least one Generation 4++ MiG-35 to be presented to the Russian MOD in hopes of obtaining a larger procurement contract.
Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Totskoye, Orenburg District.
Russian MOD reports it was the first time in 30 years that combat engineers built a field strip capable of supporting heavy airlifters, which practiced landings and take-offs with rapid changes of altitude–a tactic last practiced during the Soviet war in Afghanistan… It’s enough to make one wonder whether there is an airlift planned for Syria to complement the stepped up sea deliveries.

14. New Missiles from KTRV
Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Korolyov, Moscow District

KTRV is the acronym for the Tactical Missile Weapon Corporation, Russia’s foremost tactical missile design consortium, and its newest offering is the Grom gliding bomb, which is described as having an anti-radar guidance system, though it is also possible it uses satellite navigation, which is standard guidance for similar weapons used by NATO.
Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

The other new weapon of note is the Kh-59MK2, a tactical cruise missile with advertised range of 290km and likely satellite navigation (GPS and/or GLONASS) navigation. These two munitions fill the gap in Russian air force arsenal, which still does not include guided gliding bombs or tactical cruise missiles in the same class as the US JASSM or European Taurus or SCALP.

15. Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile Procurement

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Moscow

The Russian MOD has put out a tender for the sum of over 13 billion rubles (!) to procure an unspecified number (!!) of unspecified medium-range air-to-air missiles (!!!), with delivery by the end of 2017. These missiles are almost certainly going to be the RVV-SD, or R-77, active-radar guided missiles which arm the latest Russian fighter aircraft.

16. Reconnaissance/strike Orion UAV to fly by the end of 2015

Location: St. Petersburg

The Orion UAV being designed by the firm Tranzas is billed as being in the same class as the US Predator UAV, with a useful load of 300kg and ability to operate in any weather at long ranges. Its first flight is expected by the end of 2015, and the VVS expect to receive the first operational Orions in 2017.

Naval Forces

Location: Norilsk
The Northern Fleet is conducting an exercise with the participation of the 80th Motorized Rifle Brigade (optimized for Arctic operations), Airborne Forces, special operations troops, and land-based aviation. The exercise includes defense against overland attack, tactical airborne assaults by VDV and spetsnaz forces, spetsnaz raids against critical facilities with air support, as well as an amphibious landing on the Kotelnyy Island by 80th MRB troops transported by two amphibious assault ships. What is striking about this operation is the inter-service cooperation by several branches of the armed forces, with the VDV (Airborne Forces) playing an important role.

18. Baltic Fleet receives a new fast patrol/attack boat

 

  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Kronshtadt
The new Project 03160 Raptor boat, capable of carrying 20 soldiers at speeds of up to 50 knots, will be based in Kronshtadt.  The Russian Navy expects to have 12 of these boats in service by the end of 2015.

19. Naval Forces to receive more Su-30SM fighters

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015

Location: Crimea
Naval Forces have already received 8 of these long-range fighters, with the total expected to exceed over 50 by 2020, many of which will be based in the Arctic and in the Pacific. The SU-30SMs assets include very long range and endurance, as well as the ability to engage a wide variety of targets, including cruise missiles.

20. VMF plans for heavy WIG craft

Location: Arkhangelsk

The Russian Navy expects to have heavy-lift wing-in-ground effect aircraft in service by 2020. The new craft will be modular in nature, giving them the ability to perform both transport and strike missions. No word on where such craft might be deployed, but the Arctic is an obvious choice, given the WIGs ability to travel over and land on ice.

21. VMF to receive a second carrier-based fighter regiment

Location: Severomorsk

At the moment the VMF has only one such regiment, the 279th, with Su-33 aircraft. The second regiment which will be formed by the end of 2015 will operate 20 MiG-29K fighters and 4 MiG-29UBK two-seater conversion trainers.

International Military Cooperation

22. China to become the first Su-35 foreign operator

 

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015Location: Komsomolsk-on-the-Amur
China is expected to buy 24 of these fighters–the contract is in the final stages of negotiation. The Russian VVS have already purchased 48 of these aircraft, and recently placed another order for 48 more.  The Chinese aircraft will be delivered wholly assembled, with no stage of production taking place in China.

23. Chinese naval ships arrive in Sevastopol for joint exercises

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Vladivostok
Altogether seven PLAN ships arrived in Vladivostok, including two destroyers, two frigates, two amphibious assault ships, and a supply ship. A big photo gallery is located at the link above.
Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Klerk, Maritime Province

Participating forces included naval infantry, combat aircraft, and amphibious assault ships from both countries. Numerous photographs at the link, showing the equipment used by the participating units.

25. Cooperation-2015

Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Location: Pskov
Cooperation-2015 is the codename for the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces (KSOR) of the Collective Security Treaty Organization countries. Participants in the exercise which is being held at the 76th Guards Airborne Division base in the Pskov District include Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
Fourteen of these vehicles have already been delivered, in batches of 6 and 8, by Russian amphibious assault ships. They have taken part in fighting in the Latakia province. Additional vehicles of this type are on the way aboard another ship heading for Syria from Russia.

Belarus already operates four of these aircraft, the last of which was delivered earlier this year.
28. Selenga-2015 military exercises

 

  • Russia Military Map, August 28, 2015
 Location: Tsugol, Transbaikal
The Selenga-2015 is another in a series of annual exercises conducted jointly by Russian and Mongolian armed forces.

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