Upgraded T-72B3 main battle tanks will be the core of the tank companies being formed by the Russian Airborne Force, the Gazeta.ru news portal reported on June 22.
The modified tanks are fitted out with more powerful engines. It is also equipped with add-on turret, and bottom and side armor protection. Uralvagonzavod Director General Oleg Siyenko said that the tank companies will have received about 200 upgraded T-72B3 during 2016 alone.
According to Colonel General Vladimir Shamanov, tank companies will become a part of the air assault brigades of the Russian Airborne Force from December 1, while the tanks will be delivered after August. Enlistees, rather than draftees, will have formed all noncommissioned officer billets in the branch by December 1. The objective is to achieve an enlisteds-to-draftees ratio of 80:20. As of today, only one air assault brigade has become all-volunteer.
The Colonel General said that there will be six tank companies in the Airborne Force. He also added that the Airborne will have received two companies of unmanned aerial vehicles, including attack ones, and two electronic warfare companies in 2016.
According to expert Victor Murakhovsky, the accumulated experience (Afghanistan, north Caucasus and other hot spots in the former USSR) showed that the Russian Airborne Force should be supplemented with tanks. The tank is the key element of combined-arms battle. Previously, when needed, the Airborne borrowed tanks from the Army, but now tanks will be an organic part of the air assault units. Previously, SouthFront reported that the Russian Airborne Force will receive an unspecified number of T-72B3 main battle tanks to provide the airborne units with heavy armor capability.
At present, numerous combat vehicles are in development for the Russian Airborne Force, such as the Taifun four-wheeled vehicle. Now the air assault troops are testing the advanced RKhM-5 CBRN reconnaissance vehicle. Recently, the Airborne has received BMD-4M airborne infantry fighting vehicle and BTR-MDM Rakushka armored personnel carrier as well as quadbikes and snowmobiles.
In the upcoming years the Russian Airborne Force will also receive 2S25SDM-1 Sprut light tanks/tank destroyers armed with 125mm cannon, Zauralets-D 122mm airdroppable self-propelled howitzer and variuos supporting vehicles.