2500 Russian Airborne Troops Involved in a Training Operation, Close to the NATO Borders
Russian airborne units began an exercise involving more than 2500 troops in the Pskov district, in the area located close to the borders of Latvia and Estonia. The operation is scheduled to last for five days, and it is going to include large parachute drops, and infiltration operations involving helicopters, in unprepared areas. The final phase of the exercise is to be observed by the chief commander of the Russian airborne component, General Vladimir Shamanov.
The exercise is planned for the period between 15th and 20th February. The activities are going to involve more than 2500 soldiers, and more than 300 armoured vehicles and other examples of combat equipment. The plan includes troops and equipment parachute drops. Moreover, the Russians will also train the procedures related to using and selecting austere landing locations and dropping the soldiers in the area of operations with the use of the helicopters. Russian airborne troops will also be involved in assault training, they are going to establish a logistics base and air defence perimeters, with the use of the latest types of armament and equipment.
The Pskov-district exercise is going to be a proving ground for the “Polet-K” automated fire control system and the “Andromeda-D” battlefield management system, with the latter one being tailored to the requirements of the airborne units. Not only does the Andromeda-D suite facilitate communications and positioning, but it also provides the units in field with means of multimedia communications, including conference calls or UAV data transmission.
The latter issue is especially important, since UAVs are going to be used extensively during the exercise, along with other modern radio-electronic equipment.
The exercise is going to be realized with involvement on the part of transport and combat aviation units of the Western Military District. The members of the elite 76th Airborne Division based in Pskov are going to be the main actors of the operational activities, however some of the participants and equipment are going to be deployed in the area of operations with the use of the Il-76 aircraft.
The exercise is worrying for Latvia and Estonia. Both of these NATO member states are under strong military and political pressure imposed by Moscow. Exercise involving significant quantity of airborne units, close to the border, is perceived as a preparatory step taken before a potential invasion and as a military threat. Similar exercise involving the Pskov airborne unit took place in the summer of 2014.
Lately, the Russian Army has been involved in numerous exercises and readiness tests, including large exercise within the area of the Eastern Military District. Motorized and reconnaissance units, on the other hand, were being trained last week in the Western Military District, adjacent to the territory controlled by NATO. The operations were focused on neutralizing “reconnaissance and sabotage groups”, and on employment of the UAVs. Russian Naval Infantry, on the other hand, got involved in a series of training operations in extreme winter conditions. This activity is focused, inter alia, on provision of training for the reconnaissance units and for the snipers.