Sep 14, 2021
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“Cutting off large-scale threats”: what new methods of warfare were worked out in the exercise “West-2021”

Participants of the joint strategic exercise (SSU) of the troops of the Russian Federation and Belarus “West-2021” applied a number of new tactical techniques, according to the press service of the defense ministries of the two states. In particular, a “helicopter carousel”, the interception of cruise missiles of a simulated enemy with the help of fighters and various methods of dealing with UAVs were tested at the test ranges. As noted in the Russian defense department, the tasks performed by the troops of the allied states are based on the experience of the Syrian campaign. According to experts, Zapad-2021 allows the Russian army to hone practical combat skills and share the accumulated experience with Belarusian colleagues.

During the joint strategic exercise (SSU) of the troops of the Russian Federation and Belarus “West-2021”, a number of new elements of combat training were used. This is stated in the messages of the press services and officials of the Ministry of Defense of the two states.

In particular, the participants in the maneuvers practiced large-scale airborne assaults in the dark, the tactics of a “helicopter carousel”, the interception of imaginary enemy cruise missiles using fighter aircraft, and various methods of countering UAVs.

SSU “West-2021” is held from 10 to 16 September at nine training grounds in the Russian Federation, five sites in Belarus and in the Baltic Sea. The main stage of the exercise started on September 13 at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region.

In total, up to 200 thousand people, about 80 aircraft and helicopters, up to 15 ships, up to 760 units of military equipment, including 290 tanks, 240 guns, multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and mortars, are involved in the implementation of the tasks.

In addition to the Russian and Belarusian troops, the military contingents of Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia are participating in the events within the framework of the West-2021 exercise. According to the Ministry of Defense, they are practicing actions “to repel an offensive, conduct a maneuverable defense, deliver a concentrated fire strike and defeat the” enemy “grouping that has wedged in.

“An event of this scale is unique in many ways. Its scope, the composition of the participating states, the number of personnel and equipment involved testify to the increased importance of joint training of our armed forces, ”Deputy Defense Minister of the Russian Federation Nikolai Pankov explained at the opening ceremony of the SSU.

“Everything is as taught”

In one of the first days of the exercise at the Brest training ground, night landing was practiced from Il-76MD military transport aircraft. According to the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Belarus, servicemen of the army special forces of the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan participated in the landing.

The landing of the Russian military was carried out using parachute systems of the “Wing” type. A feature of this class of products is the ability to plan for tens of kilometers from the point of discharge.

In the Russian army, the most modern such parachute is the Stayer. It allows landing from heights of 700 to 10 thousand meters with a maximum flight weight of up to 180 kg. The system is supplied to the intelligence units of the RF Armed Forces.

At the Brest training ground, the Russian special forces were given a non-trivial task – to land in a given area from a height of 1.5 thousand meters first without illuminating the territory. When choosing a landing site, the military relied solely on special night vision goggles.

“When this task was completed, Belarusian and Kazakh paratroopers landed from a height of 600 m on D-6 parachutes. The allied landing party immediately began to carry out combat training tasks within the framework of the exercises, ”the press service of the Belarusian Defense Ministry said.

Another night landing as part of a strategic exercise was carried out in the Pskov region. There, about 700 people with equipment were landed on the landfill. The interval between leaving the plane was no more than one second. The servicemen were able to avoid collisions in the air and found landmarks with the help of night vision devices.

“We act as taught. Of course, it is an unforgettable experience to make the first jump at night! ” – quoted by the TV channel “Zvezda” a soldier of the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division of the Airborne Forces Alexei Batuev.

According to experts, landing in the dark and with equipment is one of the most difficult elements of combat training. Despite the availability of special equipment, military personnel must overcome many difficulties associated with maintaining a distance after a jump and navigating the terrain.

“Now we are working out a method of landing with the use of modern visualization and reconnaissance means, when high-precision coordinates determinants allow landing the most accurately in a given area. With such equipment, the night is not an obstacle for large-scale operations, “military expert Alexei Leonkov explained in a commentary on RT.

  • Night landing of units and equipment of the Pskov Airborne Forces during the SSU “West-2021”

Also, during the SSU, the tactics of “helicopter carousel” (“firing carousel”) were used. It was worked out by the crews of the Mi-35 and Mi-24 attack rotorcraft of the Western Military District in order to cover the ground group of forces.

The shelling was carried out with Shturm-V and Attack-M anti-tank missiles, S-8 unguided ammunition and standard airborne weapons. The targets installed at the range imitated manpower, armored vehicles and various enemy targets.

The essence of the “helicopter carousel” is to maintain a constant fire impact on the enemy. To achieve this effect, acting as a part of the units, the car crews line up in a “circle” and alternately strike.

Transfer of experience

According to experts, one of the most unusual techniques demonstrated at the Zapad-2021 exercise was the interception of the conditional enemy’s cruise missiles by the Su-27 heavy fighters of the Baltic Fleet.

According to the scenario, at the command of the air defense forces on duty, a pair of aircraft were lifted from the Chkalovsk airfield in the Kaliningrad region to destroy the enemy’s means of attack. The pilots destroyed the enemy’s ammunition with air-to-air missiles.

From the data of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, it follows that the technical capabilities of Russian aviation make it possible to intercept various types of missiles, including supersonic ones. In addition to the Su-27, the MiG-31 interceptor fighter is capable of performing such tasks.

According to the head of the Bureau of Military-Political Analysis, Alexander Mikhailov, the destruction of missiles is not included in the main functionality of the Russian Aerospace Forces. However, it makes sense to periodically practice this technique as an element of training to repel a massive missile attack.

“In the context of the Zapad-2021 exercise, we can say that different methods of intercepting air attack means are one of the components of the construction and improvement of a single layered air defense system of Russia and Belarus, aimed, among other things, at stopping large-scale missile threats,” Mikhailov explained.

A significant episode of the strategic exercise was the development of methods for dealing with shock and reconnaissance UAVs.

As Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov told reporters on August 12, thanks to the Syrian operation, the Russian military gained rich experience in this area.

Recall that in the Arab Republic, bandit formations constantly used drones to attack the Khmeimim airbase. For the defense of the airfield, the grouping of the RF Armed Forces used anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) and electronic warfare (EW).

  • Russian servicemen at the opening ceremony of the SSU of the troops of the Russian Federation and Belarus “West-2021”
  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

However, in numerous exercises and exercises, Russian military personnel are perfecting a variety of methods of intercepting drones, including firing at aerial targets with machine guns, machine guns and sniper rifles.

At the Zapad-2021 maneuvers, as Yevkurov said, Russian servicemen willingly share their accumulated knowledge with colleagues.

“This experience (countering UAVs. – RT), without hiding anything, we pass on to our brothers Belarusians and members of the CSTO, together with them we conduct exercises and introduce this experience, “Yevkurov said.

In general, as reported in the materials of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the training and combat missions in the Zapad-2021 exercise are based primarily on the experience of military operations in Syria.

According to Mikhailov, the Russian army is the most important source of knowledge for the Belarusian military in the field of improving tactical techniques. According to the expert, the Syrian operation has made it possible to significantly enrich the military art of Russia.

“The Belarusians are actively borrowing tactics of warfare from our soldiers and officers, many of whom have either been on a business trip to Syria or received training based on the Syrian experience,” Mikhailov said.

According to the interlocutor of RT, the maneuvers contribute to a truly deep integration of the armies of the Russian Federation and Belarus, and the assimilation of the experience gained in Syria is not the last in this process.

Alexey Leonkov adheres to a similar point of view. The expert noted that the Syrian operation led to a serious change in the training and combat training programs of the RF Armed Forces.

“The Syrian experience has significantly influenced the changes in combat regulations. In the campaign, new types of weapons and military equipment were tested, new tactical techniques were worked out. Russia is actively integrating this experience into its own army and during the Zapad-2021 exercise it shares it with allies and partners, “Leonkov summed up.

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