MOSCOW, July 31. /TASS/. Russia’s Airborne Forces in 2018 will form three tank battalions - two in the 76th airborne assault division and 7th airborne assault mountain division and one in an airborne assault brigade, Airborne Forces Commander Colonel-General Andrey Serdyukov told TASS.
"Next year three tank companies will be reformed into tank battalions in two airborne assault divisions and in one airborne assault brigade," Serdyukov said on the eve of the forthcoming 87th anniversary of the Airborne Forces.
Asked when the three other tank companies formed within the Airborne Forces last year would be converted to tank battalions, Serdyukov said research into this possibility was still underway.
Earlier on Monday Serdyukov recalled that tank companies were created in all of Russia’s large airborne units - two divisions and four separate brigades (one company in each).
The troop strength of the Russian Airborne Force personnel exceeds 45,000, he went on. According to him, around 70% of the personnel are military volunteers.
"Our troop strength exceeds 45,000, while around 70% of personnel are military volunteers, and about 30% are conscripts," Serdyukov said.
The general also said that the main goal of the Russian Airborne Force is participating in containment activities in strategic areas and fulfilling tasks in cooperation with other military branches aimed at resolving crisis situations in the period of threat and in the time of war. In the time of peace, the Russian Airborne Force continues to perform tasks concerning strategic deterrence and may also take part in peacekeeping operations.
Russia’s Airborne Forces this year will receive about 150 newly-manufactured BMD-4M combat vehicles and BTR-MDM Rakushka personnel carriers, he went on.
"In accordance with the state program for armaments the Airborne Forces are getting new vehicles on time. We will receive three battalions of BMD-4M and BTR-MDM armored vehicles - 150 pieces all in all," Serdyukov said on Monday on the eve of the 87th anniversary of the Airborne Forces.
One battalion set of new vehicles had already been delivered and two more are expected by the beginning of December.
"One battalion of the 31st airborne assault brigade has already been armed with the new vehicles. Another set will be handed over to the same brigade on August 1. The vehicles have been delivered to the brigade already and will be handed over to the personnel in a special ceremony. A third set will be provided for the battalion of the 237th regiment of the 76th airborne assault division in November," Serdyukov said.
"These vehicles (a third set - TASS) are being manufactured already. There are no doubts they will be delivered on time," Serdyukov said.
BMD-4M has an automated fire control system and new navigation equipment. Sophisticated electronics considerably facilitates targeting on the move at high speeds across rugged terrain.
BTR-MDM Rakushka is a parachutable personnel carrier developed at the Volgograd tractor plant. It has a mass of 13.2 tonnes and is armed with two machine-guns. Rakushka has a crew of two and can carry an assault group of up to 13 men. It is meant for transporting manpower, ammunition, spare parts and fuel and lubricants.