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Airborne Force chief says only Russia capable of air-dropping military hardware

These capabilities will increase further with the development of military transport aviation, the commander said

MOSCOW, July 31. /TASS/. Only the Russian Armed Forces are capable of air-dropping their combat hardware from aircraft, Russia’s Airborne Force Commander Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov told TASS on Monday.

"All Airborne Force units of the armies of all major foreign military powers parachute only personnel and cargoes while military hardware is delivered by the landing rather than by the parachuting method. We, however, can air-drop whole airborne battalions and even airborne regiments and also combat hardware. These capabilities will increase further with the development of military transport aviation," the commander said on the eve of 87 years since Russia’s Airborne Force was established.

No other country in the world can feature such capabilities today, the commander said.

"Foreign armies have no parachuting means, which we have, and their hardware is not suitable for air-dropping. They have not dealt with this issue," the commander said.

The Russian Airborne Force will get a new Bakhcha-UPDS multi-cupola parachute system in 2018. The parachute system will make it possible to air-drop BMD-4M airborne infantry fighting vehicles with seven-member crews from military transport planes, the commander said.

The new parachute system will primarily start arriving for parachute infantry units and high-alert formations, he added.

"This year, the state trials of the Bakhcha-UPDS new parachute system designed to air-drop BMD-4M vehicles and other hardware from military transport planes are coming to a close. These trials are proceeding successfully. We are planning to finish this work by the end of the year and somewhere at the beginning of next year this system will become operational and will be primarily arriving in a planned manner for our parachute infantry units and high-alert units," the commander said.

"The BMD-4M is made precisely in its air-droppable version with the accommodation of personnel inside it and in this vehicle we can parachute seven people," the commander said.

For this purpose, the required equipment has been installed inside the BMD-4M and special seats for personnel have been installed, he said.

"Immediately after landing, this fighting vehicle with paratroopers inside can accomplish assigned missions, including combat and special assignments. Its ability to quickly leave the parachuting area after landing considerably increases its survivability," the Airborne Force commander said.

The BMD-4M is equipped with the automated fire control system and a new navigation system. Its advanced electronic equipment facilitates the crew’s aiming while moving at high speeds across rough terrain.

Strategic exercises 

This year, the Russian Airborne Troops will take part in two strategic exercises among other war games scheduled for 2017, both international and national, according to Serdyukov.

"As for international military cooperation, the Airborne Troops are much more in the thick of it than any other service or branch of the armed forces. This year we have already had four international war games," Serdyukov said.

He said, Russia and Belarus will team up in September for scheduled exercises code-named West 2017 to work on interaction assignments with other branches of the armed forces on the Western Strategic Direction. Also in September, Airborne Forces’ units will participate in Interaction-2017 strategic exercises of the CSTO rapid reaction forces, in Armenia, he added.

Following that, they will undertake joint anti-terrorism coordination exercises with Egypt, who will contribute about 100 paratroopers. The military drills will be held in September, near Crimea’s Novorossiisk port city. Besides, two joint exercises with the Special Operations Forces of Belarus are scheduled for this year.

"Currently, a delegation of the Airborne Troops led by the commander of the 11th separate air assault brigade, Colonel Ruslan Evdokimov, is in Brazil, hosted by a brigade of the Brazilian armed forces, to share opinions and discuss cooperation," the commander said.

"This program of international military cooperation has continued for years, and it has always scored high marks," he stressed.

Serdyukov also said that before the end of the year, Airborne Troops units will take part in joint-force tactical exercises in the Arctic zone, which will also involve the Northern Fleet and special action units. The exercises will involve interaction in Extreme North conditions.

Serdyukov also mentioned the regimental tactical exercises with landing and combat firing in Russia’s northwestern Pskov region and brigade tactical exercises with landing and combat firing in the Far Eastern Primorsky region. These war games will train coordination on the Western and Eastern strategic directions.

Strike and intelligence units

 The commands of the strike and intelligence units of the Russian Airborne Forces will be merged into a single system, the Airborne Force commander Colonel General Andrey Serdyukov told TASS.

"This experience (of the operation in Syria - TASS) is, no doubt, instructive. We are actively using this practice now. This is the establishment of various scout-firing and scout-attack contours within our units. It is about uniting the existing modern intelligence and attack equipment under the rule of one commander, along with effective use of this equipment," Serdyukov said on Monday in the run-up to the 87th anniversary of the Airborne Forces establishment.

"This is being used quite actively in Syria," he added, noting that the Russian defense industry had made scientific and technical headway that "helps detect targets in a real-time mode today, coordinate these targets with a high probability and hit them online with both various aviation equipment and artillery."

The Airborne Forces commander said that Defense Minister, General of the Army Sergey Shoigu, and Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, attached major importance to the creation and effective application of these contours. "This should be learnt, and this is, actually, a considerable step forward. So, it dominated the last meeting of the Armed Forces command, that had been held recently. Both the defense minister and the chief of the General Staff highlighted its importance at the meeting," Serdyukov said.

"Both theoretical and practical studies were carried out on the basis of the Southern Military District units, and this is being actively used in the army nowadays," the commander added.