Russian experimental airmobile brigade tested

The first airmobile brigade of the Russian Airborne Forces participates in the Center-2019 exercise held in the Central Military District. A decision has to be made whether to continue the formation of such units or close the project.

Russian experimental airmobile brigade tested
The brigade has two squadrons of Mi-8 transport helicopters, two squadrons of Mi-26, and a helicopter gunships unit. (Picture source: Russian MoD)

In contrast to other airborne units, the brigade has its own helicopter squadrons for paratroopers to destroy facilities in enemy rear and rapidly advance hundreds of kilometers, the Izvestia daily writes.

The airmobile brigade will operate at Donguz range in Orenburg region. The new formation will undergo a major test. It will arrange a helicopter assault in the enemy rear. A tactical group with the hardware will be airlifted. Mi-26 heavy transport helicopters will deliver pickup trucks, buggies, quads and antitank weapons to the assigned area. The helicopters will also airlift 122mm D-30 howitzers.

The military obtained the first experience of airmobile group engagement in 2018. A company of the 31st air assault brigade landed from helicopters in the enemy rear at Vostok-2018 exercise. It was later decided to make the brigade airmobile for training new airborne assault methods. In 2019, it is operating routinely.

An airmobile unit is distinguished by the presence of its own helicopters subordinated to the airborne command. It considerably accelerates the engagement of the force. The brigade has two squadrons of Mi-8 transport helicopters, two squadrons of Mi-26, and a helicopter gunships unit.

Landing from helicopters has several advantages against the traditional airdrop on parachutes, expert Valery Yuryev said. "Firstly, helicopters are better protected from adversary air defense, as they can fly at low altitudes undetected. Secondly, helicopters can provide fire support to the landed force. They also can land paratroopers in a specific place by three ways: landing, in motion one meter above the ground, and by rope if there is no even site," he said. Anyway, all paratroopers are rapidly delivered to the necessary place, Yuryev added.

In case of an airdrop, a paratrooper stays close to two minutes in the air as a target. Besides, paratroopers often land fay away from each other. Such a method is better fit for a major assault on a big space. Helicopters are better fit for tactical assault, the expert believes.

The experiment with airmobile units is held in the framework of a large-scale reform of the Airborne Forces which began in 2019. They have to develop into a rapid reaction force. In future airborne units have to become autonomous and capable of independently engaging in a wide range of missions. Besides, the Airborne Forces will have their own tank units and heavy weapons, the Izvestia said.

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