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Russian Armed Forces

Khafee

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"Flying Tanks?" Russia's Airborne Troops Get the New T-72B3 Tank
October 1, 2019
What can they do? by Charlie Gao

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Key point: The T-72B3 can be flown to the battlefield and is made to be networked with Airborne Troops.

The Russian Airborne Troops (VDV) are famous for their usage of the BMD and BTR-D series of airdropped armored vehicles. But in 2018, the VDV’s 7th Novorossiysk and 76th Pskov air assault divisions received T-72B3 tanks to bolster their firepower. While tanks were attached to VDV units on a limited basis during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, this marks the first time main battle tanks have been formally attached to a VDV unit. Interestingly, these tanks are not standard T-72B3s, they have special equipment to network with the VDV’s battlefield networks.

But what advantages do the airborne T-72B3s have? How could the addition of heavier tanks to VDV divisions affect the threat they pose?

While there are many variations of the T-72B3, the airborne ones have the most up-to-date engine and armor packages. This means that the filler of the explosive reactive armor (ERA) blocks on the turret are Relikt, granting better effectiveness against threats than earlier T-72B3s, which only had Kontakt-5. The engine is also the latest V-92S2F, with 1132 horsepower.

But the most important, and airborne exclusive upgrade is the Andromeda-D battle network. Andromeda is a battle network that’s deployed practically exclusively with VDV vehicles. The system was tested in exercises in 2011 and 2012, and deployment began around 2013, with the first sets being installed on BTR-MD, BMD-4 and truck units.

The system itself serves a similar function to the U.S. Army’s Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system, although it details of how it’s implemented are slightly different. Andromeda uses GLONASS to determine the position of every Andromeda equipped vehicle, then relays that position, via ground radio networks to Andromeda command posts, where they can be viewed.

Information on the repair and ammunition status of each vehicle, spotted enemies and artillery coordinates can all be passed through the Andromeda command net, allowing commanders to have a better picture of an ongoing battle and react faster. The latest versions of Andromeda are said to use satellite communications for increased area of coverage, and increased capability like video calls and video conferencing between command posts.

Implementation of this capability into airborne T-72B3s would make them far more aware and reactive than regular T-72B3s. While the majority of the Russian army has a battlefield network of their own, reports on its implementation suggest that it is far less proliferated compared to Andromeda.

The addition of T-72B3s to the VDV’s air assault brigades means that the VDV air-assault divisions will be far better at sustaining attacks. Most VDV units are already equipped with top of the line air defense, infantry equipment and self-propelled artillery, so the addition of an MBT makes a VDV air-assault division one of the best-combined arms formations in Russia’s arsenal.

The rapidly air-transportable nature of these divisions means that they could rapidly be deployed to a conflict on Russia’s borders. This could allow for a one-two punch of a paradropped VDV division, followed up by an air-assault division in the event of a Russian intervention.

While Russia’s Andromeda may not be battle tested like FBCB2, its implementation makes these divisions theoretically on par with most of their American and European counterparts in battlefield networking capability. The old perception of the Russian/Soviet military as being inflexible should be challenged in light of these technological developments and the doctrinal reforms that prompted them.
 

Khafee

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Russian S-500 Serial Production in 2020 After Succesful Test in Syria
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Russian S-500 air defence system (ADS) the future development of the popular S-400 will enter serial production next year following its recent successful test in the “hot and dusty” conditions of Syria.

Dubbed “Prometheus” the S-500 is considered a major advancement of not only the S-400 but also other ADS in the World such as the US Patriot. Its stand-out feature is that it integrates the radar feeds of low and high level defence systems through a single command and control system; tracks, prioritizes and defeats simultaneous threats such as ballistic and cruise missiles, aircraft and drones.

Russain daily, Izvestia reported yesterday quoting MoD sources that the most important elements of the Russian S-500 have been tested in Syria in which certain problems were identified and quickly eliminated.

Citing the reasons for selecting Syria as a location for qualification trials of the S-500, an unnamed source told the Russian daily, “Syria is well suited for such trials - it is always hot there, a lot of dust. In addition, the radar has to work around the clock - the situation in the republic is turbulent and anti-aircraft gunners must constantly maintain a radar field.”

A possible reason for the Syrian test could be the availability of multiple “targets.” Aircraft and drones operated by Syrian, Israeli, US, Turkish and Iranian air forces not to mention drones by terrorist groups operate over the Syrian skies giving the Russians an opportunity to test the S-500 against multiple threats and varying scenarios.

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S-400 air defence system in Syria

The key differentiator of the S-500 “Prometheus” system over the S-400 is a combat control point (PBU) with an automatic control system (ACS). All information from the radars of not only the S-500, but also third-party radars, anti-aircraft systems and higher air defense command posts are assimilated into the PBU which then operates automatically to select and defeat the threat.

The S-500 includes a radar detection system (RLC), which is responsible for the long-distance search and identification of ballistic and aerodynamic targets. In addition, a multi-functional "backlight" radar guides anti-aircraft missiles to low flying targets.

A long-range high-altitude radar detector has been developed which allows the command center to most accurately set the coordinates and flight path of ballistic and aerodynamic targets. This radar is capable of finding missiles, aircraft, helicopters and small drones at any altitude. This radar works both for the S-400 and S-500.

“The high-altitude radar and the PBU allow building reliable air defense without external sources of information,” an expert told Izvestia. “A high-altitude detector helps track targets in real-time. The PBU then distributes them between the air defense systems of a particular area.

Serial production of the S-500 will begin in the second half of 2020. Training of specialist officers for Prometheus began in 2017 at the Military Academy of the Military Space Defense in Tver. They are preparing combat crews for new anti-aircraft systems and systems.
 

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