VDV Commander Injured

Russia’s Airborne Troops Commander — General-Colonel Andrey Serdyukov — was hurt in a September 15 car crash, but the extent of his injuries is not exactly clear. Russian news media reported the accident, but the MOD has not.

General-Colonel Serdyukov

General-Colonel Serdyukov

The accident occurred near Pechenga in Murmansk Oblast. The video shows Serdyukov’s motorcade speeding up the middle of a two-lane highway led by a police escort before his van gets clipped by a car headed in the opposite direction. The driver of that vehicle reportedly died.

According to most accounts, Serdyukov was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and reported to be in satisfactory condition.

One of Serdyukov’s deputies, General-Major Vladimir Kochetkov, was a passenger in his van along with two other VDV servicemen.

Lenta.ru reports that Serdyukov suffered serious head injuries and fractured vertebrae. It says Kochetkov has multiple fractures. 

Recall that former VDV commander Vladimir Shamanov was injured in a serious late 2010 crash, and spent several months recovering before returning to duty. The retired Shamanov chairs the State Duma’s Defense Committee.

The 55-year-old Serdyukov took over command of the VDV in October 2016. The fast-burning career airborne officer held important field commands in the VDV and Ground Troops before serving as chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Southern MD between 2013 and 2016. He is apparently no relation to disgraced former defense minister Anatoliy Serdyukov.

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This Week’s MOD Graphic

Still no procurement info. And figures on transportation are missing this week. Only so much fits on a page one supposes.

But the MOD has given a glimpse of its BDA from the skies over Syria. It reports 1,417 flights delivered 2,687 strikes “destroying” more than 1,200 terrorists, 80 armored vehicles, and 200 other armed vehicles.

This week's MOD graphic

In driver training, 1,234 exercises (45% at night) occurred on 106 ranges. The airborne jumped 7,707 times. The air force flew 314 patrols from 48 airfields.

This week 1,472 individuals were accepted for contract service and 3,313 were in the selection process.

Last Week’s MOD Graphic

No new procurement was reported on last week’s graphic.

Last week's MOD graphic

The VKS conducted 350 combat flights against 900 “international terrorist” targets in Syria. More than 130 drones flew more than 400 sorties.

Driver training included 1,657 exercises (46% at night) on 114 ranges. The VDV conducted 7,600 parachute jumps. The air forces flew more than 290 patrols from 61 airfields.

Military transportation activity featured more than 1,000 trains, more than 2,000 vehicles, more than 170 aircraft, and more than 10 ships.

Individuals taken on contract service added up to 1,034 and those in processing were 1,097.

Steppe and Desert Warriors

In early July, Krasnaya zvezda covered an exercise by Russia’s first light — even “superlight” — brigade. The MOD paper provided insight into the rationale and structure of this new formation. 

The MOD raised the prospect of light brigades in 2011, late in the tenure of Anatoliy Serdyukov. The concept was to build TOEs for light, medium, and heavy brigades, but the idea faded after Sergey Shoygu’s arrival. However, the Central MD is natural for a light brigade because it’s Russia’s peacekeeping and rapid reaction district. It’s the expeditionary one now too.

Capture

UAZ-3163 Patriot with 2B11 mortar loaded

The 30th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade falls under the Samara-based 2nd CAA of the Central MD. Forty-year-old North Caucasus combat veteran Colonel Dmitriy Medvedev is in command. The brigade started forming up in late 2016 largely with UAZ-3163 Patriot vehicles in place of many BTRs.

Colonel Medvedev and his acting chief of artillery

Colonel Medvedev and his chief of artillery

KZ reported the new formation is designed for action on “mountain-desert terrain” using combat experience gained in Syria. But it’s more like a desert warfare brigade. It’s lighter than the Central MD’s peacekeeping brigade — the 15th IMRB — with BTRs and BRDMs. The 30th IMRB is also lighter than Russian mountain brigades.

The new brigade’s 1st motorized rifle battalion has UAZ-3163 Patriots armed with machine guns, grenade launchers, and/or ATGMs. It received 30 of the military SUVs/pickups in early July and expected more, according to the MOD website.

Izvestiya depicts weapons mounted on UAZ-3163 Patriot

Izvestiya depicts weapons mounted on UAZ-3163 Patriot

The 2nd battalion operates the BTR-82A. About forty have been delivered this year. The brigade’s vehicle inventory is entirely wheeled. It received about 20 R-149MA1 command-staff vehicles and more than 80 enhanced ground clearance Ural trucks this year.

Mortar batteries operating 82-mm 2B14-1 Podnos and 2B9M Vasilek mortars are maneuver battalion assets. Brigade fire support includes battalions of D-30A towed howitzers, BM-21 Grad MRLs, and MT-12 anti-tank guns.

KZ described the brigade’s live fire training on the scrublands of Roshchinskiy training ground. Its artillery sub-units conducted unplanned barrage and concentrated fire on columns of “jihad-mobiles” armed with heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, or ATGMs. The paper concludes the formation learned to operate without air support or missile strikes, but only artillery fire against a mobile, maneuvering enemy in his depth to prevent him from making fire contact with its sub-units.

The Russian Army first deployed UAZ-3163 Patriots to Syria in early 2016, and has used them extensively. Light brigades with the military SUVs/pickups may appear in the Southern as well as the Central MD, according to Russian press. Mil.ru reports the Eastern MD’s 14th Spetsnaz Brigade in Khabarovsk accepted a “large delivery” of UAZ-3163 pickups in early July.

Slicing the GPV

Soon something like a final draft State Program of Armaments (GPV) 2018-2025 will go to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’ll almost certainly affix his official approval prior to the end of 2017.

Many observers bet the new GPV will contain 17 trillion rubles for the MOD to procure weapons and other military equipment. GPV 2011-2020 was a little higher at 19.1 trillion. But the new GPV will disburse its rubles over fewer years. However, Russia’s high inflation rate (e.g. 11% in 2014, 13% in 2015) means a trillion rubles in 2011 bought more guns than it does today.

Last week, Deputy Editor Vladimir Gundarov published a pithy piece in NVO describing how the new funds might be distributed among Russia’s armed services. He sees a shift in favor of the Ground Troops and VDV which will force the Navy to “curb its appetite.” 

It happened already in GPV 2011-2020, writes Gundarov. It originally envisaged 4.7 trillion for the Navy, but this was reportedly cut to 2.6, while the army and airborne went from 2.6 to 4.2 trillion.

The rationale, he says, is multifold. The Ground Troops face the expensive prospect of fielding new generation armored vehicles on the Armata chassis. Given its involvement in wars in Ukraine and Syria, Russia faces a “complex situation” in the southwestern strategic direction requiring more attention to the army’s modernization.

But the main reason for rewickering MOD procurement is economic. GPV 2011-2020 was formulated with oil at $100 per barrel; it’s now half as much.

Gundarov concludes that Russia:

“. . . can’t spend money to buy arms and military equipment in the previous amount, particularly for such expensive systems as those for the Navy. So only the budget for strategic nuclear systems will be preserved whatever the price of oil.”

He doesn’t say where he got his numbers for this article, but it sounds like he based it on some expert opinion and off-the-record comments.

Another Weekly Graphic

Last week’s graphic . . . .

For the second week, the MOD reports no new procurement. Training slowed and shifted to airborne and flight training, at least according to what’s shown in the graphic.

This week

The VKS conducted 360 combat flights to destroy 1,000 “international terrorist” targets in Syria. Meanwhile, 140 UAVs flew against 190 targets.

The MOD put Kosmos-2520, a comms relay satellite, into orbit.

It reported 1,740 driver training events (43 percent at night) on 107 ranges. Airborne units conducted 10,300 parachute jumps. The air forces flew 300 missions from 64 airfields.

More than 130 aircraft, 2,500 vehicles, more than 1,000 trains, and “about 10” ships delivered an unspecified amount of cargo.

Some 770 individuals became contractees and 3,379 were undergoing the selection process.

Weekly MOD Graphics

Two recent Russian MOD activity graphics . . . .

The MOD has digested the complaint that its weekly graphics say nothing about missions in Syria or training inside Russia. This has been remedied.

This week

The graphic above claims the Russian VKS conducted 290 combat flights to destroy 730 facilities of “international terrorist groups” in Syria, and 120 UAV flights against 160 facilities.

The MOD reported 87,000 personnel with 8,000 weapons and other pieces of equipment from 260 formations and units conducted more than 12,000 combat training evolutions, 45 percent of which occurred at night, on 114 ranges.

It noted that 175 aircraft, 3,000 vehicles, 850 trains, and 10 ships carried 285 pieces of equipment, 50,000 personnel, and 102,000 tons of cargo during the week.

On the contract service front, 1,819 personnel were accepted for contract service and 2,857 were in the selection process.

The MOD reported no new military procurement for the week.

Last week

For the week depicted above, a whopping 334,000 personnel with more than 30,000 weapons and equipment items from 220 formations and units conducted 13,000 combat training measures, including 42 percent at night, on 109 ranges.

For contract service, 895 candidates were accepted and 3,228 were being processed.

The MOD acquired four 152-mm Msta-SM self-propelled howitzers and two Su-30SM fighters.

Six tent-mobile shelters were erected in vehicle storage areas in the Republic of Buryatia and Leningrad Oblast.

The MOD reported no military transportation information for the week.