Tag: Air Force

Royal Canadian Navy ships to conduct operations in Canada’s northern waters

This file photo shows HMCS Montreal passing an iceberg in Strathcona Sound near Nanisivik, Nunavut Territory, during a previous Operation NANOOK. Corporal Rick Ayer / Corporal Rick Ayer

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Montréal, Kingston, and Goose Bay have left from their home port of Halifax, NS to conduct operations in northern waters.

During their deployments, Montréal, Goose Bay and Kingston will conduct surveillance in Canada’s northern waters and will visit a number of communities.

HMCS Montréal and HMCS Goose Bay will also participate in Op NANOOK, Canada’s main annual northern military operation, the Royal Canadian Navy noted.

As a part of this year’s Op NANOOK, Montréal and Goose Bay will work together with the Canadian Army, the Canadian Rangers, the Royal Canadian Air Force and other government agencies.

NANOOK started on Aug. 12 and runs until Aug. 27.

 

NATO jets in Baltics scrambled 8 times last week to escort Russian aircraft

Ejército del Aire F/A-18C. 5 Spanish Air Force F/A-18Cs make up the Baltic Air Policing element in Estonia, based in Ämari as of 1 May 2017.

VILNIUS – NATO fighter jets serving in the Baltic air policing mission were scrambled eight times last week to intercept Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said that a total of 21 Russian planes were intercepted, around half of which were fighter jets, while the NATO jets also identified several transport and passenger planes over the Baltic Sea.
Most of the Russian aircraft had their automatic transponders switched off, the statement said.

The biggest number of scrambles took place last Thursday, when the alliance’s jets took off three times in total and intercepted ten aircraft.

Polish Air Force F-16C Block 52+ Fighters have been based at Based in Siauliai in Lithuania since May 1 2017.

Poland celebrates Armed Forces Day in Warsaw today

Polish Army Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank, Warszawa, 15 August 2017

War planes streaked through the sky, more than 1,500 troops marched, and long lines of military vehicles thundered through the centre of the Polish capital as the country marked Armed Forces Day with a bang on Tuesday.

As in previous years, troops from other NATO countries joined the annual parade, among them American, Canadian, British and Romanian units that have been deployed to help strengthen the Western military alliance’s eastern flank.

There were also soldiers from more than a dozen other allied and partner states, including Croatia, Spain, Germany and Ukraine.

Crowds of onlookers

The Warsaw parade attracted crowds of onlookers and featured 200 or so army vehicles including self-propelled howitzers, battle tanks and missile launchers. Among the hardware on show were Leopard and Twardy tanks, Rosomak armoured vehicles, Langusta missile launchers and Osa mobile air defence missile systems.

The crowd could also catch a glimpse of American Stryker armoured vehicles and Jackal and Panther vehicles used by the British army. Romanian troops showcased weaponry including Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns.

Marching detachments included students of military academies and members of paramilitary organisations. For the first time, the country’s new territorial defence force joined the event, observers noted.

Taking to the skies

More than 60 aircraft contributed to the show, which began with the Red-and-White Sparks, an aerobatic demonstration team of the Polish air force. It staged a colourful flyover, leaving a trail of smoke in national colours. There were also SW-4 Puszczyk, W-3 Sokół, Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters, accompanied by American Apache, Chinook and Black Hawk machines.

Also flying past were CASA C-295M, Hercules and Bryza transport airplanes as well as Orlik training planes. The air show closed with F-16, MiG-29 and Su-22 fighter jets soaring across the sky.

Polish Air Force F-16C Block 52 Flypast

The parade was followed by a picnic in a city park where people could get inside some of the military vehicles and inspect a variety of historical hardware on display.

The August 15 celebration marks Poland’s landmark victory against the Russian Bolsheviks in the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, in which Polish troops led by Marshal Józef Piłsudski defeated an advancing Red Army despite being vastly outnumbered.

The day was first celebrated as a holiday from 1923 to 1947, and then restored as Armed Forces Day in 1992 after decades of Soviet-imposed communism.

(str/pk)
Source: PAP, TVP Info, Polsat News

 

 

Russia to start training female military pilots

KUBINKA /Moscow region/, August 12. /TASS/. Women will be admitted to the Krasnodar aviation school for pilot training this year for the first time in Russia’s modern history, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told reporters on Saturday.

“There are quite a few girls who would like to become military pilots. We’ve received hundreds of letters, hence the decision to enroll the first group of girls in the Krasnodar military aviation school this year”, the minister said.

“They will be few in number, 15 all in all. However, considering the number of applications received by the Russian Aerospace Forces we cannot ignore these requests, so on October 1, the first group of girls will start training to become military pilots”, he added.

Shoigu who visited the celebrations to mark Aerospace Forces Day earlier in the day expressed the hope that the school’s female graduates will make such holidays more spectacular thanks to their skills five years later.

In 2009, the Krasnodar aviation school enrolled female cadets but not for pilot training.

 

 

Lockheed Martin offers F-35 to Canada as ‘interim’ fighter jet

Credit: John Kent

Last year, the Liberals announced a proposal to buy 18 interim fighter jets from Boeing to deal with a capability gap facing the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Lockheed Martin has offered the Liberal government the F-35 as an “interim” fighter aircraft, a move sure to turn up the heat on rival U.S. aerospace firm Boeing still embroiled in a trade dispute with Canada.

Last year, the Liberals announced a proposal to buy 18 interim fighter jets from Boeing to deal with a capability gap facing the Royal Canadian Air Force. But that multibillion dollar plan to acquire Super Hornet jets has been thrown into limbo after Boeing filed a trade complaint in the U.S. against Bombardier of Quebec.

The Liberal government broke off discussions with Boeing on the Super Hornet deal.

But Lockheed Martin has seen opportunity in the rift between Canada and Boeing and has officially offered its F-35 as an interim aircraft to supplement the RCAF’s aging CF-18 jets. Lockheed has long contended the F-35 is more cost effective and more advanced than the Super Hornet.

Asked about the Lockheed Martin offer, Matthew Luloff, a spokesman with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office, responded that the federal government continues “to explore many options to provide an interim solution to supplement the CF-18s until the permanent replacement is fully operational.”

Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet

“We have not yet made a decision,” he added in an email. “Discussions must demonstrate that the interim fleet is appropriately capable and can be obtained at a cost, schedule, and economic value that are acceptable to Canadians.”

Lockheed Martin has noted that it continues to provide the Canadian government with updated information on the maturity of the F-35 program and the operational status of the jet.

The F-35 will be showcased Aug. 11-13 in Canada at the airshow at Abbotsford, B.C. The U.S. Air Force will be flying the plane at the show and F-35s from the Netherlands will be making their first appearance in Canada.

The Boeing Super Hornet will also appear at the air show. Boeing declined to comment about Lockheed Martin’s offer to the Canadian government on providing F-35s as interim aircraft.

Boeing was well on its way to wrap up the deal to provide Canada with the 18 Super Hornets. That was expected to be completed by the end of the year and cost between $5 billion and $7 billion.

But in April, Boeing complained to the U.S. government that Quebec-based Bombardier was receiving subsidies, which in turn allowed it to sell its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft at below-market prices. Boeing convinced the U.S. Commerce Department and International Trade Commission to launch an investigation into Bombardier.

That prompted the Liberals to start backing away from a Super Hornet deal with Boeing, although federal officials acknowledged they were still talking with the U.S. government over acquiring fighter aircraft. “It is not the behaviour of a trusted partner,” Sajjan said of Boeing in an unprecedented speech in late May to defence industry executives.

The interim jets would be used to help bridge the gap until a new replacement fleet for Canada’s CF-18 fleet can be purchased. The Liberals have said they will buy 88 new jets to replace the CF-18s.

The previous Conservative government had committed Canada to buying the F-35 but backed off that promise as the aircraft became controversial because of increased costs and technical issues.

Canada, however, still remains a partner in the F-35 program and Canadian firms have contributed a large amount of equipment and parts to the stealth fighter.

But buying F-35 jets for the interim fighter aircraft program would potentially be embarrassing for the Liberals. During the election campaign, Justin Trudeau vowed his government would never buy the F-35. As prime minister, Trudeau later claimed the F-35 “does not work.”

Boeing has declined a Canadian government request to drop its complaint against Bombardier. Boeing has said it considers the issue a commercial matter.

But Boeing’s actions run a risk for the aerospace company that wants to continue to do more defence business in Canada, analysts say.

 

The Afghan Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano

Afghan Air Force Embraer A-29 Super Tucano (YA-1407)

The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29, is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments, as well as providing pilot training. Designed to operate in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain, the Super Tucano is highly maneuverable, has a low heat signature, and incorporates fourth-generation avionics and weapons systems to deliver precision-guided munitions.

The aircraft differs from the baseline EMB-312 Tucano trainer aircraft in several respects. It is powered by a more powerful 1,200 kW (1,600 shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68C engine (compared to the EMB-312’s 560 kW (750 shp) powerplant); has a strengthened airframe to sustain higher g loads and increase fatigue life to 18,000–12,000 hours in operational environments; a reinforced landing gear to handle greater takeoff weights and heavier stores load, up to 1,550 kg (3,300 lb); Kevlar armour protection; two internal, wing-mounted .50 cal. machine guns (with 200 rounds of ammunition each); capacity to carry various ordnance on five weapon hardpoints including Giat NC621 20 mm cannon pods, Mk 81/82 bombs, MAA-1 Piranha air-to-air missiles (AAMs), BLG-252 cluster bombs, and SBAT-70/19 or LAU-68A/G rocket pods on its underwing stations; and has a night-vision goggle-compatible “glass cockpit” with hands-on-throttle-and-stick controls; provision for a datalink; a video camera and recorder; an embedded mission-planning capability; forward-looking infrared; chaff/flare dispensers; missile approach warning receiver systems and radar warning receivers; and zero-zero ejection seats. The structure is corrosion-protected and the side-hinged canopy has a windshield able to withstand bird strike impacts up to 500 km/h (270 kn).

In 1996, Embraer selected the Israeli firm Elbit Systems to supply the mission avionics for the ALX. For this contract, Elbit was chosen over GEC-Marconi and Sextant Avionique. The Israeli company supplies such equipment as the mission computer, head-up displays, and navigation and stores management systems.

On 13 October 2010, the Super Tucano A-29B had passed the mark of 48,000 hours since 21 July 2005 on full-scale wing-fuselage structural fatigue tests, conducted by the Aeronautical Systems Division, part of the Aeronautics and Space Institute at the Structural Testing Laboratory. The tests involve a complex system of hydraulics and tabs that apply pressure to aircraft structure, simulating air pressure from flying at varying altitudes. The simulation continued for another year to complete the engine-fatigue life test and crack-propagation studies for a damage-tolerance analysis program of conducted by Embraer and the Aeronautics and Space Institute.

Embraer developed an advanced training and support system suite called Training Operational Support System (TOSS) an integrated computational tool composed of four systems: computer-based training enabling the student to rehearse the next sortie on a computer simulation; an aviation mission planning station, which uses the three-dimensional(3D) visuals to practice planned missions and to check intervisibility between aircraft and from aircraft and other entities; a mission debriefing station employing real aircraft data to play back missions for review and analysis; and a flight simulator. MPS and MDS was enhanced with MAK’s 3D visualization solution to support airforces pre-existing data, including GIS, Web-based servers and a plug-in for custom terrain formats.

In 2012, Boeing Defense, Space & Security was selected to integrate joint direct attack munition and small-diameter bombs for the Super Tucano. In 2013, Embraer Defense and Security disclosed that its subsidiary, OrbiSat, was developing a new radar for the Super Tucano. A Colombian general disclosed that the side-looking airborne radar will be able to locate ground targets smaller than a car with digital precision.

In 2011, the A-29 Super Tucano was declared the winner of the US Light Air Support contract competition over the Hawker Beechcraft AT-6B Texan II. The contract was cancelled in 2012 citing concerns with the procurement process, but re-won in 2013. Twenty of these light attack aircraft were purchased for the Afghan Air Force.

The first four aircraft arrived in Afghanistan in January 2016, with a further four due before the end of 2016. Combat-ready Afghan A-29 pilots graduated from training at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and returned to Afghanistan to represent the first of 30 pilots trained by the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB. A fleet of 20 A-29s will be in place by 2018, according to a senior U.S. defense official.

The Pentagon purchased the Super Tucanos in a $427 million contract with Sierra Nevada Corp. and Embraer, with the aircraft produced at Embraer’s facility on the grounds of Jacksonville International Airport in Jacksonville, Florida. The Afghan Air Force’s A-29 Super Tucanos could soon make their combat debut after the first four aircraft arrived at Hamid Karzai International Airport on January 15, 2016.

The Afghan Air Force ordered 20 aircraft. The first aircraft were delivered in 2016 and the last are to be in service by late 2018. The first A-29 Super Tucano of the Pentagon’s Light Air Support (LAS) program, destined for the Afghan Air Force, has been delivered to the US Air Force in Jacksonville, Florida, by the Sierra Nevada Corporation and Embraer in September 2014. The first eight Afghan airmen are trained in the US to form a new Afghan fighter squadron. The first four aircraft arrived in-country at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on the 15 January 2016. Four more were delivered in July 2016, and an additional four arrived in March 2017, bringing the total of delivered Super Tucanos to 12.

 

Airmen deploy to support Estonia FTD

Ten A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, a MC-130J Commando II, and approximately 270 Airmen and associated equipment from bases across the U.S. and Europe will deploy to Amari Air Base, Estonia, Aug. 4-20.

Ten A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, a MC-130J Commando II, and approximately 270 Airmen and associated equipment from bases across the U.S. and Europe will deploy to Amari Air Base, Estonia, Aug. 4-20.
The deployment is funded by the European Reassurance Initiative as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which ensures U.S. European Command has a ready persistent rotational presence of American air, land and sea forces in the region.

The A-10s from the 175th Wing, Warfield Air National Guard Base, Md., will train with multinational Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and Combat Control Teams at Amari and Jagala, Estonia.
The MC-130J is from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U. K. and a combat communications team will deploy from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

While deployed, the A-10s will also train with the Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets in Finland, Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets in Estonia and multinational JTACs in Latvia. Flight operations will take place in Finnish, Estonian, Latvian and international airspace.

This training will focus on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities.

 

US may deploy 7 fighter-jets in Lithuania during Zapad drills – president

Pilots with the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

VILNIUS, Jul 31, BNS – The United States may station seven fighter-jets in Lithuania for the time of the large-scale Russian-Belarusian war games Zapad 2017 this fall, President Dalia Grybauskaite said in Tallinn on Monday.

“We expect as many as seven jets, almost double in the nearest future,” Grybauskaite told Lithuanian journalists during the meeting of her Baltic counterparts with US Vice-President Mike Pence in the Estonian capital.

US fighter-jets should arrive in Lithuania in late August or early September for the NATO air-policing mission.

The NATO air-policing mission is currently conducted from Lithuania and Estonia by four fighter-jets in each country.

Grybauskaite said the Baltic states were happy with the US guarantees that go beyond words.
In her words, more US troops and equipment will be deployed in Lithuania during Zapad 2017.

Officials in Lithuania are mainly concerned over the actual number of troops involved in the exercise and the scenario or training.

The US already increased the presence of its air-policing jets in Lithuania in early 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

 

NATO jets intercept Russian aircraft near Estonian airspace

Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet

NATO jets intercepted three Russian military aircraft near Estonian airspace Tuesday, an alliance spokesman told CNN.

“Two Spanish F-18 jets assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission scrambled from Estonia’s Amari Air Base on Tuesday morning to intercept unidentified non-NATO military aircraft near Estonian airspace,” acting NATO spokesman Dylan White said in a statement.

He added that Finnish jets also scrambled to intercept the Russian aircraft which he identified as two MiG-31 fighter jets and an AN-26 transport plane.

A pair of Russian Aerospace Force MiG-31 Foxhounds

NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission involves allied aircraft securing the airspace of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The incident between NATO and Russian military aircraft comes less than 24 hours after US Vice President Mike Pence visited Estonia where he reaffirmed America’s commitment to NATO’s collective defense clause in the face of Russian aggression.

“No threat looms larger in the Baltic States than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east,” Pence said an appearance with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“Under President Donald Trump, the United States of America rejects any attempt to use force, threats, intimidation, or malign influence in the Baltic States or against any of our treaty allies,” he added.

The incident also saw the Spanish aircraft “accidentally” entering Finnish airspace.

An Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) F/A-18 Hornet

“In handing over the intercept to the Finnish jets, the Spanish jets accidentally entered Finnish airspace. NATO’s Air Command has explained the incident to the Finnish Air Operations Centre to improve future coordination,” White said.

Finland, which is not a member of NATO, appeared to confirm the incident Tuesday with its ministry of defense issuing a statement saying the two Spanish jets were “suspected of having violated Finland’s airspace on Tuesday morning.”

“We have seen an increase in air activity in the Baltic region, but with few exceptions, the vast majority of the intercepts are conducted in a safe and responsible manner by all parties,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters last month following a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.

He also referred to a Finish Initiative which recently convened a working group of representatives from Russia, NATO, Sweden and Finland to discuss the issues involving the congested Baltic airspace.

“They are working in a good way,” Stoltenberg said.

Bulgaria considers Russian assistance in overhauling MiG-29s, Su-25s

A MiG – 29A Fulcrum fighter jet from the Bulgarian Air Force, standing by for NATO’s Air Policing mission at Graf Ignatievo Airbase, Bulgaria. – NATO photo by Cynthia Vernat, Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

The serious delays in the ongoing BGN1.5 billion (USD898 million) process for the acquisition of eight new jet fighters for the Bulgarian Air Force (BuAF) has resulted in the nation’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) now seriously considering the possibility of co-operation with the Russian aerospace and defence industry in the general overhaul and modernisation of Bulgaria’s existing fleet of 15 MiG-29 jet fighters and 14 Su-25 ground attack aircraft.

In an interview with Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) on 21 July, Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov revealed that he recently met the management of the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (RSK MiG) to discuss options for logistical support of Bulgarian MiG-29s.

Bulgaria received  2 Klimov RD-33 engines for its MiG-29 fighters, which were overhauled by Polish military overhaul facilities. They were delivered to the Graf Ignatievo air base. The overhaul facilities started work on the last two Bulgarian engines last year, which were included as part of a package deal between Bulgaria and Poland.

The minister also revealed, that at the end of December 2015, two Polish RD-33 were delivered to Graf Ignatievo AB, which Warsaw provided to Sofia on a temporary basis. It was agreed, that they will not be used for more than 200 engine hours or 2 years. Moscow has stated that the overhaul of these engines by the Polish military was ‘Illegitimate’ and will now discuss options for ‘legitimate’ maintenance support for the Bulgarian MiG-29 fleet.

 

Russia’s military drills near NATO border raise fears of aggression

WASHINGTON — Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer, one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War.

The troops are conducting military maneuvers known as Zapad, Russian for “west,” in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The drills will feature a reconstituted armored force named for a storied Soviet military unit, the First Guards Tank Army. Its establishment represents the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that so much offensive power has been concentrated in a single command.

The military exercise, planned for many months, is not a reaction to sweeping new economic sanctions on Russia that Congress passed last week. So far, Russia has retaliated against the sanctions by forcing the expulsion of several hundred employees in American diplomatic posts in the country.

But the move is part of a larger effort by Mr. Putin to shore up Russia’s military prowess, and comes against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive Russia. Beyond Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election in support of the Trump campaign, which has seized attention in the United States, its military has in recent years deployed forces to Syria, seized Crimea and intervened in eastern Ukraine, rattled the Baltic States with snap exercises and buzzed NATO planes and ships.

Even more worrying, top American military officers say, is that the maneuvers could be used as a pretext to increase Russia’s military presence in Belarus, a central European nation that borders three critical NATO allies: Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

“The great concern is they’re not going to leave, and that’s not paranoia,” Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of the United States Special Operations Command, told a national security conference in Aspen, Colo., in July.

Peter B. Zwack, a retired one-star Army general who was the American defense attaché in Moscow from 2012 to 2014, said: “First and foremost, the messaging is, ‘We’re watching you; we’re strong; we’ve learned a lot; don’t mess with Russia.’”

Western military officials caution that the United States and Russia are not on the brink of war. But they expressed concern that the heightened Russian military activity could lead to unintended confrontations.

For this installment of the Zapad maneuvers, a Cold War relic revived in 1999 and held again in 2009 and 2013, Russia has requisitioned enough rail cars to carry 4,000 loads of tanks and other heavy equipment to and from Belarus.

Distribution of Russian, Belarussian and NATO forces in Eastern Europe.

The Russians already have about 1,000 air defense troops and communications personnel stationed in Belarus, and logistical teams are surveying training sites there. By mid- August, advance elements of the thousands of Russian Army, airborne and air defense troops that are to participate in the exercise are expected to arrive. The rest of the force is expected to reach Belarus by early September ahead of the Zapad exercises, scheduled for Sept. 14 to 20.

The United States is taking precautions, including sending 600 American paratroopers to NATO’s three Baltic members for the duration of the Zapad exercise and delaying the rotation of a United States-led battle group in Poland.

U.S. 173rd Airbourne arrive in Poland.

“Look, we’ll be ready; we’ll be prepared,” said Lt. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges, the head of United States Army forces in Europe. “But we’re not going to be up on the parapets waiting for something to happen.”

In 2014, Russia’s stealthy forays into eastern Ukraine and its rapid capture of Crimea were seen as skillful exercises in “hybrid warfare,” a combination of cyberwarfare, a powerful disinformation campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops and local proxy forces.

But there is nothing subtle about the tank-heavy unit at the heart of the coming Zapad exercise.

The First Guards Tank Army, made up mainly of forces transferred from other units, including elite motorized and tank divisions near Moscow, has an extensive pedigree. The unit battled the Germans during World War II on the Eastern Front and eventually in Berlin before becoming part of the Soviet force that occupied Germany. In 1968, it participated in the invasion of Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring.

After the end of the Cold War, the unit was withdrawn to Smolensk, near the border with Belarus, before being disbanded in 1998. But it was reconstituted by Mr. Putin to give the Russian military more offensive punch and present a visible demonstration of Russian power.

“That name was chosen for a reason,” said Philip M. Breedlove, a retired four-star Air Force general who served as NATO commander. “It sends a very clear message to the Baltics and Poland.”

In addition, the Russians have fielded a new motorized division near Smolensk, close to the border with Belarus, which could be used in conjunction with the tank unit. In combination with the highly mobile tank army, that force has about 800 tanks, more than 300 artillery pieces and a dozen Iskander tactical missile launchers.

That is more tanks than NATO has in active units deployed in the Baltic States, Poland and Germany put together, not including armor in storage that would be used by reinforcements sent from the United States, noted Phillip A. Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation, who has studied Russian military operations in and around Ukraine.

“There is only one reason you would create a Guards Tank Army, and that is as an offensive striking force,” General Hodges said. “This is not something for homeland security. That does not mean that they are automatically going to do it, but in terms of intimidation it is a means of putting pressure on allies.”

Mr. Karber cautioned against exaggerating the First Guards Tank Army’s capability, noting that not all of its units were fully manned and that some of the most modern tanks earmarked for it have not arrived.

“There is only one reason you would create a Guards Tank Army, and that is as an offensive striking force,” General Hodges said. “This is not something for homeland security. That does not mean that they are automatically going to do it, but in terms of intimidation it is a means of putting pressure on allies.”

4th Tank Brigade of the 1st Guards Tank Army. The Russian 1st Guards Tank Army has been reactivated in Russia’s Western Military District.

But if fully deployed into Belarus, he said, it will be a powerful offensive formation and a way for the Russian military to rapidly project power westward, which is all the more important for Moscow. The collapse of the Soviet Union meant that Russian forces lost Belarus and Ukraine as buffers.

“Just the presence of the First Guards Tank Army near the Polish border would put NATO on the horns of a dilemma,” Mr. Karber said. “Does NATO reinforce the Baltics or defend eastern Poland? NATO does not have enough forces to do both in a short period of time. It adds to the political pressure Russia can bring to bear to keep the Baltic nations and Poland in line”.

The Russians have also announced that the First Guards Tank Army will be the first formation to receive the T-14 Armata tank, a new infantry fighting vehicle, as well as advanced air defense and electronic warfare equipment.

A more immediate concern, however, is whether Russia will use the Zapad exercise to keep Belarus in line. Belarus has long worked closely with Moscow, and its air defense units are integrated with Russia’s to the east.

But with friction between the nation’s autocratic president, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, and Mr. Putin have come reports that Belarus is reluctant to host more Russian forces permanently.

As part of the maneuvers, units of the First Guards Tank Army are expected to establish a forward command post in western Belarus, and to hold exercises in training areas near Brest, on the Polish border, and Grodno, near Poland and Lithuania.

Russian officials have told NATO that the maneuvers will be far smaller than Western officials are anticipating and will involve fewer than 13,000 troops. But NATO officials say the exercise is intended to test Russia’s contingency plans for a major conflict with the alliance and will also involve Russian civilian agencies.

“We have every reason to believe that it may be substantially more troops participating than the official reported numbers,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said in July.

Adding to the concern, the Russians have yet to agree that international observers can monitor the Zapad exercise. American officials have long said that monitoring is important, given the difficulty of Western intelligence in determining whether Russian military activity is merely an exercise or a preparation for an armed intervention.

At least two battalions of First Guards units, or some 3,000 armored troops, are expected to participate in the Belarus maneuvers. The total number of Russian troops, security personnel and civilian officials in the broader exercise is expected to range from 60,000 to as many as 100,000.

The question NATO officials are asking is whether all of the troops and equipment in Belarus will leave.

Said General Hodges, “I am very interested in what goes in and what comes out.”