The Russian Navy’s aviation arm plans to receive 10 modernized Kamov Ka-27M antisubmarine warfare helicopters a year, Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Monday.
“This year, the number of Ka-27 helicopters arriving for naval aviation will make up another ten rotocraft. In compliance with the state armament program, the naval aviation is planned to be receiving 10 upgraded Ka-27M helicopters a year until the entire pool of these choppers is modernized,” the Defense Ministry said.
The first eight Ka-27M helicopters arrived for the Navy’s aviation in 2016. The helicopters are being modernized at the Kumertau Aircraft Production Enterprise.
“The helicopters have received upgraded onboard radio-electronic equipment and a search system that allows using new systems of searching for and destroying submarines, and also radio-acoustic equipment that helps considerably improve the fulfilment of designated missions by this type of helicopters,” the Defense Ministry said.
The helicopter incorporates modern methods of information transmission to ground-based and shipborne command posts while its system of communication with other helicopters has been modernized. The crews of Ka-27M helicopters are undergoing training at the naval aviation flight personnel training center in Yeisk.
Ka-27 multi-purpose helicopters of various modifications are the mainstay of the naval aviation’s helicopter pool. They provide antisubmarine defense of naval groups, search for, detect and destroy submarines and are capable of searching for and rescuing the crews of aircraft, ships and vessels in distress at sea.
Planes and helicopters of Russia’s Aerospace Force and the Western Military District are returning to their bases after the Zapad-2017 strategic exercise, the Defense Ministry said.
“The crews of tactical and army aircraft of the Aerospace Force and the Western Military District, which participated in the joint strategic exercise Zapad-2017, have begun to return to their permanent locations,” the Defense Ministry said.
The Sukhoi-35S, MiG-31BM, MiG-29SMT, Sukhoi-30SM, Sukhoi-24M, Sukhoi-34 and Sukhoi-25 planes and helicopters Mi-28N, Mi-35, Mi-8 and Ka-52, which were involved in different episodes of the drills, some of them in Belarus, will be back to base within two days.
“The aircrews coped with all of their tasks despite bad weather, including tactical airborne assault, support for ground troops, interception of air targets and strikes against targets on the ground,” the Defense Ministry said.
The joint Russian-Belarussian strategic exercise Zapad-2017 was held in the territory of both countries on September 14-20. Taking part in them were about 12,700 officers and men, (including about 10,200 in Belarus), about 70 planes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including 250 tanks, up to 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars, and ten ships.
The drill involves almost 12,700 servicemen, about 70 planes and helicopters and up to 680 equipment units, including about 250 tanks, almost 200 weapons, multiple launch rocket systems and mortars, as well as 10 ships.
Under the scenario of the exercise small groups of militants had infiltrated into Russia’s territory across the border to have merged into several large units each having a strength of up to 500 men for staging terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage.
They seized a large number of light aircraft and drones at airfields near the border. For this reason air defense artillery systems Pantsir-S1, air defense missiles Strela-1 and other counter-weapons had to be used.
On the ground, the enemy was attacked with support provided by artillery and armored vehicles, including T-90 tanks, the newest tank support vehicles Terminator, front-line bombers Sukhoi-24, fighter-bombers Sukhoi-34 and also Mi-24, Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters.
The concerted attack against the hypothetical terrorists on the ground was accompanied by an air assault. The intruder forces were sealed off and eliminated.
The strategic exercise Zapad-2017 is the last phase of joint training by the armed forces of the Union State of Russia and Belarus this year.
Crews of the Russian Baltic Fleet marine aviation helicopters stopped and destroyed a submarine of the maneuver enemy during the Zapad-2017 (West-2017) strategic drills, the fleet’s spokesman, Roman Martov, said on Sunday.
“A maneuver enemy submarine was detected in the area of sea routes. Ka-27PL marine aviation helicopters were sent to the designated area. The crews used radar and hydro-acoustic tools to detect and chase the submarine,” he said, adding that once spotted the submarine was destroyed with the use of air bombs.
Earlier in the day, the Ka-27PL helicopters were used to back Baltic Fleet warships which destroyed another submarine of the maneuver enemy.
A large-scale exercise Zapad-2017 began in Russia and Belarus on September 14. The drills are held at three proving grounds in Russia and six in Belarus involving 12,700 troops (7,200 Belarussian and 5,500 Russian), about 70 warplanes and helicopters, up to 680 ground vehicles, including about 250 tanks, 200 artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and mortars and ten warships.
The main purpose of the exercise is to improve the compatibility of command and control centers, test new documentation and let commanders of all levels practice planning and control of operations on the basis of experience gained in the latest military conflicts.
It is being billed as a military exercise, but when Russian and Belarusian forces start Zapad-2017 this week, many neighbouring countries will be looking on nervously.
Zapad-2017 (“West-2017”) is a joint strategic-level exercise involving Russian and Belarusian military forces, expected to begin on 14 September in Russia’s western military district Kaliningrad, and across Belarus.
It is scheduled to last about a week, but may well go on for longer. The exercise is part of a four-year rolling cycle of manoeuvres that focus each year on one broad region or “front” (“West”, “Eastern”, “Central” or “Caucasus”). This year’s Zapad exercise though is drawing much greater attention than did its predecessor in 2013.
The context has changed significantly. Russia has seized and annexed Crimea; it has supported a separatist war in eastern Ukraine with weaponry, training and, for periods, its own combat units. Russia is thus seen by several Nato countries as much more threatening.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has described Russia’s build-up for the exercise as “preparations for an offensive war on a continental scale”. Ukrainian border defences, he said, are being bolstered.
He also pointed to the fact that in his view, Russia has form here, using the pretext of an exercise to mobilise and position forces to conduct offensive operations. President Poroshenko said he could not rule out the possibility that the drill “may be used as a smokescreen to create new Russian army assault groups to invade Ukrainian territory”.
Units on the move
Nato watchers and insiders do not necessarily share this concern about an all-out invasion of Ukraine.
Russia expert Keir Giles, a fellow at Chatham House think tank, acknowledges that “previous Russian exercises on this scale have prepositioned troops for undertaking military operations, against Georgia in 2008 and against Ukraine in 2014”.
However, he says, “both of those moves were precipitated by an immediate political crisis – currently absent in Europe.
“And there have been plenty of other major Russian exercises in between,” he says, “which did not end up with somebody getting invaded”.
Nonetheless, the fear of a resurgent and more aggressive Russia is real enough. That is why, over the past year, Nato has sent small multi-national units to Poland and to each of the three Baltic republics to underline its deterrent message. And that is why this year’s war games will be watched so closely.
Just how closely is a contentious issue. Russia, unlike Belarus, has been far more reluctant to invite Western observers in any number. This despite the fact that, as a member of the OSCE international security body, it is obliged to send out broad invitations if an exercise numbers more than 13,000 troops.
Mr Giles notes that, while Russia may be “content to see Europe alarmed at the prospect of Moscow throwing its military weight around”, Belarus seeks instead to calm the situation. The siting of the exercise in ranges across the middle of the country – not near the Polish and Lithuanian borders – was a deliberate policy decision intended to reduce the chances of misinterpretation, or incidents when Russian troops and aircraft come close to Nato borders.
Belarus has been much more open towards international observers. Clearly satellites, airborne radars and other national intelligence collection measures will be used by Nato countries.
In addition, efforts are under way to mobilise concerned citizens in Belarus to observe military movements in their area and post them online for the benefit of non-government, open-source analysts and experts.
How many troops?
So just how big is this exercise and what will Western analysts and observers be watching for? Here assessments differ widely.
The Russians say some 12,700 troops will be involved in total, including a significant contingent from Belarus. (Notice this takes it below the 13,000 OSCE threshold.)
Western experts watching the preparations, especially the marshalling of railway flat-cars – the main way of moving heavy armoured formations to the exercise areas – say it will be considerably more.
Some estimates suggest that up to 100,000 troops could be involved, but since there are a range of drills, exercises and spot mobilisations it is hard to be precise about numbers.
Russia will be testing its capacity to contain and respond to some form of outside aggression and will be deploying units from different services: heavy armour; airborne troops; “spetsnaz” elite reconnaissance teams; and electronic warfare specialists.
The Baltic Fleet will be involved, as will units from the 14th Corps based in Kaliningrad. One point of interest may be the part played at the tactical and strategic levels of “information operations troops” – a relatively new formation in the Russian order of battle.
Indeed, while there may be much to learn about Russia’s use of artillery, its capability in electronic warfare (already manifest in the fighting in Ukraine) and the growing importance of precision-guided munitions in Russia’s thinking, it may be this information aspect that is most important. For beyond the troop movements, Zapad-2017 is part of a wider propaganda effort to influence and shape opinion in the West.
Atmosphere of suspicion
The US analyst Michael Kofman in a fascinating piece on the War on the Rocks website, describes Zapad as “a good window into the Russian mindset.
“For all the modernisation and transformation of the Russian armed forces,” he writes, “in reality the Russian leadership is probably still afraid: afraid the United States will try to make a bid for Belarus, afraid of American technological and economic superiority, afraid the US seeks regime change in Moscow, and afraid Washington desires the complete fragmentation of Russian influence in its near abroad, or even worse, Russia itself.”
“Zapad,” he argues, “is the most coherent manifestation of these fears, and a threat from Moscow to the United States about what it might do if the worst should come to pass.”
And what of those lingering fears in some quarters that this could be much more than just an exercise? Mr Giles remains unconvinced by much of the media hyperbole surrounding Zapad.
But he has this caution: “The time to watch troop deployments most closely,” he says, “is likely to be after the exercise proper has ended.”
The final day of Zapad is 20 September but, he notes, “Russian troops are only scheduled to leave Belarus by 30 September – after the observers have departed, and when the media interest will have died down. That will be the time to decide whether Zapad this year has in fact passed off peacefully.”
The large “Zapad-2017” war games will pit the troops of Russia and Belarus against terrorist infiltrators from three “hypothetical” Eastern European countries. DW gives you an overview of the upcoming drill.
Moscow and Minsk are finalizing their preparations for the week-long “Zapad-2017” drill, which is set to start next Thursday. In it, the two countries will deploy their troops, designated as “the Northern ones” to stand up to the aggression from “the Western ones” – armed attackers from the made-up countries of Vesbaria, Lubenia, and Veishnoria.
According to the scenario released by Russian and Belarusian defense officials, Vesbaria and Lubenia are located in the Baltic region and control the corridor which links the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad with Belarus. In the real world, the corridor roughly corresponds to the border between Lithuania and Poland, both of them NATO members.
The hypothetical state of Veishnoria, however, is located in the Grodno area of Belarus, near the country’s western border.
Independent experts see this as a sign that Minsk and Moscow are preparing scenarios for threats originating in NATO countries as well as from within Belarus. The Grodno area seems to have a special significance as the home for a large population of Poles living in the former Soviet state. However, military officials insist that the scenario was developed “against a hypothetical opponent, unrelated to the concrete region.”
What is the goal of the drill?
“Belarus and the Kaliningrad region have been infiltrated by extremist groups with the intention of committing terrorist attacks. The illegal militias are backed from abroad, providing them with armaments and naval and air capabilities. In order to neutralize the opponents, land forces will be deployed to cut off their access to sea and block air corridors in the region, with the support of the air force, air defense forces, and the navy,” the official plan says.
The goal of the Zapad-2017 maneuvers is to coordinate actions between regional military commands “in the interest of ensuring military safety,” Moscow and Minsk said. “The Republic of Belarus strives to prevent armed conflicts, and the Russian federation is providing it with political backing, financial aid, as well as technical and military support,” according to the Belarusian Defense Ministry.
The drill is set to proceed in two stages. Initially, the military will boost their air force and air defense capabilities to protect key military and state objects, and prepare to “isolate regions of activity by the illegal armed groups and their subversive-reconnaissance squads.” The second stage will be “to work out the issues of managing troops while repelling an aggression” against Russia and Belarus.
How many troops will take part?
The two countries say that some 12,700 servicemen will be involved in the upcoming drills. “Zapad-2017” will also involve 70 planes and helicopters, 280 tanks, 200 artillery weapons, ten ships, and various other pieces of military equipment. The drills will also include agents of the Russian intelligence service FSB, as well as people working for the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.
However, NATO allies have repeatedly disputed these numbers, with German Defense Minister Ursula Von der Leyen claiming the real number is likely to be upwards of 100,000 troops. International accords mandate that countries provide a larger degree of transparency when holding drills with over 13,000 troops.
On Saturday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was “bewildered” by Von der Leyen’s assertion, and repeated its claims that drill would stay below the 13,000 threshold. Previously, the Kremlin has asked foreign defense officials and military-diplomatic corps to visit the final stage of the joint exercise at one of the sites in Russia. Belarus also stated that it had sent out invitations to UN, OSCE, NATO, the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, and military attaches accredited in Belarus.
Where will the drill be staged?
The bases will involve seven locations in Belarus, one location in the heavily militarized Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and two in western Russia. In order to reduce tensions with neighboring countries, the authors of the drill made an effort to pick the areas “at a significant distance from the border.”
NATO’s eastern members are concerned over the deployment of Russian troops near their territory, as Moscow has been known to stage large drills ahead of conflict in Georgia in 2008 and the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Some have even speculated that Russia might use the troops to occupy Belarus, its closest European ally. Most observers, however, consider this move to be extremely unlikely.
The drill has “strictly defensive character, its execution will not present any threat for the European community as a whole, nor for the neighboring countries,” the Russian defense ministry said. The Belarusian side has ensured that after the drills are over “by September 30 the military personnel, weapons, military equipment and specialized devices of Republic of Belarus will be returned to its permanent deployment locations, and the elements of the Russian military will leave Belarusian territory.”
All these events aim for the build of our united regional military and force grouping
This year Russia supplied six Mil Mi-8 MTV-5 helicopters and battery of the Tor-M2E missile system. The commander of the Military-air forces and troops of the anti-air warfare of the Armed Forces of Belarus major-general Igor Golub as TASS reported.
‘We received six Mil Mi-8 MTV-5 helicopters and the fourth battery of the Tor-M2E missile system in service in the first half of the year according to the signed agreements with Russia and within the military and technical cooperation for the build of the military forces of our united regional grouping’, Golub claimed.
Also, the Defense Ministry made a contract with the Russian scientific and production Irkut Company for the supply of 12 Su-30 aircrafts from 2018 until 2020 and a contract for the supply of the 59H6-E radar system.
‘All these events aim for the build of our united regional military and force grouping. The regional system of anti-aircraft warfare of Russian and Belarus continues to develop for effective work’, Golub emphasized.
Russia and Belarus hold the joint strategic military drills of the Armed Forces once in two years. This year the drills will start on September 14 and will last until September 20.
The major part of the drills will take place in the territory of Belarus. 10 200 militaries will take part in the drills: 7 200 soldiers from Belarus and about 3000 soldiers from the Armed Forces of Russia. Totally, 12 700 militaries and 680 entities of equipment will take part in the drills.
‘The aim of the drills is to check the capacities of Belarus and Russia in the provision of the military security of the Common State, its readiness to respond to the possible aggression and to increase the coordination of the military authorities, field and aircraft units and detachment of the Armed Forces of both countries’, the Defense Ministry of Belarus noted.
French firm Thales announced on 5 September that it had signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Poland’s Air Force Institute of Technology to integrate air-launched rocket system on the Polish Army’s Mil Mi-24 ‘Hind’ attack helicopters.
The work will see the two organisations work together to integrate Thales’ Telson 22 rocket launcher system on the helicopters. The Telson 22 is a digital rocket launch system that is designed to store and launch 22 Aculeus induction-activated rockets respectively from combat helicopters.
However, Thales said in its release that the system would also be capable of launching other rockets that the Polish government may choose to procure.
The book order for the export of Russian military hardware is worth $47-50 billion, Director of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Dmitry Shugayev said on Wednesday.
“Our book order is in the range of $47-50 billion. We believe that this trend will persist. The book order is a very important thing as it speaks about the commitments of our suppliers,” he said at a press conference devoted to the results of the Army-2017 international military and technical forum.
Combat aircraft account for about 50% of Russia’s total arms exports, Shugayev said.
“The figures were already mentioned. They indicate that the volume [of aircraft supplies] on the world market is 27% We are approaching the level of about 30% for the delivery of land-based military hardware while air defense systems make up somewhere 20% and naval hardware accounts for 6-7%,” he said.
Russia exports “the entire range of fighter jets” widely known on world markets, Shugayev said. These are Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft, modernized Mikoyan MiG-29 planes, the latest MiG-35s, Mil Mi-35, Mi-28, Mi-17 and Kamov Ka-52 helicopters and Yak-130 combat trainers, he said.
“From among air defense systems, the greatest interest is shown in the S-400 complexes, Tor and Buk systems, Igla man-portable air defense missile systems, various armored vehicles, T-90 and T-90S tanks, striking complexes and electronic warfare means,” Shugayev said.
The Army-2017 international military and technical forum was held in the Patriot Park outside Moscow on August 22-27.
Russian Helicopters has produced the first Mi-28UB ‘Havoc’ and is testing the combat helicopters, the company announced on 22 August.
Eight Mi-28UBs will be delivered to the Russian Ministry of Defence by the end of the year, the company said.
The holding company’s CEO, Andrey Boginsky said that deliveries of the helicopters, which are undergoing user-acceptance trials at Russian Helicopters, would begin soon.
The Mi-28UB differs from the Mi-28N/NE ‘Night Hunter’ in that it is dual control, allowing the helicopter to be flown from both the front and rear cockpit. The avionics and communications systems have also been upgraded and the cockpit has been made more shock proof.
With improved armour protection, the Mi-28UB can be used for fire support, in the anti-tank role and for training.