The Largest Joint Exercises of Military Transport Aviation and Airborne Forces

From 9 to 13 July, the largest military exercises in the modern history of Russia military transport aviation and airborne troops were performed. The day before Airborne Divisionmarches  in a combined way to the loading aerodrome areas with a total length of about 1,000 km. By this time, more than 50 military transport aircraft from the three regiments deployed in the Rostov, Pskov and Orenburg regions have relocated to operational airfields in the Ivanovo and Ulyanovsk regions during the regimental flight and tactical exercises of transport aviation. Commander of transport aviation Lieutenant-General Vladimir Benediktov, under the direction of which the air part of the exercises was conducted, held a general gathering with the formulation of tasks for all involved air crews. Pilots studied the area of flights, landing, air traffic routes and procedures for various contingencies. The control of the air situation  was carried out by the A-50 aircraft.

Loading of armored vehicles in airplanes was completed on July 11. The next day, just before departure, the planes took aboard the paratroopers.

Dozens of heavy military transport Il-76MD took off from the operational airfields and headed for the landfill. The average time interval between departures was about two minutes.

The key step in joint exercises was the mass dropping of armored vehicles and personnel at a training ground in the Ryazan region. The scale of this episode is amazing – more than 50 aircraft of military transport aviation, 20 planes and helicopters of operational-tactical and army aviation were involved. More than 1500 paratroopers and 69 armored vehicles landed at the landfill. General leadership of maneuvers was carried out by the commander of the Airborne Forces, Colonel-General Andrei Serdyukov. According to the legend of the exercises, the airborne forces must capture the airfield of the conventional enemy, destroy his troops, and then ensure the landing of aircraft on the captured airfield.

The first ones were the An-2 planes. Their task was the secret dropping of reconnaissance groups. Landed near the airfield, the reconnaissance revealed enemy firing positions and air defenses at the aerodrome. Then An-26 aircraft landed a false landing near the airfield. Having joined together, the scouts and special forces entered into battle with the enemy forces, distracting them from the main assault

Soon a series of powerful explosions was heard at the airflield. It was Su-34 fighter-bombers who struck the enemy’s air defense weapons that were previously identified. Now neither the security of the airfield nor the air defense forces posed a threat to the landing of troops on the airfield.

And now the first Il-76MD aircraft of military transport aviation appeared on the combat course. Crews of aircraft began to drop the combat equipment and personnel of the airborne troops. The planes followed one another at a thirty-second interval, the landing height was 600 meters.
Above the landing zone, the Su-27 fighter aircraft flew constantly, covering the paratroopers from the probable air force attacks of the conventional enemy.

Over the battlefield, advancing forces were supported by army aviation helicopters Mi-24.

After the airfield was captured, aviation experts have started activities on its preparation for the landing of aircraft of military transport aircraft. For their landing, two parachute systems were used: “Tandem-Military” and “Arbalet-3”. They excel carrying capacity, passenger mounting and placement of the order, the flight speed and the area of the dome. These parachute systems are designed to deliver highly specialized personel and cargo to hard-to-reach areas. “Tandem Militari” is at the final stage of the state tests and before the end of the year it will go to the Airborne Forces. Landing occurred with the aircraft IL-76MD at altitudes 2500 and 2700 meters.

The final stage of the exercise was the imitation of the landing of Il-76MD airplanes on the airfield, as well as the An-22 Antey heavy turboprop aircraft and the largest AN-124 Ruslan military transport airplane in the world. Approach was carried out by the so-called “Afghan scheme”, when the aircraft decreases from a great height along a steep downward spiral, thus constantly remaining in the zone protected by the air defense of the airfield.

After completing the exercises at the landfill was held a historic event – from a height of 1800 meters landing the latest BTR-MDM was performed. Successful demonstration of landing BTR-MDM with testers in the machine allows us to say that the service in the Airborne received full military vehicles.This was stated by Airborne Troops Commander Colonel-General Andrey Serdyukov at a meeting with media. The crew parachuted from a height of more than 1800 meters inside the BTR-MDM, which weighs 14 tons, for the first time. I admire the courage of the testers» he said.

The commander of military transport aviation, Lieutenant-General Vladimir Benediktov, highly appreciated the episode with the landing of combat equipment with the crew inside during the joint exercise of the Airborne Forces and millitary transport aviation. “The exercises went well.” The episode of landing BTR-MDM with the testers inside is a historical event, as for the first time it was people inside new technics that is coming into operation. This is followed by a great future, “Vladimir Benediktov emphasized in his conversation with journalists.
After the active phase of the exercises was over, all the aircraft involved safely returned to the permanent deployment airfields.

The editorial staff thanks Alexander Guk for the provided images from the Ulyanovsk region, and Alexander Martynov for the images from the range in the Ryazan region.