MOSCOW, July 31 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian military is to assign an additional three air assault brigades to the Airborne Forces (VDV) in order to boost its rapid reaction capability in future conflicts, VDV commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov said Wednesday.
“The Airborne Troops will become the core of Russia’s rapid reaction forces, and in order to ensure that…the paratroopers are capable of performing this task, I proposed to the Russian military leadership to reassign three air assault brigades from the Eastern and Southern military districts to the VDV,” Shamanov said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
“My proposal was approved,” he said, adding the brigades could join the Airborne Forces as early as October or November.
The Airborne Forces consist of about 35,000 men deployed in four divisions and a brigade. Despite their elite status, less than 30 percent are currently professionals, though Shamanov said the VDV hopes to have about 80 percent professional soldiers and only 20 percent conscripts in its ranks by 2015.
That ratio is optimal for the creation of a solid basis for mobilization and training purposes, he said, with conscripts having the choice of continuing their service as professional soldiers or officers after a year of mandatory service.
Shamanov also confirmed that the Airborne Forces will soon receive several advanced BMD-4M airborne fighting vehicles and Rakushka armored personnel carriers for testing in field conditions by 2015.
The BMD-4M is the latest modification of an armored combat vehicle that can be para-dropped to provide firepower and support for airborne troops. It features a new chassis, a digital fire control system and high-precision weaponry, including a 100-mm gun.
The 13-ton vehicle has a crew of two and can carry six paratroopers.
The Russian military is expected to acquire at least 1,000 BMD-4Ms under the current rearmament program by 2020, the army says.