Russia and China Report II

Russia’s progress

In the decades prior to Russia’s deployments to Ukraine (2014-) and Syria (2015-), its armed forces used EW to varying degrees during conflict in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as during its short war with Georgia in 2008. In Chechnya, it is thought that the gathering of communications intelligence (COMINT) on opposing forces, particularly in geo-locating sources of communications transmissions, was vital in finding and fixing enemy positions for targeting by artillery or airstrikes. In contrast, in Georgia Russian efforts to gather electronic intelligence (ELINT) on and direct jamming against ground-based air-surveillance and fire-control radars was said to have been poor, though this may have also been due to Georgian countermeasures.

Russia has since made efforts to regenerate its EW capabilities, and the deployments to Ukraine and Syria have provided an operational laboratory for the armed forces to refine and develop their EW doctrines. At the same time, they have to some extent offered a window to observe Russian capabilities. The US armed forces’ Asymmetric Strategy Group, writing in the publicly available study of Russia’s `new generation warfare’ (published 2015), said that Russia had observed, and looked to exploit, Western strategies. For instance, `because of maneuver warfare’s reliance on communication, Russia has invested heavily in Electronic Warfare systems which are capable of shutting down communications and signals across a broad spectrum’.

Russian EW in Ukraine was overtly offensive. Jamming helped sever Ukrainian military radio communications in Crimea, as Russia occupied and annexed that territory in early 2014. This was supported by the RB 314V Leer-3 uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV)-equipped system, which was used to jam cellular networks, and the RP-377LA Lorandit COMINT system, which targeted high-frequency and very-/ultra-high-frequency communications. Jamming also affected the RF links used to control S-100 Camcopter UAVs assisting the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe observation mission in Ukraine. Russia looked to integrate these capabilities to improve its `reconnaissance-strike complex’. The Asymmetric Strategy Group stated that, in Ukraine, Russia used `a sophisticated blend of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, electronic warfare jamming equipment, and long-range rocket artillery’.

In Syria, Russia’s EW posture generally focused on force protection. The loss of a Russian Air Force Su-24M Fencer D combat aircraft to two Turkish Air Force F-16C fighters in November 2015 prompted Moscow to deploy additional EW systems. One month earlier, Russia had deployed the 1RL257 Krasukha-C4 jammer, which targets the X-band and Ku-band airborne radars typically used by combat aircraft and missiles, to protect Khmeimim air base in northern Syria. The Krasukha-C4 was supplemented by L-175V/VE Container/Khibiny and Leer-3 systems. The L-175V/VE jammer can be carried by Russian Air Force Su-30SM Flanker-H, Su-34 Fullback and Su-35 Flanker M combat aircraft.

Leer-3 may have been deployed to support Syrian Army operations by jamming insurgent mobile phones. It may also have been used to deliver morale-sapping text messages to opposing forces. Reports have circulated of the Russian armed forces also deploying equipment such as the RB-301B Borisoglebsk-2 COMINT system, which has also been used in the Ukraine theatre, and the Repellent-1 counter-UAV system, which is designed to interrupt the RF links between a UAV and its ground station. In June 2019, reports emerged that Israeli airspace had experienced GNSS jamming, possibly caused by Russian Army R-330Zh Zhitel systems being used to protect the Russian deployments at Khmeimim air base. Whether this jamming was deliberate, or an unintended consequence of operations, remains unclear.

Russian EW effects have also been observed in Europe. Moscow has been accused of using jamming against Norway and its Baltic neighbours. In March 2019, Oslo claimed that the Russian military had jammed GNSS signals in the country’s north during NATO exercises in October-November 2018. Russia’s earlier Zapad 2017 exercises saw EW used to prepare Russian forces for fighting in an electromagnetically contested environment. These EW efforts have not been performed in a vacuum. Operations in Ukraine and Syria showed that these form part of a wider strategy involving cyber attacks. Moscow has been accused of performing cyber attacks against Ukrainian critical infrastructure, and of targeting non-governmental organisations and opposition groups with cyber activity during its involvement in the Syrian conflict.

Russia’s Armament Development

The year 2020 was meant to end a decade in which the Russian Army had started to field a significant number of T-14 Armata main battle tanks in front-line units. However, by the end of 2019 none had entered operational service. Development and production challenges are contributory factors, as is cost, and instead the army has resumed upgrades to armour already in service, in particular the T-72B3 mod. and the T-80BVM. ­

Russia’s president announced during the June 2019 Army Military Show that 76 Sukhoi Su-57 Felon multirole fighters were to be delivered by the end of 2027. When it was finalised at the end of 2017, the State Armament Programme to 2027 only covered the manufacture of up to a further 16 of the aircraft in the early 2020s. Around 60 Felons were originally to have been delivered by the conclusion of the 2020 State Armament Programme; realising this ambition was difficult even when the plan was drafted in 2010. ­

Moscow continued during 2019 to pursue a number of nuclear-delivery systems intended to defeat US missile defences, including some beyond New START definitions. These included the Burevestnik (SSC-X-9 Skyfall) nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed long-endurance cruise missile, despite a series of test failures. While the Burevestnik remained some way from service entry, the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide programme was on the brink of entering the inventory. The MiG-31K variant of the Foxhound modified to carry the Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missile was also near to service entry as 2019 concluded. The Status-6/Poseidon nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered autonomous underwater vehicle remains in development. ­

Most Eurasian states continue to rely on ageing Soviet-era combat aircraft that are only slowly being replaced with more capable types. Belarus will become the second regional export operator of the Su-30SM Flanker H alongside Kazakhstan with the delivery due by the end of 2019 of the first four of 12 on order. A number of countries continue to operate early-model MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker B aircraft in the fighter role including Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

New weapons and research and development

The new strategic systems announced by President Putin in 2018 were already at an advanced stage of development when the announcement was made. Further progress has been made, but there have also been evident problems.

Tests of the Burevestnik (SSC-X-9 Skyfall) missile resumed in 2019. However, US sources indicate that nearly all the test launches failed. In August 2019, an accident occurred when a team was recovering wreckage from a previous missile test. Seven people were killed and there was localised radiation contamination. It is not surprising that the defence ministry has not elaborated on the nature of the problem, but it has said that further design development will take place before testing resumes.

Development of the Avangard glide vehicle is, however, more advanced. At least officially, development is complete and series production has begun. The weapon was successfully tested in December 2018, being launched from an RS-18 (SS-19) ICBM. It was announced that the first of these missiles with the Avangard glide vehicle will be deployed by the end of 2019. Russian analysts understand, based on unofficial data, that GPV 2027 includes equipping two RS-18 (SS-19) regiments. It is possible that the Avangard could also be fitted to other launch platforms, such as the RS-28 Sarmat ICBM that is currently under development.

Meanwhile, an experimental squadron of MiG-31K aircraft equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles reportedly made more than 400 flights over the Caspian and Black seas in 2018, while the first Peresvet laser systems have been on trial combat duty since the end of 2018 with two divisions of the Strategic Rocket Forces. It is unclear whether these are operated by troops from the Strategic Rocket Forces or by air-force personnel, but Russian analysts understand that a Peresvet training centre is being built at the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre at Sarov. In February 2019, range trials were reported completed on the Poseidon UUV, and two months later the much-modified Project 09852 Oscar II-class submarine Belgorod was launched. This may be the first delivery platform for Poseidon.

2019 also saw construction continue at the Era military-technology park at Anapa on the Black Sea coast. Six additional research disciplines were also announced, including the development of weapons with novel physical principles (such as lasers and plasma), small satellites, geo-information systems and work on the use of artificial intelligence for military purposes.

Russia and future conflict

Since 2014, Russia has made increasingly visible use of its armed forces as a tool of national policy. Its military actions in Ukraine surprised transatlantic leaders, even though Russia had used military force before, in Georgia in 2008. John Kerry, the then US secretary of state, called Russia’s occupation of Crimea a `stunningly wilful choice’. Moscow’s actions led to speculation about how its leadership was `reinventing war’ and assessments about how Russian ways of war were evolving. Some of the more prominent of these, arguing that Russia was waging a form of `hybrid war’, emerged after Crimea was annexed, and after a retrospective reading of a 2013 article signed by General Valery Gerasimov, then newly appointed as Russia’s chief of the general staff. Entitled `The Value of Science is in the Foresight: New Challenges Demand Rethinking in the Forms and Methods of Carrying out Combat Operations’, this piece appeared in the 27 February 2013 edition of the Military Industrial Courier. Commentators introduced a range of catchy epithets – some coined by Western authors, others picked from the discussion among Russian sources – such as `war in the grey zone’, `non-linear war’ or `new generation war’, generally labelled as the so-called `Gerasimov doctrine’. These views have remained prominent, updated with `new’ or `2.0′ following another speech by Gerasimov in March 2019.

This emphasis may derive from Western strategists’ judgement that Russia is obliged to compete in indirect, asymmetric ways since it could not hope to win a direct conventional confrontation with NATO states. According to General Sir Nick Carter, the United Kingdom’s chief of defence staff, speaking in 2018, countries like China and Russia had been studying Western states’ strengths and weaknesses and had become `masters at exploiting the seams between peace and war’. Moscow would operate below the threshold of conventional war, weaponising a range of tools to pose a strategic challenge. These tools include, but are not limited to, energy supplies, corruption, assassination, disinformation and propaganda, and the use of proxies, including private military companies (PMCs). This is understood as a new Russian way of war that corresponds to `measures short of war’, and a preference for the manipulation of adversaries, avoiding military violence.

However, as specialists have pointed out, in the Russian debate there is no formulation resembling the `Gerasimov doctrine’. Moreover, giving too much weight to terms such as `new generation war’ may also hinder an accurate understanding of Russian views of contemporary conflict. These do reflect a changing security environment and non-conventional capacities, but also reflect significant focus on the use of combat power.

Russian debate on future conflict

There was some discussion in Russia in 2013 about `new generation war’, but since then Russian practitioners and observers have tended to use the term `new type’ warfare. This is an important distinction in Russian military theory, given the extensive and long-running debates about the changing character of war, including the idea of `sixth generation’ warfare referenced by MajorGeneral Vladimir Slipchenko following Operation Desert Storm in 1991. However, even though the term `hybrid warfare’ does exist in the Russian debate, it is used in reference to Western forms of war and how contemporary warfare more generally is evolving, not as some form of particularly Russian reinvention of war. Gerasimov himself noted, again in the Military Industrial Courier but in March 2017, that while `so-called hybrid methods’ are an important feature of international competition, it is `premature’ to classify `hybrid warfare’ as a type of military conflict, as US theorists do.

Indeed, rather than implementing `measures short of war’, there is evidence that Russia’s leaders have sought to enhance national readiness, as illustrated by the many exercises that bring together all elements of the state and move the country onto a war footing. These exercises – including the Vostok, Tsentr, Kavkaz and Zapad series of strategiclevel drills – seek to prepare Russia for fighting in a large-scale war. Furthermore, as is evident from the battlefields in Ukraine and Syria, while it may be considered preferable to achieve aims non-violently, this remains a theoretical ideal and the considerable weight of combat firepower is still a prominent feature of Russian conceptions of war fighting. Indeed, the scale of Russia’s combat deployment has regularly been announced by the Russian leadership, particularly with reference to operations in Syria. It is more appropriate to think, therefore, not in terms of Russian `measures short of war’, but perhaps instead in terms of Russian `measures of war’.

Russian views of warfare have evolved considerably even since the Russo-Georgian war of 2008, with important consequences for force development and posture. The Russian defence and security landscape is changing in response and the shifting balance between military and non-military resources to achieve political ends is often referenced by senior officials. But at the same time, the role of the armed forces in ensuring Russian security is being reinforced. As such, conventional combat remains a central element in Russia’s contemporary conception of conflict, with an emphasis on long-range precision strike and massed artillery fire, enhanced by new technology developments, including uninhabited systems and better command and control, and exploited by high-mobility forces.

Mil Mi-35P Attack Helicopter (Variant 2019 – “Phoenix”)

Mi-35P

The Mi-24 attack / transport helicopter was developed by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters.

The Mi-24 entered service with the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and has been deployed by 40 countries. More than 3,500 Mi-24 helicopters have been produced. It has been deployed in more than 40 wars and conflicts including Afghanistan and in Chechnya.

The original model (Nato codename Hind-A), designed to carry eight combat troops, was later reconfigured to take on the gunship role (Hind-D). Later versions, Mi-24P (Hind-F) and the export Mi-35P, are also armed with anti-tank missile systems for the engagement of moving armoured targets, weapon emplacements and slow-moving air targets. All versions retain the troop transport capability.

The Mi-35P version entered into the serial production in August 2020.

Russian Helicopters holding has developed a common standard for Mi-24 modernization designated as Mi-35P. The Mi-35P has received the OPS-24N-1L observation-sight system with a third generation long-wave matrix thermal imager, TV camera, and laser rangefinder. The upgraded gunship’s cockpit has the KNEI-24E-1 flight navigation system with multifunctional displays. The PKV-8-35 digital flight system increases the helicopter’s manoeuvrability and steadiness. The modernised gunship is also fitted with the updated PrVK-24-2 targeting system, which allows the use of 9M127-1 Ataka-VM anti-tank guided missiles and either L370 Vitebsk electronic countermeasure system or its export version President-S. The helicopter has also received a chin-mounted NPPU-23 turret with a twin-barrel GSh-23L rotary cannon. Serial production has started as of August 2020 for an export customer.

Hind helicopter international sales

The Mi-24 is in service with Russia and countries of the ex-Soviet Union and has been exported to Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, East Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Libya, Mozambique, Nicaragua, North Korea, Peru, Poland, Vietnam and South Yemen. Ten Mi-35 helicopters were delivered by Russia to the Czech Republic in 2005/2006 as part of a debt repayment. The Mi-35M model entered into serial production by Rostvertol since 2005

In 2005, ten Mi-35M helicopters were ordered by Venezuela. The first batch of four was delivered in July 2006, the second four in December 2006, and the deliveries of remaining helicopters were completed by 2007.Indonesia placed an order for six additional Mi-35s in late 2006 and the deliveries were completed by 2008. Another batch of three Mi-35s out of five was delivered in 2010.Brazil ordered 12 Mi-35M attack helicopters in October 2008, with deliveries completed by 2014.

Iraq took delivery of the first four Mi-35s in 2013 as part of a deal for 40 Mi-35 and Mi-28NE attack helicopters. Another batch of Mi-35Ms was delivered in 2015.

The Mali Air Force took delivery of two Mi-35Ms in 2017.

Pakistan received four Mi-35Ms from Russian Helicopters in 2017, while Nigeria placed an order for 12 Mi-35s in 2019.

India delivered four refurbished Mi-24Vs to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) by 2019 as a replacement for the four attack helicopters earlier gifted to Afghanistan.The Kazakh Armed Forces procured four Mi-35Ms in June 2020.The Mi-35M helicopter is currently being delivered to the Russian Armed Forces.

Mi-24 Hind upgrades

The Russian Army Mi-24s were upgraded with new avionics including thermal imagers. Other upgrade packages are available, including that of Denel / Kentron of South Africa which includes Eloptro infrared sighting systems and Kentron Mokopa anti-tank missiles, and IAI Tamam which has HMOSP (helicopter multi-mission optronic stabilised payload) with FLIR, TV and autotracker, embedded GPS (global positioning system) and cockpit multi-function displays.

The ‘Visegrad Four’ – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – signed an agreement in February 2003 to jointly upgrade up to 105 Mi-24D/V helicopters to Nato standards. This agreement was later abandoned.

However, two Polish Mi-24s were upgraded to Nato standard as prototypes. In February 2004, BAE Systems was selected as integrator for the avionics systems, which include an integrated electronic warfare suite.

In December 2005, Bulgaria signed a contract for the upgrade of 12 Mi-24 helicopters to a team led by Lockheed Martin and Elbit. However, the contract was subsequently cancelled in February 2007.

Mi-24 Hind helicopter design

The design of the Mi-24 is based on a conventional pod and boom, with a five-blade main rotor and three-blade tail rotor. It has retractable tricycle nose-wheel landing gear.

The two crew (pilot and weapons operator) are accommodated in tandem armoured cockpits with individual canopies and flat, bulletproof glass windscreens. The main cabin can accommodate eight troops or four stretchers.

Weapons aboard Mi-24 helicopter

The helicopter has six suspension weapon units on the wingtips. The Mi24D (Mi-25) and the Mi-24V (Mi-35) are equipped with a YakB four-barrelled, 12.7mm, built-in, flexibly mounted machine gun, which has a firing rate of 4,000-4,500 rounds a minute and a muzzle velocity of 860m/s. The Mi-24P is fitted with a 30mm, built-in, fixed gun mount; the Mi-24VP with a 23mm, built-in, flexibly mounted gun.

The Mi-24P and Mi-24V have four underwing pylons for up to 12 anti-tank missiles. The Mi-24V (Mi-35) is armed with the Shturm anti-tank guided missile system. Shturm (Nato designation AT-6 Spiral) is a short-range missile with semi-automatic radio command guidance. The 5.4kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead is capable of penetrating up to 650mm of armour. Maximum range is 5km.

The Mi-24V can also carry the longer-range Ataka anti-tank missile system (Nato designation AT-9), as can the Mi-24P. The Ataka missile’s guidance is by narrow radar beam, and the maximum range of the missile is 8km. The average target range is between 3km-6km. The target hit probability of the Ataka missile is higher than 0.96 at ranges 3km-6km. The missile has a shaped-charge 7.4kg warhead, with a tandem charge for penetration of 800mm-thick explosive reactive armour.

All Mi-24 helicopters can also be armed with rockets and grenade launchers.

Avionics

The Mi-24D is equipped with the KPS-53A electro-optical sighting pod. The most recent Mi-24V and P variants have a digital PNK-24 avionics suite and multifunction LCD cockpit displays, and Geofizika ONV1 night-vision goggles, along with NVG-compatible cockpit lighting.They are fitted with the Urals Optical and Mechanical Plant GOES-342 TV/FLIR sighting system and a laser rangefinder. Countermeasures include infrared jammer, radar warner and flare dispensers.

Mi-24 engines

The helicopter is powered by two Isotov TV3-117VMA turboshaft engines, developing 2,200shp each. The air intakes are fitted with deflectors and separators to prevent dust particle ingestion when taking off from unprepared sites. An auxiliary power unit is fitted.

The internal fuel capacity is 1,500kg, with an additional 1,000kg in an auxiliary tank in the cabin or 1,200kg on four external tanks. The fuel tank has self-sealing covers and porous fuel tank filler for increased survivability, and the exhaust is fitted with infrared suppression systems.

Mi-24 – General Comparison to Western helicopters

As a combination of armoured gunship and troop transport, the Mi-24 has no direct NATO counterpart. While the UH-1 (“Huey”) helicopters were used in the Vietnam War either to ferry troops, or as gunships, they were not able to do both at the same time. Converting a UH-1 into a gunship meant stripping the entire passenger area to accommodate extra fuel and ammunition and removing its troop transport capability. The Mi-24 was designed to do both, and this was greatly exploited by airborne units of the Soviet Army during the 1980–89 Soviet–Afghan War. The closest Western equivalent was the Sikorsky S-67 Blackhawk, which used many of the same design principles and was also built as a high-speed, high-agility attack helicopter with limited troop transport capability using many components from the existing Sikorsky S-61. The S-67, however, was never adopted for service.[1] Other Western equivalents are the Romanian Army’s IAR 330, which is a licence-built armed version of the Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma, and the MH-60 Direct Action Penetrator, a special purpose armed variant of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. The Hind has been called the world’s only “assault helicopter” due to its combination of firepower and troop-carrying capability

Specifications

Crew 2

Length 16.78m

Rotor Diameter 17m

Main Cabin 2.5m x 2.45m x 1.2m

Take-Off Weight

Normal – 11,100kg

Maximum – 11,500kg

Combat Load

Normal – 900kg

Maximum – 1,480kg

Maximum Payload on Sling 2,500kg

Empty Weight 8,500kg

Powerplant 2 x Isotov TV3-117VMA turboshaft, 2,200hp each

Flight Range 480km

Ferry Range 1,050km

Speed

Maximum – 324km/h

Cruising – 280km/h

Hovering Ceiling 2,200m

Service Ceiling 4,599m

Imperial Russian: Navy Seaplane Carriers

A far cry from the capability offered by Cold War era and modern day aircraft carriers, during World War 1 the Imperial Russian Navy operated a number of Seaplane Carriers including the Orlitza (pictured) which served with the Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet.

The Seaplane Carrier Imperator Alexander I

The Seaplane Carrier Imperator Nikola I

In the second decade of the 21st century, design studies were underway with the aim of building a nuclear powered aircraft carrier for the Russian Federation Navy to replace that services sole conventional powered Aircraft Carrying Heavy Cruiser, Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union, Kuznetsov, which was, by that time, in her third decade of service, the four aircraft carrying cruisers of the Kiev Class and the two Moskva Class helicopter carriers having long since been retired. The design and building road to produce a Soviet and later Russian aircraft carrier force had been long and arduous, the Soviet Union facing trials and tribulations faced by no other aircraft carrier building nation. Among these were the wartime sieges, massive depletion of workforces due to the horrific death tolls on the eastern front and enemy occupation of land mass or cutting off of build and design centres. On top of this was the fact that wartime priorities for production resources inevitably went to the land and air forces locked in the largest clash of armies the world had ever seen as the Soviet Union struggled, first for survival and then to expel the Axis invaders from its soil before continuing on to take Berlin, the German capital, in 1945.

There are several points in history that could be defined as the commencement of air operations from ships at sea. However, it is an incontestable fact that the type of ship known as the aircraft carrier was born out of the labour pains of World War 1. There were, however, several landmark events leading up to the aircraft carrier as defined in the 20th and 21st centuries. For example, in 1806 the Thames Class Frigate HMS Pallas (launched in 1804), deployed kites used to scatter anti-Napoleon leaflets over France during the Napoleonic Wars, this considered to be the first air operation launched from a ship at sea. The first offensive air operation from a ship is considered to have taken place in 1849 when the Austrian ship Vulcano launched Montgolfiere hot air balloons on a failed attempt to drop small size bombs on the city of Venice. The pioneers of these audacious early ship launched air operations could hardly have dreamt that by the early 20th century powered flight would become a reality, and that such machines would be operating from ships at sea.

In the years proceeding World War 1, a new classification of warship emerged in the shape of the Seaplane Carrier. The first true seaplane carrier is considered to have been the French vessel Foudre, which was converted from a torpedo boat tender to carry seaplanes, from 1911, housed in a covered hanger on the main deck.

In Britain, the Royal Navy converted the Protected Cruiser HMS Hermes to a Seaplane Tender for trials in 1913. Having been paid off at the end of 1913, Hermes was recommissioned as a Seaplane Tender in August 1914, the month World War 1 started, ,but was sunk  by a German Submarine a short time later.

There were a not insignificant number of merchant vessels and warships converted to serve as seaplane tenders/carriers in several navies during the war years of 1914-1918, including several such vessels that would serve with the Imperial Russian Navy in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea theatres. The first such vessel was the Seaplane Carrier Almaz, converted from the Cruiser of the same name (completed in 1903) in 1914.

The Almaz, in her incarnation as a Seaplane Carrier, was destined to serve in the Imperial Russian Black Sea Fleet, mainly out of the port of Novorossiysk on the Russian Black Sea coast. She carried an embarked force of Grigorovich M-5 Type seaplanes that were tasked with general reconnaissance and fire support spotting duties. In the turmoil, commencing in February 1917, leading to the October 1917 Revolution that would ultimately through various twists and turns lead to the state recognized as the Soviet Union (USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), the Almaz changed hands several times, at various times being in the charge of Ukraine, Germany and Britain before being turned over to the White Russian Fleet opposed to the Red Russian (future Soviet) forces. Following the acceptance of defeat and the internment of the White Russian Fleet in Algiers in French North Africa in 1920, the vessel was turned over to France in 1928 and ultimately scrapped in 1934.

No less than four more fully fledged Seaplane Carriers (other vessels are noted to have undergone some modifications work) followed the Almaz, including the Orlitza, which was converted from the merchant ship Imperatritza Aleksandra I in 1915, this vessel, post conversion, operating an embarked force of seaplanes for reconnaissance and spotting duties with the Imperial Russian Baltic Fleet. Records are vague, but it appears that this vessel was returned to civil service as a merchant ship in 1923.

A Russian passenger liner (which entered civil service in 1913) was, under the name of Imperator Nikolai I, converted to a Seaplane Carrier from sometime in 1915, serving with the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The ship was renamed Aviator in May 1917. Having survived World War 1 and the revolutionary campaigns in post war Russia, the vessel, having been captured by German forces at Sevastopol in spring 1918 and handed over to Britain in November that year, was sold to the French Maritime Service in 1921 for Messageries Maritimes service as the Pierre Loti.

The Russian Merchant Liner Imperator Alexander I, (Aleksander I) which entered civil service in 1913, was commissioned into the Imperial Russian Navy in 1915 as a Seaplane Carrier. This vessel was renamed Respublikatec on 11 May 1917. In 1921 she was sold to the French Maritime Shipping company Messageries Maritimes, being operated as the merchant ship Lamartine before being renamed Khai Dinn in 1940.

The Romanian (Rumanian) State Maritime Service Liner Ruminia (completion date being around 1904) was taken over by Russia in 1916 and converted to a Seaplane Carrier, retaining the ships civil name. This vessel operated with an embarked force of between 4 and 6 Grigorovich M-9 Type flying boats tasked with the reconnaissance and spotting roles. The Ruminia was returned to Romania in late 1918, having been captured by German forces in spring 1918 and handed over to Britain in November that year.

During World War 1, which was, perhaps naively, described as the war to end all wars that failed to live up to its epithet, the British Royal Navy, then the World’s dominant maritime power, operated not only seaplane carriers, but also introduced a number of aircraft carriers, in that aircraft would take-off from the flying-off deck. While the Imperial Russian Navy had operated the above seaplane carriers during the war, no aircraft carriers were introduced to service, neither was there any serious plans for the introduction of such vessels. By contrast, Britain was making great strides in the evolution of aircraft carrier design, having introduced, HMS Ark Royal, considered to be the World’s first, albeit rudimentary, aircraft carrier in that the seaplane engines would be started on non-flying-off deck. This vessel, in reality a seaplane carrier converted from a merchant vessel in 1914, went on to serve in the Dardanelles campaign in 1915, and in other theatres through the 1918 Armistice.

RUSSIAN NAVAL AIRCRAFT

Batumi Raids

Russian line infantry during The Russo-Turkish War 1877

Foot Bashi-Bazouk

The Russo-Ottoman War of 1877 – 1878 had a huge impact both on the countries involved in the conflict and the different nations living there.

The 300 years of the so-called “Ottoman Yoke” did not succeed in killing the Georgian spirit among the population of the Ajarian Sanjak (Ajaristan). Victory in the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877 – 1878 and the reunion of Ajara with Georgia played a vital role in restoring the national self-consciousness of Georgians at the end of the 19th century. Folklore, fiction, social and political journalism demonstrate the joy about Ajara’s reunion with its “motherland” and praise Georgian and Russian soldiers. The same pathos can be seen in the textbooks published for Georgian schools right after the end of the war, as before the war and therefore in the period of Ottoman rule there were no Russian or Georgian schools in Batumi.

Georgian folklore as well as Georgian social and political journalism also show one important issue which was directly connected to the end of Russo-Ottoman War of 1877 – 1878: the issue of Muhajirism. Leaving the motherland, close relatives and one’s own house became an unhealed wound which was not mentioned in Soviet textbooks. Only when the perestrojka set in, certain ideological changes and developments in Georgia’s and particularly in Ajara’s sociopolitical situation affected school and university textbooks as well, as they would start to print materials showing the imperial ambitions of Russia and describe that the process of Muhajirism was in favor of both sides – of Russians and Ottomans.

Military operations were mostly carried out in the territories around Khutsubani, Tsikhisdziri, Mukhaestate, Kvirike and Zeniti, Russian and Georgian troops at other times were also stationed at several other places such as Ozurgeti, Nagomar-Orpiri, Mukhaestate and Choloki.

During military operations in 1877 Russo-Georgian forces did not succeed in liberating Batumi and Ajara in general, but it was the success of the Russian army in Anatolia and the Balkans which decided over the final outcome of the war. On 15 November 1877 joint forces recaptured Khutsubani.

In front at Batumi, the Ottomans had an army of 40,000 soldiers, while the joint forces of Russian and Georgians were only 25,000 soldiers.  According to Sergej Meschi: “Only 5,000 of them are militants on the battlefield. Of course they will be the ones to fight but the rest won’t be able to join the battle according to military laws, as unarmed people do not have the right to fight against their enemy.”

On 25 August 1877, Russian forces entered Batumi. They were led by the deputation of the reunited territories – Sherif Khimshiashvili from Upper Ajara and Nuri Khimshiashvili from Shavsheti. On Azizie square (nowadays Gamsakhurdia square) they organized a feast for the commanding Russian officers. Sherif Khimshiashvili proposed many toasts and in the end he said: “This is the toast to the ones who participated in this war to unite old and newly divided Georgians. Let us wish them happiness and that they may live long. Let us or our descendants never forget their deeds.”

(1) Combat operations of the Rioni (from May of 1877, Kobuleti) task force of Russian troops during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. Object-defeating the Turkish Corps of Darwish Pasha, seizing Batum (Batumi) and prevention of the landing of the enemy’s amphibious party in the rear of the Russian troops. The Rioni body of troops (24,000 soldiers, 96 canons) began an attack on April 12 (24), 1877. Moving in the tough conditions of the mountainous-woody terrain and cross-country, the task force managed to overcome stubborn resistance of the enemy and on April 14 (26) seized the heights of Mukhaestate, Khutsubanskoe. and on May 19 (31) occupied the heights of Sameba. The second attempt to seize Batum was undertaken in January of 1878. The Kobuleti force again advanced as far as Tsikhisdziri and again retreated. Its activity tied large forces of the enemy, thereby contributing to the success of the main forces of the Caucasian Army.

It was the last Black Sea port annexed by Russia during the Russian conquest of that area of the Caucasus. In 1878, Batumi was annexed by the Russian Empire in accordance with the Treaty of San Stefano between Russia and the Ottoman Empire (ratified on March 23). Occupied by the Russians on August 28, 1878, the town was declared a free port until 1886. It functioned as the center of a special military district until being incorporated in the Government of Kutaisi on June 12, 1883. Finally, on June 1, 1903, with the Okrug of Artvin, it was established as the region (oblast) of Batumi and placed under the direct control of the General Government of Georgia.

The expansion of Batumi began in 1883 with the construction of the Batumi–Tiflis–Baku railway (completed in 1900) and the finishing of the Baku–Batumi pipeline. Henceforth, Batumi became the chief Russian oil port in the Black Sea. The town population increased rapidly doubling within 20 years: from 8,671 inhabitants in 1882 to 12,000 in 1889. By 1902 the population had reached 16,000, with 1,000 working in the refinery for Baron Rothschild’s Caspian and Black Sea Oil Company.

In the late 1880s and after, more than 7,400 Doukhobor emigrants sailed for Canada from Batumi, after the government agreed to let them emigrate. Quakers and Tolstoyans aided in collecting funds for the relocation of the religious minority, which had come into conflict with the Imperial government over its refusal to serve in the military and other positions. Canada settled them in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Russian attack 15 May 1877

“The sinking of the boats of the steamer “Grand Duke Constantine” Turkish ship “Intibah” on the Batumi RAID on the night of 14 Jan 1878

(2) Attacks of the Russian mine launches against the Turkish ships at the Batumi Port during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. On the night to December 16 (28), 1877, the ship “Velikiy Knyaz Konstantin” (commander-Captain 2nd rank S. O. Makarov approached Batum covertly, launched 4 boats, of which “Chesma” and “Sinop” each had as armament one Robert Whitehead self-propelled mine (torpedo). After midnight, the mine launches penetrated in the port and attacked the Turkish armor-clad battleship “Mahmudiye” (the Turkish flagship was for many years the largest warship in the world), yet the attack proved abortive as one torpedo, having passed along the board of the battleship, jumped out onto the shore, and the other one hit against the battleship’s anchor chain and exploded on the ground. On January 14(26), 1878, “Velikiy Knyaz Konstantin” repeated a raid on Batum. The launches “Chesma” and “Sinop” by hitting the Turkish armed steamer “Intibah” with two torpedoes simultaneously from a distance of about 80 m destroyed the ship. This was the first in the world recorded successful launch of torpedoes from a torpedo boat.

During 1877–8 the Russians had been providing some torpedo action data during their struggle with the Turks around the Black Sea. The Turkish fleet dominated that sea simply by lying at anchor, as the Russians had no sea-going ironclads and no chance of getting any in while Turkish forts and ships’ guns dominated the narrows to Constantinople; so the Russians had no alternative to using torpedo boats for offensive operations, and they carried out a number of raids by night with specially constructed 15-knot boats some 50 or 60 feet long, carried by mother ships, usually fast merchantmen. However the earlier attacks were made with spar and towing torpedoes, and to get close enough without alerting the enemy with sparks from the funnels and considerable engine noise, they had to drop their speed to walking pace and creep in. Even so they did not escape detection, and were only successful on one occasion when they found the coastal monitor Siefé unprotected by the usual torpedo boat obstructions placed around the Turkish ships. Despite detection by the sentry, they pressed in under her turret guns as they misfired three times and touched a spar torpedo off close by the sternpost; the Siefé sank in a short time. As for the ‘Whitehead’, this was also tried and on one occasion on the night of 25–6 January 1878, the Russians claimed to have sunk a Turkish guard-ship anchored at the entrance to Batum harbour from 80 yards range; although the Turks denied any loss it is possible that this was the first Whitehead success in action. Despite the poor condition of the Turkish fleet and the great resolution of the Russian officers, these were the only effective torpedo attacks of the war. They were modest successes, and it was evident that torpedoes would be little use against an efficient fleet at anchor and guarded as recommended by the British 1875 Torpedo Committee, by nets, lights, Gatling guns and guard boats.

Russia in the Azov Sea

Azov campaigns of 1695-1696  

Campaigns of Russian army and fleet led by Peter I during the Russian-Turkish war of 1686-1700 with a view to protecting Russia’s southern lands against the attack of the Turkish and Tatar troops and occupying the Turkish fortress Azov that closed Russia’s access to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. Early in April of 1695, the Russian forces (around 31,000 warriors) that consisted of Streltsy (soldiers), regiments of a new “fighting formation” and manorial noblemen’s cavalry set out from Moscow to Azov. To divert enemy attention from the fortress, troops headed by B. P. Sheremetev were sent to the lower reaches of the Dnieper River. On July 5 (15), Russian troops concentrated around Azov which was defended by a garrison of 7,000 soldiers. The enemy repelled two assaults causing heavy casualties to the attackers. Therefore, Peter I lifted the siege and on November 22 (December 2) Russian troops returned to Valuiki and Voronezh. As peparations for a new campaign under the guidance of Peter I were being made, the Azov fleet was established. A. Ya. Lefort was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Azov Fleet. A. S. Shein was the Commander of the Azov Army. Peter I was in charge of overall leadership of the second campaign. On April 23-26 (May 3-6), 1696 the army set out on the campaign from the districts of Voronezh, Tambov, and Valuiki overland and by ships down the Voronezh and Don rivers. Sheremetev’s cavalry again headed for the Dnieper lower reaches, but stopped at the Kolomak River. On May 27 (June 6), the main forces of the Russian fleet set out on the Sea of Azov in the Azov area and by June 12 (22) isolated the city, while the Russian army lay a siege from the land. The Turkish fleet tried to rescue Azov but failed. On June 14(24) the Turkish fleet emerged opposite the Don River mouth (6 corvettes, 17 galleys with a landing party of around 4,000 men), but having seen the Russian galleys, the fleet left for the sea. On July 17 (27), after heavy artillery fire, assault of the fortress began simultaneously from land and sea. On July 19 (29), the garrison surrendered. As a result of successful termination of the second Azov campaign, Russia attained access to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, made provisions for the security of the country’s southern frontiers. Because under the Constatinople Peace Treaty of 1700, fortresses in the circum-Dnestr area were to be demolished, Russia’s international standing was enhanced, Turkish neutrality on the eve of the Northern War was secured. The seizure of Azov was the first major victory of the Russian army and fleet in the struggle for access to the sea.

Azov Fleet

First regular formation of the Russian Navy instituted by Peter I in order to fight Turkey for access to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. In 1694, there began the construction of large ships and assembly of galleys and fire ships, using parts made in Bryansk, Preobrazhenskoe Village (near Moscow) and at other locations. By the spring of 1696, three 36-cannon ships, 23 galleys, 1,300 sailrow boats and 4 fire ships were built. The fleet, under the command of F. Ya. Lefort left Voronezh and on May 27 (June 6) entered the Sea of Azov. On June 12 (22), the Russian ships blocked the Azov Fortress in the mouth of the Don River, while the ground troops did the same from land. On July 19 (29), the fortress garrison surrendered. At the insistence of Peter I, the Boyar Duma decreed: “Let there be sea vessels”. This date is regarded the official birthday of regular Russian fleet. The admiralty was transferred from Voronezh to Tavrov on the coast of the Sea of Azov, a sea port comes into being in Taganrog. During the period from 1696 to 1711, 215 ships of diverse classes were built for the Azov fleet. In the spring of 1699, Peter I for the first time in the history of Russian Navy held sea maneuvers in the vicinity of Taganrog. In August, the largest 46-cannon ship “Krepost” (`Fortress’) sailed in the Black Sea and visited Constantinople with a diplomatic mission. After the Prut Treaty of 1711 and return of Azov and Taganrog to Turkey, the Azov fleet ceased to exist, its ships were disassembled or sold to Turkey.

Azov Military Flotilla  

(1) A formation of Russian fleet established at the beginning of the Russian-Turkish War of 1768-1774. Under the command of the Vice-Admiral D. N. Senyavin, AMF performed successful military operations against the Turkish fleet on the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, cooperated with ground troops, when seizing Kerch and Yenikale, repelled enemy attempts to land amphibious parties in the Crimea. In 1783, AMF was disbanded, yet its ships were included in the Black Sea fleet that was established in May of the same year.

(2) Russian flotilla with a base facility at Yeisk was configured to fight against German invaders and the White Guard. When the enemy seized the coast at the end of June of 1918, the ships were disarmed, and their personnel joined the Red Army units. In March of 1920, after Denikin’s army was defeated and the Red Army reached the Azov Sea coast, the flotilla was reestablished by the staff of the South-Eastern Front (the base at Mariupol-currently, Zhdanov; from September- Taganrog; from November-Mariupol again). The flotilla included ships that were in the ports of the Sea of Azov. Flat-bottomed fishing boats and barges were reequipped as battle-boats and floating batteries, tug boats were reequipped as escort ships, fighter boats were delivered by railway. The armament, supplies and personnel came from the Baltic Fleet, Don-Azov, Volga-Caspian and other flotillas that terminated combat activity. From May 25 to September of 1920, the Don River division (former Don Flotilla of the Caucasus front) was subordinated to AMF. In May of 1920, AMF became part of the Marine Forces of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. There were about 70 ships and vessels (9 gun-boats, 4 floating bases, 3 mine layers, 6 escort vessels, 22 chaser cutters, 25 auxiliary vessels), 18 aircraft, for amphibian operations, a marine expeditionary division was detailed (up to 4,600 men). AMF provided fire support to troops, set up a mine-artillery position in Taganrog, placed mine barriers in Kerch Strait, dropped tactical landing parties with a view to eliminating, in association with the 9th Army, the Wrangel landing party Ulagaya; on July 9, 1920, AMF destroyed a White Guard landing party near Krivaya Kosa (`Crooked Spit’), on September 15 in combat near Obitochnaya Kosa, AMF destroyed a group of enemy ships that were transporting troops and armament. After the defeat of Wrangel in April of 1291, the ships and personnel were handed over to the Black Sea Fleet.

(3) During the Great Patriotic War (WWII), on July 22, 1941, AMF was re-established for combat actions against German Nazi invaders (main base at Mariupol; from October 9, 1941-Primorsko-Akhtarsk, at present-Primorsko-Akhtarsk; from August 3 to August 24, 1942-Novorossiisk). AMF comprised the ships of the Danube Military Flotilla, that, the Danube battles over, moved eastward across the Black Sea. AMF included squadrons of escort vessels, mining boats, airborne tactical formation, coastal defense squadrons and marine units. The separate Kuban detachment (from May 3 to August 30, 1942) as well as the separate Don Detachment (from October 5, 1941 to July 28, 1942) based in Rostov-on-Don. The flotilla fought against German-Nazi invaders in liaison with the troops of the South and North-Caucasus Fronts, supported defense actions of the 9th and 51st Armies, took part in the Kerch-Feodosiya landing operation of 1941-1942, evacuated troops of the Crimean Front, assisted ferrying troops of the 56th Army across the Don River. For a long time, marines contained the enemy assault on Taman Peninsula. On September 5, 1942, the flotilla forces were included in Novorossiisk Defense Area (NDA) for marine operations. On February 3, 1943, AMF was reconstituted again (main base Yeisk; from September of 1943-PrimorskoAkhtarsk; from April of 1944-Temryuk). The flotilla ships took part in action on sea lines of communications, dropped tactical landing parties in Taganrog, Mariupol, Osipenko (Berdyansk). In the course of the Kerch-Eltingen Amphibian Operation, AMF dropped units of the 56th Army north of Kerch, and in January of 1944-two tactical landing parties on the coast of Kerch Peninsula. On April 20, 1944 the flotilla was disbanded, its ships handed over to the newly-established Danube Military Flotilla.

T-90M

The latest version of Russia’s T-90 tank is manufactured by Uralvagonzavod’s (UVZ’s). Developed by the company under the Proryv-3 programme, the T-90M will be the most advanced derivative of the T-90.

In September 2016, the head of the Main Automotive-Armoured Tank Directorate of the Russian MoD, Lt Gen Alexander Shevchenko, claimed that all T-90s in the Russian Land Forces inventory are slated for upgrade to the new Proryv-3 standard, but he refused to provide further information about the timeframe and if the budget will be sufficient for a wholesale re-fleeting.

The T-90M has an exterior similar to that of the T-90MS derivative offered for export. It is equipped with the new Relikt explosive-reactive armour (ERA) system, Kalina fire control system and a remote-controlled machine gun mount installed on the turret. The tank is also powered by a more capable V9S2F diesel engine rated at 1,130hp and has a number of further improvements, mainly in ergonomics.

The main exterior difference to all other T-90 versions is the installation of slat armour for better protection of the turret ring, while the tracks are the same as those used by the T-14 Armata. It is also expected that the Proryv-3, in its final form, will also include the integration of the 2A82-1M gun and some other systems already used on the T-14, in order to achieve a higher level of commonality between the two models for better logistics support.

The Russian Land Forces received between 120 and 160 T-90s in their basic version (Object 188) between 1992 and 1998, followed by about 360 of the improved T-90A (Object 188A1) between Advanced Russian tank variant revealed. It is more likely to be the MBT of the Russian Army than any “show-pony” at parades.

The protection suite provides CBRN protection, a climate control unit and periscopes. The modular and scalable digital architecture allows for current and future vetronics and C4I capabilities to be utilised on the vehicle. At 48tonne, the AFV is able to achieve speeds of up to 70km/h and has a range of 500km with a trench clearance of 2.1m.

With 30 to 60 units exported to Syria between late 2015 and early 2017. It is unlikely that original T-90 models will get the upgrade because an all-new turret would need to be fitted in place of the existing cast one. However, since the T-90A features a welded turret that is the same as the T-90M’s, albeit with different ERA, it is this variant that can be expected to go into an approved modification programme.

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Ilya Muromets – The Giant

When war broke out, only two Ilya Muromets bombers had been completed, but by the end of 1914 the Imperial Russian Air Service had formed its first tenbomber squadron. Operations with the heavy bombers began on 12 February 1915 with a raid on German frontline positions. During the war, 73 Ilya Muromets were built and they performed daylight bombing, night bombing and photographic reconnaissance. Despite its slow speed and size, the Germans were often reluctant to attack the bomber because it was so well-armed, the rear gunner position being especially problematic. Operationally, the Ilya Muromets was known for its ability to withstand combat damage to the point that it reached almost mythical status as a bomber that could not be shot down. Once engaged, small fighters also found that they were buffeted by propeller wash. On 12 September 1916, the Russians lost their first Ilya Muromets in a fight with four German Albatros, three of which it managed to shoot down. This was also the only loss to enemy action during the war; three others were damaged in combat, but managed to return to base to be repaired.

The massive Ilya Muromets was the world’s first four-engine bomber-and a good one at that. In three years it dropped 2,200 tons of bombs on German positions, losing only one plane in combat.

In 1913 the Russo-Baltic Wagon Works constructed the world’s first four-engine aircraft under the direction of Igor Sikorsky. Dubbed the Russki Vitiaz (Russian Knight), it was also the first to mount a fully enclosed cabin. This giant craft safely completed 54 flights before being destroyed in a ground accident. In 1914 Sikorsky followed up his success by devising the first-ever four-engine bomber and christened it Ilya Muromets after a legendary medieval knight. The new machine possessed straight, unstaggered, four-bay wings with ailerons only on the upper. The fuselage was long and thin, with a completely enclosed cabin housing a crew of five. On February 12, 1914, with Sikorsky himself at the controls, the Ilya Muromets reached an altitude of 6,560 feet and loitered five hours while carrying 16 passengers and a dog! This performance, unmatched anywhere in the world, aroused the military’s interest, and it bought 10 copies as the Model IM.

The aircraft had a wingspan of nearly 100 feet and weighed more than 10,000 pounds. The most advanced model had a range of 5 hours and a ceiling of more than 9,000 feet. It carried a bombload of 1,000-1,500 pounds and was equipped with up to seven machine guns. Four 150 horsepower Sunbeam V-8 engines allowed the bomber to cruise at 75-85 mph. The rear fuselage possessed sleeping compartments for a crew of five, a washroom, a small table, and openings for mechanics to climb out onto the wings to service the engines during flight. More than 75 Ilya Murometses were deployed against the Central Powers along the Eastern Front from 1915 to 1918. These aircraft conducted more than 400 bombing raids against targets in Germany and the Baltic nations. During the war, only one bomber was lost to enemy action. In February 1918, many Ilya Murometses were destroyed by the Russians to prevent capture by advancing German forces.

After World War I commenced in 1914, Sikorsky went on to construct roughly 80 more of the giant craft, which were pooled into an elite formation known as the Vozdushnykh Korablei (Flying Ships) Squadron. On February 15, 1915, they commenced a concerted, two-year bombardment campaign against targets along the eastern fringes of Germany and Austria. The Ilya Muromets carried particularly heavy loads for their day, with bombs weighing in excess of 920 pounds. This sounds even more impressive considering that ordnance dropped along the Western Front was usually hurled by hand! The mighty Russian giants were also well-built and heavily armed. In 422 sorties, only one was lost in combat, and only after downing three German fighters. Operations ceased after the Russian Revolution of 1917, with many bombers being destroyed on the ground. A handful of survivors served the Red Air Force as trainers until 1922.

Development

Although Russia was not as industrially advanced as the other European powers, it would enter the First World War with the world’s first four-engine aircraft, the Sikorsky Ilya Muromets. After achieving success with a number of smaller aircraft, Igor Sikorsky joined the Russo-Baltic Railroad Car Factory (Russko-Baltiisky Vagonny Zaved or R-BVZ) in the spring of 1912 and began designing a massive aircraft, the Bol’shoi Bal’tisky (the Great Baltic), which had a wingspan of 88 ft and a length of 65 ft. Sikorsky had originally intended to use just two 100 hp Argus inline engines. Although he managed to take off on 2 March 1913, the Great Baltic proved to be underpowered. Undeterred, Sikorsky added two additional motors, which were installed in tandem with the first two, thereby providing both a tractor and pusher configuration. Beginning in May 1913, Sikorsky made several test flights in the Great Baltic, after which he reconfigured all of the engines to be on the leading edge of the lower wing for a tractor design. This proved far more successful, as indicated by a 2 August 1913 flight in which he carried eight people aloft for more than 2 hours.

Sikorsky’s next version, which served as the prototype of the wartime versions, was introduced in December 1913. It was similar to the Great Baltic, but it had a much larger fuselage that could accommodate up to sixteen passengers. By the spring of 1914, Sikorsky had developed the S-22B, dubbed the “Ilya Muromets” after a famous medieval Russian nobleman, it successfully completed a 1,600-mile round-trip flight between St. Petersburg and Kiev in June 1914.4 With the outbreak of the war, the S-22B and a sister aircraft were mobilized for service. An additional five were constructed by December 1914 and organized as the Eskadra Vozdushnykh Korablei (EVK) or Squadron of Flying Ships.

Because the first Ilya Muromets types had been designed primarily to carry passengers, once the war began Sikorsky started work on a slightly smaller version, the V-type, that could be used as a bomber. Introduced in spring 1915, the V-type Ilya Muromets had a wingspan of 97 ft 9 in. and a length of 57 ft 5 in. Because of Russia’s chronic shortage of engines, the R-BVZ was forced to rely upon a variety of engines for the V-type, including at least one that used different sets of engines; two 140 hp Argus and two 125 hp Argus inline engines. Of the thirty-two V-types produced, twenty-two were powered by four 150 hp Sunbeam inline motors, which provided a maximum speed of 68 mph. They had a loaded weight of 10,140 lbs, including a bomb load of approximately 1,100 lbs. Its crew of five to seven members were protected by free-firing machine guns. Three later versions were introduced during the war: the G-type and D-type introduced in 1916, and the E-type introduced in 1917. Of these, the E-type was the largest with a wingspan of 102 ft, a length of 61 ft 8 in., and a loaded weight of 15,500 lbs. Its four 220 hp Renault inline engines could produce a maximum speed of 80 mph. The E-type carried an eight-man crew, including two pilots, five gunners, and one mechanic. At least eight were constructed during 1917. The E-type went on to serve in the Red Air Force until 1924. The Sikorsky Ilya Muromets were sturdy, rugged aircraft.

Ilya Muromets Type S-23V

Type: Bomber

Crew: 4-8

Wingspan: 97ft 9in (29.8m)

Length: 57ft 5in (17.5m)

Height: 13ft 1in (4m)

Loaded weight: 12,000lb (4,600kg)

Engine: 4 x Sunbeam Crusader

V8 engines of 148hp each

Max Speed: 68mph (110km/h)

Armament: Guns: Various combinations during the war.

Bombs: 1,100lb (500kg)

Kamaz-63968 Armoured Personnel Carrier

Ten years ago, the Russian Federation Armed Forces launched the Typhoon programme, to develop a series of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Among the participants were KamAZ and Ural, and as of 2017 various four-, six- and eight-wheeled vehicles had been announced, including the imposing slab-sided KamAZ-63968 6×6 Typhoon-K armoured personnel carrier. As with other MRAPs, it featured a V-shaped bottom to deflect the blast from improvised explosive devices, and energy-absorbing seats (secured to the roof, rather than the floor) to further attenuate impact effects.

The Typhoon family is part of Russia’s Typhoon program. As of 29th May 2017 a number of Typhoon-K in the Russian Armed Forces fleet was about 260 units of Typhoon-K. The development of the ‘Typhoon’ vehicle family began in 2010, when the Minister of Russian Federation Armed Forces approved the ‘Development of Russian Federation Armed Forces military vehicles for the period until 2020’ program and started the Typhoon MRAP programme. In 2012 the first contract between Russian Ministry of Armed Forces and Kamaz to buy Typhoons was signed. Twelve Typhoons took part in Russian Victory Day military parade in 2014.

The Typhoon-K armoured vehicle is designed for troop transport and offers a high level of protection for crew, cargo and vehicle components against small arms up to 30 mm calibre (Level 4 according to STANAG 4569), mines and landmines (Level 3b). It has a high off-road capability with 6×6 all-wheel drive. Maximum speed is 105 km/h. The wheels are equipped with run-flat tyres and automatic tyre pressure control. The vehicles to be delivered are equipped with a remote-controlled weapon station for machine guns up to 12.7 mm calibre. A 360° camera system is installed.

Typhoon-K belongs to the Typhoon family of protected wheeled vehicles, which has been introduced to the Russian Armed Forces with 310 vehicles since 2014. The family includes 4×4 and 6×6 wheeled vehicles of various (also amphibious) configurations, e.g. for passenger transport, reconnaissance or anti-tank operations.

Typhoon-K is produced by the manufacturer under the designation Kamaz 63968. The 8.99 meter long vehicle can transport up to sixteen fully equipped soldiers in its cabin. A 330 kW diesel engine drives the vehicle via an 8-speed automatic transmission on all six hydropneumatically suspended wheels and is intended to allow a top speed of 105 km/h.

Russia deploys newest Typhoon-K armored vehicles to Syria

Russia’s military has deployed its newest Typhoon-K armored vehicles to Syria. The new Russian Typhoon-K K63968 armored vehicle was spotted during of the military operation in Aleppo.

Early press-service of Russian Defence Forces reported that more than 15 Typhoon-K newest armored vehicles will be introduced in the Western MD reconnaissance formation located in the Nizhny Novgorod Region.

The armored vehicles are designed to secure convoys, actions in urban environment, transporting of special cargo and personnel.

The vehicle can move across country with the speed of up to 100 km/h. Its range is up to 1,500 km.

Armored capsule of the vehicle is capable to absorbing a 30mm shell hit and may contain 16 personnel and several tons of cargo.

Technical Data:

Combat weight 24 tons

Length 8.99 m

Width 2.45m

Height 3.32m

Crew 2+16

Engine power 330 kW

8-speed automatic transmission

Ground clearance 185 to 575 mm

Driving range (road) 1,200 km

Maximum speed 105 km/h

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