VDV Commander General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov told ITAR-TASS today that the airborne troops need their organic light transport aviation back because its absence is complicating their training. He says:
“The results of the air-assault training of the VDV in the first quarter of this year show that the transfer of light aviation to the Air Forces is stalling the system.”
As an example of this, Shamanov said light aviation fulfilled only 60 percent of planned jump training at the VDV’s Omsk Training Center. He said its commander has asked to continue jumps until 7 May.
Shamanov said the VVS ban on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday flights was making the VDV a hostage. He continues:
“We’ve already had cases. The VVS command allocated one helicopter each for jumps by our Spetsnaz and communications regiments near Moscow. However in practice it turned out that the regiment having clear priority, the Spetsnaz regiment, could use the helicopter coming from Levashovo in Leningrad Oblast for jumps in all for only a half day out of five for purely aviation reasons, at the same time as the second, communications regiment, with the other helicopter coming from Ryazan, jumped for a full week.”
“We’ve sent the Genshtab our proposals to create organic sub-units of light aviation in the VDV. Unfortunately, there’s no hope for them since no answer has been received from the Genshtab, but we will continue to assert our position.”
A VDV spokesman said last year, when they still belonged to the VDV, An-2s supported 140,000 jumps in combat training, and the VVS’ Il-76 medium military transport aircraft only 35,000.
The VDV’s light transport force had 7 squadrons of Mi-8 helicopters and An-2 and An-3 aircraft and three airfields until the General Staff Chief’s 1 January directive transferred them to the VVS.
Shamanov also repeated his past calls for each of his three air-assault formations to have its own regiment of 20 combat and 40 transport helicopters. He said a proposal to this effect is being prepared. An interlocutor told ITAR-TASS:
“Having organic helicopter regiments in the VDV’s air-assault formations undoubtedly would raise their air-mobility, fire power, responsiveness of command and control in combat conditions, and in the course of combat training. So the formation commander, who gets a helicopter regiment, could independently, when he considers it necessary, without turning to the VVS command, decide to have air-assault training for personnel including helicopter jumps.”
Recall the early January Genshtab directive that transferred all aviation units in other services and arms, with the exception of RVSN, to the VVS.
Shamanov’s complaint and appeal for a change is interesting. He isn’t one to be afraid to demand special treatment. He warded off the change from divisions to brigades in 2009.
Shamanov last publicly lobbied for an upgraded VDV rotary wing component, both attack and transport helicopters, in late 2009. The Ground Troops would also like army aviation, which they lost to the VVS in 2002, returned to them. ITAR-TASS noted that former Ground Troops CINC Army General Boldyrev said as much last September. He wanted helicopter regiments for air-assault brigades that belong to the military districts.
The organic aviation issue will be another place to watch for a possible policy about-face.