Steppe and Desert Warriors

In early July, Krasnaya zvezda covered an exercise by Russia’s first light — even “superlight” — brigade. The MOD paper provided insight into the rationale and structure of this new formation. 

The MOD raised the prospect of light brigades in 2011, late in the tenure of Anatoliy Serdyukov. The concept was to build TOEs for light, medium, and heavy brigades, but the idea faded after Sergey Shoygu’s arrival. However, the Central MD is natural for a light brigade because it’s Russia’s peacekeeping and rapid reaction district. It’s the expeditionary one now too.


UAZ-3163 Patriot with 2B11 mortar loaded

The 30th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade falls under the Samara-based 2nd CAA of the Central MD. Forty-year-old North Caucasus combat veteran Colonel Dmitriy Medvedev is in command. The brigade started forming up in late 2016 largely with UAZ-3163 Patriot vehicles in place of many BTRs.

Colonel Medvedev and his acting chief of artillery

Colonel Medvedev and his chief of artillery

KZ reported the new formation is designed for action on “mountain-desert terrain” using combat experience gained in Syria. But it’s more like a desert warfare brigade. It’s lighter than the Central MD’s peacekeeping brigade — the 15th IMRB — with BTRs and BRDMs. The 30th IMRB is also lighter than Russian mountain brigades.

The new brigade’s 1st motorized rifle battalion has UAZ-3163 Patriots armed with machine guns, grenade launchers, and/or ATGMs. It received 30 of the military SUVs/pickups in early July and expected more, according to the MOD website.

Izvestiya depicts weapons mounted on UAZ-3163 Patriot

Izvestiya depicts weapons mounted on UAZ-3163 Patriot

The 2nd battalion operates the BTR-82A. About forty have been delivered this year. The brigade’s vehicle inventory is entirely wheeled. It received about 20 R-149MA1 command-staff vehicles and more than 80 enhanced ground clearance Ural trucks this year.

Mortar batteries operating 82-mm 2B14-1 Podnos and 2B9M Vasilek mortars are maneuver battalion assets. Brigade fire support includes battalions of D-30A towed howitzers, BM-21 Grad MRLs, and MT-12 anti-tank guns.

KZ described the brigade’s live fire training on the scrublands of Roshchinskiy training ground. Its artillery sub-units conducted unplanned barrage and concentrated fire on columns of “jihad-mobiles” armed with heavy machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, or ATGMs. The paper concludes the formation learned to operate without air support or missile strikes, but only artillery fire against a mobile, maneuvering enemy in his depth to prevent him from making fire contact with its sub-units.

The Russian Army first deployed UAZ-3163 Patriots to Syria in early 2016, and has used them extensively. Light brigades with the military SUVs/pickups may appear in the Southern as well as the Central MD, according to Russian press. reports the Eastern MD’s 14th Spetsnaz Brigade in Khabarovsk accepted a “large delivery” of UAZ-3163 pickups in early July.

16 responses to “Steppe and Desert Warriors

  1. Pingback: Steppe and Desert Warriors | Policy

  2. Pingback: #UKR + Cold War 2.0 Update as of 031210UTC September 2017 | Blog

  3. Will MOD have same trouble with UAZ Patriot SUV? Burned up going off road. Fire reportedly caused by trans fluid.

  4. “Sub-units” of the 30th Bde are deploying to Tajikistan for some “mountain-desert” training.

  5. Western MD supposed to be getting UAZ Patriots too.

  6. Russian 2nd CAA’s light 30th IMRB now has 100 modified UAZ Patriot SUVs mounting machine guns, grenade launchers, or anti-tank missiles. Brigade probably 3 or 4 full-up battalions now.

  7. MPs in Western MD are supposed to get 140 UAZ Patriots in early 2018.

  8. AvtoVAZ says its Niva pickup is also in the game as a militarized vehicle — a technical . . . a jihad-mobile — joining the ranks of UAZ Patriots.

  9. Article on AvtoVAZ putting Lada 4×4 into the light military vehicle game.

  10. Kord 12.7-mm machine gun mounted on UAZ Patriot pickup during “anti-terrorist” exercise by a Central MD MRB, likely the 30th, in Samara.

  11. Russians conduct tactical ex with “pikapy” (pick-ups) in Orenburg. The UAZ Patriots with 12.7-mm Kord machine guns mounted may be in use more widely than before in the Central MD’s 2nd CAA. The “technicals” were used off-road in snow and poor weather.

  12. Pingback: Gun Trucks on the Southern Border | Russian Defense Policy

  13. Pingback: Russia to Form Gun Truck Battalions

  14. 35th CAA in Eastern MD has received some UAZ Patriots.

  15. “Pikapy” have appeared in the Moscow-supported DNR “People’s Militia.” Pretty similar to the ones in the Russian Army. Bed-mounted MGs, AGS-17, etc. But they were made locally. Um-hum…

  16. Overlooked at Armiya-2021…GAZ (VPK) has come out with its own light “gun truck” on a Sobol NN pickup chassis.

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