MOSCOW, May 11 (RIA Novosti) – The rearmament of Russia’s paratroopers should be completed in the next three to five years, Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, commander of the Airborne Forces, told journalists on Saturday.
“The main aim of Air Force command… is the general rearmament of troops in the shortest time possible, in the next three to five years. … Three airborne combat vehicles should be able to be transported in and air dropped from one plane. At the same time, the armored protection and weaponry of the airborne combat vehicles must conform to the most cutting-edge requirements,” Shamanov said.
The commander said that the new BMD-4M corresponds to these requirements.
“It is not perfect, of course, but it has enormous potential to be polished and modernized in the future – both its chassis and its weaponry,” he said.
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 a set of high-precision weaponry, including a 100-mm gun.
Shamanov said the Airborne Forces would receive the first five BMD-4Ms for final testing before the end of this year, followed by another five BMD-4Ms and 10 Rakushka armored personnel carriers in the first half of 2014.
A decision to adopt the long-awaited BMD-4Ms was made at the beginning of December 2012 despite an earlier statement by former deputy defense minister Alexander Sukhorukov that the vehicle had not met requirements and would not be bought by the military.
Shamanov also said on Saturday that Air Force command is considering options for arming reconnaissance and special operations troops and support units with light-armored vehicles.
“The Tigr [high mobility multipurpose] vehicle family has proved quite good, but in order to make a final decision, it’s essential to carry out a full range of tests, including testing their capacity for being dropped from military transport planes,” said Shamanov.
On Friday, Shamanov said that Russian paratrooper divisions would receive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) within the next three to five years.