Military Organization > Soviet Union > ​​​USSR Airborne-Assault Company (1986-90)

USSR Airborne-Assault Company (1986-90) 

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following was the organization of the Airborne-Assault Company (десантно-штурмовая рота) of the Soviet Airborne Forces (VDV) from 1986 to 1990. These were mechanized companies, as opposed to the Parachute-Airborne Company which was footmobile with light motorization for supporting elements.


This was part of the Airborne-Assault Battalion, which consisted of 1 Battlion HQ, 3 Airborne-Assault Companies (this), 1 Self-Propelled Artillery Battery, 1 Grenade Launcher Platoon, 1 Anti-Aircraft Missile Platoon, 1 Communications Platoon, 1 Logistics Platoon, and 1 Battalion Medical Platoon. There was 1 Airborne-Assault Battalion per Separate Airborne-Assault Brigade in addition to 3 footmobile Parachute-Airborne Battalions, with exceptions listed in the Discussion.

Contents:

  1. Organization

    • 1 Company Headquarters

    • 3 Airborne-Assault Platoons

    • 1 Mortar Platoon

    • 1 Machine Gun Platoon

  2. Discussion

  3. Sources

air assault company 1986-01.png
 

Organization

  • Type: Airborne Mechanized Infantry Company

  • Origin: Soviet Airborne Forces (Soviet Union)

  • Time Frame: 1986-1990

  • Vehicles: 1 BMD-1PK, 9 BMD-1P, 4 BTR-D

  • Personnel: 8 Officers, 2 Warrant Officers and 100 Enlisted

Note: Although the standard AKS-74 and RPKS-74 are listed as the main service weapons, the AKMS and RPKS would have also been in service.

1× Company Headquarters (Отделение управления)

​→ BMD-1PK or BMD-2K Infantry Fighting Vehicle*

  • 1× Company Commander, Captain, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 PM Pistol

  • 1× Deputy Company Commander for Airborne Instruction, Senior Lieutenant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Deputy Company Commander for Political Affairs, Senior Lieutenant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Company Sergeant Major, Senior Warrant Officer, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Medical NCO, Warrant Officer, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

  • 1× Senior Gunner-Operator, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

  • 1× Senior Mechanic-Driver, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74U Rifle

* 3 disposable RPG-18 or RPG-22 anti-tank weapons carried.

3× Parachute-Airborne Platoons (парашютно-десантный взвод)

→ BMD-1P or BMD-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

  • 1× Platoon Commander*, Senior Lieutenant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle, 1 RPG-18/22 LAW and 1 PM Pistol

  • Air Assault Squad:

    • 1× Squad Commander, Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Senior Rifleman, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Machine Gunner, Private, armed with 1 RPKS-74 Machine Gun and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Grenadier, Private, armed with 1 RPG-7D Rocket Launcher

    • 1× Assistant Grenadier, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Gunner-Operator, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Mechanic-Driver, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine

* Platoon Commander displaces the Squad Leader, who would normally sit in the vehicle commander seat, while the Squad Leader sits on the floor.

→ BMD-1P or BMD-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

  • Air Assault Squad:

    • 1× Deputy Platoon Commander*, Senior Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Senior Rifleman, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Machine Gunner, Private, armed with 1 RPKS-74 Machine Gun and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Grenadier, Private, armed with 1 RPG-7D Rocket Launcher

    • 1× Assistant Grenadier, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Senior Gunner-Operator, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Senior Mechanic-Driver, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine

* Deputy Platoon Commander doubles as 1st Squad commander.

→ BMD-1P or BMD-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

  • Air Assault Squad:

    • 1× Squad Commander, Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Senior Rifleman, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Machine Gunner, Private, armed with 1 RPKS-74 Machine Gun and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Grenadier, Private, armed with 1 RPG-7D Rocket Launcher

    • 1× Assistant Grenadier, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Gunner-Operator, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Mechanic-Driver, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine

1× Mortar Platoon (миномётный взвод)

→ BTR-D Armored Personnel Carrier

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Senior Lieutenant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • 1× Mechanic-Driver, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine or PM Pistol

  • Mortar Crew:

    • 1× Mortar Commander, Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Mortar Gunner, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 BM-37 or 2B14 Podnos 82mm Mortar

    • 2× Mortarmen, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

  • Mortar Crew:

    • 1× Mortar Commander, Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Mortar Gunner, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 BM-37 or 2B14 Podnos 82mm Mortar

    • 2× Mortarmen, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

→ BTR-D Armored Personnel Carrier

  • 1× Mechanic-Driver, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine or PM Pistol

  • Mortar Crew:

    • 1× Deputy Platoon Commander*, Senior Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Mortar Gunner, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 BM-37 or 2B14 Podnos 82mm Mortar

    • 2× Mortarmen, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

  • Mortar Crew:

    • 1× Mortar Commander, Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 1× Mortar Gunner, Yefreytor, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 BM-37 or 2B14 Podnos 82mm Mortar

    • 2× Mortarmen, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

*Deputy Platoon Commander doubles as the commander of the 1st Mortar Squad.

1× Machine Gun Platoon (пулемётный взвод)

→ BTR-D Armored Personnel Carrier

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Senior Lieutenant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and PM Pistol

  • Machine Gun Squad:

    • 1× Squad Commander, Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 3× Machine Gunners, Private (2) or Yefreytor (1), armed with 1 PKMS Machine Gun, 1 PM Pistol and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 3× Assistant Machine Gunners, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Mechanic-Driver, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine or PM Pistol

→ BTR-D Armored Personnel Carrier

  • Machine Gun Squad:

    • 1× Squad Commander, Sergeant, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle

    • 3× Machine Gunners, Private (2) or Yefreytor (1), armed with 1 PKMS Machine Gun, 1 PM Pistol and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 3× Assistant Machine Gunners, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74 Rifle and 1 RPG-18/22 LAW

    • 1× Mechanic-Driver, Private, armed with 1 AKS-74U Carbine or PM Pistol

 

Discussion

The Airborne-Assault Company was the maneuver element of the Airborne-Assault Battalion — itself the mechanized component of the VDV's Separate Air Assault Brigades. Such brigades typically consisted of 3 Parachute-Airborne Battalions (footmobile) and 1 Airborne-Assault Battalion (mechanized) as their maneuver elements. An exception included the 83rd Airborne Brigade which had 2 footmobile battalions and 1 mechanized battalion. Another exception was the 56th Guards Airborne Brigade that fought during the Soviet-Afghan War, which by 1986 had 1 Parachute-Airborne Battalion mounted in BTR-70s and 3 Airborne-Assault Battalions mounted in BMP-2Ds (the latter replacing the battalion's BMDs and BTR-Ds). By comparison, Airborne Regiments subordinate to Airborne Divisions only had the 3 of the footmobile/motorized Parachute-Airborne Battalions.

As was common in Afghanistan, the company could be transported into action in helicopters while the vehicles could form a bronegruppa that could reinforce the infantry and extract them.

Company Headquarters

The Company Headquarters was carried in a single BMD-1PK operated by a Mechanic-Driver and Gunner-Operator. After 1986 the BMD-2K would also have been use in some units. The Company Commander—a Captain—sat in the vehicle commander seat and was the company's tactical commander. The Deputy Company Commander for Political Affairs was the successor to the political commissars of World War II and prior. During the Cold War, they were subordinate to the Company Commander and performed the duties of educating personnel in the company on party policy, laws and ethics and instilling esprit de corps. A Deputy Company Commander for Airborne Instruction allotted during wartime. Meanwhile, the Starshina was equivalent to a Company Sergeant Major or First Sergeant and ranked as a Senior Warrant Officer. An additional Medical NCO ranked Warrant Officer.

The Company HQ vehicle (as did all the vehicles in the company) had 2 R-123 "Magnolia" HF/VHF radios, 2 R-255PP beacon receivers, and 1 R-255MP beacon transmitter. The company did not have its own integral radios. Thus, 5 R-148 or R-158 wireless radio sets would be attached down to each company from the battalion communication platoon.

 

Three light disposable RPG-18 or RPG-22 rocket propelled grenades provided the headquarters with a light anti-tank capability.

Air-Assault Platoons

Each platoon consisted of a Platoon Commander, 3 Air-Assault Squads and 3 BMD-1Ps (in some units the BMD-2 after 1986), henceforth referred to as rifle squads for brevity. Each rifle squad consisted of 7 enlisted personnel. In the BMD housing the Platoon Commander, he would sit in the vehicle commander seat, displacing the Squad Commander to another seat or the floor of the vehicle. In the The Deputy Platoon Commander (a Senior Sergeant) acted as the Squad Commander of the 1st Squad and vehicle commander of a vehicle different from the Platoon Commander. Typically the platoon would have 3 NSPU or NSPU-M night sights and 1 AKS-74N, RPKS-74N and RPG-7DN to accomodate them.

The squad was led by the Squad Commander—typically a Junior Sergeant or Sergeant. They would also sit in the vehicle commander seat when mounted, but would dismount and be replaced in that capacity by the Gunner-Operator. The Senior Rifleman was essentially a dismounted 2IC, but due to the small size of the squad (to accomodate the smallness of the BMD) there weren't enough personnel to create a separate Maneuver Element that was the size of even the already small Motorized Rifle Squads. The Fire Element contained the RPG-7D—an airborne version of the RPG-7 that would replace the RPG-16 used in the 1970s and early-1980s—manned by the Grenadier and Assistant Grenadier and the RPKS-74 machine gun manned by the Machine Gunner. The Grenadier was not armed with a secondary weapon in theory or on exercise, but could be armed with a pistol, carbine or rifle in practice when on deployment in Afghanistan. This most likely varied unit-to-unit and was not necessarily indicative of what operations in Europe would have looked like. The Assistant Grenadier on the other hand was armed with an AKS-74 rifle (the folding stock variant, as were most other personnel in the company). The Grenadier carried 2 rockets, while the Assistant carried 3 rockets. The RPG was also equipped with PGO-16 optical sights at a higher rate than in the Motorized Rifles. Additionally, 16 RPG-18 or RPG-22 disposable LAWs were available to the platoon and would be distributed to everyone except for the Grenadier and Assistant Grenadier.

The squad was rounded out by a Mechanic-Driver and Gunner-Operator. Each BMD would be equipped with a 73mm low-pressure smoothbore semi-automatic gun with each vehicle carrying 18 HEAT rounds and 24 fragmentation rounds (approximately).

Fire Support Elements

As integral fire support, the Parachute-Airborne Company had an 82mm Mortar Platoon and Machine Gun Platoon.

 

The Mortar Platoon had 4 Mortar Teams of 4 men each, each serving a BM-37 82mm mortar. The platoon was carried by 2 BTR-D armored personnel carriers (based on the BMD-1 chassis) armed with PKT machine guns. The BM-37 had an effective range of about 3 kilometers. In some cases the 2B14 Podnos 82mm mortar could also be used. Typically on the march the Gunner would carry the barrel and mortar sight, the Crew Commander the bipod, one Mortarman the baseplate, and the other Mortarman the mortar rounds. The platoon overall would have 480 mortar rounds allotted to them. At the battalion level there would also be a Self-Propelled Artillery Battery with 8 2S9 Nona self-propelled air-droppable 120mm mortars. Prior to 1983 the Air-Assault Battalion had a battery of PM-38 120mm mortars with a range of 6 kilometers.

The Machine Gun Platoon was carried in 2 BTR-Ds. It consisted of a Platoon Commander and 2 Machine Gun Squads with 1 Squad Commander, 3 PKMS machine gun teams (with Gunner and Assistant Gunner), and a Driver each. Typically each Gunner would carry 200 rounds while the Assistant Gunner carried 400 rounds. Six disposable RPG-18 or RPG-22 LAWs were also available to the platoon as a whole. 

 

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

      - Marcus Aurelius

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