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Old December 5th, 2020, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: Historical Design Notes Thread

Added Recent Developments in Soviet Amphibious Forces (Sep 1985) to my webpage.

Lots of detail in the above document about ZAPAD-81:

Wiki details as being the largest military exercise ever done by the USSR, but left out details such as:

• Integrating motorized rifle troops into a landing force.

• Employing air-cushion vehicles (ACVs) and landing craft (LCMs).

• Using merchant ships to support landings.

They had been done before, but in ZAPAD-81, they were all combined into a single exercise.

Other things related to ZAPAD-81:

• Since 1979, Soviet ground force troops have joined naval infantry troops in the initial assault phase of amphibious exercises, rather than landing only after the beachhead was secured. The number of army troops landing in the assault waves has grown from about two platoons to a battalion——the size of the force observed during ZAPAD-81.

• According to Western naval surveillance of exercises since 1979, the naval infantry has emphasized using ACVs and LCMs in the first assault wave. ACVs are capable of moving at high speeds over mines and other obstacles, and of landing troops directly on the beach, while LCMs can-transport heavy weapons. During exercises before 1979, for example, ACVs were seen bringing in special-purpose teams before the first wave or landing troops in areas away from the main target to protect the assault force’s flanks. During ZAPAD-81, special-purpose forces were landed from helicopters before the main assault, while ACVs brought in the first assault wave. Surveillance reports of the exercise also noted that, during ZAP AD-81, LCMs were included in the first wave and probably landed tanks to provide additional fire support on the beach. During the earlier exercises, LCMs were used principally during the follow-on landing to bring combat and support equipment and troops ashore from merchant ships.

• According to our records, ZAPAD-81 was the first time a Kiev-class aircraft carrier (CVHG) or a Moskva-class helicopter cruiser (CHG) operated in support of an amphibious exercise. Their participation was unusual because, according to our understanding of Soviet naval exercises, such ship classes probably would not be available to support amphibious landings during a general war, but would instead be used in an antisubmarine warfare role.

They estimated that the following Warsaw Pact units had some level of amphibious training, and they were:

131st Motorized Rifle Division (MRD)
3rd Guards Motorized Rifle Division (GMRD)
135th/140th Motorized Rifle Regiment (MRR)

7th Sea Landing Division

28th/29th Motorized Rifle Regiment (MRR)

2 to 3 battalions

1 battalion
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