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Russian Battalion Tactical Group southbound from Saint Petersburg

 

A social media video of a Russian train loaded with military vehicles surfaced 20.8.2020. The video was supposedly filmed south of Saint Petersburg. While videos of Russian convoys and trains laden with tanks are not rare, there are some interesting features in this one.


It seems to feature a fully functional Russian battalion tactical group. The maneuver unit is clearly based around a motorized rifle battalion that is equipped with the venerable MT-LB tracked armored personnel carriers. In the Russian system a Motorized Rifle unit can be classified as either mechanized or motorized in the west depending on the set of vehicles it is equipped with.

This battalion has at least 35 baseline MT-LBs, which is consistent with the 3 vehicles per platoon and 3 platoons + ATGM-section per company structure that is typical with the battalions of the motorized rifle brigades.

 

The battalion also has its integral command and communications assets in the form of two R-149 unified command and communications vehicles based on the BTR-80 wheeled APC. They are equipped with the latest Russian digital communications systems and allow very high level of coordination between formations.


A rarer asset in the battalion is an R-330B electronic warfare vehicle with basic abilities to jam and locate hostile communications.


The supporting elements of the battalion consist of at least a platoon of four T-72B3 tanks that provide direct fire support for the infantry. The T-72B3 is an advanced upgrade of the T-72 tank with a new reactive armor and upgraded electronics, including thermal optics.

 

For indirect fire purposes the BTG is attached with a battery of six 2S3 Akatsiya SPGs. While the 152mm 2S3 is an outdated design that is being replaced by more modern systems, it is still capable of providing fire support within the BTGs area of operations.

 

A battalion tactical group like this is capable of conducting limited operations independently and it’s a highly flexible asset for the Russian high command.


 

Where exactly this particular BTG is heading to is unknown. The tracks lead to Belarus, but there are also several large Russian training areas in that direction and the Russian army has announced that multiple motorized rifle units will conduct force on force training in the region.


-Petri Mäkelä

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