The Russian Armed Forces tested a broad range of military capabilities during the annual strategic–operational exercise, Tsentr 2019, designated as a strategic command-staff exercise (strategicheskiye komandno-shtabnyye ucheniya—SKShU).
Tsentr 2019, being held between September 16 and 21, mainly focuses on the Central Military District (MD) though other MDs are involved, and Russia is joined by forces from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, India and Pakistan.
As the highlight of this combat training year, Tsentr 2019 is designed to test a variety of approaches to modern warfare, with emphasis on integrating groups of forces, strategic mobility, countering enemy air attacks, as well as rehearsing counter-offensive operations. In the early stages of the exercise, commanders tested the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in different conditions (VPK, September 17).
The UAV usage included training their operators to function in smoky conditions wearing gas masks. The overall scheme for testing UAV capabilities drew upon lessons learned from Russia’s involvement in military operations in Syria and other features of the conflict there.
Recent tests of Russia’s UAV capability have included the heavy strike UAVs Okhotnik and Altius-U. UAV operators were also used for monitoring purposes during the summer forest fires in Krasnoyarsk, where they had to function in smoke–filled areas with reduced visibility.
All the UAV units in the Central MD were involved in Tsentr 2019 using the combined-arms training ranges across the MD. Russian commanders have explicitly noted the expanded role of UAVs in modern conflict, and their involvement in a wide range of conflict settings (VPK, September 17). (end of excerpt)
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