Russian armored personnel carriers (APCs) can swim.
During a jaw-dropping and risky test, a gigantic Russian crane lowered marine-capable APCs into the waters of the Caspian Sea, which then swam away under their own power, plowing through waves and surf to invade a beachhead, according to a new video documenting Russia's Kavkaz-2020 military exercise.
Huge Russian crane lowers APCs into waters to invade beachhead
The video was uploaded to Russia's Ministry of Defence YouTube channel, and displayed Russian naval infantry (marines) from the nation's 414th or 727th Naval Infantry Battalion invading a beach littered with anti-tank obstacles and barbed wire.
A simulation of an amphibious invasion, the first wave comes with air cover in the form of Mi-35 "Hind" attack helicopters, along with Sukhoi fighter jets, Popular Mechanics reports. Of course, ships from the Caspian Sea Flotilla cover the land-based invasion, including the Gepard-class frigates Tartarstan and Dagestan.
Russian APCs carried to shore on Shmel artillery gunboat
In the video, we see a naval infantry company of roughly 100 soldiers, including 10 BTR-82 APCs making two different landings — but the Caspian Sea Flotilla in the video lacks the sealift power to transport both naval and infantry battalions, according to Popular Mechanics.
Some of the naval infantrymen aboard the Shmel artillery gunboat have no choice but to jump into deep water — vanishing into the deep as soon as they leap from the ship's railing. At a mere 78 tons (70.76 metric tons), the Shmel doesn't seem prepared to carry troops into the battlefield.
VTC-79 gunboats lower APCs with huge Russian crane
The BTR-82 APCs are taken to the shore not from a specially-designed amphibious ship, but a "seagoing armament transport" ship. Called the VTR-79, it wasn't created to directly assist seagoing landings, but its bare, wide deck combined with a heavy lifting crane were ideal for the exercise's itinerary.
The VTR-79's deck was filled with at least eight BTR-82 APCs, which it hoists off the deck with heavy lifting straps — just before dropping them in the sea. Once afloat, the APC's crew then unhook the crane's straps and motor their way to the beach.
Russia's BTR-82 APC goes up to 49 mph
Russia's BTR-82 is an 8x8 amphibious APC and comes with a 2A72 30-millimeter autocannon, in addition to a carrying capacity of up to 10 naval infantry personnel. Weighing in at 16 tons, it has a top road speed of 49 mph (78.8 km/h), with a water speed of roughly 5.5 mph (8.8 km/h), reports Popular Mechanics.
The BTRs move like they aren't loaded, and join naval infantry on the beach. This could be a safety measure for the military exercise — this may be a new kind of operation for the Caspian Flotilla.
While U.S. Marines motor to shore in staged invasion exercises with AAV amphibious vehicles, it's not routine for them either — earlier in 2020, an AAV sank near the coast of California, killing nine Marines within.