Weapons and equipment of Russian Spetsnaz - Dagger and Cloak

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Weapons and equipment of Russian Spetsnaz

From Viktor Suvorov, "Spetsnaz. The Story Behind the Soviet SAS" (Source)

The standard issue of weapons to a spetsnaz is a sub-machine gun, 400 rounds of ammunition, a knife, and six hand grenades or a light single-action grenade-launcher. During a drop by parachute the sub-machine gun is carried in such a way as not to interfere with the main (or the reserve) parachute opening correctly and promptly, and not to injure the parachute on landing. But the large number of fastenings make it impossible for the parachutist to use the gun immediately after landing. So he should not be left defenceless at that moment, the parachutist also carries a P-6 silent pistol. After my escape to the West I described this pistol to Western experts and was met with a certain scepticism. Today a great deal that I told the experts has been confirmed, and examples of the silent pistol have been found in Afghanistan. (Jane's Defence Weekly has published some excellent photographs and a description of this unusual weapon.) For noiseless shooting over big distances PBS silencers are used and some soldiers carry them on their submachine guns.

Officers, radio-operators and cypher clerks have a smaller set of weapons: a short-barrelled sub-machine gun (AKR) of 160 rounds, a pistol and a knife.

Apart from personal weapons a spetsnaz group carries collective weapons in the form of RPG-16D grenade-launchers, Strela-2 ground-to-air missiles, mines for various purposes, plastic explosive, snipers' rifles and other weapons. The unit learns how to handle group weapons but does not keep them permanently with it: group weapons are held in the spetsnaz stores, and the quantity needed by the unit is determined before each operation. Operations can often be carried out simply with each man's personal weapons.

A group which sets out on an operation with only personal weapons can receive the group weapons it needs later, normally by parachute. And in case of pursuit a group may abandon not only the group weapons but some of their personal weapons as well. For most soldiers, to lose their weapons is an offence punished by a stretch in a penal battalion. But spetsnaz, which enjoys special trust and operates in quite unusual conditions, has the privilege of resolving the dilemma for itself although every case is, of course, later investigated. The commander and his deputy have to demonstrate that the situation really was critical.

Unlike the airborne and the air assault forces, spetsnaz does not have any heavy weapons like artillery, mortars or BMD fighting vehicles. But 'does not have' does not mean 'does not use'.

On landing in enemy territory a group may begin its operation by capturing a car or armoured troop-carrier belonging to the enemy. Any vehicle, including one with a red cross on it, is fair game for spetsnaz. It can be used for a variety of purposes: for getting quickly away from the drop zone, for example, or for transporting the group's mobile base, or even for mounting the assault on an especially important target. In the course of exercises on Soviet territory spetsnaz groups have frequently captured tanks and used them for attacking targets. An ideal situation is considered to be when the enemy uses tanks to guard especially important installations, and spetsnaz captures one or several of them and immediately attacks the target. In that case there is no need for a clumsy slow-moving tank to make the long trip to its target.

Many other types of enemy weapons, including mortars and artillery, can be used as heavy armament. The situation may arise in the course of a war where a spetsnaz group operating on its own territory will obtain the enemy's heavy weapons captured in battle, then get through to enemy territory and operate in his rear in the guise of genuine fighting units. This trick was widely used by the Red Army in the Civil War.

The Soviet high command even takes steps to acquire foreign weapons in peacetime. In April 1985 four businessmen were arrested in the USA. Their business was officially dealing in arms. Their illegal business was also dealing in arms, and they had tried to ship 500 American automatic rifles, 100,000 rounds of ammunition and 400 night-vision sights to countries of the Soviet bloc.

Why should the Soviet Union need American weapons in such quantities? To help the national liberation armies which it sponsors? For that purpose the leadership has no hesitation in providing Kalashnikov automatics, simpler and cheaper, with no problems of ammunition supply. Perhaps the 500 American rifles were for studying and copying? But the Soviet Union has captured M-16 rifles from many sources, Vietnam for one. They have already been studied down to the last detail. And there is no point in copying them since, in the opinion of the Soviet high command, the Kalashnikov meets all its requirements.

It is difficult to think of any other reason for such a deal than that they were for equipping spetsnaz groups. Not for all of them, of course, but for the groups of professional athletes, especially those who will be operating where the M-16 rifle is widely used and where consequently there will be plenty of ammunition for it to be found.

The quantity of rifles, sights and rounds of ammunition is easy to explain: 100 groups of five men each, in which everybody except the radio-operator has a night-sight (four to a group); for each rifle half a day's requirements (200 rounds), the rest to be taken from the enemy. American sights are used mainly because batteries and other essential spares can be obtained from the enemy.

This is clearly not the only channel through which standard American arms and ammunition are obtained. We know about the businessmen who have been arrested. There are no doubt others who have not been arrested yet.

The weapons issued to spetsnaz are very varied, covering a wide range, from the guitar string (used for strangling someone in an attack from behind) to small portable nuclear changes with a TNT equivalent of anything from 800 to 2000 tons. The spetsnaz arsenal includes swiftly acting poisons, chemicals and bacteria. At the same time the mine remains the favourite weapon of spetsnaz. It is not by chance that the predecessors of the modern spetsnaz men bore the proud title of guards minelayers. Mines are employed at all stages of a group's operations. Immediately after a landing, mines may be laid where the parachutes are hidden and later the group will lay mines along the roads and paths by which they get away from the enemy. The mines very widely employed by spetsnaz in the 1960s and 1970s were the MON-50, MON-100, MON-200 and the MON-300. The MON is a directional anti-personnel mine, and the figure indicates the distance the fragments fly. They do not fly in different directions but in a close bunch in the direction the minelayer aims them. It is a terrible weapon, very effective in a variety of situations. For example, if a missile installation is discovered and it is not possible to get close to it, a MON-300 can be used to blow it up. They are at their most effective if the explosion is aimed down a street, road, forest path, ravine, gorge or valley. MON mines are often laid so that the target is covered by cross fire from two or more directions.

There are many other kinds of mines used by spetsnaz, each of which has been developed for a special purpose: to blow up a railway bridge, to destroy an oil storage tank (and at the same time ignite the contents), and to blow up constructions of cement, steel, wood, stone and other materials. It is a whole science and a real art. The spetsnaz soldier has a perfect command of it and knows how to blow up very complicated objects with the minimal use of explosive. In case of need he knows how to make explosives from material lying around. I have seen a spetsnaz officer make several kilograms of a sticky brown paste out of the most inoffensive and apparently non-explosive materials in about an hour. He also made the detonator himself out of the most ordinary things that a spetsnaz soldier carries with him — an electric torch, a razor blade which he made into a spring, a box of matches and finally the bullet from a tracer cartridge. The resulting mechanism worked perfectly. In some cases simpler and more accessible things can be used -gas and oxygen balloons of paraffin with the addition of filings of light metals. A veteran of this business, Colonel Starinov, recalls in his memoirs making a detonator out of one matchbox.

On the subject of mines, we must mention a terrible spetsnaz weapon known as the Strela-Blok. This weapon was used in the second half of the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s. It is quite possible that by now it has been very substantially improved. In a sense it can be described as an anti-aircraft mine, because it operates on the same principle as the mine laid at the side of a road which acts against a passing vehicle. It is related to mines which are based on portable grenade-launchers which fire at the side of a tank or an armoured personnel carrier.

The Strela-Blok is an ordinary Soviet Strela-2 portable missile (a very exact copy of the American Red Eye). A spetsnaz group carries one or several of these missiles with it. In the area of a major airfield the launch tube is attached to a tall tree (or the roof of a building, a tall mast, a hayrick) and camouflaged. The missile is usually installed at a short distance from the end of the runway. That done, the group leaves the area. The missile is launched automatically. A clockwork mechanism operates first, allowing the group to retire to a safe distance, then, when the set time has run out (it could be anything from an hour to several days) a very simple sound detector is switched on which reacts to the noise of an aircraft engine of a particular power. So long as the engine noise is increasing nothing happens (it means the aircraft is coming nearer), but as soon as the noise decreases the mechanism fires. The infra-red warhead reacts to the heat radiated by the engine, follows the aircraft and catches up with it.

Imagine yourself to be the officer commanding an aircraft base. One plane (perhaps with a nuclear bomb on board) is shot down by a missile as it takes off. You cancel all flights and despatch your people to find the culprits. They of course find nobody. Flights are resumed and your next plane is shot down on take-off. What will you do then? What will you do if the group has set up five Strela-Blok missiles around the base and anti-infantry mines on the approaches to them? How do you know that there are only five missiles?

Another very effective spetsnaz weapon is the RPO-A flamethrower. It weighs eleven kilograms and has a single action. Developed in the first half of the 1970s, it is substantially superior to any flame-throwers produced at that time in any other country. The principal difference lies in the fact that the foreign models of the time threw a stream of fire at a range of about thirty metres, and a considerable part of the fuel was burnt up in the trajectory.

The RPO-A, however, fires not a stream but a capsule, projected out of a lightweight barrel by a powder charge. The inflammable mixture flies to the target in a capsule and bursts into flame only when it strikes the target. The RPO-A has a range of more than 400 metres, and the effectiveness of one shot is equal to that of the explosion of a 122 mm howitzer shell. It can be used with special effectiveness against targets vulnerable to fire — fuel stores, ammunition dumps, and missiles and aircraft standing on the ground.

A more powerful spetsnaz weapon is the GRAD-V multiple rocket-launcher, a system of firing in salvos developed for the airborne forces. There the weapon can be mounted on the chassis of a GAZ-66 truck. It has 12 launching tubes which fire jet-propelled shells. But apart from the vehicle-mounted version, GRAD-V is produced in a portable version. In case of need the airborne units are issued with separate tubes and the shells to go with them. The tube is set up on the ground in the simplest of bases. It is aimed in the right direction and fired. Several separate tubes are usually aimed at one target and fired at practically the same time. Fired from a vehicle its accuracy is very considerable, but from the ground it is not so great. But in either case the effect is very considerable. The GRAD-V is largely a weapon for firing to cover a wide area and its main targets are: communications centres, missile batteries, aircraft parks and other very vulnerable targets.

The airborne forces use both versions of the GRAD-V. Spetsnaz uses only the second, portable version. Sometimes, to attack a very important target, for example a submarine in its berth, a major spetsnaz unit may fire GRAD-V shells simultaneously from several dozen or even hundreds of tubes.

In spetsnaz the most up-to-date weapons exist side by side with a weapon which has long been forgotten in all other armies or relegated to army museums. One such weapon is the crossbow. However amusing the reader may find this, the crossbow is in fact a terrible weapon which can put an arrow right through a man at a great distance and with great accuracy. Specialists believe that, at the time when the crossbow was competing with the musket, the musket came off best only because it made such a deafening noise that this had a greater effect on the enemy than the soft whistle of an arrow from a crossbow. But in speed of firing, accuracy and reliability the crossbow was superior to the musket, smaller in size and weight, and killed people just as surely as the musket. Because it made no noise when fired it did not have the same effect as a simultaneous salvo from a thousand muskets.

But that noiseless action is exactly what spetsnaz needs today. The modern crossbow is, of course, very different in appearance and construction from the crossbows of previous centuries. It has been developed using the latest technology. It is aimed by means of optical and thermal sights of a similar quality to those used on modern snipers' rifles. The arrows are made with the benefit of the latest research in ballistics and aerodynamics. The bow itself is a very elegant affair, light, reliable and convenient. To make it easy to carry it folds up.

The crossbow is not a standard weapon in spetsnaz, although enormous attention is given in the athletic training units to training men to handle the weapon. In case of necessity a spetsnaz group may be issued with one or two crossbows to carry out some special mission in which a man has to be killed without making any noise at all and in darkness at a distance of several dozen metres. It is true that the crossbow can in no way be considered a rival to the sniper's rifle. The Dragunov sniper's rifle is a marvellous standard spetsnaz weapon. But if you fit a silencer to a sniper's rifle it greatly reduces its accuracy and range. For shooting accurately and noiselessly, sniper's rifles have been built with a 'heavy barrel', in which the silencer is an organic part of the weapon. This is a wonderful and a reliable weapon. Nevertheless the officers commanding the GRU consider that a spetsnaz commander must have a very wide collection of weapons from which he can choose for a particular situation. It is possible, indeed certain, that special situations will arise, in which the commander preparing for an operation will want to choose a rather unusual weapon.

The most frightening, demoralising opponent of the spetsnaz soldier has always been and always will be the dog. No electronic devices and no enemy firepower has such an effect on his morale as the appearance of dogs. The enemy's dogs always appear at the most awkward moment, when a group exhausted by a long trek is enjoying a brief uneasy sleep, when their legs are totally worn out and their ammunition is used up.

Surveys conducted among soldiers, sergeants and officers in spetsnaz produce the same answer again and again: the last thing they want to come up against is the enemy's dogs.

The heads of the GRU have conducted some far-reaching researches into this question and come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with dogs is to use dogs oneself. On the southeastern outskirts of Moscow there is the Central Red Star school of military dog training, equipped with enormous kennels.

The Central Military school trains specialists and rears and trains dogs for many different purposes in the Soviet Army, including spetsnaz. The history of using dogs in the Red Army is a rich and very varied one. In the Second World War the Red Army used 60,000 of its own dogs in the fighting. This was possible, of course, only because of the existence of the Gulag, the enormous system of concentration camps in which the rearing and training of dogs had been organised on an exceptionally high level in terms of both quantity and quality.

To the figure of 60,000 army dogs had to be added an unknown, but certainly enormous, number of transport dogs. Transport dogs were used in winter time (and throughout the year in the north) for delivering ammunition supplies to the front line, evacuating the wounded and similar purposes. The service dogs included only those which worked, not in a pack but as individuals, carrying out different, precisely defined functions for which each one had been trained. The Red Army's dogs had respected military trades: razvedka; searching for wounded on the battle field; delivery of official messages. The dogs were used by the airborne troops and by the guards minelayers (now spetsnaz) for security purposes. But the trades in which the Red Army's dogs were used on the largest scale were mine detection and destroying tanks.

Even as early as 1941 special service units (Spets sluzhba) started to be formed for combating the enemy's tanks. Each unit consisted of four companies with 126 dogs in each company, making 504 dogs in each unit. Altogether during the war there were two special service regiments formed and 168 independent units, battalions, companies and platoons.

The dogs selected for the special service units were strong and healthy and possessed plenty of stamina. Their training was very simple. First, they were not fed for several days, and then they began to receive food near some tanks: the meat was given to them from the tank's lower hatch. So the dog learned to go beneath the tank to be fed. The training sessions quickly became more elaborate. The dogs were unleashed in the face of tanks approaching from quite considerable distances and taught to get under the tank, not from the front but from the rear. As soon as the dog was under the tank, it stopped and the dog was fed. Before a battle the dog would not be fed. Instead, an explosive charge of between 4 and 4.6 kg with a pin detonator was attached to it. It was then sent under the enemy tanks.

Anti-tank dogs were employed in the biggest battles, before Moscow, before Stalingrad, and at Kursk. The dogs destroyed a sufficient number of tanks for the survivors to be considered worthy of the honour of taking part in the victory parade in the Red Square.

The war experience was carefully analysed and taken into account. The dog as a faithful servant of man in war has not lost its importance, and spetsnaz realises that a lot better than any other branch of the Soviet Army. Dogs perform a lot of tasks in the modern spetsnaz. There is plenty of evidence that spetsnaz has used them in Afghanistan to carry out their traditional tasks -protecting groups from surprise attack, seeking out the enemy, detecting mines, and helping in the interrogation of captured Afghan resistance fighters. They are just as mobile as the men themselves, since they can be dropped by parachute in special soft containers.

In the course of a war in Europe spetsnaz will use dogs very extensively for carrying out the same functions, and for one other task of exceptional importance — destroying the enemy's nuclear weapons. It is a great deal easier to teach a dog to get up to a missile or an aircraft unnoticed than it is to get it to go under a roaring, thundering tank. As before, the dog would carry a charge weighing about 4 kg, but charges of that weight are today much more powerful than they were in the last war, and the detonators are incomparably more sophisticated and foolproof than they were then. Detonators have been developed for this kind of charge which detonate only on contact with metal but do not go off on accidental contact with long grass, branches or other objects. The dog is an exceptionally intelligent animal which with proper training quickly becomes capable of learning to seek out, identify correctly and attack important targets. Such targets include complicated electronic equipment, aerials, missiles, aircraft, staff cars, cars carrying VIPs, and occasionally individuals. All of this makes the spetsnaz dog a frightening and dangerous enemy.

Apart from everything else, the presence of dogs with a spetsnaz group appreciably raises the morale of the officers and the men. Some especially powerful and vicious dogs are trained for one purpose alone — to guard the group and to destroy the enemy's dogs if they appear.

In discussing spetsnaz weapons we must mention also the 'invisible weapon' — sambo. Sambo is a kind of fighting without rules which was originated in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and has since been substantially developed and improved.

The originator of sambo was B. S. Oshchepkov, an outstanding Russian sportsman. Before the Revolution he visited Japan where he learnt judo. Oshchepkov became a black belt and was a personal friend of the greatest master of this form of fighting, Jigaro Kano, and others. During the Revolution Oshchepkov returned to Russia and worked as a trainer in special Red Army units.

After the Civil War Oshchepkov was made senior instructor in the Red Army in various forms of unarmed combat. He worked out a series of ways in which a man could attack or defend himself against one or several opponents armed with a variety of weapons. The new system was based on karate and judo, but Oshchepkov moved further and further away from the traditions of the Japanese and Chinese masters and created new tricks and combinations of his own.

Oshchepkov took the view that one had to get rid of all artificial limitations and rules. In real combat nobody observes any rules, so why introduce them artifically at training sessions and so penalise the sportsmen? Oshchepkov firmly rejected all the noble rules of chivalry and permitted his pupils to employ any tricks and rules. In order that a training session should not become a bloodbath Oshchepkov instructed his pupils only to imitate some of the more violent holds although in real combat they were permitted. Oshchepkov brought his system of unarmed combat up to date. He invented ways of fighting opponents who were armed, not with Japanese bamboo sticks, but with more familiar weapons — knives, revolvers, knuckle-dusters, rifles with and without bayonets, metal bars and spades. He also perfected responses to various combat combinations — one with a long spade, the other with a short one; one with a spade, the other with a gun; one with a metal bar, the other with a piece of rope; one with an axe, three unarmed; and so forth.

As a result of its rapid development the new style of combat won the right to independent existence and its own name — sambo — which is an abbreviation of the Russian for 'self-defence without weapons' (samooborona bez oruzhiya). The reader should not be misled by the word 'defence'. In the Soviet Union the word 'defence' has always been understood in a rather special way. Pravda formulated the idea succinctly before the Second World War: 'The best form of defence is rapid attack until the enemy is completely destroyed.' (Pravda, 14 August 1939)

Today sambo is one of the compulsory features in the training of every spetsnaz fighting man. It is one of the most popular spectator sports in the Soviet Army. It is not only in the Army, of course, that they engage in sambo, but the Soviet Army always comes out on top. Take, for example, the championship for the prize awarded by the magazine Sovetsky Voin in 1985. This is a very important championship in which sportsmen from many different clubs compete. But as early as the quarter finals, of the eight men left in the contest one was from the Dinamo club (an MVD lieutenant), one from the mysterious Zenit club, and the rest were from ZSKA, the Soviet Army club.

The words 'without weapons' in the name sambo should not mislead the reader. Sambo permits the use of any objects that can be used in a fight, up to revolvers and sub-machine-guns. It may be said that a hammer is not a weapon, and that is true if the hammer is in the hands of an inexperienced person. But in the hands of a master it becomes a terrible weapon. An even more frightful weapon is a spade in the hands of a skilled fighter. It was with the Soviet Army spade that we began this book. Ways of using it are one of the dramatic elements of sambo. A spetsnaz soldier can kill people with a spade at a distance of several metres as easily, freely and silently as with a P-6 gun.

There are two sides to sambo: sporting sambo and battle sambo. Sambo as a sport is just two men without weapons, restricted by set rules. Battle sambo is what we have described above. There is plenty of evidence that many of the holds in battle sambo are not so much secret as of limited application. Only in special teaching institutions, like the Dinamo Army and Zenit clubs, are these holds taught. They are needed only by those directly involved in actions connected with the defence and consolidation of the regime.

The spetsnaz naval brigades are much better equipped technically than those operating on land, for good reasons. A fleet always had and always will have much more horsepower per man than an army. A man can move over the earth simply using his muscles, but he will not get far swimming in the sea with his muscles alone. Consequently, even at the level of the ordinary fighting man there is a difference in the equipment of naval units and ground forces. An ordinary rank and file swimmer in the spetsnaz may be issued with a relatively small apparatus enabling him to swim under the water at a speed of up to 15 kilometres an hour for several hours at a time. Apart from such individual sets there is also apparatus for two or three men, built on the pattern of an ordinary torpedo. The swimmers sit on it as if on horseback. And in addition to this light underwater apparatus, extensive use is made of midget submarines.

The Soviet Union began intensive research into the development of midget submarines in the middle of the 1930s. As usual, the same task was presented to several groups of designers at the same time, and there was keen competition between them. In 1936 a government commission studied four submissions: the Moskito, the Blokha, and the APSS and Pigmei. All four could be transported by small freighters or naval vessels. At that time the Soviet Union had completed development work on its K-class submarines, and there was a plan that each K-class submarine should be able to carry one light aircraft or one midget submarine. At the same time experiments were also being carried out for the purpose of assessing the possibility of transporting another design of midget submarine (similar to the APSS) in a heavy bomber.

In 1939 the Soviet Union put into production the M-400 midget submarine designed by the designer of the 'Flea' prototype. The M-400 was a mixture of a submarine and a torpedo boat. It could stay for a long time under water, then surface and attack an enemy at very high speed like a fast torpedo boat. The intention was also to use it in another way, closing in on the enemy at great speed like a torpedo boat, then submerging and attacking at close quarters like an ordinary submarine.

Among the trophies of war were the Germans' own midget submarines and plans for the future, all of which were very widely used by Soviet designers. Interest in German projects has not declined. In 1976 there were reports concerning a project for a German submarine of only 90 tons displacement. Soviet military intelligence then started a hunt for the plans of this vessel and for information about the people who had designed them.

It should never be thought that interest in foreign weapons is dictated by the Soviet Union's technical backwardness. The Soviet Union has many talented designers who have often performed genuine technical miracles. It is simply that the West always uses its own technical ideas, while Soviet engineers use their own and other people's. In the Soviet Union in recent years remarkable types of weapons have been developed, including midget submarines with crews of from one to five men. The spetsnaz naval brigades have several dozen midget submarines, which may not seem to be very many, but it is more than all other countries have between them. Side by side with the usual projects intensive work is being done on the creation of hybrid equipment which will combine the qualities of a submarine and an underwater tractor. The transportation of midget submarines is carried out by submarines of larger displacement, fighting ships and also ships from the fishing fleet. In the 1960s in the Caspian Sea the trials took place of a heavy glider for transporting a midget submarine. The result of the trial is not known. If such a glider has been built then in the event of war we can expect to see midget submarines appear in the most unexpected places, for example in the Persian Gulf, which is so vital to the West, even before the arrival of Soviet troops and the Navy. In the 1970s the Soviet Union was developing a hydroplane which, after landing on water, could be submerged several metres below water. I do not know the results of this work.

Naval spetsnaz can be very dangerous. Even in peacetime it is much more active than the spetsnaz brigades in the land forces. This is understandable, because spetsnaz in the land forces can operate only in the territory of the Soviet Union and its satellites and in Afghanistan, while the naval brigades have an enormous field of operations in the international waters of the world's oceans and sometimes in the territorial waters of sovereign states.

In the conduct of military operations the midget submarine can be a very unpleasant weapon for the enemy. It is capable of penetrating into places in which the ordinary ship cannot operate. The construction of several midget submarines may be cheaper than the construction of one medium-sized submarine, while the detection of several midget submarines and their destruction can be a very much more difficult task for an enemy than the hunt for the destruction of one medium-sized submarine.

The midget submarine is a sort of mobile base for divers. The submarine and the divers become a single weapons system which can be used with success against both seaborne and land targets.
The spetsnaz seaborne brigades can in a number of cases be an irreplaceable weapon for the Soviet high command. Firstly, they can be used for clearing the way for a whole Soviet fleet, destroying or putting out of action minefields and acoustic and other detection systems of the enemy. Secondly, they can be used against powerful shore-based enemy defences. Some countries -Sweden and Norway for example — have built excellent coastal shelters for their ships. In those shelters the ships are in no danger from many kinds of Soviet weapon, including some nuclear ones. To discover and put out of action such shelters will be one of spetsnaz's, most important tasks. Seaborne spetsnaz can also be used against bridges, docks, ports and underwater tunnels of the enemy. Even more dangerous may be spetsnaz operations against the most expensive and valuable ships — the aircraft carriers, cruisers, nuclear submarines, floating bases for submarines, ships carrying missiles and nuclear warheads, and against command ships.

In the course of a war many communications satellites will be destroyed and radio links will be broken off through the explosion of nuclear weapons in outer space. In that case an enormous number of messages will have to be transmitted by underground and underwater cable. These cables are a very tempting target for spetsnaz. Spetsnaz can either destroy or make use of the enemy's underwater cables, passively (i.e. listening in on them) or actively (breaking into the cable and transmitting false messages). In order to be able to do this during a war the naval brigades of spetsnaz are busy in peacetime seeking out underwater cables in international waters in many parts of the world.

The presence of Soviet midget submarines has been recorded in recent years in the Baltic, Black, Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian and Caribbean seas. They have been operating in the Atlantic not far from Gibraltar. It is interesting to note that for this 'scientific' work the Soviet Navy used not only the manned submarines of the Argus class but also the automatic unmanned submarines of the Zvuk class.

Unmanned submarines are the weapon of the future, although they are already in use in spetsnaz units today. An unmanned submarine can be of very small dimensions, because modern technology makes it possible to reduce considerably the size and weight of the necessary electronic equipment. Equally, an unmanned submarine does not need a supply of air and can have any number of bulkheads for greater stability and can raise its internal pressure to any level, so that it can operate at any depths. Finally, the loss of such a vessel does not affect people's morale, and therefore greater risks can be taken with it in peace and war. It can penetrate into places where the captain of an ordinary ship would never dare to go. Even the capture of such a submarine by an enemy does not involve such major political consequences as would the seizure of a Soviet manned submarine in the territorial waters of another state. At present, Soviet unmanned automatic submarines and other underwater equipment operate in conjunction with manned surface ships and submarines. It is quite possible that for the foreseeable future these tactics will be continued, because there has to be a man somewhere nearby. Even so, the unmanned automatic submarines make it possible substantially to increase the spetsnaz potential. It is perfectly easy for a Soviet ship with a crew to remain innocently in international waters while an unmanned submarine under its control is penetrating into an enemy's territorial waters.

Apart from manned and unmanned submarines spetsnaz has for some decades now been paying enormous attention to 'live submarines' — dolphins. The Soviet Union has an enormous scientific centre on the Black Sea for studying the behaviour of dolphins. Much of the centre's work is wrapped in the thick shroud of official secrecy.

From ancient times the dolphin has delighted man by its quite extraordinary abilities. A dolphin can easily dive to a depth of 300 metres; its hearing range is seventy times that of a human being; its brain is surprisingly well developed and similar to the human brain. Dolphins are very easy to tame and train.

The use of dolphins by spetsnaz could widen their operations even further, using them to accompany swimmers in action and warning them of danger; guarding units from an enemy's underwater commandos; hunting for all kinds of objects under water -enemy submarines, mines, underwater cables and pipelines; and the dolphin could be used to carry out independent acts of terrorism: attacking important targets with an explosive charge attached to it, or destroying enemy personnel with the aid of knives, needles or more complicated weapons attached to its body.

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