Issue 1 – 07 August – 13 August 2023
Key takeaways from last week’s developments
- Ocean Shield 2023 naval exercise began on 02AUG, which saw the deployment of two naval task groups to the Kattegat; Russians also practised electronic (simulated) Kalibr missile launches extremely close to Danish and Swedish territorial waters;
- A Su-30 multi-role fighter aircraft crashed on 12AUG near Chernyakhovsk; Despite the crash and involvement of Russia’s air arm in the war in Ukraine, the Baltic Fleet aviation is at high readiness;
- NATO aircraft intercepted 13 Russian aircraft;
- Ground activities included anti-air drills and Iskander-M and Bastion-P electronic missile launches;
On Wednesday (02AUG), Russia began Ocean Shield 2023 naval exercise. The drill aims to check naval forces’ combat readiness to protect the Russian Federation’s national interests in the Baltic Sea. More than 30 ships, 20 auxiliary vessels, 30 aircraft, and 6000 military personnel is involved in the exercise.
Naval exercise Ocean Shield 2023 is significant in that it shows how the Baltic Fleet has adapted to geopolitical changes in the Baltic Sea region, especially in the context of Finland and (potentially) Sweden joining NATO.
The Ocean Shield 2023 exercise was coupled with a heightened exercise tempo across the entire fleet. It is unclear which exercises fell within the Ocean Shield, but we assume that electronic launches of tactical-operational capabilities (Kalibrs, Iskanders, Bastion-Ps) were an essential part of the exercise.
Ground domain activities
The Press Service of Western Military District reported several exercises Baltic Fleet’s ground component carried out last week, including units subordinate to the 11th Army Corps (11th AC), Baltiysk Naval Base (BNB), Leningrad Naval Base (LNB) and units directly subordinated to the Baltic Fleet Command. These drills included:
Air domain activities
The Western Military District Press Service informed about several exercises the Baltic Fleet’s air component conducted last week involving forces from the 34th Mixed Aviation Division (34th MAD) and 44th Air Defence Division (44th ADD). These exercises involved:
On Saturday (12AUG), TASS reported a Su-30 multi-role fighter aircraft from 4th MAR crashed in the Kaliningrad Oblast (presumably near Chernyakhovsk) during a training flight, killing the crew. It is unclear what caused the crash, but the MoD claimed that the airframe had suffered from a ‘technical malfunction’. At the same time, it is unclear what Su-30’s variant crashed as the Baltic Fleet operates both Su-30SM and Su-30SM2. Either way, the number of these multi-role fighter aircraft in the region subsequently dropped from eight to seven, significantly reducing the Fleet’s naval aviation capabilities.
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence reported 13 Russian aircraft were intercepted by NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States between 07AUG-13AUG. The table below lists the interception details:
From the beginning of 2023, forces conducting a NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States intercepted 229 Russian aircraft.
Naval domain activities
The Press Service of Western Military District informed about several exercises Baltic Fleet’s naval component carried out last week, including units subordinate to Baltiysk Naval Base (BNB) and Leningrad Naval Base (LNB). The table below lists the details.
On Friday (11AUG), as a part of the Ocean Shield 2023 naval exercise, two naval task groups passed through the Great Belt and headed towards the Kattegat. Based on Goryn-class (Project 563) rescue tug Yakov Grebelskiy positions – HF radiograms, the task groups probably reached the Kattegat on Sunday (13AUG).
Regarding the Western Military District press release described in the table above, it should be assumed that the electronic (simulated) launches of Kalibr missiles took place extremely close to the territorial waters of Denmark and Sweden. The table below lists the detailed composition of the task groups.
* Steregushchiy-class (Project 20380) guided-missile corvette Merkury is not officially assigned to the Baltic Fleet. The corvette was to become part of the Black Sea Fleet. However, Merkury temporarily operates as part of the Baltic Fleet due to the Ukraine Conflict, the closure of the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, and the inability to join its target unit.
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