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In the Army Now 11 August 2017 8 396
Opened in 1957, Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome has been in operation for 60 years. Unlike Baikanur in Kazakhstan, the Plesetsk site is on Russian territory. Its use has increased since the end of the Soviet Union despite still only launching unmanned rockets.
Related: Tanks: Born in Russia
The neighbouring town of Mirny is a high security area requiring a permit to gain entry. Anna and Pavel are fortunate enough to be granted permission. They are even allowed to visit the rocket assembly hangar – but not before they learn the health and safety rules! While Pavel studiously reads a memo, Anna takes a more hands-on approach and joins the spaceport fire brigade. She takes part in a drill, learning to change into a firefighter’s uniform in just 20 seconds and extinguish fires using a hose and a water cannon.
Related: Firepower: Air
When they are primed and ready, Anna and Pavel enter the hangar to help prepare the rocket for launch. Here, they find out what's special about the hangar floor as well as the purpose of the rocket they are working on.
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Journalists Pavel and Anna are in the army now – the Russian Army. Normally, it’s out of bounds to civilians, but they’ve found a way in. Their goal is to try and test every myth there is about military service in Russia and find out whether they have any basis in truth or are merely invented.
Pavel and Anna find themselves on opposite sides of the barricades. Anna spies on him while he tries to keep up during a drill, before waiting to ambush him and his squad in the woods. Having warmed to the task of shooting at her co-presenter, Anna goes further, and learns how to operate a Kalashnikov and a rocket launcher.
Anna and Pavel’s two weeks serving in the Russian Army’s Arctic Regiment are coming to an end, but they still have a couple more myths to check. They’re especially excited to find out the truth behind the rumour that, due to the severe conditions, the Arctic Regiment is seen as a perfect testing ground for the most cutting-edge military hardware.
Pavel and Anna check whether it’s true that the Russian Army uses reindeer and husky dogs as means of transport in the Arctic. The two also undergo training in battlefield first aid, close combat and target shooting. And they discover what dishes can be found in the army field kitchen.
Pavel and Anna are sent on a crash-course in alpinism. Scaling the climbing wall turns out to be much more difficult than it first appears, although one of them does succeed in reaching the top. Afterwards, they head to an obstacle course in a snow-covered forest. So much for a seaside holiday.
Russian paratroopers aren’t called the “winged infantry” for nothing – their forte is surprising the enemy from above. Anna and Pavel join the servicemen at an airborne training complex for pre-jump training and to learn parachuting safety skills.
It’s time for Anna and Pavel to apply the military skills they’ve learnt in the “survival school” and test their endurance. The recruits are sent into the woods. For two long days, they’ll fight-off attacks, dig trenches, get gassed, drink marsh water and sleep in the forest. See if they survive.
Anna and Pavel join Russian paratroopers in Novorossiysk – a Hero City on the shores of the Black Sea. They want to test several myths, such as whether every paratrooper gets a special tattoo, and whether it’s possible to parachute out of a plane inside an armoured assault vehicle.
In this episode, Pavel and Anna travel to Tajikistan, a former Soviet Republic. There, they join Russian soldiers who have been posted to the once-secret space surveillance station “Okno”. Built for the detection and analysis of objects in outer space, the station consists of several so-called “astrotowers” – domes containing powerful telescopes.
Today is D-Day, when Anna and Pavel must demonstrate what they’ve learnt with the marines. Pavel leaves in a boat, tasked with clearing the area of mines. Anna follows him accompanied by an assault group in an armoured vehicle. Together they must neutralise a threat in the hills where a “terrorist stronghold” is based.
Having completed their posting at the space surveillance station “Okno”, Anna and Pavel join Russia’s 201st division in Tajikistan. Both are ready to test some more myths about army life. In doing so, Anna learns to fire a tank, while Pavel finds out who the army calls “gods of war”.
It’s time for Pavel and Anna to witness the assembly, installation and launch of the rocket they have been working on. It turns out the process involves science, religion and superstition. Find out what female name is written on all Plesetsk rockets to ensure a smooth flight.
Anna and Pavel continue their posting at the military space surveillance station “Okno” in Tajikistan. They combine work with pleasure: stargazing while monitoring the movements of foreign satellites with giant telescopes. It’s all good fun, until the hot climate and altitude start to take a toll on their health.
Anna and Pavel are on duty aboard the corvette Grad Sviyazhsk. While Pavel trains with live grenades, Anna demines the surrounding sea with a heavy machine gun. She also learns about the gory side of the mess room and finds out why a woman on a ship is considered bad luck.
Pavel and Anna travel to the Caspian Sea for some warmth. It's here, in the sunny Republic of Dagestan, that the country's southernmost naval base can be found. The Caspian Flotilla has a long history, dating back to Peter the Great. But before Anna and Pavel can join the Marine Corps, they must endure some gruelling emergency training.
Anna and Pavel are in the city of Vladivostok, the home port of the Russian Pacific Fleet. They join a group of marines known as “The Ussuriysk Tigers” in a bid to earn the right to wear their distinctive black berets. They’ll also learn the trick to keeping a large armoured vehicle afloat, as well as how to make a bed to perfection.
Anna and Pavel are still in the woods, and it’s beginning to take its toll on them. After a sleepless night, they are jaded, cold and hungry. An attempt to eat some army food is interrupted by the enemy fire. They both are at a breaking point and agree it’s the worst time of their lives.
In this episode, Pavel discovers whether a bullet follows a different trajectory in the mountains than over flatland. The accuracy of Russian snipers at long range is also put to the test with the help of a small coin. First, however, there is much for him to learn, including the art of lying still. Anna, meanwhile, is fitted with a 20kg bulletproof vest in preparation for mountain training. It’s not long before she ends up in a hospital, however.
Having survived the dreaded “psychological assault course” in Tajikistan, Anna and Pavel now join a “survival school” in Nizhny Novgorod region. It’s a place where former conscripts are trained to become contract soldiers. There are a lot of women here, which is surprising as they are normally exempt from military service.