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Reconnaissance Norms


The following are some standard planning factors for the organization and capabilities of Soviet reconnaissance forces taken from the Handbook on Soviet Staff Procedure prepared for BCTP.


Combat reconnaissance unit


The following table indicates the organic troop reconnaissance elements in the division, army and front. These are long range patrol units.

Unit Size Operating location
Recon Co. division 9 groups 100 km
Recon Co army 8 groups 450 - 500
Recon Bn of front 35-40 groups 1000 - 1500
Total in front 250 - 300 groups

Each group in the course of a 24 hour period can perform reconnaissance two objectives, each in an area 40-50 square kilometers. Each group receives 1-2 missions and in 5-6 hours after insertion they begin to report information about the enemy.


Division Reconnaissance Norms

Reconnaissance detachments composed of a platoon to company+ are detached from division or regiment. They operate in a sector 4-5 km wide. The distance from own troops is 30-40 km (for div) 20-25 km for regiment.
Combat reconnaissance patrol (up to a platoon) is detached from battalion or company at a distance of 6-8 km.

The number of reconnaissance observation posts in a division and regiment=2-3 posts (3 observers in each post). The battalion has 1-2 posts. The company and platoon have 1-2 observers.

A reconnaissance in force is composed of a company size unit with attack mission to the depth of 1.5-2 km to seize an enemy strong point.

Deep reconnaissance is conducted by teams of 5-7 men (9 teams in the division) at a distance of up to 50 km. The team is assigned a specific target or area for cover. The dimension of the area can be 25-50 km sq.

Each of the division's radio interception post can monitor 3-4 radio nets. The division has 2-3 radio direction posts, which perform 30 verified fixes an hour. The division's radio technical posts can take a bearing of an average of 20-30 radar stations of the enemy in one hour and can determine their technical specifications. The division's 1-2 radar reconnaissance stations (SNAR-2) operate with a range of 14-16 km for ground targets and up to 38 km for water targets.

The division artillery sound ranging battery deploys 4-6 km from the front and conducts reconnaissance within a zone of 6-8 km. The range depends on the caliber of enemy weapons and can reach 18 km.

The artillery flash spotting battery deploys on a 5 km front. It conducts reconnaissance on a 6-8 km front with a range under favorable conditions of 12-15 km.



Norms for the locations of security elements:
----- advance guard is 15-30 km from main body.
----- rear guard is 10-20 km. behind the main body.
----- interval between battalions in the column is 3-5 km.
----- interval between regiments is 10 km.
----- distance of GPZ, BPZ, TPZ, are 3-5 km.
----- bivouac security detachment (bn) has a sector 10 km wide.
----- bivouac security detachment (co) has a sector 5 km wide.
----- bivouac security patrol (platoon) sector is 2 km wide.


Aerial Reconnaissance

Depending on the conditions of observation and the terrain nature, the line of bivouac security elements can be 4-6 km on the average away from the troops being protected.

Type of Object (Target) and Conditions of Observation Flight Altitude


Slant Range, of Observation, km
Column of Troops and Combat Equipment Moving Along a Road.

- on a dark night

200-400 0.5
- on a moonlit night 600-1000 1-1.5
- when illuminating terrain with aid of a light bomb 2000-4000 2-3
Headlights of Automobiles, Uncamouflaged 2000-4000 5-15
Large Populated Points (Illuminated Cities) 2000-4000 60-100
Highways and Dirt Roads in Summer:

-- on dark nights

500 0.5
-- on moonlit night 1000-2000 1.5
Operational Recon Regt 30 bomber type 800 - 1000 km
Tactical Recon Regt 40 fighter type 400 - 500 km
Combat Regiments 10 - 12 outfitted for recon also

An air army, which has five divisions and three reconnaissance aviation regiments, can have 287 reconnaissance aircraft and 377 pilots, including 60 tactical reconnaissance aircraft and 30 operational reconnaissance aircraft. Fifteen percent of the non-organic reconnaissance aviation is designated for carrying out reconnaissance. In this case the reconnaissance aviation on the first day will carry out 500-700 flights. Reconnaissance crews in an area of 10-15 kilometers can reconnoiter 2-3 targets in one flight.

In the front there are 3-4 tactical pilotless aviation squadrons. Each squadron has 4 aviation flights. The squadron can conduct in all 36 pilotless reconnaissance sorties. Each squadron is attached for reconnaissance in support of a first echelon army. The time of flight is 45 minutes, the width of photography is 5 kilometers, the overall range of photography is 75 kilometers. The squadron can conduct reconnaissance as follows:

Drone reconnaissance aircraft
Flight altitude Flight Radius
600 meters 80-100 km
3000 meters 150-170 km
7000 meters 200- 250 km

Space Reconnaissance

The Soviet Union uses space reconnaissance means at a distance of 200-250 kilometers above the earth. A single pass can photograph a 40-50 kilometer zone.

Limits of Range of Detection and Distinguishing Objects (Targets) Daylight in Good Visibility
Object Flight


Slant Range, km Detection Distinguish
Artillery in fire positions, uncamouflaged 100 2-3 1.-1.5
300 3-3.5 2-3
600 3-4 2-3
1000 3-4 2-3
4000 5 undistinguish-able
Rocket launcher, artillery guns, automobiles, tanks, armored transporters, radar stations on the ground and in movement in columns along highways and on dirt roads, uncamouflaged 100 4-5 2-3
300 6-7 3-4
600 6-7 3-4
1000 6-9 4-5
6-7000 10-12 Undistinguish-able
8-10,000 12-15 "
Tanks, automobiles, armored transporters under cover in trenches, camouflaged 100 3-4 1.5-2
300 6-7 3-4
600 6-7 3-4
1000 6-7 4-5
4000 7-8 5
Tanks, automobiles, armored transporters, uncamouflaged 4-500 3-4 1-2
2-3000 4-5 -
3-4000 5-6 -
Artillery and mortar trenches, camouflaged against terrain background 4-5000 5-6 Undistinguish-able
5-6000 8-10 "


Artillery Reconnaissance

An army artillery reconnaissance regiment has 2 battalions: the first battalion has a sound ranging battery (zvukovaia razvedka), one radio-technical reconnaissance battery, and one optical reconnaissance battery; the second battalion has a photography battery, a topo-geodetic battery, and a meteorological service battery.

Reconnaissance System Range Error - % Range from Observer Deflection Error - % Rg from Observer or m
Visual Recon Theodolite 0.5-0.8 0.1
Stereoscopic Telescope 0.8-1.1 0.2
Range finder 1.0-1.5 0.2-0.3
(Dependent on range finder base) (1.0-1.2) (0.1)
Flash ranging Large (0.5-0.8) Large (0.1)
Timing flashes Large -
Sound Ranging 1.0 (1.0) 0.4 (0.4)
Helicopter Recon (1.4