Teams from 17 countries, including Belarus, China, Egypt, India, Nicaragua and Tajikistan, are currently gathering at the Alabino firing range in the suburbs of Moscow to compete in this year’s World Tank Biathlon Championship RT reports.
The opening ceremony of the military games, organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense, is set to take place on August 1 with the competition scheduled to last 15 days.
“Every team gets four armored vehicles: three for the competition and a spare one. According to the rules, the maintenance of the vehicles is the responsibility of the crews themselves,” RT explains.
All teams save one will use Russian-made colored-coded T-72B3 tanks. “During the tank contest, the vehicles are subjected to the kind of extremes they would encounter on a real battlefield,” RT observes.
The article also notes that the Indian tank crew has already blessed its vehicles and is optimistic about winning the biathlon.
Last year, Angola, Armenia, Belarus, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Serbia, and Venezuela participated in the various competitions with Russia coming in first, Armenia second, and China third.
This year, the Chinese are adamant about their desire to win the challenge and, like the year before, brought their own tank force – four third-generation ZTZ-96A main battle tanks. The Type 96A constitutes the core of China’s tank force (more than 2,500 are estimated to be in service with the People’s Liberation Army).
RT quotes Chinese soldier Wey Usulin who told Moscow 24 TV channel:
Every army should drive vehicles of its own, that is in the inventory. Our tanks have a lot in common [with Russian vehicles] so we plan not just to participate in the championship, we aim to win.
However, at the end of last year’s competition, Chinese soldiers admitted that the Type 96A is underpowered in comparison to its Russian counterparts.
All in all, 13 Chinese teams will compete in the military games. In addition, to the four Type 96A main battle tanks, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also brought four infantry combat vehicles, 120mm self-propelled mortar-howitzer PLL-05 systems, as well as Russian-made Su-30MKK strike fighters to Russia.
Next to the tank biathlon, there will be a total of 12 other challenges including the “Masters of Air Defense,” “Masters of Artillery Fire,” as well as “Airborne Platoon” competitions. Russia is the only country to participate in all 13 events, according to the event’s website.
The 2015 event will be more complex than the one held in the previous year RT notes:
In addition to the already known tricky traps of counterscarps, a fording site and flame obstacle, some new elements have been added, as well as new types of gunnery exercises.
Moscow appears to have spared no expenses when it comes to promoting this “military-sporting” event and around 100 cameras will capture the various stages of the 2015 games. Indeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be emulating the old strategy of “panem et circenses” – bread and circuses – once applied by the Roman emperors in order to assuage public discontent and dodge tougher questions about their leadership.