Russia hosts Tank Biathlon 2015: 13 nations attending, China brings own tanks

© Valery Melnikov
Tank crews from four continents have flocked to the Alabino firing range near Moscow to take part in the World Championship Tank Biathlon 2015. The contest route is more difficult this year with additional obstacles and new gun practice tests.

All 13 teams but one will use Russian-made T-72B3 tanks. The Chinese, as in 2014, have arrived in Moscow with their own tank, the TYPE 96A.

“Every army should drive vehicles of its own, that is in the inventory,” Chinese serviceman Wey Usulin told Moscow 24 TV channel. “Our tanks have a lot in common [with Russian vehicles] so we plan not just to participate in the championship, we aim to win,” he said.

READ MORE: China deploys military hardware across Russia ahead of Army Games 2015

© Eugeny Biyatov

Two teams, from Nicaragua and Tajikistan, are taking part in the contest for the first time.

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.

India’s team is optimistic about doing well. After getting their tanks, they bless the machines and do a thorough check of every vehicle to ensure everything is absolute tip-top. During the tank contest, the vehicles are subjected to the kind of extremes they would encounter on a real battlefield.

© Eugeny Biyatov

Teams have to draw lots for their tanks. This year the drawing procedure was made using empty cartridges of different colors, which define the color of the armored vehicle the team will operate.

As last year, the Russian team has received red tanks for the initial stage of the contest. In the first round of the championship, the Russian tank men will challenge crews from Angola using blue tanks and Mongolia who have green ones.

This year the obstacles have been made more complex. 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.

© Eugeny Biyatov

The organizers won’t reveal what exactly awaits the competitors in August. But it’s known that test rides have shown that instead of last year’s 23 minutes needed to complete a run, this year it will take at least 28 minutes, a further five minutes of the utmost exertion for the crews and tanks.

The technical teams have also improved the screening technology of the contest at the firing range, which will bring even more thrilling pictures to TV viewers later on.

READ MORE: Winners of Russian tank biathlon finals get gold figurines of armored vehicles

About 100 cameras will take capture the event, including ones mounted on UAVs, helicopters and hidden under armored hoods next to targets to record at a close range the moment a shell hits the target. There will be 32 cameras doing their job remotely and from behind armored glass.

The first rides of the international battle of the tanks are slated for August 1.