Steel march: Putin reviews troops & armor on parade during massive military drills (PHOTO, VIDEO)
Tanks, heavy artillery, missile systems and combat jets took part in the impressive display of power as they marched through the Russian Army’s Tsugol training range. The array of military hardware gave a glimpse into the true scale of the Vostok 2018 drills, which have already been called the largest such exercises since the 1980s.
The troop review started with light armored jeeps carrying both Russian and Chinese flags through the parade grounds, followed by four fighter jets flying above. Dozens of Russian Army BMP-2 fighting vehicles came next, making way for an array of armored machines, including the BTR-82, Tiger and Typhoon personnel carriers.
The ground combat vehicles were accompanied by groups of attack helicopters flying over the training range. A pack of tactical bombers and fighter jets also made spectacular fly-pasts during the parade. The Russian aircraft were joined by several Chinese Xian JH-7 bombers and Z-19 attack helicopters.
T-72B3 tanks, derived from the T-72 family, followed, accompanied by Chinese Type 99 tanks and Type 08 fighting vehicles. All the vehicles that took part in the parade also participated in the drills.
Both Russia and China also displayed their heavy self-propelled guns. Russia’s Msta-S 152mm self-propelled howitzers were followed by China’s PLZ-07 122mm self-propelled artillery platforms.
The list of the military equipment that took part in the parade included the medium-range Buk-M2 anti-aircraft systems as well as Iskander-M tactical missiles and Tornado multiple launch rocket systems.
Russia’s unique TOS-1A heavy flamethrower systems dubbed ‘Solntsepek’ (Sun Scorch) also took part in the parade. Mounted on a T-72 chassis, this system is capable of effectively hitting a potential enemy in almost any fortified structure at a distance of 6km.
Putin, who arrived on Thursday to observe the main part of the Vostok 2018 war games, opened the parade and awarded medals to Russian and Chinese officers who stood out during the drills as the troop review came to a close.
Held between September 11 and September 17, the Vostok 2018 drills have seen troops from Russia, China, and Mongolia hone their skills in conventional warfare in the east of Russia. The forces of the three states trained specifically to coordinate their actions in joint offensive and defensive operations. The Russian Navy also trained in the Sea of Japan, the Bering Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk.
The exercise involves around 300,000 Russian soldiers, including 6,000 airborne troops, more than 1,000 warplanes, helicopters and drones, about 36,000 armored vehicles, and 80 combat and support ships. To ensure full transparency, the Russian Defense Ministry invited 87 observers from 57 countries to the event.
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