Strategic bombers above Red Square

Twice as many aircraft, compared to last year, will participate in the annual Victory Parade on Red Square on the 9 May. In-flight refuelling of strategic bombers will be the high spot of the programme.

Despite fears and the economic crisis, annual celebrations of Victory Day in Russia on the 9 May are becoming more and more impressive. This year 112 military vehicles, as well as 69 planes and helicopters will take part in the parade, Gazeta.ru reports quoting Colonel Oleg Yushakov of the Moscow Military Circuit.

The most spectacular part of the programme is expected to involve Tupolev long-range strategic bombers – the Tu-95 and Tu-160 (also known as the ‘White Swan’). Both will simulate refuelling from the Ilyushin aerial refuelling tanker Il-78, while flying over Red Square, Interfax reports.

Other military aircraft, due to appear above Moscow during the parade, include Sukhoi Su-24 bombers, Su-25 air support aircrafts, Su-27 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters, MiG-31 interceptors and Su-34 fighter-bombers.

The stunning Antonov An-124, or ‘Ruslan’, – one of the world’s largest airplanes – is a transport aircraft which will also appear in Moscow skies, along with the Beriev A-50 AWACS [Airborne Early Warning and Control] aircraft, also known as the ‘Bumblebee’, and attack helicopters: the Mil Mi-28 (‘Night hunter’), Kamov Ka-50 (‘Black shark’) and Ka-52 (‘Alligator’).

Last year’s aerial programme involved only 32 airplanes and helicopters, with two famous aerobatic teams – the ‘Strizhi’ (‘The Swifts’) and the 'Russian Knights’, piloting Mig-29 and Su-27 fighters, rounding off the show.

The ‘ground part’ of the forthcoming celebration is claimed to involve as many as 112 various military hardware, including S-300 and new generation S-400 air defence systems (‘Triumph’), and strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles ‘Topol’.

The rehearsals for the event will be held on 29 April, 3 and 5 May. Traffic on some streets in central Moscow will be restricted on those days – all the way from Khodynskoye Field, where the military transport unit is stationed, to Red Square.

After a long break – from 1996 through 2007 – when military transport was not allowed to take part in the Victory Parade, 2009 is going to be the second year when the large-scale event has been re-launched.

An even more impressive show is predicted for the 9 May 2010, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. According to the RIA Novosti news agency, some of the genuine military hardware, which was actually used in the Great Patriotic War, is expected to take part.

It is worth of mentioning though that the Victory Day Parade is an elaborate event, which is quite costly at the same time. Last year, Moscow’s government allocated more than $US 2 million, solely for repainting pavements and granite sidings in Red Square and nearby areas following the event. Clearly, this year’s parade, having been planned on a larger scale amid the economic crisis, will require even greater investment.