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Russia’s mightiest military aircraft buzz over Moscow to mark 75th anniversary of Nazi defeat (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Defying clouds in the sky and Covid-19 on the ground, Russia’s deadliest bombers, nimblest fighter jets and strongest transport aircraft flew over the capital in celebration of Soviet victory over Nazi Germany 75 years ago.

V-Day is one of the most important national holidays in Russia, and this year was supposed to have seen massive celebrations throughout the country. But Covid-19 and its lockdowns threw a wrench into the plans, forcing the postponement of most festivities. 

While only a handful of ceremonial troops marched across Moscow’s center this year for a wreath-laying ceremony, the air over the Russian capital was teeming with military aircraft, which were deployed in record numbers for the occasion. A total of 75 helicopters and planes – one for each year since that legendary day – flew under the cloudy sky.

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The flyover started with a Mi-26 – the world champion in size and power among mass-produced heavy-transport helicopters. It was accompanied by a quartet of Mi-8s – the workhorse of transport aviation in Russia and many other nations.

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Rotorcraft with more teeth followed closely. Сombat choppers, including Mi-35M armed transport, Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ and Mi-28N ‘Night Hunter’ helicopter gunships were on display.

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Next came the turn of some of the biggest planes operated by the Russian military. An A-50 ‘flying radar’ was chased by Il-76 airlifters – the go-to solution if you need some heavy hardware moved fast.

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Russian nuclear deterrence was showcased by all three types of strategic bombers currently in service: the slower turboprop-powered Tu-95MS ‘Bear’, the Tu-22M3 variable-sweep-wing supersonic jets and their heavier cousins, the Tu-160 ‘White Swan’ bomber.

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Fighter jets swooped in, with echelons of MiG-29s, Su-24s and MiG-31Ks flying one after another. The final quartet in this part of the show was formed by Su-57s, Russia’s most advanced 5th-generation aircraft currently finding its way into the ranks.

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The finale of the air parade showcased the skills of Russian ace pilots flying in tight formation. Some 10 air-superiority fighter jets representing three modern variants of the Su-27 family formed a wedge.

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Close on their tail was the signature diamond formation performed by the two top Russian aerobatic teams, the Swifts and the Russian Knights, piloting MiG-29s and Su-30SM respectively.

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The show wrapped up with the Su-25, the veteran ground-attack aircraft. Six of them were deployed to paint the colors of the Russian flag in smoke.

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Smaller-scale flyovers took place on Saturday in other Russian cities as well as in countries hosting Russian air forces.

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