China and Russia conducting the biggest war games in decades: 1000+ aircraft, 36000 tanks & 80 warships in action
Vostok 2018 is a Russia biggest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union on Tuesday close to its border with China, mobilizing 300,000 troops in a show of force that will include joint exercises with the Chinese army.
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.
Moscow said the weeklong Vostok (East) 2018 maneuvers will span vast expanses of Siberia and the Far East, the Arctic and the Pacific Oceans and involve nearly 300,000 Russian troops — nearly one-third of the country’s 1-million-strong military. They will feature more than 1,000 aircraft, about 36,000 tanks, and other military vehicles and 80 warships.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has described the drills as even bigger than the country’s largest Cold War-era exercise called Zapad 1981 that put NATO allies on edge.
A retired Russian general said that the giant war games come as a warning to the U.S. against ramping up pressure on Russia.
“The maneuvers are aimed at deterring the aggressive intentions of the U.S. and NATO,” Ret. Gen. Leonid Ivashov said. He was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the drills are “also a response to the U.S. sanctions.”
China is sending about 3,200 troops, 900 combat vehicles and 30 aircraft to join the drills at a Siberian firing range, a significant deployment that reflects its shift toward a full-fledged military alliance with Russia. Mongolia also has sent a military contingent.
The troop review started with lightly 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.