SAAF chief to attend war games in Russia next month


The Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Fabian Zakes Msimang, will be in Russia next month to attend the International Army Games event.

These ‘military Olympics’ have several different events, including the Aviadarts aviation competition, Tank Biathlon, Air Defence Battle, Safe Route combat engineering competition and Safe Environment competition.
50 crews from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and China are taking part in Aviadarts 2015 with 12 types of aircraft and 100 pilots, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, as cited by RIA Novosti. Three airfields in the Ryazan, Bryansk and Kaluga regions will host the games. Some of the aircraft involved include JH-7 fighter bomber, Su-24M, Su-25 and Su-34 strike aircraft, Su-27, Su-30SM and MIG-29SMT fighters, Il-76 transports, Tu-22M3 bombers, and Ka-52, Mi-35 and Mi-8 helicopters.

International monitors from 10 other countries, including Egypt, Venezuela, Bahrain, India and Slovenia, will also be present at the aviation event, which had its opening ceremony on Monday. Fighter, bomber, ground attack, transport and other aircraft will compete against each other in events such as precision shooting.

The International Army Games will be held from 1 to 15 August at Alabino near Moscow. Thirteen nations are taking part in this year’s tank biathlon, using T-72B3 tanks (except China, which has brought its own Type 96A tanks). The countries include Angola, Armenia, Venezuela, India, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, China, Kuwait, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Russia, Serbia and Tajikistan.

General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian army general staff at a media briefing on Tuesday said that 279 weapons units, military vehicles and special equipment of the Russian Armed Forces as wells as 158 Chinese military vehicles would be mobilized for the International Army Games, reports ITAR-TASS. “Fifty-four Russian Air Force planes and helicopters and 17 aircraft and helicopters of our foreign partners will participate in aviation competitions,” the general added.

Two ships – The Uglich and The Grad Sviyazhsk – will represent the Russian Navy at naval competitions in the Caspian Sea. Vessels from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan will also take part.

Some 2 000 foreign servicemen will take part in the games, according to the 2015 Army Games Organising Committee.

The Games will be held at 11 training ranges located in Russia “from Siberia to Kuban [the southern Krasnodar Region],” Gerasimov said.

Russia hosted the Tank Biathlon and Aviadarts competitions in July and August last year and its success precipitated the combined 2015 military games. Most military elements will have a chance to compete including tank crews (Tank Biathlon); infantry fighting vehicle crews (Suvorov’s Attack); flight crews (Aviadarts); sailors (Caspian Sea); airborne forces (Airborne Platoon); mortar crews (Masters of Artillery Fire); anti-aircraft crews (Masters of Air Defence Warfare); engineers (Open Water); combat engineers (Safe Route); nuclear, chemical and biological warfare troops (Safe Environment); reconnaissance teams (Scout Masters); and armoured vehicle crews (Masters of Armoured Vehicles).

The official opening ceremony and first stages of the tank biathlon will take place on 1 August with the final tank biathlon relay race, award ceremony and closing ceremony on 15 August.