Tank Biathlon competitions & Army Games

If there is a war tomorrow, if there is a battle tomorrow, then be ready for war today.” (The famous Red Army song before the Second World War during the period of Stalin).

The history of the 2nd Guards Taman Motorized Rifle Division begins in World War II. The division took part in the Battle of Moscow, Kursk, the Caucasus, Crimea and on the battlefields of East Prussia. In 1945, the division moved from East Prussia to the village of Alabino, Naro-Fominsk region near Moscow, where it is still located. Adjacent to the other side of this area are the 4th Guards Tank Division, the training ground and the Kubinka Tank Museum, as well as the military-technical base of the Mosfilm Cinema Studio with a cavalry regiment. Every year, the 2nd Taman Division takes part in the Military Victory Parade on Red Square in Moscow, displaying soldiers, armored personnel carriers and tanks. Due to its close location to the Kremlin, the division received the nickname “Royal Court” and was considered the most prestigious. At the division’s shooting range, training demonstration shooting from tanks and infantry fighting vehicles was held for VIP guests from the Ministry of Defense and the Government of the USSR. In 1991, the division took part in an attempt to suppress Yeltsin’s power in the White House. In 1993, on the contrary, the division’s tanks defended Yeltsin’s power and fired at the rebellious White House. Throughout the 90s, the division organized demonstration exercises at the training ground on the holiday, the day of this military unit. In 2004, a gigantic show dedicated to the Battle of Moscow was held at the division’s training ground with dozens of ancient and modern tanks, artillery and even cavalry. This theatrical performance had elements of reenactment with soldiers dressing up in historical uniforms. The celebration was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and other important people. The Moscow government allocated $2,000,000 for this holiday. Part of this money went to pay for the services of artists, the other part to repair terrible roads and build stands for spectators.

In the summer of 2013, a year before the founding of Patriot Park, the new Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu ordered tank biathlon competitions to be held as a military applied sport. The first tank biathlon was held among Russian military personnel, but foreign guests joined in the final stage. In 2015, tank biathlon expanded to the International Army Games with competitions in other branches of service with participants from friendly countries, primarily the former USSR, China, India, Africa, Arab countries and Latin America. At the same time, the annual military-technical Forum Army 2015 opened, part of the program of which was demonstration firing of armored vehicles and aircraft at the same training ground of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division. Over the following years, the International Army Games began to be held at training grounds in other cities and countries, including China. But traditionally, the main venue for the Army Games is the Alabino training ground of the 2nd Guards Taman Motorized Rifle Division. Competition winners receive prizes, medals and promotions. The number of competitions by type of military force, location and participating countries grew every year. In 2019, the International Army Games were held at training grounds in 10 countries, had 32 types of competitions and participants from 39 countries. After the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine in 2022, Patriot Park and the International Army Games came under sanctions from some countries around the world.

Tank Biathlon competitions & Army Games in Patriot Park Russia

Tank Biathlon competitions & Army Games

Below is a typical program for tank biathlon competitions in 2019.

Real tank ride: Tank biathlon, International Army Games, Russia.
Dates: 03-17.08.2019 (August)
Location: Moscow region, Alabino – Patriot park (Kubinka — Golitsyno — Seliatino RR Stations, about 1 hour by car from Moscow), the shooting range of Tamanskaya motorized division.

Status: state, military, Defense Ministry (Russian Army)
Access: restricted military area, available during the special events.

About Tank Biathlon rules:

Team (up to 21 persons):
Team leader, team members (4 tank crews: 3 main + 1 reserve) — 12 persons
Coaching group — 2 persons
Maintenance unit (repairing support) — 6 person.

1. Individual race (all teams are participating).
2. Relay race – Semifinals (12 teams are participating).
3. Relay race – Finals (4 teams are participating).

Armored Vehicles

  • T-73B3 – the main Russian battlefield tank, for all country, except
  • T-90s “Bhishma” – for India team
  • Type 96B – for China team

Stage 1, determines the ranking of the each crew.
Competitors: 3 crews from each team (each crew uses its own tank).
Start: separate with 1-2 min gap (4 tanks on the race at once).

Tank Biathlon competitions map, Army Games in Patriot Park Russia

The information screen with the tank position indicator on the map

Conditions: each crew is to run 3 tours (3-5 km) with three firing sessions:
1st lap – gun firing three shots (target N12 “Tank”).
2nd lap – AA MG firing (target N25 “Helicopter”).
3rd lap – coaxial MG firing (target N9 “Anti-tank grenade launcher”)

Tank shooting: target “tank”, International Army Games biathlon Kubinka Alabino

Tank shooting: target “tank”, International Army Games -2017

1. Barriers and maneuvering section.
2. Ford (wade passing)
3. Track passage lane in the minefield
4. Hill
5. Fire line obstacle
6. Anti-tank trench with a passage lane
7. Track bridge
8. Comb
9. Escarp
10. Side-hill

Stage N1 race results of each tank crew are calculated by summing total distance time and penalties.
12 top teams in the Individual race are permitted to participate in the Semifinals of the Relay race stage.

Stage 2, relay race:
Conditions: each crew is to run 4 tours (3-5 km) overcoming obstacles and engaging targets on 3 firing lines.
Gun firing on move; coaxial MG firing at halt.
Firing session during the Relay race is carried out in accordance to the order established by drawing.
1st lap – speed race
2nd lap – gun flank firing on move at three targets N12
3rd lap – AA Machine Gun firing at targets N25 and N11
4th lap – coaxial MG firing at 3 targets N9

Competitors: 3 rotating crews from each team use only 1 tank.
Start: simultaneous (4 tanks on the race at once)
Results: four the teams with the best results in the semifinals are permitted to participate in the final stage.

Information for collectors and museum specialists about tank biathlon. Souvenir products with the symbols of tank biathlon and the International Army Games. The organizers released special pennants with tank biathlon symbols of traditional shape and size. Some of the souvenirs were distributed to participants free of charge, some were sold in special stores of the Voentorg system. The rarest are tabletop metal medals with the symbols of tank biathlon.

Military medals. The winners of the competition received traditional cups, valuable gifts and winners’ medals. All competition winners received medals of three levels, gold, silver and bronze.

Tactical insignia on tanks. Initially, tanks were painted entirely in different colors – red, blue, and so on. Later, tanks began to have a standard green color, but with the symbols of states. The flag of the participating country was placed above the tank turret.

Uniforms and insignia of tank biathlon participants. Tank crew members wore standard Russian overalls in black or beige, as well as national overalls of the participating countries. Sometimes a special patch with the tank biathlon emblem was sewn onto the overalls. Tank crew members also used the new 2010/2012 model protective uniform, nicknamed Russian digital. Please note that there are many foreign cadets in Russian military academies. They usually wear the standard Russian M2010 uniform, but instead of the “Russian Armed Forces” patch, they have the text “Angola Armed Forces”, “Nicaraguan Armed Forces” and so on. Our team’s collection includes the following samples, which we show below. Foreign cadets from Russian military academies also took part in the tank biathlon. Outside of tank raids, participants, as well as representatives of participating countries, wear their national everyday or dress uniform. The technical staff is dressed in blue semi-military overalls, similar to those at Patriot Park.

How to visit:

Tour by car with the English speaking guide, booking the tickets in advance. The service is temporarily unavailable; tours from Paris are also temporarily unavailable.