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The Moscow V-Day Parade Skipped The Flyover

May 11, 2017

You can ignore the short read and watch it [again] upstairs.

Keeping tab on annual military parades is the most convenient way to learn about a country’s armed forces. Besides, as a showcase of old school nationalism and a not-so-subtle boost for a leader’s ego, they compel their organizers and participants to rock out with their cocks out.

So far this year two rogue states held anniversary ceremonies a week apart, each featuring lavish parades. Last April both Iran and North Korea tried to impress themselves (and humanity) by driving trucks, tanks, and missiles over large public spaces. At least a dozen similar events are scheduled this 2017, most of them in countries where the former Soviet Union put down roots.

Of course, the world can’t ignore the May 9 Victory Day parade in Red Square, where military kitsch was elevated to unprecedented levels over the decades. As the premier showcase for the Russian Federation’s precious arms industry its latest installment didn’t disappoint. It’s a congregation of almost every bad Russian cliché in one go–from Kalashnikovs to the Kremlin to Lenin’s Tomb and Putin.

Regarding Putin, only a single VIP guest joined him this year. The Moldovan President Igor Dodon.

The Victory Day parade for 2017 followed the same format as all the others that came before it ever since Putin reinstated the inclusion of military hardware in 2008. A crucial difference, however, was the last minute cancellation of the flyover by the Russian Air Force. This was done because of poor weather conditions that could have spoiled the assembly of Sukhois, helicopters, and massive Soviet-era bombers that would thunder above the ceremonies in the parade’s final segment. As an unexpected bummer, it robbed the Victory Day audience of seeing bestsellers like the Mi-28 Havoc gunship and the Su-30M.

Everything else went without a hitch. After a brief address by Putin the review of troops was followed by a foot parade as each regimental square stomped across the Red Square cobblestones. Then came the vehicular assembly.

This year’s Victory Day parade marked the third appearance of the T-14 Armata. The high tech MBT has undergone few, if any, modifications since its public debut in 2015 and entered low-rate production of a “pilot batch” the following year. The T-14 was accompanied by T-72B3’s that are believed to have upgrades surpassing the T-90. There were few surprises among the rest of the vehicles since these have been publicized for weeks prior.

The Russian army’s upcoming armor assets like the Boomerang, the Kurganets-25, and the Koalitsiya self-propelled gun. Unseen was the oddly designed T-15 fighting vehicle. On the other hand, the familiar Tigr armored cars, Typhoon MRAPs, BTR-82A’s, and BMP-3’s were in the mix. Russia’s vaunted airborne forces also rolled by in their new BMD-4M’s, which is a cut above anything used by NATO or Asian powers.

Russia’s missile arsenal appeared just as intimidating on Red Square. This included the Iskander ballistic missile, the Buk-2M, the Pantsir hybrid SPAAG, the S-400 Triumf, and a rare appearance by the Tor-M2DT for the arctic forces in its gray-white veneer. This short-range air defense system is mounted on a tracked carriage pulled by a DT-30 transport for semi-static deployment in Russia’s northern extremities. The display of precision ordnance was capped by the RS-24 Yars ICBM.

If this year’s Victory Parade had one message to drive home, it’s the undisputed firepower the Russians have at their disposal even if their economy is still not doing great.

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