International Army Forum 2020 in Russia
by Olivia Kroth
In this year’s International Army Forum, over 1.500 companies featured more than 28.000 items of armament and military hardware at the Army-2020 International Military and Technical Forum in Russia, on August 23-29, 2020. The International Army Games and the Tank Biathlon took place alongside the forum. Both events have been initiated by the Russian Defence Ministry and held every year, since 2015. Six countries participated with expositions this year, at the 6th Army Forum, in Kubinka, Moscow Oblast: Belarus, Brazil, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Russia. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 92 of the 133 invited countries visited the International Army 2020 forum to have a look at what is new on the market of the defence industries, and many countries came with high-level delegations to Moscow. Among them were Abkhazia, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, South Korea, South Ossetia and Vietnam.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addressed the participants of the forum on its opening day. He expressed hope that “new business contacts and promising partnerships will be established and promoted at the forum.” The Russian leader also outlined that the country understands “the importance of building trust-based relationships in the areas of security, military and technical cooperation, and the importance of searching for solutions to new challenges together” (KREMLIN.RU ENGLISH, 23.08.2020).
The 6th International Army Forum demonstrated capabilities of scientific organizations, defence industry businesses, weapons and equipment production, innovative technologies, both from Russia and abroad. The Forum also enabled cooperation between leading foreign military goods developers worldwide. In the past decade, the Russian Federation has become one of the most successful arms producers and exporters, global interest in Russian army equipment is huge. Even the COVID-19 crisis could not deter interested visitors in taking part.
As a novelty, this year’s forum presented a unique exhibition, tracing the development of Russian tanks throughout history. For the first time, a line of 23 tanks and armoured vehicles were deployed on an open area in the Patriot Park. Furthermore, for the first time in the forum’s history, a separate exposition was devoted to the Russian Navy. It featured state-of-the-art replicas of warships, submarines, as well as the latest technical equipment for the fleet. Also, a unique laser cutting device for diving underwater technical and ship lifting operations was showcased at the event (BUSINESS WORLD, 23.08.2020).
The Russian Federation presented its newest arms development, for example the Kalashnikov Group with its Vikhr-1 anti-tank missile and 9M333 guided anti-aircraft missile. “We present the newest missiles Vikhr-1 and 9M333 for the first time. Its range is about 8.000 metres. We are working on increasing its range to almost 10 kilometres,” CEO Tarasov said. The 9M333 finished another testing stage recently. This missile works on a ‘fire and forget’ principle,” he noted (TASS, 21.08.2020).
Kalashnikov rifles are favourite weapons, not only in Russia but worldwide. In Russia’s brotherly neighbour country Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko was seen, on the 23rd of August 2020, carrying a Kalashnikov rifle, as he got out of his helicopter and thanked the Belarusian police and military for calming down rioters in Minsk. These people, paid by abroad, had tried to deliver a Maidan-style coup d’etat in Belarus. But they failed, thanks to police, military and the decisiveness of President Lukashenko with his elegant Kalashnikov.
A video from the Belarusian TV channel BELTA showed President Lukashenko in military clothing, sporting his Kalashnikov rifle. At the end of the video, he was seen patting his Kalashnikov, which he seemed to like very much. It is indeed a wonderful weapon, trustworty and reliable in all dangerous situations. No wonder that it is in great demand worldwide.
At the International Army Forum 2020, Russia’s Almaz-Antey Group unveiled its latest non-strategic anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defence launcher and the Antey-4000 export version of the S-300V4 anti-aircraft missile system. The non-strategic ABM defence launcher was on display in front of the company’s demonstration and exhibition centre. The Antey-4000 system comprising a 9A83M-2E launcher, a 9A84M-1E launcher-loader vehicle and 9M83ME and 9M82ME surface-to-air missiles (in transport and launch containers) were placed in front of pavilion B (TASS, 20.08.2020).
Almaz-Antey (Алмаз-Антей) is a Russian state-owned company, unifying some of the national military enterprises, in particular the developers of anti-aircraft defence systems. The organisation is headquartered in Moscow. It is the world’s 8th-largest defence contractor. Almaz-Antey was founded in 2002 by Presidential Decree 412 of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Board is headed by General Director Viktor Ivanov.
Viktor Petrovich Ivanov (Виктор Петрович Иванов) was born in Novgorod, on the 12th of May 1950. He was a KGB officer, who served in the KGB Directorate of Leningrad, from 1977 to 1994. As a KGB officer he took part in the Soviet-Afghan War, 1987 to 1988. In October 1994, he was appointed Chief of the Administrative Staff of the Saint Petersburg Mayor Office. In 1999, he succeeded Nikolai Patrushev as Head of the Internal Security Department of Russia’s FSB.
In January 2000, he was appointed Deputy Head of the Presidential Staff for personnel by President Vladimir Putin. In September 2001, he became the representative of the state in the Board of Directors of the Antey Corporation and the Almaz Scientific Industrial Corporation, developing and producing air defence systems. In November 2001, Viktor Ivanov was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of Almaz. Afterwards, he initiated the merger of Almaz and Antey. Since June 2002, Viktor Ivanov has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors as a result of the merger.
Viktor Ivanov, General Director of Almaz-Antey:
At the 6th International Army Forum, Russia’s state-owned Rostec Corporation put the export version of Russia’s Su-57 fifth-generation fighter on display, for the first time. The plane also took part in the forum’s flight demonstration programme. The forum’s visitors were able to view the flights of a MiG-35 light multirole fighter, a Ka-52 reconnaissance and attack helicopter and an upgraded Ka-27M deck-based gunship. The Berkuts (Golden Eagles) aerobatic team demonstrated the capabilities of a Mi-28N helicopter in solo and formation flying (TASS, 20.08.2020).
The KBP Instrument Design Bureau, a part of the High Precision Systems of Rostec, showcased its new-generation Hermes missile system with the range of up to 100 km. This is a new-generation system that occupies the niche between precision munitions and artillery missile systems. Hermes has an autonomous missile guidance system of the fire-and-forget type. Hermes guided missiles are capable of being fired from aerial, land-based and naval platforms. The option of launch from strike drones is also possible (TASS, 19.08.2020).
Hermes Precision Missile System:
KBP (Конструкторское бюро приборостроения) is one of the main enterprises in the field of Russian defence, based in Tula. It is engaged in designing high-precision weapon systems for the Russian Armed Forces, as well as anti-air defence systems, high-rate-of-fire cannons and small arms, in addition to civilian products. Its shareholders include High Precision Systems, a part of Rostec.
The designing of high-precision weaponry is the priority of KBP. The enterprise designs air-to-ground, ground-to-air and ground-to-ground weaponry. In addition to these, KBP also develops modern autocannons and grenade launchers. It also manufactures automatic, hand-held and under-slung grenade launchers, sniper rifles, submachine guns, pistols and revolvers for the law enforcement agencies.
The Russian Helicopters Holding Company, another part of Rostec, demonstrated a wide range of military helicopters at the International Army Forum 2020, according to AVIATION PROS. The firm’s exposition included the upgraded transport and military helicopters Mi-35P and Mi-35M, the light multipurpose helicopter Ka-226T, the military and transport helicopter Mi-171Sh, with its increased attack capabilities and improved protection, as well as a mobile service centre for overhaul and maintenance of Mi-8/17-type helicopters at customers’ air bases.
Guests and participants of the forum also saw the Mi-28NE “Night Hunter” attack helicopter, the ship-based Ka-52K “Alligator” helicopter, the Mi-17V-5 military and transport helicopter, the modernized Mi-26T2V heavy transport helicopter and the most modern Mi-38T transport helicopter. The exposition also presented the newest blade with a sword-like edge, which improves a helicopter’s performance, and a mobile service centre unit, which is a 20-feet container with equipment for maintenance and repair of Mi-8/17 helicopters.
“The International Army Forum is the largest event in the Russian defence industry, where we can show our latest designs and developments to potential Russian and foreign customers. We are constantly improving our rotorcraft, and in 2020, we are presenting a number of state-of-the-art models, which include advanced design solutions in terms of safety and increased attack capabilities of helicopters,” said Andrei Boginsky, General Director of the Russian Helicopters Holding Company (AVIATION PROS, 21.08.2020).
Russian Helicopters (Вертолёты России) is headquartered in Moscow. The company’s principal shareholder is Rostec. It is the world’s 24th-largest defence contractor and the second-largest based in Russia, after Almaz-Antey.
General Director of Russian Helicopters, Andrei Boginsky:
Belarus, one of Russia’s partners in the CSTO, also took part in the International Army Forum, presenting 200 of its own defence products. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is a military alliance that was signed in May 1992. Its members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia currently have observer status.
The Belarusian delegation to the International Army Forum 2020 included representatives of 17 organizations and companies. The collective stand, under the aegis of the State Authority for Military Industry of Belarus, was organized by ZAO BelTechExport.
At a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO):
Among the products from Belarus, demonstrated for the first time, were the 122mm multiple-launch rocket system Shkval, the satellite communications terminal R-4430, the light-armored vehicle MZKT-490101-010, the mobile high-frequency radio direction-finding system Volar. The products on display were primarily high-tech: fire systems, flying drones, including assault drones, combat modules, optic-electronic devices and complexes, automated troop command and control systems, communications and navigation solutions, data processing and display systems for rugged environments, mobility and reconnaissance solutions.
The Belarusian delegation was led by the Chairman of the State Authority for Military Industry of Belarus, Dmitry Pantus. Belarusian defence companies traditionally take part in the International Army Forum. Every time, they showcase integrated solutions, a broad range of modern and promising equipment and weaponry products, based on the R&D potential of the Belarusian defence industry (BELTA, 18.08.2020).
Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko in military uniform:
Belarus does not only present its own defence industry products but buys from Russia as well. As the Belarusian Deputy Defence Minister for Armament, Major General Sergei Simonenko, reported, a number of contracts on deliveries, repair, and maintenance of military products for the benefit of the Belarusian army were signed on the sidelines of the forum.
The contracts envisage the delivery of two battalion sets of armoured personnel carriers (APC) BTR-82A, made by the Russian Arzamas Machine-Building Plant and the first batch of Mi-35M helicopters. The delegation also signed a plan on interaction with the Almaz-Antey Air and Space Defence Corporation, 2021-2025. The plan provides for the acquisition of modern air defence systems in the period till 2025 (BELTA, 24.08.2020).
Russia’s Arzamas Machine-Building Plant:
India participated with its own stand. The India Pavilion was inaugurated by Raj Kumar, India’s Secretary of Defence Production, and the Indian Ambassador Venkatesh Verma. India’s Embassy in Moscow tweeted: “Secretary of Defence Production Raj Kumar and our Ambassador inaugurated the India Pavilion at Army-2020 outside Moscow. They visited other pavilions showcased at the exhibition, including the India-Russia Brahmos JV pavilion.” The Indian officials also attended the plenary session of Army-2020 (NDTV, 23.08.2020).
Further distinguished guests, participants and visitors came to Moscow from different parts of the world, for example a delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the SARAJEWO TIMES: “A delegation of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, led by Deputy Minister of Defence for Resource Management Mirko Okolic and Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces Major General Gojko Knezevic, traveled to the International Military and Technical Forum Army 2020 in Russia.”
Armenia’s Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Artak Davtyan:
The PUBLIC RADIO OF ARMENIA announced the country’s participation: “The Chairman of the Armenian High-Tech Ministry’s Defence Industry Committee, Lieutenant Artak Davtyan, takes part in the Army 2020 forum.” Armenia, as a member of CSTO, takes part in this forum on a regular basis.
Delegations from Abkhazia and South Ossetia gave their debut this year. Abkhazia’s Defence Minister, Colonel General Vladimir Anua, discussed issues of military cooperation with his Russian counterpart, who called Abkhazia an “ally and strategic partner in the Southern Caucasus.” The President of Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, said that “participation of Abkhazia in the military forum and the army games serves to strengthen international ties of the region” (CIVIL.GE, 25.08.2020).
According to TASS, the Brazilian delegation of visitors included Brazilian Deputy Defence Minister Marcos Degaut. He represented Defence Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva. Brazil is a member of BRICS, together with Russia, India, China and South Africa. These countries form an economic and political alliance, including common military interests.
VIETNAM PLUS reported about its own delegation to Russia: “A high-ranking delegation of the Vietnam People’s Army, led by Deputy Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant General Ngo Minh Tien, left for the International Army Forum 2020. The event is expected to help Vietnam maintain high-ranking military exchanges with Russia, contribute to strengthening the two countries’ long-standing friendship and comprehensive strategic partnership, and reinforce the bilateral strategic trust and military-technical cooperation” (VIETNAM PLUS, 21.08.2020).
In addition, “the Vietnamese Field Kitchen team received a huge welcome from visitors for their dishes presented during the opening day of the International Army Forum, on August 23. The Field Kitchen is among 11 categories of the competition that teams of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) are taking part in” (VIETNAM PLUS, 23.08.2020).
Vietnam made a good impression in Kubinka:
A delegation of Myanmar also arrived in Moscow to visit the International Army Forum 2020. They came a few days in advance for talks. Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Colonel General Alexander Fomin, met with visiting Chief of the General Staff of Myanmar’s Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Mya Tun Oo, to discuss military cooperation between the two countries.
“The sides highly assessed the dynamically developing mutually beneficial relations in the military sphere and reiterated the countries’ plans to make maximally efficient use of the existing potential to expand military and military-technical cooperation in the spirit of strategic partnership,” the ministry said (TASS, 17.08.2020).
Chief of the General Staff of Myanmar’s Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Mya Tun Oo:
Another East Asian country interested in Russian weapons is South Korea. Especially the technology of Russia’s fifth-generation planes and drones is of great interest to South Korea. Kim Young Wook , as air attache, came to see new technology in space. He noted that it was an honour for him to visit Russia’s Army Forum 2020. The diplomat added that the exhibition provided many opportunities to learn from Russia’s great military experience.
Seoul expects to sign a memorandum of understanding in the military sphere with Russia during a visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin later this year, Kim Young Wook said. The South Korean Ambassador to Russia, Lee Sok-bae, also emphasized that Seoul hoped President Vladimir Putin would pay a visit to South Korea by the end of the year 2020 (SPUTNIK NEWS, 24.08.2020).
Iran’s Defence Minister, General Amir Hatami, at the International Army Forum 2020:
From Iran, the top Iranian official, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, flew to Moscow, to attend the International Army Forum 2020 with his defence-military delegation. He said that he was interested in the dynamic demonstrations of new military equipment capabilities as well as the extensive congress programme with its strong participation of an international audience. He also wanted to hold talks with his Russian counterpart (IRAN FRONT PAGE NEWS, 22.08.2020).
Brigadier General Amir Hatami ( امیر حاتمی) is an Iranian Artesh officer and the current Minister of Defence in Iran, designated by President Hassan Rouhani, on the 8th of August 2017. He is the first Minister of Defence with Artesh background in more than two decades, an office held by Revolutionary Guards officers, since 1989.
Iran’s Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Amir Hatami:
Amir Hatami was born in Zanjan, in 1965. This city lies 298 km northwest of Tehran, approximately 125 km from the Caspian Sea. With about 522.000 inhabitants it is the 20th largest city in Iran. Many Iranian Azeris, who can also speak the Azerbaijani language, live in Zanjan.
“In a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, Brigadier General Amir Hatami praised the Russian Government for its constructive policies over the past months and expressed confidence that their cooperation will help resolve regional problems. Tehran and Moscow have formed an alliance in recent years, supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s legitimate Government against foreign-backed militancy. Cooperation between Iran and Russia in defence is gaining momentum and the two sides have already made significant achievements in the fields of technology and military (PRESS TV IRAN, 24.08.2020).
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin:
Qatar also sent a high ranking delegation, expecting to develop military cooperation with Russia. Colonel Khaled al-Sayyid al-Khajeri, who headed the Qatari delegation, said, “God willing, there will be cooperation.” The Colonel noted that the Qatari delegation arrived to attend the forum for the first time, upon invitation of the Russian Defence Ministry. “We arrived to participate in the forum. The Qatari team will also take part in the competition. We want to visit the exhibition and discover the latest equipment, new Russian weapons that have been produced,” Colonel Khaled al-Sayyid al-Khajeri added (URDU POINT, 23.08.2020).
The African continent was represented by a delegation from Guinea-Bissau in western Africa and one from Namibia, in southwestern Africa. All the teams held talks with the Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, Colonel General Alexander Fomin.
Russian Deputy Minister of Defence, Colonel General Alexander Fomin:
Alexander Vasilyevich Fomin (Александр Васильевич Фомин) was born in the city of Leninogorsk, eastern Kazakhstan, on the 25th of May 1959. In 1984, he graduated from the Military Red Banner Institute of the USSR Ministry of Defence (today the Military University of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation). In 1992, Alexander Fomin graduated from the Military Academy of the Soviet Army, receiving his PhD in Military Sciences.
From 1977 to 1993, he served in the Armed Forces of the USSR and the Russian Federation. From June 1993 to March 1994, he was an employee of the department of the Main Directorate of Military-Technical Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations of the Russian Federation. From 1994 to 2016, he worked in various positions of military state companies.
In January 2017, Alexander Fomin was appointed Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation. He is in charge of military-technical cooperation and preparation of international agreements in this area. He also supervises the work of the Main Directorate of International Military Cooperation of the Russian Ministry of Defence. In February 2018, Alexander Fomin was awarded the military rank of Colonel General.
His many awards include the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, III degree (2019) and IV degree (2009), the Order of Honour (2014), the Order of Friendship (2007), the Medal of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, II degree (1997), as well as several medals and orders from the former Soviet Union.
Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation:
Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese Army General, already knew 2000 years ago, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Sun Tzu (544-496 BC) was a military strategist, writer and philosopher who lived in the Eastern Zhou period of ancient China. The Chinese are a wise nation, and Sun Tzu’s military strategy is still applicable today. Sun His book, “The Art of War”, is an influential work of military strategy that has affected global military thinking.
Besides military strategy, possessing a powerful army with modern military hardware and weapons will certainly help “to subdue the enemy without fighting”. Countries wishing to prevent war should be very well armed and ally themselves with other well armed countries. In this respect, the International Army Forum 2020 in Russia applied and demonstrated Sun Tsu’s “Art of War” in a very practical and modern way.
Olivia Kroth: The journalist and author of four books lives in Russia. Her blog:
This text was reprinted in the Duran: