Tank biathlon

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Four T-72B tanks of the participants, 2013
Russian T-72B, 2013
T-80U tanks waltzing at the show, 2013

The tank biathlon is a mechanised military sport event promoted by the Russian military with some similarities to the winter sport of biathlon. It utilizes the complex training of tank crews including their rough terrain passing skills combined with the ability to provide accurate and rapid fire while performing maneuvers.[1]


One of the shooting targets used in tank biathlon (dimensions in centimeters)

Participating tanks drive a three-lap route of 6–10 km. During the first lap, crews fire at targets positioned at distances of 1,800, 1,700 and 1,500 m. In the second lap, different targets imitating an anti-tank mortar (RPG) squad and an infantry unit are fired upon. These targets are at a distance of 600–700 m, and must be engaged with a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. In the third lap the tank crews fire at targets shaped like an anti-tank gun and ATGM unit using the turret-mounted heavy machine gun at a distance of 1,200 m. One or more misses leads to an extra penalty lap 500 m long. On the final lap tanks have to go through various terrain obstacles; an obstacle missed or improperly traversed adds 10 seconds to the crew's final timing.


The United States received an official invitation in 2013 and an unofficial invitation in 2017.[2] In 2014, 41 countries received the invitation.[3]

International Competition, 2013[edit]

The first international tank biathlon competition was held at the Alabino proving ground in the Moscow Oblast, on 12–17 August 2013. Four teams took part in the competition: Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Place Team Range 1 Range 2 Range 3 Total time
1  Russia 1 0 0 0 2 0 23:44
2  Kazakhstan 0 1 1 0 1 2 24:36
3  Belarus 0 0 1 0 2 1 25:25
4  Armenia 0 1 1 0 1 2 29:48

1st Tank Biathlon World Championship, 2014[edit]

The 1st Tank Biathlon World Championship [ru] took place at the Alabino proving ground on 4–16 August 2014. Out of 41 nations that received invitation to the tournament, 12 sent their representatives. Every competitor (except Teams China and Russia) received a T-72B tank in the biathlon color scheme. Team Russia piloted the newest modification, T-72B3, and Team China brought their own Type 96A.

Russian preliminaries for the event ran in several of military districts of Russia. Each district sent its top crews to compete for the Cup of Russia, and 3 finalists from that event formed the national Team Russia for the World Championship.

Participating nations also held preliminaries on their own, sending 3 top crews and a reserve crew accompanied by maintenance and repair personnel to Russia.

Random selection placed teams under following colors:

Color Team
1  Russia
2  Mongolia
3  Venezuela
4  Kazakhstan
5  Belarus
6  Armenia
7  China
8  Serbia
9  Kyrgyzstan
10  India
11  Angola
12  Kuwait

First legs of the tournament consisted of:

  • Individual race
  • Sprint
  • Pursuit
  • Athletic stage


The final competition was a relay race, the top 4 teams fielded all their crews taking turns.

Total time Team
75:14  Russia
80:03  Armenia
90:56  China
94:11  Kazakhstan

2nd Tank Biathlon World Championship, 2015[edit]

A Chinese Type 96A at the 2015 tank biathlon

The second event of the series took part on 1–15 August 2015 at the same venue in Alabino. This year the Tank Biathlon was held as a headliner of the 2015 International Army Games [ru] that included similar competitions for all things military, from artillery (Masters of Fire) and air force (Aviadarts) to field kitchens.

The athletic stage for the crews was removed from schedule.

Veteran of both previous events, Team Belarus decided to participate in the Army Games "only in the disciplines where we are absolutely ready" and thus didn't apply for the Tank Biathlon (after finishing only 5th last year). Consequently, Belarus won 3 gold, 50 silver and 249 bronze awards and finished 3rd in the total medal score of the Army Games, being surpassed only by Russia and China.

The Nicaragua and Tajikistan national teams joined the event for the first time.

All teams were piloting upgraded T-72B3 tanks, excluding Team China which continued to field its own Type 96A.

List of participants with color scheme:

Color Team
1  Russia
2  Venezuela
3  Armenia
4  Kyrgyzstan
5  Nicaragua
6  Angola
7  China
8  Tajikistan
9  Mongolia
10  Kazakhstan
11  India
12  Serbia
13  Kuwait

1/2 final[edit]

Total time Team
73:30  Russia
77:32  China
78:18  Kazakhstan
83:23  Serbia
94:12  India
97:06  Kyrgyzstan
120:04  Tajikistan
DSQ  Armenia


Total time Team
72:09  Russia
79:21  China
84:56  Serbia
86:16  Kazakhstan

3rd Tank Biathlon World Championship, 2016[edit]

The third Tank Biathlon took place in Alabino as part of the 2nd International Army Games [ru] on 30 July–13 August.[4]

Place Team
1  Russia
2  China
3  Kazakhstan
4  Belarus
5  Serbia
6  India
7  Azerbaijan
8  Mongolia
9  Armenia
10  Kyrgyzstan
11  Angola
12  Iran

4th Tank Biathlon World Championship, 2017[edit]

The fourth Tank Biathlon took place in Alabino, Moscow Region. The countries used the same type of tanks as in previous year (T-72B3 and Type-96B), with the exception of India fielding T-90 Bhishma. New Delhi Television reported that the Indian Army felt disadvantaged using T-72B3 tanks provided by Russia in 2016 and was keen to field its best tanks and best crews in 2017. However, as a result of both T-90 Bhishma tanks (the main one and the reserve one) malfunctioning, the Indian squad was unable to complete the race and were disqualified before 1/2 final.[5][6]

After seven days of contests, Team Russia won 11 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze awards and finished 1st in the overall ratings, and Team China achieved second place with 7 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze.[7]

Place Team
1  Russia
2  China
3  Kazakhstan
4  Belarus
5  Azerbaijan
6  Serbia
7  Iran
8  Mongolia
9  Venezuela
10  Armenia
11  Kyrgyzstan
12  India

Medalist table[edit]

Year Gold Silver Bronze
1st Division
2014  Russia  Armenia  China
2015  Russia  China  Serbia
2016  Russia  China  Kazakhstan
2017[7]  Russia  Kazakhstan  China
2018[8]  Russia  China  Belarus
2019  Russia  Belarus  Kazakhstan
Year Gold Silver Bronze
2nd Division
2019  Uzbekistan  Vietnam  Cuba

International competitions[edit]

Competitions on tank biathlon are held in Russia every year from 2013, in July–August, at the military training range Alabino. Since the foundation of the tank biathlon in 2013, 26 teams have participated in the world championships. 21 teams have participated in a relay race in at least one season.

The table shows the teams' places in each of the world championships. For 2nd division teams, the first number is the place within the division, and the second number is the absolute place. The teams are ranked according to their average (absolute) place.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Сергей Шойгу сделает танковый биатлон новым видом спорта. Vesti.Ru (in Russian). 10 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  2. ^ Rogoway, Tyler (7 June 2017). "Russia Challenges U.S. Tankers To Compete In Its Annual "Tank Biathlon"". TheDrive.com. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  3. ^ Kramnik, Ilya (19 May 2016). Гонка танковых чемпионатов. Defence.Ru (in Russian). Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  4. ^ Ptichkin, Sergey (13 August 2016). Международные армейские игры завершились победой России. Rossiyskaya Gazeta (in Russian). Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  5. ^ "After Both Tanks Break Down, India Knocked Out Of International Drill". NDTV.
  6. ^ "India knocked out of tank contest in Russia after T-90s develop snags". Hindustan Times.
  7. ^ a b "Result of contests 2017" (PDF). International Army Games.
  8. ^ "Russian team wins final Tank Biathlon race". TASS.

External links[edit]