ARMY FORUM 2021 - Patriot Park / Kubinka - Russian Federation

Update: 2021/10/25  by Roman Bagrov/ CHK6

On the 22nd of August 2021 the massive military forum known as ARMY 2021 was conducted at Patriot Park in the Moscow region of Russia. This yearly event ended with the Army Games, a massive military skills competition with participation from all branches of the Russian armed services including the army, navy and of course, aviation – of which we will discuss here.
The venue for the aviation cluster of Army Games was located at Kubinka situated approximately 60 km from Moscow and only 13 km from the main stage of Patriot Park. Of course, as the newest member of Checksix team I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to visit this impressive show.

As such, the static displays consisted of a wide variety of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with all types fulfilling a wide range of mission and roles.

R. Bagrov
Mil Mi-28NM "Night Hunter" - © by Roman Bagrov
Mil Mi-26 Cockpit - © by Roman Bagrov
Kubinka is an active military airfield where one can see a Sukhoi Su-57 multirole fighter being towed into a hangar for static display, crews changing rotor blades on a Mil Mi-171 helicopter, have the opportunity to inspect a Mil Mi-26 up close or see the ground handling of a LET L-410UVP-E20 transport complete with floats. As such, the static displays consisted of a wide variety of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters with all types fulfilling a wide range of mission and roles. Some aircraft on static display required closer investigation including one rather special Mil Mi-28NM attack helicopter that was best described by test pilot Nikolay Mikhailovich as “night optimised”. With a fully rebuilt cockpit incorporating some of the latest Russian technology, the Mi-28NM can operate in a wide range of environments by day or night. One important new feature is its dual controls where the gunner can also manage the flight controls if required. The Mi-28NM is quite a complex platform incorporating a H025 mast mounted radio sight (which can detect and track targets far beyond visual range), a laser designation system and electronic warfare equipment.  The new VK-2500 engines, produced by the Klimov design bureau, produce increased power and feature modernized automatic flight controls (FADEC) and a very effective fire protection system. The Mil Mi-28NM can carry a wide range of guided and unguided weapons along with short range air-to-air missiles and of course the deadly 2A42 30mm canon. One interesting feature about the new Mi-28NM is that its computer system allows it to control up to four recon/attack drones.
Aviadvigatel PD-14 - © by Roman Bagrov
Aviadvigatel PD-14 - © by Roman Bagrov

Next up was the new PD-14 engine designed by Aviadvigatel. First tested on an Iljushin Il-76 Flight lab, the new engine was later mounted on an Irkut MS-21 as the sixth flying prototype. With a larger fan diameter and increased take-off thrust the PD-14 demonstrated better fuel consumption and improved noise reduction characteristics when compared to its opponent, the PW1000, when tested in previous MS-21 test flights. Ongoing design work has provided an opportunity for further development as a possible future power plant for Beriev Be-200, Iljushin Il-96-400 and Il-76 aircraft.
Now to the flight program. Due to various circumstances happening around the globe, this year’s flight program lasted only 1 hour and 40 minutes. Unfortunately, this year’s event was further darkened by the crash of a brand new Iljushin IL-112 military transport flying from Zhukovsky to Kubinka to participate in the static display. Further to this, the crash of two Mig-29 fighters led to the cancellation of all Mig-29 flights including demonstrations by the “Swifts” display team.

Coming into sight low and fast, the Mig-35 provided a great demonstration of handling and agility, carrying out evasive battlefield maneuvers while avoiding attack from other aircraft.

R. Bagrov
RAC MiG-35 - © by Roman Bagrov
Russkije Vitjasi - © by Roman Bagrov

Regardless of this, the flying program opened with a demonstration of an Sukhoi Su-57 employing its “maneuver” fight mode. Arriving at Kubinka from Zhukovsky, Su-57 airframe #511 was piloted by the chief test pilot of the Sukhoi design bureau. This aircraft was the 14th airframe to be built for the PAK-FA program with the 9th flight test platform making its maiden flight in August of 2017 under the production designation of T50-11. These aircraft are equipped the all new AL-41F1 engine featuring upgraded nozzles and intakes providing supersonic flight in cruise speed mode.
Next was a RAC Mig-35 fitted with mock (inert) armament. Coming into sight low and fast, the Mig-35 provided a great demonstration of handling and agility, carrying out evasive battlefield maneuvers while avoiding attack from other aircraft. The new RD-33MKV (nozzle maneuverability) engines produce less smoke than its predecessors mounted on the Mig-29. Also making it very hard to see this fast bird when it approaches from afar.

Of course all days featured excitement filled demonstrations by the Russian Knights display team with their six Sukhoi Su-35 fighters and finally the Berkuty team with their four Mil Mi-28 helicopters. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, including ARMY 2021, and this also saw the departure of all participants to their respective home bases.
Tupolev Tu-134 - © by Roman Bagrov
Mikoyan & Gurevich MiG-31BM (NATO Code: FOXHOUND) - © by Roman Bagrov

Following the show many rare airframes could still be seen at Kubinka, such as a Tupolev Tu-134A airliner with an interesting RF-66000 tail number from the North Aviation Navy, the departure of an Beriev A-50U AEW&C or Iljushin Il-76-90 airlifter, the arrival of Belarusian Air Force Iljushin Il-76 and Antonov An-26 transports, or a Mikoyan & Gurevich Mig-31 fighter taking off.  Also the arrival of Iljushin IL-78 air to air refueller to support the startup of Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers. So as you can see, even after ARMY 2021 the airfield becomes a really busy place.

In conclusion, due to COVID restrictions around this event no one was wearing masks, that is with the exception of fighter pilots wearing their oxygen masks while taxiing past the spectators. This is all part of the show, especially when an Su-35 pilot greets you from his cockpit after landing while passing some five meters in front of you. We hope next year will pass without any further problems or restrictions, we all have the ability to travel where we wish, and to meet each other at similar airshows around the world.

Roman Bagrov / CHK6 Russian Federation

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