Tank-a-lympics! Military Tanks Compete In This Tank Biathlon Every Year

This is what the military's Sports Day looks like!

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tank biathlon russia
Image: Vitaly V. Kuzmin / Wikipedia

Playing is an important aspect of human nature. There’s a reason people all over the world, throughout history, have invented numerous games and sports to pass the time. Some of these games are unmistakably unique (or erratic) and make us think twice before reality finally settles in. Among such one-of-a-kind games, the tank biathlon is particularly interesting as it is a sports event in which real tanks compete.

The Russian tank biathlon is a sports competition that tests the tank’s maneuverability and firing accuracy on difficult terrain. It is held annually in Russia and is organized by the nation’s armed forces. Many countries, including China, India, Qatar, and Serbia, have participated in this tank event till now.

To get a better idea of what the competition looks like, you might want to check out the video below. It shows various monstrous tanks burgeon their way through and destroy targets.

Tank biathlon: Origins and rules

The tank biathlon takes inspiration from biathlon, a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting into one game. As a result, this competition involves racing on a challenging circuit and firing cannons on a range of targets.

The tanks take three laps of a circuit that could be anywhere in the range of 6-10km. In the first lap, the tank crew has to manually aim and fire the cannon at several tank-sized dummies. These targets are situated at distances of 1,600, 1,700, and 1,800m. Moreover, the second lap requires them to shoot down anti-tank mortar squad replicas, placed 600-700m away, using a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.

Finally, the last round includes taking out targets while moving past a variety of obstacles in the path. The crew would have to take down the anti-tank gun and anti-tank guided missile squad replicas, placed 1,200m away. They must only use the heavy machine gun turret for doing this. Additionally, missing any targets or incorrectly traversing any path obstacle would incur a penalty.

tank biathlon in progress
A participating tank during the tank biathlon event. (Image: russiaeguide.com)

Competition history and leaderboard

Over its nearly decade-long history, the event has hosted dozens of other nations from Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe. The first rendition of the tank biathlon took place at Moscow Oblast, Russia, in 2013. Since then, the sports event has mostly been held in Alabino, Moscow region. Starting from 2015, it has been a part of the Russian military’s International Army Games, an Olympic-esque showcase for the military.

Intriguingly, as of now, Russia is the most successful nation in tank biathlon events. It has bagged the first-place or the gold medal in each of the 8 renditions held till now. The Soviet nation is followed by China and Kazakhstan as the second and third-most successful nations in the competition’s history.

By the way, would you ever want to get a ticket to watch such a unique sports show? Tell us in the comments. Also, for those who are into military tech, our articles on the Cold War-era spy plane, this legendary American missile air defense system, and this giant Boeing plane are some interesting reads.

Priye Rai

Priye Rai

Priye is a tech writer at Fossbytes, who writes about gaming and anything remotely related to tech, including smartphones, apps, OTT, etc. He prefers to be called a "video game journalist" and grimaces when he doesn't get to be "Player 1." If you want to talk about games or send any feedback, drop him a mail at [email protected]

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