The exhibition got off to a flying start
The stands were already full half an hour before the start of the event. Veterans of the VTTV event tried to get the best places for viewing the demonstration area. Nevertheless, people changed places from time to time as the equipment was shown on the training ground, and shooting on the target range, so it was necessary for the spectators to move from one end of the stand to the other several times. In the morning it seemed that it would be a warm sunny day, and judging by the clothes of those present, the audience thought the same. The weather however, gradually worsened, the wind became stronger and drizzle set in. Those watching didn’t seem to mind though.
The programme was announced in both Russian and English and a welcoming telegram from the president of the Russian Federation Dmitrii Medvedev was read out. When the time of the official opening was close, 10am local time, a vehicle procession of VIP guests drew up. Among the guests was Anatolii Kvashnin representative to the president and the Omsk governor Leonid Polezhaev. The VIPs were greeted by a brass band playing a lively march, and the president’s telegram was read out for a second time. It was at this point that the spectators of VTTV understood that the event was about to start and tried to find the best spots for their cameras and videocameras. Although those who wanted to record the demonstration had taken the best spots a long time before. The Omsk governor gave a speech stating that other regions and hundreds of businesses were also included in VTTV’s sphere of influence, and that defense, civilian, and dual purpose technology was to be shown. Anatolii Kvashnin added a somewhat poetic note to the dry militarism of VTTV by saying: “if we were in field (testing ground of the 242 paratrooper training centre) 200 years ago, what would we have seen?”
As tradition dictated, the paratroopers were first to perform. Incidentally last year was the 16th anniversary of the opening of the 242 training centre. The parachutists descended with flags of the Russian Federation, and of the Omsk region. These flags were later ceremonially raised under a military salute. Despite the strong winds, each paratrooper managed to land within the testing ground. “The Omsk sky has been painted by different coloured canopies,” said one of the commentators, the spectators looked on puzzled as the parachutists were still not visible.
The following event also excited the audience: the pilotless aerial reconnaissance system “El’f” which circled the Omsk sky, occasionally revealing itself to the viewers in the stands. However, as usual, the military hardware firepower demonstration drew the greatest interest. The platoon was reinforced by grenade-launcher squad, and the military airborne vehicles, which showed effective combat techniques of blocking and destroying terrorist groups with the use of modern arms. Altogether 30 military units took part in the demonstration at the 242 centre including the T-80 and T-90 tanks, modifications of the T-62 and T-55AM tanks, the TOS-1 heavy machine gun system, the BMO-T flamethrower vehicle, the heavy BTR-T armoured transport, the 561-A amphibious transporter, and the unique Omsk-made, all-terrain “Arktika” hovercraft. The head of the Russian MVD rescue service Anatolii Belusov demonstrated non-contact hand-to-hand combat during the breaks. The air and auto models of young technicians of the 4x4 autoclub were also shown to the audience.
Luckily all the equipment ran excellently, there were no accidents. The only slight hiccup was when the T-90 tank couldn’t quite reach the top of the highest mound on the range; the second attempt was more successful.
Improvements were made to the testing grounds the 242-training centre especially for demonstrating new military technology at the “VTTV-Omsk-2009” event. The embankment area of the testing ground has been increased to demonstrate small arms and hardware in the firing range. The obstacle course has been reconstructed to further test the off-road capabilities of military vehicles. More specifically, the series of mounds for wheeled vehicles has been changed and the steepness increased. Additional work was also carried out on the water section of the centre, which will be used to demonstrate water-traversing characteristics of both armoured and engineering vehicles. The main body of water is now 4 metres deep. During the day both T-90S and T-80U traversed this water obstacle, drove up the tallest hill, and fired a blank round in salute.
The highlights of the exhibition turned out to be the “Artkita” hovercraft, and the T-80UK tank which completed a jump off a springboard and was nicknamed the “flying tank”. During the military parade the governor and presidential representative found time to talk to journalists despite the rain, and emphasised the importance of the exhibition. After this a representative of FGU”ONIIP” presented a pair of binoculars and an album of the events to Anatolii Kvashnin. The spectators didn’t stay for the award ceremony and made for their cars, the rain dispersed and the show ended.