Russia Challenges Tank Crews from the US, Europe to Compete in Armor Wargames

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Blurring the line between sports and warfare, the Russian army premiered a new sport – tank biathlon – and invited US crews to compete. Russian news agency Novosti reports. “We’ve invited our American colleagues to participate… and our invitation was accepted by US Secretary of Defense [Chuck] Hagel,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Saturday. Italy and Germany also agreed to send their teams to compete with Russian and US tank crews, Shoigu said, adding that the event will take place sometime next year.

Russia will host the world’s first ever tank biathlon championship next week. The country’s best tank crews will compete against each other at a firing range outside Moscow, the winners then taking on competitors from Armenia, Belorussia and Kazakhstan.

The new sport allows showcasing the quality of Russian tanks, comparing them against foreign analogues, Shoigu’s deputy Yury Borisov said Saturday.

Next week’s event, however, will be limited to T-72 tanks, the staple of post-Soviet militaries, Vedomosti business daily said Friday. The newspaper offered a preview of the new sport, covering a test competition held outside Moscow earlier this week. The event involved four tanks painted in bright colors – including yellow and pinkish red – which did three laps over rough terrain, shooting at targets shaped like tanks, houses and helicopters. The best time was 5:28.