Recently the Russian Minister of Defense General Sergei Shoigu confirmed the Army 2020 International Military-Technical Forum would be on schedule. The exhibition and related conferences are to be held on August, 23-29, at the Patriot Convention and Exhibition Center in Moscow’s close outskirts.
Due to COVID-19 all aerospace and defense exhibitions as well as many other international events which were to be held from March, 2020 have been either canceled (Farnborough, ILA, FIDAE, Eurosatory), or shifted to next year (KADEX, Indodefense among others). The September scheduled AAD and ADEX still have not issued official statements to confirm the dates. The ARMY-2020 looks like an island of happiness within an ocean of turmoil.
“This year, the Army Forum will be the first major event for the global defense industry following the lifting of restrictions caused by COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum will provide a signal to the global arms market to recover and, I am sure, will give an impetus to the further development of military-technical cooperation with foreign countries. This is a great opportunity for Russian defense companies to show their readiness to increase deliveries of high-tech products and expand their geographic footprint,” said optimistically Rostec Corporation CEO Sergey Chemezov.
In fact, the Army Forum enjoys a unique playground among all defense related shows. Apart of several exhibition halls and enormous open space the Patriot homes permanent structures to present the most advance products of the national key enterprises, including United Aircraft and United Shipbuilding Corporations, Almaz-Antey Concern, Rostec and several others. Besides, the Patriot employs Alabino test and firing range in a nearby location easily reachable by numerous shuttle buses. The place has three demo clusters including a tankodrome, an artificial lake and a shooting range to provide live firing demonstration for not just small arms but also for armor, artillery and even helicopters and boats. The live firing could be witnessed not at the range but via monitors at the halls and public areas.
Needless to say, the Army grounds have been actively used by the Rosoboronexport - Russia’s sole state mediator in the field of arms trade worldwide. The company is going to use the Patriot facilities at its utmost to compensate the lack of exhibition activities through the entire year.
“The range of technologies to be showcased by Rosoboronexport at the Army Forum-2020 covers all segments of today’s market of weapons, military and special equipment,” said the Company CEO Alexander Mikheev.
He particularly mentioned the T-14 MBT and the T-15 tank support fighting vehicle built on the latest Armata platform, the Kurganets-25 new-generation tracked infantry fighting vehicle, the Boomerang-series wheeled armored vehicles, the Iskander tactical missile system, the new 9K515 MLRS, the 152 mm 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled howitzer, the 82 mm 2S41 Drok mortar, a family of Tigr-M and Typhoon armored vehicles on Ural and KAMAZ chassis. He also included in the list the Vityaz SAM ADS, the 57 mm Derivatsiya-PVO anti-aircraft artillery vehicle, and several counter-drone systems.
The ARMY is an annual event, and the 2020 is to become the sixth consequent forum. The previous editions have been marked with massive contracts between the Russian MoD and the national defense industry, including those on 2+76 Su-57 fifth generation aircraft.
The shows have been quite important for the Russian international defense sales as well. According to Rosoboronexport press service, last year they held over 50 meetings with top-ranked delegations from 36 countries, including the Chiefs of General Staffs, Commanders-in-Chief of the armed forces, Heads of law enforcement agencies and CEOs of the defense industry. The negotiations facilitated the signing of a number of contracts and agreements with foreign partners.
The key point with the ARMY-2020 international presence is the restrictions being caused by the COVID-19. Till now there are no International flights to Russia, except for charter planes to return the Russian citizens. All those who come from abroad (including non-Russian citizens who are working here on a contract basis) are to spend 14 days in self- isolation. How long these restrictions are to be in force is still not clear. The recent statement from the Minister of Health mentioned that “all COVID-2019 caused restrictions are to be lifted by February, 2021”. No doubt that the local reps and defense attachés won’t be affected but what about the visitors’ majority?
The question has been already raised by the international companies planning to take part in the event as very few, if any, are willing to spend two extra weeks ahead of the show. Perhaps, the Russian MoD is able to find an acceptable solution but the answer has not been given yet. Let’s hope for the better as the Show must go on!