Sunday, August 16, 2015

Russia cheating at Tank Biathlon 2015?

Just stumbled upon this gem at another forum:

The Chinese website Russia did it's best to manipulate the Tank Biathlon 2015 for an outcome in favor of the Russian army. The following claims were made by the Chinese news website:

  • The Chinese delegation was told that a 40 metres river had to be crossed. As a result the Chinese team went with a total of 50 metres of pontoon bridges to Russia. They were "speakless" when discovering that the river to be crossed had a width of 60 metres.
  • Russian forces also had faulty bridge equipment, but simply ignored the normal rules of crossing a river; they aligned their bridges under sub-ideal conditions directly in the river - their tanks had to wade several meters into the river to enter the bridges.
Russian forces crossing their pontoon bridges
  • During the IFV competition, there were problems with reloading. Not exactly sure what it says in the article (bad translation), but it seems that Russia didn't agree on accounting the higher rate of fire and the higher reload speed of the Chinese IFV.
  • The rules of the NBC trials of the Tank Biathlon were changed, but the Chinese team wasn't informed of any changes. As a result a 45 second punishment was added to the team's time.
  • The amphibious troop transport competition for which the Chinese team brought their ZBD-05 IFVs was canceled without explanation. The Chinese considered their ZBD-05 to be greatly superior to the Russian BTR-80 in this task.
  • The Chinese PLL-05 self-propelled howitzer managed to beat the Russian counterparts, but for reasons of balancing the performance of crew to that of the equipment, a perfomance modifier was used, which resulted in the parity of the performance of both systems.
  • Several "aggressive rule changes" were made during the infantry/paratrooper competitions to negate the poor performance of the Russian soliders.
There are many more claims in the article, but I don't speak Chinese and it's cumbersome to decode what Google Translator outputs...

Do I believe the Chinese claims? I am not sure. They are probably exaggerated, but there might be truth in them. Maybe the Chinese are simply "sore loosers" who are trying to find an excuse for their poor performance. However the Chinese claims are not hard to believe, based on what I have heard and read about Russian competitions and the protectionism of Russian defence industry and their army.
I think it's save to assume that the ZBD-05 has better amphibious performance than a BTR-80. The mix-up with the river width might have been a mistake however, just like it could have been a mistake to not inform the Chinese team about changed conditions.

This reminds me of the Canadian Army Trophy - in 1987 the US won with their M1A1 Abrams tanks, but they received heavy criticism from the other competitors? Were the European teams "sore loosers"? I don't think so. The US team did operate with open hatches - as only team. In the conditions of the Cold War, where every tank was expected to operated under full NBC protection (and CAT should simulate the crew and vehicle performance in Cold War) this is for sure bad behaviour.

Source: (chinese)


  1. I heard stuff like that from former Cold War era East German and Polish soldiers. Apparently during similar competitions among Warsaw Pact armies, often the best East European soldiers had to wear Russian uniforms and pretend to be part of the Russian teams to ensure they always won.

    You hear similar stuff from NATO wargames though.
    Apparently there once were big wargames in the Netherlands in the late 90s, where a "Blue Force" consisting of US American, Canadian and British units had to simulate a large scale littoral landing operation and the establishment of a bridgehead. A smaller "Red Force" made of German and Dutch units was supposed to oppose them and delay the landing.

    The whole thing had to be started over 3 times though, because Red Force didn't just delay Blue Force, but wiped them out completely.

    Every time they reset the whole thing, they put no restrictions on Red Force, like "this time no air defenses" and even "no artillery" till Blue Force finally won.

    You really have to ask what the point of such exercises is if the result is predetermined and is assured by openly cheating and moving the goal post?

  2. The article was up to the point and described the information very effectively. Thanks to blog author for wonderful and informative post.
    Russian Accountant