The fifth International Military-Technical Forum <<ARMY-2019>> (aka Army-Forum) was held at the Patriot Park exposition centre over June 25–30, 2019. The venue is located some 60km from Moscow in the Odintsovsky District, Moscow Region, on the site of the former military base and armoured vehicle training area and testing facility known historically as Kubinka Air Base.
Patriot Park, which opened in 2015, features a number of display areas, manufacturers’ exhibition buildings and visitor activity areas. Army-2019 as in previous years was centred on the imposing Exposition (EXPO) pavilion building, with the overall layout of the site comprising of centrally located permanent display areas of armoured vehicles and artillery. Elsewhere on the EXPO site are the Congress Centre building and a number of smaller exhibition buildings used for themed displays.
In addition to the static display areas, there are large areas given over to outdoor display areas, with virtually all of the major Russian defence industry manufacturers participating in some shape or form. A number of individual manufacturers’ outdoor pavilions are also sited on the extensive display areas located in front of the main pavilion. The main pavilion building has four designated halls, A–D, with entry to the pavilion being gained by three external access points which face onto the main display area. This year, Halls A–C contained a mix of major and smaller manufacturers booths, intermingled with exhibitors providing supporting services in the security, Information Technology, specialist product manufacturers and clothing and uniform insignia areas to name just a few. Hall D was again a focal point (but not exclusively so) for the Russian Ministry of Defence with many organizations within the MoD represented, including personnel support/historical groups.
Unexpected was an extensive display area recalling the 70th anniversary of the first Soviet atomic weapon test, with full-scale mock-ups of devices shown, together the original control facilities and posters explaining the development of the programme and notable figures involved.
This year there was an “Innovation” display area where small businesses and individuals could promote their ideas.
The number of foreign exhibitors continues to increase, including this year: Azerbaijan (MoD), China, India, Pakistan and Turkey were represented.
This year an unexpected downturn in the weather resulted in extremely wet and windy conditions for the last 3 days of the EXPO, but breaks in the weather allowed access to all external display areas. For those readers interested in current Russian armoured and artillery developments, part of the main display area was again given over to a static display of armoured and other specialist vehicles currently under development.
Additional Activities Within the Patriot Park Area
Although it continues to be called “Army-Forum,” there is large tri-service participation with field/live-fire demonstration “clusters” all within the greater Patriot Park area. The Air Force cluster is based on the airfield at Kubinka, and the Naval Force demonstration cluster is at Alabino, as is the Land Force demonstration cluster. A free shuttle bus service is provided from the rail station Kubinka-1 for the Air Force demonstration area and from the rail station at Alabino for the Naval and Land demonstration areas. There is also a shuttle bus service to/from the demonstration areas, all of which are a considerable distance from the main Exposition site. Visitors to the demonstration areas are strongly advised to plan in advance if they want to attend one or all of the foregoing as visitors are unlikely to be able to cover more than two activity areas in one day.
A comprehensive programme of round-table discussions and briefings under the heading, “Thematic Meetings” was again offered with a total of 32 separate meetings being listed and held in varying locations within the greater Patriot Park area. A comprehensive programme of events and locations in electronic and hardcopy formats in both Russian and English is available well ahead of the Forum, allowing individual agendas to be selected in advance. Those visitors wishing to attend any of the listed events should check eligibility early on—not unreasonable given the event and host nation.
Outside of the exposition area are a number of additional corporate buildings which have display areas open to visitors during the Army-Forum, such as the Concern Kalashnikov building with administration and meeting rooms above; the ground floor has an indoor display area of the group’s military small arms as manufactured by the former Izhmash (AKs) and Izhmek, more commonly known as “Baikal,” which continues to offer a wide range of sporting and hunting firearms. The parent group of Concern Kalashnikov continues to broaden its manufacturing base with subsidiary companies now producing specialist law-enforcement vehicles and riverine patrol craft; and this year a number of robotic vehicles were on display. Visitor advisory: The Concern Kalashnikov indoor display area attracts large numbers, and visitors should be aware that access may be restricted at certain times.
The Tactical Missiles Corporation (АО «Корпорация Тактическое Ракетное Вооружение) also opened its indoor display to visitors. The Rostec building of the State Corporation for Assistance to Development, Production and Export of Advanced Technology Industrial Product (Государственная корпорация по содействию разработке, производству и экспорту высокотехнологичной промышленной продукции «Ростех») provided additional indoor display space for manufacturers, and those exhibiting included JSC Bazalt (АО «НПО «Базальт») which has developed an extended range of special purpose missile launchers and associated munitions. The Central Scientific-Research Institute for Precision Machine Engineering (TSNIITOCHMASH-ЦНИИТОЧМАШ), a subsidiary KBP, exhibited its new Udav 9mm self-loading pistol for the first time in the Rostec building and also provided a display section of prototype small arms rarely, if ever, “seen in the flesh.” These included the 5.6mm Avtomat AO-36 double-barrelled assault rifle developed for the Abakan rifle trials in mid-1986, which was designed to provide an initial cyclic rate of fire of 6,000 rds/min; the 5.6mm bullpup configured Avtomat AO-34 experimental assault rifle, which is believed to have been first developed in the mid-1960s; the rather strange looking 5.6mm Avtomat AO-40 experimental assault rifle; and the 7.62x54mmR AO-22M light machine gun. (Note: Although rifle calibres were listed as 5.6mm, it is believed all were in fact in 5.45x39mm caliber; however, the AO-40 utilized a steel magazine reminiscent of the 7.62mm AK magazine.)
Within the greater Patriot Park area, Concern Kalashnikov has a purpose-built, multi-lane shooting range. Access to the range, which is by invitation only, is by shuttle-bus from the Concern Kalashnikov pavilion. Visitors wishing to visit the shooting range should inquire in the first instance at the CK Reception desk in the main pavilion.
Show Master Info
Moscow Region, Odintsovsky District, Russian Federation
Patriot Park Exposition Centre
August 23–29 (Note: Venue dates have seen significant changes at short notice in the past)
Army-Forum is based on and themed around the Army & Air Force displays and exhibitions, in conjunction with defence manufacturers of the Russian Federation and other invited countries. Public and family attendance is encouraged.
Access to the enclosed Patriot Park exposition area is via three entry points: Entrances A–C are
for all visitors, with entrance B also being indicated for VIP visitors and entrance C for Media.
It should be noted that access by the public and general visitors is restricted to the last 3 days of the event; intending visitors should check eligibility to attend on any particular day.
Proof of identity via national identity document/passport for foreigners.
Entry tickets are obtainable on-site, cost (2019) circa $25 USD /day.
With some exceptions, all visitors to the Russian Federation will require an entry visa obtained before travel. Visa requirements are dependent on visitors’ nationalities, and visits to the Russian Federation usually require a Letter of Invitation to support the visa application. It should be noted that visa processing times can be protracted, and intending visitors should begin the process as early as possible or risk the considerable expense of last-minute visa costs. (Intending visitors are in fact advised not to make any travel arrangements until a travel visa has been issued.)
A comprehensive Media facility is on-site and available for use by all registered Media. It is a government requirement that all foreign-based journalists need to be accredited in advance by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Media representatives wishing to attend in 2020 should immediately check current accreditation requirements, as the accreditation process can take some time.
Public transportation: The exhibition centre, which is located approximately 60km to the west of Moscow, is most easily accessed by rail using the main suburban rail station at Belorussky Vauxhall (Белорусский вокзал); trains to Golitsyno or Kubinka-1 and Alabino depart every 30 to 40 minutes. Journey times vary with approximately 50 minutes for all stations’ service to about 35 minutes for the express service (which has limited stops) to Golitsyno, the recommended arrival station for the Patriot Park exposition.
Internal on-site transportation: All rail arrival points are serviced by a free shuttle-bus service with departures every few minutes. There is also an internal shuttle bus service between the exposition centre and outlying demonstration areas. Details of bus services/route numbers are provided online or on-site in hardcopy form.
Car travel: Those intending to travel by car should be aware of heavy traffic congestion at peak hours, not only leaving and entering Moscow but at the arrival/departure points at Patriot Park. Car parking (paid) is available on-site, but it should be noted that the travel advisory suggests travel by other means due to high levels of car park usage.
Travel by suburban rail services and Metro services is inexpensive, and officially licensed taxis all charge by the meter. Credit/debit card payments for the latter are limited.
Foreign visitors may wish to stay within the greater Moscow area which is serviced by a very comprehensive public transportation system. For convenience, the Moscow Metro connects directly with the Belorussky Vauxhall station, the main departure point for the exhibition centre. The Tverskaya area in which the Belorussky station is situated is well-provided with reasonable cost hotels with adjacent shopping areas, restaurants and bars.
The Army Forum 2020 website offers English and Chinese, in addition to Russian. First-time visitors should be aware that while the English language may be understood in the Moscow area, elsewhere Russian is the sole language, and communication for non-Russian speakers can be difficult. However, increasing use is made of dual Russian/English signage on the roads and rail transportation networks. Should you need to enquire in English, it is best to approach the younger generation who now routinely learn the language. At the Forum, helpful multi-lingual speakers can found who will provide the necessary linguistic support.
Moscow like any major city has areas that should be avoided. The Tverskaya-Belorussky station area as already mentioned is convenient for both travel to and from the exposition and for sightseeing within the central Moscow area. First-time visitors would be advised to use a reputable travel agency/airline to book suitable accommodations. Credit/debit cards are widely accepted in the metropolitan areas and at railway stations reducing the need to carry large sums in cash. ATMs in Moscow are generally available in tourist hotels and commercial areas.
Incorporated within the greater Kubinka area and under the umbrella of the Patriot Park are the large tank and smaller Air Force museums. Visitors wishing to visit either should view the respective museum websites well in advance of any visit. The Kubinka Tank Museum recommends, for a number of reasons, a guided tour with a translator for non-Russian speaking visitors (tankmuseum.ru/kubinka).