´Aviadarts-2021´ competition – being a part of annual International Army Games – has just completed its all-army stage. Final national phase of that live-fly contest was organized between 21st May and 5th June at Dyagilevo airfield in Ryazan, under direct supervision of the head of Combat Training Department of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Maj. Gen. Pavel Molchanov.
More than fifty aircrews have been qualified for the all-army stage of the competition and competed in traditional challenges of ´Aviadarts´ contest: physical training, visual aerial reconnaissance, mastering of flying techniques and flight navigation. Additionally, a few other trials were added, depending on the air force branch – fighter crews competed in air combat, army aviation helicopter crews proved their skills in CSAR and fire-fighting missions, and transport aviation completed a challenge in cargo drop accuracy.
The competition was opened by solemn ceremony with participation of local authorities and air force veterans. Then, after completing the physical training challenge, the live-fly part of the contest began, being held – us asual – at the nearby Dubrovichi training ground.
One of the most interesting tasks was the visual aerial reconnaissance trial, when the aircrews had only 40 minutes to find, within the given area, three objects on the ground and accurately determine their coordinates on the map. Similarly to previous editions of the ´Aviadarts´, the aerial navigation challenge required completion of a given flight route by passing over control points, exactly within specified time. And mastering the piloting skills was proved by performing a set of aerobatic manoeuvres in pair and solo flight.
On 28th May, the last phase of the all-army stage began and that mean a challenge in locating and destroying ground targets. During this live-fire part of the competition, the aircrews had to prove their skills in practical use of unguided missiles, bombs and firing from onboard cannons. Targets for each particular crew were chosen by a blind draw and only two attempts to destroy the target were allowed.
During this live-fire phase of ´Aviadarts-2021´ competition, the participating crews fired 500 rocket missiles, dropped 5 tonnes of bombs and fired more than 1,000 rounds from onboard cannons.
In the meantime, crews of Mi-8 multipurpose helicopters and Il-76 cargo aircraft competed in their own challenges. The army aviation helicopters had to perform a fire-fighting mission, using a VSU-5 external bucket, while participants from the transport aviation completed a trial in cargo landing accuracy, by dropping a 5 tonne load from Il-76 aeroplanes.
Results of each challenge were recorded by controlling devices mounted at each participating aircraft and ground control equipment. The jury commission was also able to benefit from data collected by UAVs that were monitoring the training area. On 5th June, final winners of the five contest categories were announced – ground-attack aviation, fighter aircraft, bomber aircraft, transport aviation and army aviation (helicopters).
Airmen from the Rostov region became the winners in fighter and bomber aircraft categories. The cup in close-support aviation category went to pilots from Krasnodar Krai, and the transport aviation challenge was won by crews from Tver air base. Within the army aviation, Mi-8 crews from Stavropol were the winner in transport/multipurpose helicopter subcategory and Ka-52 crews from Crimea won the cup in the second subcategory – attack helicopter.
Apart from the above mentioned categories, the overall winner of the whole all-army stage is usually announced. And this year the challenge cup of the ´Aviadarts´ competition went to the Southern Military District.
The winners of the all-army stage of the ´Aviadarts-2021´ competition will be representing the Russian Federation during the last, international stage of the contest. It will be organized between 22nd August and 4th September 2021, also in the Ryazan area.
It is important to note that more than 200 flying crews of the Russian Aerospace Forces participated in the qualifying rounds of this year´s edition of the ´Aviadarts´ contest. There were more than 150 aircraft involved in that exercise, including Su-27SM3, SU-30SM and Su-35S fighters; Su-24M and Su-34 bombers; Su-25 attack aircraft; Mi-8, Mi-24, Mi-28N and Ka-52 helicopters; and Il-76 transport aeroplanes. Those aircraft were in total operating from approximately 30 aviation bases.
For the first time, the ´Aviadarts´ competition was organized in 2013, at Pogonovo training area. Just one year later, the contest was recognized internationally, due to participation of Chinese and Belarussian pilots. In 2015, that live-fly competition became a part of the International Army Games programme and two years later, its main stage was, for the first time, held in China.